Skills >

Use Magic Device (Cha; Trained Only)

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You are skilled at activating magic items, even if you are not otherwise trained in their use.

Common Uses

Cause Mishap

Source PPC:SpyHB

You can intentionally cause a magic item to produce a mishap.

Action: Attempting to create a mishap is like activating an item blindly, and requires a standard action during which you try out magic words or other appropriate actions.

Check: You can cause a magic item to have an intentional magic mishap, as if you had attempted to activate it blindly and failed by 10 or more. The DC to produce an intentional mishap is 30. If you succeed, you have some control over the mishap. The item deals 2d6 points of damage to any one creature or object that the item could have targeted if activated normally. You can attempt to aim it, but if you select an invalid target, you take the damage instead. If you fail the check by 9 or less, you create a normal mishap you do not control. If you fail by 10 or more, nothing happens.

Read Spell/Activate Magic Item

You can use this skill to read a spell or to activate a magic item. Use Magic Device lets you use a magic item as if you had the spell ability or class features of another class, as if you were a different race, or as if you were of a different alignment.

You make a Use Magic Device check each time you activate a device such as a wand. If you are using the check to emulate an alignment or some other quality in an ongoing manner, you need to make the relevant Use Magic Device check once per hour.

You must consciously choose which requirement to emulate. That is, you must know what you are trying to emulate when you make a Use Magic Device check for that purpose. The DCs for various tasks involving Use Magic Device checks are summarized on the table below.

Activate Blindly: Some magic items are activated by special words, thoughts, or actions. You can activate such an item as if you were using the activation word, thought, or action, even when you’re not and even if you don’t know it. You do have to perform some equivalent activity in order to make the check. That is, you must speak, wave the item around, or otherwise attempt to get it to activate. You get a +2 bonus on your Use Magic Device check if you’ve activated the item in question at least once before. If you fail by 9 or less, you can’t activate the device. If you fail by 10 or more, you suffer a mishap. A mishap means that magical energy gets released but doesn’t do what you wanted it to do. The default mishaps are that the item affects the wrong target or that uncontrolled magical energy is released, dealing 2d6 points of damage to you. This mishap is in addition to the chance for a mishap that you normally risk when you cast a spell from a scroll that you could not otherwise cast yourself.

Decipher a Written Spell: This usage works just like deciphering a written spell with the Spellcraft skill, except that the DC is 5 points higher. Deciphering a written spell requires 1 minute of concentration.

Emulate an Ability Score: To cast a spell from a scroll, you need a high score in the appropriate ability (Intelligence for wizard spells, Wisdom for divine spells, or Charisma for sorcerer or bard spells). Your effective ability score (appropriate to the class you’re emulating when you try to cast the spell from the scroll) is your Use Magic Device check result minus 15. If you already have a high enough score in the appropriate ability, you don’t need to make this check.

Table: Use Magic Device Skill DCs
Task Use Magic Device DC
Activate blindly 25
Decipher a written spell 25 + spell level
Use a scroll 20 + caster level
Use a wand 20
Emulate a class feature 20
Emulate an ability score See text
Emulate a race 25
Emulate an alignment 30

Emulate an Alignment: Some magic items have positive or negative effects based on the user’s alignment. Use Magic Device lets you use these items as if you were of an alignment of your choice. You can emulate only one alignment at a time.

Emulate a Class Feature: Sometimes you need to use a class feature to activate a magic item. In this case, your effective level in the emulated class equals your Use Magic Device check result minus 20. This skill does not let you actually use the class feature of another class. It just lets you activate items as if you had that class feature. If the class whose feature you are emulating has an alignment requirement, you must meet it, either honestly or by emulating an appropriate alignment with a separate Use Magic Device check (see above).

Emulate a Race: Some magic items work only for members of certain races, or work better for members of those races. You can use such an item as if you were a member of a race of your choice. You can emulate only one race at a time.

Use a Scroll: Normally, to cast a spell from a scroll, you must have the scroll’s spell on your class spell list. Use Magic Device allows you to use a scroll as if you had a particular spell on your class spell list. The DC is equal to 20 + the caster level of the spell you are trying to cast from the scroll. In addition, casting a spell from a scroll requires a minimum score (10 + spell level) in the appropriate ability. If you don’t have a sufficient score in that ability, you must emulate the ability score with a separate Use Magic Device check. This use of the skill also applies to other spell completion magic items.

Use a Wand, Staff, or Other Spell Trigger Item: Normally, to use a wand, you must have the wand’s spell on your class spell list. This use of the skill allows you to use a wand as if you had a particular spell on your class spell list. Failing the roll does not expend a charge.


You cannot take 10 with this skill.

You can’t aid another on Use Magic Device checks. Only the user of the item may attempt such a check.


None. The Use Magic Device check is made as part of the action (if any) required to activate the magic item.


Yes, but if you ever roll a natural 1 while attempting to activate an item and you fail, then you can’t try to activate that item again for 24 hours.


  • Feats If you have the Magical Aptitude feat, you gain a +2 bonus on Use Magic Device checks. If you have 10 or more ranks in this skill, the bonus increases to +4.

Use Magic Device Unchained

Source PFU

About This Section Optionally, a character who reaches 5, 10, 15, or 20 ranks in a skill unlocks various bonuses and abilities unique to that skill. The unchained rogue uses these rules extensively, but others can gain access to them with a new feat.

In this system, characters unlock additional abilities when they attain 5, 10, 15, and 20 ranks in a skill. The skill unlocks system interfaces with the unchained rogue to make the rogue the true master of skills.

Skill unlocks give characters new abilities and ways to use their skills upon reaching 5, 10, 15, and 20 ranks in a skill. Any character with the Signature Skill feat can earn skill unlocks for a single skill, and they are a prime feature of the revised version of the rogue who uses her rogue’s edge ability to gain skill unlocks for several of her most iconic skills. Alternatively, you might make skill unlocks a universal part of the game, but you should be aware they add significant power and flexibility to skills, so giving them for free to all classes would grant power boosts to other highly skilled classes such as the investigator and bard, particularly in comparison to the rogue. Another alternative is to eliminate access to the Signature Skill feat, limiting skill unlocks to rogues and rogues alone.

With sufficient ranks in Use Magic Device, you earn the following.

5 Ranks: You can use the aid another action to assist another creature’s Use Magic Device check by attempting a check against the item’s Use Magic Device DC.

10 Ranks: If you roll a natural 1 when activating an item, you take a –10 penalty on Use Magic Device checks with that item for 24 hours instead of being unable to activate it. This penalty stacks with itself.

15 Ranks: You can use this skill to emulate two races or two alignments simultaneously.

20 Ranks: If you roll a natural 1 when activating an item, you can reroll the check at a –10 penalty to activate the item. You must take the result of the second check, even if it is worse, and you can’t reroll it again.

FastPlay Rules
See this skill in FastPlay format.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Copyright 2009, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.