Balsa Wands & Light Sources

1. Balsa Wands

1.1. What Are They

1.1.1. A balsa wand is a magical artefact that can be used to create a perm-light. A perm-light can be any object (jewellery is a popular choice) and has no gp cost. Perm-lights are also referred to as eternal light sources.

1.1.2. The effect of zapping with a balsa wand is always permanent, regardless of the number of zaps.

1.2. Purchasing Balsa Wands

1.2.1. Balsa wands can be purchased from the wand shops in Ankh-Morpork (Hobliet's Linear Tools, Magic Emporium, Sator Square) and Bes Pelargic (Artifact shop on Champion Way, at the South side of the Stadium / Arena). The cost is related to the charges in the wand, and is approximately:

1.2.2. Balsa Wand Retail Prices
Charges Cost AM$
Cost Rhinu
(Champion Way)
1 301 250
2 376 313
3 451 375

Hobliet's - Map

1.2.3. Hobliet's Linear Tools Shop, Magic Emporium, Sator Square, Ankh Morpork
(Mapping by Elessar)

CWC Wand Shop - Map

1.2.4. CWC Wand Shop, Champion Way, Bes Pelargic
(Mapping by Airk)

1.2.5. Balsa wands are rare items, and only seem to appear in each shop at a rate of one wand every few hours.

1.3. Recharging

1.3.1. Balsa wands can be recharged. Recharging a balsa wand uses 60 pinches (1 1/5 handfuls) of Purple Mineral Powder. This can not be expressed in terms of a given number of Purple Mineral Nuggets, as the nuggets may give anything between 10 and 40 pinches of powder when pulverised.

1.3.2. Purple Mineral Powder can be obtained by pulverising the Purple Mineral Nuggets that can be purchased from the Alchemists' Guild shop in Ankh Morpork and the Wizards' Guild in Creel Springs, or by searching the streams in Blue Moon Park in Bes Pelargic. The latter uses the craft.mining.ore.panning and adventuring.perception skills.

1.3.3. The cost of the powder in doing this (at AM$ 100 per handful) is AM$ 120 per recharge. In addition to this, payment to the wizard for the risk involved is normally required. This is because failing a recharge is fatal. The fee the wizard charges is usually related to their perception of the risks involved and the cost of their own lives.

1.4. Using Balsa Wands

1.4.1. It appears that a magic.items.held.wands bonus of over 450 is needed to reliably zap with a balsa wand.

1.4.2. A perm-light suitable for use in the Lancre Caves, the sewers in Bes Pelargic or Sto Lat, or other similar locations requires a series of 5 successful zaps of a balsa wand.

1.4.3. Each zap uses one charge.

1.4.4. Important - Note This! Failing any zap of a balsa wand removes all illumination from the target object (and also results in a short period of discomfort and significant hp losses for the person using the wand). This means that the whole process has to be restarted. To make an item into a perm-light requires a complete series of 5 successful zaps; any single failure while zapping means restarting from the first zap. Please note carefully, the following 3 items will all have exactly the same brightness: Making a perm-light requires a complete series of five good zaps. Any failed zap means starting again from the first one. If the fifth zap on an item fails, the item now requires a complete series of five good zaps to make it into a perm-light. Some pople still don't understand. Here's an alternative explanation. You need 50 lumens (for this example) to see in caves and sewers. A succesful zap adds 10 lumens of brightness to an item. A failed zap resets the brightness to 0 lumens. So, an item with three good zaps (+10 lumens each) followed by a single failed zap (set to 0 lumens) now needs 50 lumens (5 good zaps) added to be usable in caves and sewers.

2. Perm-lights

2.1. A "normal" perm-light is an item that has been zapped successfully 5 times in a row with a balsa wand. It will describe as "The <object> produces quite a bit of light." with the "bright all" command. Perm lights may be created with less zaps, but such items may not be sufficiently bright for all players to use in dark rooms such as sewers, caves etc. The ability to perceive one's surroundings depends on a combination of the illumination in the room and the person's perception skill, so players with higher perception may be able to distinguish their surroundings at lower levels of illumination. Occasionally perm-lights may be created with more zaps, but due to the difficulty of getting continuous sequences of good zaps at current player skill levels, these tend not to be made at the current time.

2.2. Gold necklaces available from a jewellery store on Cockbill Street in Ankh-Morpork (see also 2.3) seem to have some inherent light. These necklaces cost AM$250.00 (or less depending on condition) or the local equivalent. It appears, having tested 5 such necklaces, that after three succesful zaps with a balsa wand, they give off "quite a bit of light", the level expected of a perm-light. Using one as the base item for a perm-light has two benefits. You start with two zaps for less than a single zap wand; and you only need three more succesful zaps, which statistically is a much better chance than five successful zaps. If a zap fails on these necklaces, it may be best to fence or sell the necklace and buy a new one, as they may then have no light at all. The necklaces may be identified in two ways. For the purposes of paragraph above, these items come with 20 lumens of illumination, note that a failure will set their level of illumination to 0 lumens. It's cheaper, and there's a better chance of success, to start with a new necklace after such a fail, instead of trying to zap the 0 lumens item 5 times in a row!

2.2.1. When browsing the item for sale, or looking at it, it will show "This finely interwound gold filigree necklace looks like it was made by a master craftsman; the intricate (and obscure) craft mark on one of the links testifies to this. The necklace seems to glow faintly with an inner light of its own." Note that if one is offered by a player, or in a general store, it is possible that it has this description after a failed zap, and so may have no light.

2.2.2. When using the command "bright all" or "bright gold necklace", it gives off "a bit of light".

2.3. Steel necklaces available from a stall on Garden Walk in Bes Pelargic also come with this basic brightness level, and possibly there is a similar gold necklace in a stall in Djelibeybi Bazaar. The steel necklaces do not mention light in their description.

3. Dark-Lights

3.1. It is no longer possible to produce dark-lights. The ability to create these by failing zaps has been removed from the game. Not possible. Can not be done.