Wu Jen are the arcane spellcasters in my Wuxia campaign.  They are like wizards, but there are subtle differences. Normally, a Wu Jen’s power is drawn from the five elements (earth, fire, metal, water, and wood), and they can choose to master a single element which affords them additional powers. Also, a Wu Jen has the ability to manipulate their spells to change range, duration, effect, eliminating verbal or somatic components through permanent meta-magic effects.

So adding some flavor to a Wizard, creating an expanded spell list, and making some additional rules; I’ve fleshed out the Wu Jen.  So I started with the Wizard and added a school of the elements, worked on a Wu Jen element spell list, and described some Wu Jen specific meta-magic powers with spell manipulation.

W u   J e n

To start, a Wu Jen is simply part of the wizard class, and at 2nd Level chooses a new school: School of the Elements.  The Wu Jen will use the Wizard’s spell list, and some of those spells will be tagged with an elemental theme, but these aren’t the traditional four elements of a D&D game. The Wu Jen draws from the five elements of eastern tradition: earth, fire, metal, water, and wood.

The spells of earth, fire, and water spells are easily spotted in the Wizard’s Arcane spell list. With the Metal spells, I focused on spells that deal with weapons, control & defense.  And many of the wood spells were found in the Druid spells list.  But not all the spells selected by a Wu Jen will necessarily be tagged with one of the five elements. Those spells can be used & learned, but will not benefit the Wu Jen with Elemental Spell Mastery as shown in the School of the Elements Arcane traditions, but could be empowered with Spell Secret meta-magic.

The spells that can be selected that are allowed outside the Wizard Arcane spell list, and are shown at the end of this article: Wu Jen Elemental Spells.

School of the Elements

The School of Elements is the Eastern arcane tradition of the five natural elements: Fire, Earth, Water, Metal & Wood.  The Wu Jen uses the Wizard’s spell list, but also has additional spells to choose.  The Wu Jen gains spells from other classes as specified on the Element Spell list. The Wu Jen also has Taboos that they follow to maintain their connection with the elements. A starting character chooses one taboo, and at 7th, 13th, 17th, and 19th level, an additional taboo is chosen by the player. If a taboo is broken and violated purposefully, then the Wu Jen must make amends, and cannot cast any spells for the remainder of the day. Once chosen, a Taboo cannot be changed.

Here are some example taboos:

  • Cannot walk with even/odd amounts of coinage
  • Cannot sit down until everyone else in the room has
  • Cannot eat meat
  • May not wear shoes or expose soles of feet to others
  • Cannot own more than can be carried
  • Must make a daily offering (such as food, flowers, or incense) to one or many spirit powers
  • Cannot bathe
  • Cannot eat inside
  • Cannot cut hair
  • Cannot open doors
  • Must not lie
  • Cannot touch a dead body
  • Cannot drink alcohol
  • Cannot wear a certain color
  • Cannot light a fire
  • Cannot sit facing to the east (or north, south, etc.)

Arcane Traditions

Elemental Spell Mastery

At 2nd Level, the Wu Jen character gains Elemental Spell Mastery.

There are specific spells that are categorized under a specific element for the Wu Jen.  For a given level, when a Wu Jen learns all the spells for a given element, then he will be given mastery when casting those spells. This mastery will allow advantage/disadvantage on the spell casting in favor of the Wu Jen. Also the Wu Jen will gain resistance against that element. For example the element of Metal, this resistance would include damage caused by weapons made of metal.

Example: For a Wu Jen at 2nd Level to gain Elemental Spell Mastery of Earth.  The Wu Jen character would need to know:

  • Cantrips: Mold Earth, Thaumaturgy  and Resistance
  • 1st Level Spells: Earth Tremor, Shield and Absorb Elements.

When the Wu Jen gains a level and is able to cast higher-level spells, he will not gain the benefits of element spell mastery for that level until all the spells of that element for the higher level are learned.

As with the example above, when the Wu Jen reaches 3rd Level and has access to 2nd Level Spells, then to maintain Elemental Spell Mastery of Earth for 2nd Level Spells, he would need to learn:

  • 2nd Level Spells: Earthbind and Shatter

Spell Secret

Starting at 6th Level, and whenever a Wu Jen gains a level that allows higher-level spells to be learned (7th level, 9th level, 11th level, 13th level, 15th level & 17th level), he can modify one specific spell that he already knows in his spell book, so that the spell can have one of the meta-magic effects added permanently to the spell. A spell can only be modified once. If the Wu Jen’s spell book is lost, then the effects are also lost with the book. The augmented spells cannot be shared with others, but a Wu Jen can have a copy of his own Spellbook:

  • Careful Spell: You can protect a number of creatures against spells that requires a saving throw.  You choose up to 1 + the spell level spell in creatures to automatically succeed on their saving throw and take no damage if they normally would take half damage.
  • Distance Spell: The range of the spell is doubled if it has a range of 5 feet or greater.
  • Empowered Spell: You can re-roll any damage dice and must use the new re-roll.
  • Extended Spell: a spell with duration of 1 minute or longer is doubled in duration for a maximum of 24 hours.
  • Heightened Spell: Creatures are at disadvantage on their first saving throw against the spell.
  • Reach Spell: The range of a touch spell is increased to 30 feet.
  • Subtle Spell: no somatic or verbal components required to cast the spell
  • Twinned Spell: A spell with a target of only one creature can be cast to target a second creature within range.
  • Quickened Spell: The spell can be cast as a bonus action, and any other spells cast using an Action must be a cantrip.
  • Silent Spell: The spell can be cast without the use of a Verbal component.
  • Motionless Spell: The spell can be cast without the use of a Somatic component.

Sudden Action

Starting at 14th Level, once per day the Wu Jen can take two turns during the first round of any combat. The player will roll for initiative twice and placed in the initiative turn order twice.  The player then chooses one of their two results for the second and subsequent turns in combat.

Elemental Attunement

Starting at 14th level, you also gain elemental attunement to the element(s) that you have mastery, so that you can cast one of the following spells once per day as if you used a 6th level spell slot, but without using a spell slot:

  • Fire: Wall of Fire
  • Earth: Wall of Stone
  • Water: Wall of Ice
  • Metal: Wall of Force
  • Wood: Wall of Thorns

The Wu Jen is a powerful spellcaster with some odd quirks that make playing one fun. Let me know what you think, and if you…

Have Fun!

Contact me on twitter: @mrlong78


AD&D Oriental Adventures 1985 – E. Gary Gygax
Legend of the Five Rings roleplaying game, written by John Wick
D&D Oriental Adventures – James Wyatt

Here are the current links to the Wuxia / Oriental Adventure Campaign World I am building:
part 1. Samurai & Ninjas
part 2. Food
part 3. Yakuza
part 4. Exotic Weapons
part 5. Wu Jen

Wu Jen Elemental Spells

These are the spells designated for a particular element for Wu Jen. They may include other class spells normally not allowed for Wizards. For other wizard spells in PHB, they can also be learned, those spells are just generic and are not associated with an element (earth, fire, metal, water, and wood).

 Dancing Lights  Fire
 Mold Earth [EEPCp21]  Earth
 Shape Water  [EEPCp21]  Water
 Shillelagh (D)  Wood
 Blade Ward  Metal
 Thaumaturgy (C), Resistance (C,D)  All
1st Level Spells
 Burning Hands  Fire
 Earth Tremor [EEPCp17]  Earth
 Create or Destroy Water (C,D)  Water
 Entangle (D)  Wood
 Mage Armor  Metal
 Shield, Absorb Elements [EEPCp15]  All
2nd Level Spells
  Aganazzar’s scorcher  Fire
 Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp [EEPCp20]  Earth
 Sniloc’s Snowball Swarm [EEPCp22]  Water
 Barkskin (C,D,R)  Wood
 Cloud of Daggers  Metal
 Shatter  All
3rd Level Spells
 Fireball  Fire
 Meld into Stone (C,D)  Earth
 Wall of Water [EEPCp23]  Water
 Plant Growth (C,D,P,R,Wk)  Wood
 Elemental Weapon (P)  Metal
 Protection from Energy  All
4th Level Spells
 Wall of Fire  Fire
 Stone Shape  Earth
 Watery Sphere [EEPCp23]  Water
 Grasping Vines (C,D,R)  Wood
 Staggering Smite (P)  Metal
 Conjure Minor Elementals  All
5th Level Spells
Immolation [EEPCp19]  Fire
Wall of Stone  Earth
Cone of Cold  Water
Tree Stride (C,D,P,R)  Wood
Wall of Force  Metal
Conjure Elemental  All
6th Level Spells
 Investiture of Flame [EEPCp19]  Fire
 Move Earth  Earth
 Wall of Ice  Water
 Wall of Thorns (D) [EEPCp22]
 Blade Barrier (C)  Metal
 Guards & Wards  All
7th Level Spells
 Fire Storm (C,D,S)                         Fire
 Reverse Gravity  Earth
 Simulacrum  Water
 Forcecage  Wood
 Mordenkainen’s Sword  Metal
 Prismatic Spray  All
 8th Level Spells
 Incendiary Cloud  Fire
 Earthquake (C,D,S)  Earth
 Tsunami (D)  Water
 Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting  [EEPCp15]  Wood
 Power Word Stun  Metal
 Control Weather  All
 9th Level Spells
 Meteor Swarm  Fire
 Gate  Earth
 Storm of Vengeance (D)  Water
 Prismatic Wall  Wood
 Power Word Kill  Metal
 Wish  All

[Additional spells pulled from C=Cleric, D=Druid, P=Paladin, R=Ranger, S=Sorcerer, Wk=Warlock]

[EEPC = Elemental Evil Player’s Companion]

Here are the current links to the Wuxia / Oriental Adventure Campaign World I am building:
part 1. Samurai Build, Ninja Build & Ninja Clan Background
part 2. Food in Wuxia
part 3. Yakuza Chracter Class
part 4. Exotic Weapons
part 5. Wu Jen Character Class
part 6. Vanara Character Class
part 7. Deities & Demigods – Hachiman
part 8. Deities & Demigods – Amaterasu-ōmikami
part 9. Ninja Character Build – Level 5