One of the underlying principles of Eberron is that magic is a part of civilization. It’s not limited to a handful of mighty wizards in ivory towers; there’s an arcane locksmith down on Third Street, next door to the medium and the guy who makes everbright lanterns. With that said, this magic is widespread and useful, but not powerful. The streets may be lit with continual flame, but teleportation and resurrection are rare… and a wish is unheard of. It’s wide magic, not high magic.
The previous article looked at common magic items and magic item creation, and considered how to make that work in 5E D&D. But magic items are only part of the wide magic of Eberron. It also embraces the idea that spellcasting can be a job – not limited to full wizards or sorcerers, but also people who do nothing but make magic lanterns or speak to the dead. Now, you may look at this article and say “In 5E, anyone can get the Magic Initiate feat – doesn’t that mean magic is just scattered throughout the world without any of this?” It only means that if YOU decide it means that, because there are no rules about NPCs acquiring feats. A player character can be a Magic Initiate, but as a DM and world designer it’s up to you to decide how that’s reflected in the wider world. In Eberron, magic is a science. People don’t just wake up one day with a new feat and know how to cast light. These things take time and training – and that produces magewrights and wand adepts.
A wizard is extremely versatile. Your wizard can grab a spellbook, spend a few hours studying it, and cast a spell they’ve never seen before. That’s great, because wizards are exceptional people. But in Eberron, you can cast magic without having that degree of versatility. This is the magewright, someone who spends years learning how to perform the skills and spells associated with a particular trade. In 3.5 D&D this was an NPC class, but that’s not required in 5E; instead, you can simple state that an NPC magewright has the ability to cast the spells you want them to cast. Beyond this, we can also say that the spells the magewrights can perform are different from those used by PCs – typically, because they are more limited. For example, Prestidigitation allows the caster to heat, chill, clean, soil, and more. Mending allows the caster to mend anything. But you can say that a magewright chef knows a limited version of Prestidigitation that only affects food – and that a launderer knows Prestidigitation and Mending, but can only work with cloth. The fact that the player character can mend anything is again a sign of their versatility and exceptional talent.
My idea of a magewright is that they can cast one to three cantrips or spells. They don’t require spellbooks or memorization; they have perfected these spells over the course of years. However, their cantrips may be limited (as noted above) and their spells can only be cast as rituals. So the arcane locksmith can cast Arcane Lock all day, but it takes time. I’ll talk more about ways in which these rituals differ from PC spells further below, but first, let’s take a look at a few Magewrights you could find in the world…
- Chef: Prestidigitation, only affecting food; perhaps a form of Gentle Repose for preserving meals, or Purify Food and Drink. Proficient with cook’s utensils.
- Healer: Detect Poison & Disease, Lesser Restoration, Spare the Dying. Proficient with Medicine and herbalism kits.
- Launderer: Prestidigitation and Mending, both only affecting cloth.
- Lamplighter: Light, Continual Flame. Uses tinkers’ tools to construct lanterns.
- Locksmith: Arcane Lock, Knock. Proficient with thieves’ tools and tinkers’ tools.
- Medium: Speak with Dead. Perhaps a form of Minor Illusion that produces an image of a dead person as they were in life. Possibly proficient in Insight and Persuasion, if they help bereaved make sense of a loss… or Insight and Deception, if they use grief to take advantage of mourners.
- Oracle: Augury, Divination. Proficient in Insight and Investigation. This is definitely a case where I would adjust the magewright versions of these spells. In the hands of a magewright, Augury – which should be the bread and butter of a common oracle – should be able to predict outcomes farther in the future, though still only with the binary answer of woe or weal. An oracle who can perform full Divination should be rarer (it is a fourth level spell) and the ritual could take longer than usual and be more expensive.
These are just a handful of ideas; there are many possibilities. A suspicious noble could have a food taster who knows Detect Poison and Purify Food and Drink. The city watch in a major city could have a verifier who can cast Detect Thoughts and Zone of Truth. There’s also a critical spell from Eberron that’s missing in 5E, and that’s Magecraft – a spell that provides a bonus to a skill check related to crafting. So you begin to get a sense of the possibilities. But also consider the limitations.
- What does it cost? Eberron treats magic as a science and magewrights as part of the economy. The lesser restoration spell has no cost, which is fine, because it’s NOT a ritual and player characters can’t use it that often; the “cost” is that it uses a limited spell slot. But if you’re going to introduce it as a service that can be performed by a magewright, you either need to ADD a cost or come up with an explanation for why disease still exists in the world. While every spell has unique components, it’s always been the idea that Eberron dragonshards are the basic fuel of the magical economy, and that applies here. House Tharashk refines raw shards to produce residuum, glowing powder that serves as a fuel for most rituals – so a locksmith can use residuum instead of powdered gold dust when casting arcane lock. You can add whatever cost you want to set the price of a service. Does curing a disease cost ten gold pieces or a hundred? Even the launderer might have to sprinkle a copper’s worth of residuum over the cloth they wish to cleanse.
- What does it look like? These are jobs people do. Mechanically they involve performing a ritual. But it’s up to you to add the color to that. An oracle can cast augury as a ritual. But what are they doing in that ritual? Are they reading cards? Palms? Auras? Are they studying star charts or patterns of the planes? A locksmith can cast arcane lock. Are they tracing elaborate patterns in the air with an iron wand? Just because these things are mechanically all “spells” doesn’t mean that the magewright just chews their lip and concentrates for a few minutes, regardless of what they are doing. Add flavor!
- Who can do this? In Eberron in particular, it’s established that the Dragonmarked Houses dominate certain fields of magical industry. One possibility is that the Houses are where you go to learn the skills of the magewright – that most locksmiths are trained and licensed by House Kundarak. On the other hand, if you want to give the houses a tighter hold you can say that many magewright rituals are restricted to someone with a particular dragonmark… that only Kundarak dwarves can master the rituals of the arcane locksmith, that only Jorasco halflings can be magewright healers. The reason you don’t see a verifier at every watch station is because it requires the Mark of Detection. This is a way to truly emphasize the power and influence of a house; if you want a magic lock, Kundarak is your only option. Of course this is specifically about magewrights; your PC wizard can cast Arcane Lock, but do you really want to make a living doing it?
So that’s the idea of the magewright: that beyond magical items, there are people in the world who can perform magical services. It’s up to you how prevalent they are in your campaign. In a major city like Sharn, you’d see many magewrights performing all sorts of services. But in a small village, they probably do their laundry the old fashioned way. Their might be a single magewright in town; what service do they provide?
Under 3.5, “magewright” was an NPC class that specifically dealt with arcane magic, counterbalanced against the adept NPC class which was a limited divine caster. Using the approach I suggest above, I don’t think it’s necessary to draw that line so sharply. Certainly any single individual is either practicing divine or arcane magic, but I think that you can use this same approach either way; you as DM simply need to be clear in your mind which is which. Specifically taking the Healer and the Oracle suggested above: either one of these could be presented as either arcane or divine. An arcane healer might be a Jorasco halfling who makes no prayers, but simply weaves rituals to cleanse the sick… while a divine healer might be a Silver Flame friar whose faith allows them to heal the sick. The oracle could be studying arcane patterns or asking the divine for guidance. Someone versed in Arcana or Religion should easily be able to tell which is which, but MECHANICALLY they are the same: an individual who can perform a few magical effects but who lacks the abilities or versatility of a spellcasting class.
Notably, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything adds a spell called Ceremony that allows a priest to imbue a religious ritual with divine power, adding a magical effect to a wedding or a coming of age ceremony. Following this magewright approach, you could easily have Ceremony, Thaumaturgy, and maybe Spare The Dying as a common set of spells known by a typical lead priest in a community – a halfway between an entirely mundane priest and a full spellcasting cleric.
When we initially developed Eberron wands were powerful and disposable magic items, and we made a conscious decision not to make them everyday tools; a fighter who wanted to kill someone across a room would still rely on a bow or a crossbow. We invented the eternal wand – a wand with only two charges, but that recharged over time and could be used with less restrictions. But even there, the cost of such a wand was too great to make it feasible as something every soldier would carry… and it still required some magical training.
However, I certainly like the IDEA of the Aundairian “musketeer” with a bandolier of wands. And with the various changes to magic over the last two editions – notably, the introduction of cantrips, the idea of wands as nonmagical arcane focus items, and the Magic Initiate feat – I think there’s a lot of room to introduce the casual wand.
A wand adept learns to perform a few offensive spells, but they require an arcane focus to channel those effects. A typical wand adept knows two offensive cantrips and a single first level spell they can perform once per long rest. But all of these require the arcane focus of a wand. So one wand adept might know acid splash, poison spray, and color spray; another might have ray of frost, fire bolt and burning hands. The critical point here is that the adept requires a wand to perform these spells, but the wand isn’t magical. It’s not a magic item worth hundreds of gold pieces; it’s an arcane focus costing ten galifars. While you COULD say that any wand will do, I would further say that adept wands are specialized by effect. Looking above, I might say that an adept uses the same wand for fire bolt and burning hands… but that ray of frost requires a different wand, one attuned to cold. So you can have the Aundairian duelist flinging fire from one wand and ice from the other, and if you disarm them of one wand they’re limited until they recover it.
The principle of this is drawn from the Magic Initiate feat; it’s simply adding an additional restriction that a player character isn’t bound by, because PCs are remarkable. It’s adding the idea that offensive magic is evolving… but that most of the time a wand is a focus, and that the fully magic wands are more significant and expensive.
Now with this said: the idea of a wand adept IS that learning to use a wand requires training and effort. This is common in a place like Aundair, which places a high value on magical talent. But just as a player character who wanted to use a wand like this would need to get the Magic Initiate feat (with the wand being there for color), the wand adept has invested resources learning to use the wand that could have been spent elsewhere. If I have an Aundairian soldier blasting her foes with wands, I might give the Karrnathi knight the benefit of Heavy Armor Master or make the expert Thrane archer a Sharpshooter. The skill isn’t in the wand, it’s in the person using it… and if I introduce wand adepts, I’d want to make clear that they could have invested that skill in other ways.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PLAYER CHARACTERS? Well, if you have the ability to cast an offensive cantrip, congratulations! You’re a wand adept. You’re so talented that you can cast your spell even without a wand, but nothing’s stopping you from using the wand for flavor. If you’re not a spellcaster, that’s what the Magic Initiate feat is for. Essentially, with the integration of cantrips as a reliable form of magical weapon, it’s more plausible to have people using magical attacks instead of mundane weapons – but at this point in time, the amount of training required to use a wand has prevented wands from replacing mundane weapons. And in that small Brelish village nobody knows how to use a wand, and they’ll consider your wand-wielding duelist to be an Aundairian hipster. If you and your DM want to embrace the idea of the wand adept, I could see a variation of the Magic Initiate feat that requires the use of a wand… perhaps in exchange for a +1 bonus to attack rolls or spell DC with these cantrips as a balance for requiring the focus.
Like magewrights, you COULD push beyond the limitations of the Magic Initiate feat. For example, putting the two concepts together, you could have a staff adept who can cast fireball as a ritual, but requires both a specialized staff and burns dragonshards with every casting. This is a way to compromise with the question of “How could the Five Nations afford to deploy magic items on the field?” It could be that the mystical artillery relied on the skills of the artillerists as much as on the power of the item… that a siege staff is just a big piece of carved wood if you don’t have someone who can use it. This of course gets into the question of war magic, as a fireball isn’t actually that useful in a truly large-scale military engagement… but THAT is a topic for another article.
Let’s Talk About Wands
Wands themselves serve a different role in 5E. When we created Eberron in 3.5, we introduced the idea of eternal wands as an evolution of “wand science” – a wand that wasn’t entirely disposable, and that could be used by a wider range of people. In 5E, that’s standard for a wand; the average wand has 7 charges and regains 1d6+1 charges every day. In addition, many wands don’t require the user to be a spellcaster; anyone can use a wand of magic missiles. This ties also to the introduction of at-will offensive magic over the last two editions… allowing for a character who prefers to rely on cantrips instead of ranged weapons. This idea of wand adepts is about incorporating the evolution of these mechanics into the setting in a logical way. If this is how magic works, this is how we would see it in the world.
With that said, this can cause some confusion about what exactly a wand IS. As I see it, there are three types of wands in the world.
- Unaligned Focus Item. As described on pages 151 and 203 of the PHB. This is a wand that is generally designed for channeling arcane energy, but not for any particular purpose; a wizard can use that one wand for all of their spells. This has a base cost of 10 GP… but I’ll talk more about this later.
- Aligned Focus Item. This is what a wand adept uses. The idea is that the design or components of the wand predispose it to channeling a particular type of energy; a “fire wand” might be made from charred wood harvested from a Fernian manifest zone. The wand has no innate power, but it’s easier to channel a particular type of energy through it, and a wand adept needs that boost. So the wand doesn’t grant you the ability to cast Burning Hands; it’s simply that if you’re a wand adept who knows how to cast Burning Hands, you still need a fire-aligned wand to cast the spell. This still has a base cost of 10 GP.
- Actual Magic Item. This is a Wand of Fireballs or Wand of Magic Missiles. The magic is IN THE WAND… in the case of a Wand of Magic Missiles, ANYONE can use it. Many wands require “Attunement by a spellcaster” and I would allow the talents of a wand adept to count for this purpose – so if you’re a wand adept, you can attune a Wand of Lightning Bolts, even if it’s not a spell you can cast alone. You are trained in the science of wandcraft, and the power is in the wand. In 5E, a Wand of Fireballs is rare. So they definitely EXIST, but they are expensive and NOT things you’d see a common soldier carrying; We’re talking thousands of galifars, as opposed to the 10 gp aligned wand. Someone pulling out a Wand of Fireballs is like someone producing a bazooka.
Now, there’s definitely room for middle ground here… and that’s the enhanced focus item. As it stands, a fire-aligned focus item is simply restrictive – saying that the wand adept MUST have a fire-aligned wand to cast fire spells. But you could also have fancy aligned wands that provide BENEFITS when you channel certain types of spells. For example, a darkwood wand studded with Mabar crystals that adds +1 DC to any necromancy spells you cast using the wand. That should cost more than 10 GP, but certainly less that 4,000 GP. A wand adept could use it as a focus for necromancy spells, but I’d generally allow a wizard to use it with ANY spells – it’s just that necromancy spells get a bonus.
Post your thoughts and questions below. In my next article I’ll be getting back to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and how I’d incorporate it into my Eberron campaign. Thanks as always to my Patreon supporters, who make it possible for me to spend time on this site.As always, bear in mind that nothing I say on this site is canon; these are simply ideas that I’m exploring.
Here’s a quick question (still reading the article proper): what class would the average maical artillery from the War be? Someone who only really knows fireball or cloudkill. Would they be a proper wizard even though character classes are rare?
This is what I touch on at the end. The question to me is whether you see the artillerist as possessing the full skills of a wizard. Can they cast any spell they can get their hands on? Can they cast cloudkill WITHOUT the use of a siege staff? Or is it simply that they know how to produce cloudkill using a siege staff? I’m inclined to say that most artillerists would fall into the magewright/wand adept class: they are trained to use specialized equipment, but they aren’t as versatile or as powerful as a full wizard.
With that said, you certainly HAD full wizards out there in the Last War. But I’d expect their versatility to be put to good use; you can have someone less talented manning the staff.
Thanks for the article and this reply both. I’ve beenn a big proponent of the widespread wands idea (my damn players really want guns!) and this scratches an itch I’ve had for years quite nicely.
Oops, looks like Wand Adept handles that nicely.
Though I do like the idea of Karrnath eventually adopting the concept late in the War, giving us disciplined and armored wand users…
Certainly. We’ve always said that Karrnath has a strong interest in war magic. Every nation could have wand adepts; it’s simply that Aundair would be the one I’d see having the most of them. And again, the point is that by devoting the training (aka Feat) to learning to use a wand, you’re sacrificing a different skill. So you could have the armored Karrn using a wand, but that either means he’s NOT a Heavy Armor Master or that he’s a truly exceptional soldier who has the benefits of two feats… or simply the equivalent of a fighter/wizard, since there can always be such exceptional individuals out there.
Possibly a silly question, but where can I read more about siege staffs? Is it simply the same concept as wands here, but for more powerful spells?
I think the only place Siege Staffs are mentioned are in my novels. The premise is simply that if the scientific principles of magic are that a wand can hold/channel magic and that a staff (IE larger wand) can hold/produce a more powerful effect, then on the battlefield you should see even larger forms of these focus items – less portable, more powerful. Though “Power” here should refer to range and radius, as even a fireball is overkill on commoner soldiers. Anyhow, this is the sort of thing I’d like to have seen in The Forge of War, but it wasn’t.
I know you’ve said you don’t use Forge of War; are there any other sources you exclude at your home table or notable breaks from published canon you take?
This is a significant subject and not on topic for this article. I’ve got it on my list of general Q&A questions, and I’ll get to it. In general, if I didn’t work on a book (Forge of War, Five Nations, Magic of Eberron, Faiths of Eberron) there’s a decent chance I ignore at least some of it.
For a relative power level and making these options available to PCs, how about a few backgrounds that provide these benefits.
I’ve already brewed up a Aberrant Scion background which provides 1 skill, and access to a single spell instead of other benefits.
A few potential magewright spells from Pathfinder’s Advanced Player’s Guide:
* Crafter’s Fortune: Basically the Pathfinder answer to Magecraft, just in case one doesn’t have access to the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting.
* Ant Haul: Triples carrying capacity. (Combine knowledge of that with knowledge of Floating Disk and you have a magewright great at hauling heavy objects — holding one end with magically-enhanced lifting while the other end rests on the Floating Disk following them.)
* Expeditious Excavation: Dig a 5′ cube out of the ground instantly.
* Restful Sleep: Better natural healing from sleep.
* Perceive Cues: Better Perception and Sense Motive/Insight for a long period (probably an hour in 5e).
* Share Language: Grant someone else the ability to understand a language you know for a day. (That suggests a unique job in and of itself!)
Oh I’m gonna use all of those in my Eberron games. Translated to 5e, they should all work fine as spells of the level given.
As someone who is running Eberron and recently got Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, I can’t thank you enough for these articles.
I really like the idea of magewrights who specialize in only one specific application of prestidigitation. In fact, I like the idea of making the casting of prestidigitation as written in the PHB the test to being admitted to study as a wizard. If a magewright can see how the principles he uses to flavor someone’s dinner can also be used to start a fire, he might have what it takes to progress in the arcane sciences. But I also like the idea that it is harder for magewrights who have been in their professions for years to make that adjustment; they’re too often set in their mindset to make the necessary connections.
One question I have: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has a clerical spell that allows the caster to perform a religious ceremony that confers a mechanical benefit. Would you allow any ordained priest to cast this as a ritual, or would you require the religious equivalent of a magewright (forgot what it is called) or a spellcasting cleric to cast it?
In fact, I like the idea of making the casting of prestidigitation as written in the PHB the test to being admitted to study as a wizard. If a magewright can see how the principles he uses to flavor someone’s dinner can also be used to start a fire, he might have what it takes to progress in the arcane sciences.
There’s a lot of ways to use interpret the versatility of prestidigitation. One is that it’s about conjuring a force and then directing the energy for a particular effect, which ties to what you suggest here; you’ve learned how to do one thing with it, can you do another? Another approach is to say that what we call “Prestidigitation” is in fact a dozen lesser cantrips – Calyee’s Cullinary Combustion, Silbert’s Soiling, Ethelbert’s Spectral Spicing – and it’s simply that a PC learns all of them in a package deal. But when they actually produce an effect, they wouldn’t CALL it “prestidigitation”; they’d call it something tied to the specific effect.
The second question is a good point, and I’ll add a note about adepts to the end of the magewright section. As it IS a mystical effect, I WOULD require a priest to be a spellcaster to perform it. Any ordained priest can perform a wedding ceremony, but unless you’re actually casting the ceremony spell, it’s not imbued with magical power.
Looking at 5E rituals, I could also see these magewrights:
Porter – Tenser’s Floating Disk
Clerk – Ceremony
Town Crier – Magic Mouth
I can also see criminals using Find Familiar to have a hawk that can perch 100ft above them that they can keep watch through (like warging in GoT). Alternatively, simple prospectors that aren’t marked with the Mark of Finding (and even those that are) could use Find Familiar to help them scout around. A fisherman might have a fish familiar that can help him find schools of fish or something along those lines.
And I can see a criminal magewright using Silence for when he and his goons have to beat someone into a pulp in an alley somewhere.
For Wand Adepts, I was thinking:
Acid Splash – The ability to target two people next to each other is a great advantage when facing enemies in battle formation.
Chill Touch – Seems like many might be trained in this if they are facing off against Karrnath. Not only deals damage, but makes the undead less effective.
Dancing Lights – Not sure on this one. I was thinking that nighttime battles could see some soldiers with this training to light up targets on the battlefield. Summon the orbs around your enemies so your allies can fire at them, and then zip the orbs to your next targets.
Mold Earth – These are your trench diggers. They can also make difficult terrain ahead of the trenches as well.
Though the radiant damage spells would be good against Karrnath as well, can we get clarification on spells by class and how they interact with Magewrights? Since magewrights are trained to cast specific spells, can they learn any type of spell (arcane or divine), or do we still have Magewright/Adept/Gleaner distinctions in 5E? I like the distinctions, but figured I’d ask.
Fantastic as always!
Tangentially related, but would you say that part of what it means to be a PC class is having moved beyond some of these limitations in a recognized way? If a PC wizard wanted all their casting to be the result of different focus wands and other such items would people experienced with such things think they were a very talented wand adept or a wizard with a strange desire to use a different focus for every spell?
To what extent are the effects the result of a trained user using a particular tool vs someone doing their own magic with a prop? For example, does Cannith manufacture “Rods of Earthly Dominion” that lets a wand adept who have been properly trained use Mold Earth and all wands that allow use of that spell operate on similar principles and could be identified as such or do wand adapts in the course of learning to cast Mold Earth pick out or make a wand that works for them for that spell and if they go with the Cannith one they may be paying for a brand name?
I don’t think that PC classes should be strictly defined. Mechanically, the critical thing that defines a wizard is versatility – the ability to master a wide range of spells and change that lineup to fit a situation – and I think that’s what justifies the title. Cosmetically I think you can have many different types of wizards – one who uses all sorts of crazy focus items, one who reads all their spells from a book while casting them – just as you can have sorcerers who draw their power from dragon’s blood, the planes, the Mourning, or whatever you can think of.
Your wand question is complicated, and I’ve added a primary answer to the end of the main post. The short form is that yes, Cannith sells wands aligned with fire that are designed for wand adepts who use fire magic. They also sell unaligned wands that can be used by wizards. I think you could justify middle ground, with a wand adept who has an unaligned wand but over time has PERSONALLY aligned it to channel a particular spell. But it’s still the idea that a wand adept can’t just use any wand for any spell, as a wizard can.
Now, as for the benefit of the Cannith brand name (or the work of a Cannith-licensed independent artisan), this essentially ties to what’s stated in Dragonmarked: Cannith sets the industry standard. Cannith establishes that an arcane focus wand should cost 10 GP and should work as described. If you’re buying an off-brand wand it could be 5 GP or 15 GP, and could be in some way inferior or superior (every time you us it, roll a d20! On a 20 you get a +1 to spell level, on a 1 it blows up in your hand!). And as noted above, Cannith also sells fancier focus wands.
There totally is an equivalent to the Magecraft spell: Guidance! +1d4 to one ability check in the next minute, including tool use checks. It would be entirely reasonable for a magewright to learn a specialized version of the spell that takes a minute to cast, lasts an hour, and only works on a specific or pre-selected type of check.
It’s not bad, but the fact that it’s a random result makes it a little less than ideal; Magecraft provides a flat bonus to a Craft check. In addition, Magecraft is PERSONAL – you can’t touch someone else and give them the bonus. So you could certainly tweak Guidance to fit, but I’d rather just make a Magecraft spell.
As a side note on that: Even though the spell as written has a short casting time – 1 round casting – in my opinion it’s NOT something where you cast the spell and it simply makes you smarter. Magecraft has a 1 day duration, and affects craft checks you make during that time. In my vision, someone using Magecraft is actually *constantly* actively using minor cantrip-level effects throughout the process of crafting. Essentially, I see the casting of Magecraft as “attuning yourself to the energies you’ll be using in the work” – but then you continue to draw on those in minor ways throughout the work.
Essentially, if one blacksmith is doing mundane work and another is using Magecraft, it will be OBVIOUS. The Magecrafting blacksmith mutters incantations while he hammers, uses minor magics to regulate the temperatures, etc, etc. It’s back to the idea that arcane magic is a science and a tool in Eberron. When you learn to cast Magecraft, you aren’t just getting a cool smart pill; you are learning arcane techniques that improve mundane crafting.
Magecraft could provide a more static bonus by providing expertise with one tool of your choice for the duration and easily represent your vision. To represent this, I would set it up in the following way:
Casting Time: 1 action
Components: V, S, M (The tools with which you will be working, with which you must be proficient.)
Duration: Concentration, up to 8 hours
You attune yourself to a set of tools, treating them as an extension of your body and will. For the duration, you may add your proficiency bonus twice to any ability check made using this set of tools to create an item.
That’s a decent approach. Using expertise is good because it emphasizes that it makes a skilled practitioner better, as opposed to granting skill to any random person. Given the prevalence of tools, I’d be tempted to extend it to any sort of tool use; a tinker repairing something or a brewer brewing should benefit from Magecraft. However, this would make it quite useful to people using Thieves’ Tools. On the other hand, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing; it makes it a useful spell for adventurers, and also fits the idea of people using minor magics to assist with a mundane task.
My Warlock Theif would love that spell.
I notice mediums get Speak with Dead as a ritual. I, uh, assume this isn’t the normal version of the spell, since that involves animating a corpse to answer questions. What does a Medium’s Speak with Dead look like?
It could still require a corpse, or a piece of the corpse. On the other hand, since magewright rituals can be superior to player spells, you could create a ritual with the same effect that only requires an object closely associated with the person you wish to contact… so there still needs to be a point of connection, but not the corpse itself.
Hmm… I like the idea of a version of Speak with Dead where you DO only need an object personally connected with the deceased, or a lock of hair or something, and the question-and-answer part happens entirely as voices inside the caster’s head. But maybe the version of the spell only has a some% chance of successfully connecting to the dead person’s spirit, so sometimes a medium will have to either disappoint their client (if they’re honest) or fake the whole thing (if they’re a charlatan). And then you’ve got a fun thing where the charlatan types are probably more popular than the honest mediums since they always appear to get results and hide their failures…