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In my setting, wands and staves are two of the many means by which magical creatures can harness, to a limited degree, other magical creatures' powers. When a magical creature (known as an immortal) dies, a small bead-like gem is left behind, called a soul gem. This piece of crystalized MANA (magic DNA) can be harnessed in various ways by channeling another immortal's magical energies through metal and into the soul gem, altering the nature of the magical energies to be more like those of the soul gem's species, like light traveling through colored glass.

Wands and staves are generally the ways that activated, projectile-based abilities, like fire breath or conjured lightning for instance, are used. They consist of three parts:

  • A metal rod to conduct the magical energies through

  • A soul gem at the business end to give the magical energies shape

  • A non-metal, non-conductive casing, with a hole for the holder to let their skin touch the metal inside, intended to keep all the magical energy flowing in one specific direction like the barrel of a gun.

And speaking of guns, the main difference between them is a lot like the difference between pistols and rifles: wands, made with shorter pieces of metal that don't let as much magic travel through them before hitting the business end, offer greater concealment and portability and don't require as much magical energy to use. Staves, meanwhile, allow more magic to travel through them before hitting the business end, and thus are stronger and also more accurate while being less portable, more magically intensive, and less concealable. ...In theory.

Ironically, though, it's actually kind of the opposite on that last point when it comes to appearing normal to the oblivious humans. A staff is quite a bit more normal to walk around with in modern day, because it's quite easy to explain it away as a walking stick/cane. But wands never saw any sort of mundane use at basically any point in human history, and thus in practice they'd need to be disguised as some other device so as not to raise eyebrows in the event that someone found they were carrying one.

But what sort of object would be best for that? What roughly foot-long object, totally normal to carry around in modern-day times, could something that fits all three of the above requirements for a wand be easily disguised as?

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 23 at 3:38

29 Answers 29

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A Gun

enter image description here This presumes that concealed carry licenses are available for the mage. It assumes that you want to conceal the fact that you are a mage, not the fact that you are carrying a weapon. Maybe the wand is integrated into the gun and it is in fact a functional gun. This could be favoured by more modern minded mages.

If purely magical combat is the norm, a firearm could be tactically advantagous. I think there is a scene in The Dresden Files where the wizard is either out of magic or facing a magic resistant foe. The foe taunts him, the mage shoots him.

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    $\begingroup$ ...Given a lot of characters in my stories carry guns anyway, this is actually a pretty important option to consider. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, this image is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Weapons, a complete edit of the full first Harry Potter movie which replaced all the wands with guns. $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 4:16
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    $\begingroup$ I would also like to add that a gun is far easier to aim than a wand or staff, this 9mm wand with it's ergonomic grip and iron sites will probably give you better accuracy than a full length staff... after all guns are weapons of war, staves are weapons of terror. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Apr 21 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe not common in the USA any more, but 30-40 years ago, many rural American Schools still had gunracks where students were expected to check thier guns when they got to class. So, you could do a period piece and it would work well. Also, there are still places elsewhere in the Americas where openly carrying weapons is still very common like Honduras for example. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Apr 25 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Blueriver I think your point is ultimately plot and setting dependent. If the setting is peaceful and the magic is mostly full of gimmicks as in Harry Potter for example, go ahead and carry any of the more or less amusing alternatives suggested below. If you expect there is a reasonable chance one might end up in combat, Desert Eagle wand with several mags of blessed silver ammo and sawed off shotgun rod with consecrated and garlic treated oakwood slugs sounds a lot better than having to rely on the stimulation function or whatever of the wand as a secondary feature. $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 21:12
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Selfie stick

The biggest advantage of a selfie stick is that no one would find it unusual if the owner is holding it high, waving it in the air in odd patterns and maybe even saying something while doing all that.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a really good idea! Only main downside I can see is that it's very modern, and would be restricted to very recent models. $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 18:22
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Collapsible Umbrella

enter image description here

You carry a collapsible umbrella if the weather is too good for a coat, but perhaps it . . . might rain later?

Of course these things are utter garbage. The moment it starts raining in earnest the umbrella turns inside out and the metal bends. It then ends up in the nearest public waste bin, still flapping in the wind.

There is a collapsible umbrella for every walk of life. Some mothers carry one in their everyday handbag kit. Some kids carry them in schoolbags. Some super trendy businessmen carry them in their inner suit pocket, since wearing a coat makes you look less uber business chic but wearing a wet suit is even worse!

They come in all different colours.

enter image description here

Anyone can believably carry a collapsible umbrella. And they are about a foot long. Stick a wand in there I say.

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    $\begingroup$ They even come in pink, as a certain half-giant knows very well... $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 7:29
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    $\begingroup$ There exist collapsible umbrellas that are sturdy! For some reason nobody uses them. Maybe the boots dilemma. $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Apr 21 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ @user253751 I posit that a good collapsible umbrella is MORE expensive than the same quality of non-collapsible umbrella. You pay for the goodness and collapsibility rather than just the goodness, and at higher prices the cost of materials is less significant. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 21 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron the answer says they are utter garbage, which they don't have to be, but for some reason they are. I had one designed to survive strong winds (no brand promotion here). I've never even heard of a non-collapsible umbrella. $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Apr 21 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ If you buy a \$5−10 collapsible umbrella at the corner store, yes, garbage. But you can get quality ones that last for years if you're so inclined. Try a Longchamps retractable umbrella for good results, just as one example. $\endgroup$
    – davidbak
    Apr 22 at 0:17
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Electronic Stimulation Device

enter image description here

To expand on the comment of Starfish Prime, there are situations where carrying one of these bad boys is optimal play.

For example when passing through a security checkpoint. If you have a ten inch screwdriver, collapsible tripod, huge paintbrush, or heavy-duty flashlight then you will raise some eyebrows.

None of these things are illegal, but they are strange to carry, and you might get stopped for questioning. Why do you need this in the museum sir?

Of course the stimulation device also raises eyebrows. It also makes the security clerk turn bright scarlet and everyone else turn away in embarrassment. Note to self: make sure to practice turning scarlet on demand.

This will not get you stopped for questioning. Everyone knows what the wand is for. No one wants to talk about it. Go right ahead sir. NEXT!

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    $\begingroup$ And no one dares touch your Magic Wand!! $\endgroup$
    – Joachim
    Apr 20 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ "Its a selfie stick, officer." $\endgroup$ Apr 20 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ The question said "disguised" but this thing clearly says "magic wand" on the box. Doesn't look disguised to me... $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE Ever heard of the Purloined Letter? Sometimes the best way to hide something is by disguising it as exactly what it is. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Apr 21 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure whether or not I can picture Harry Dresden walking around Chicago with one of these - even a cordless model! - inside his duster. I'm not even going to think about Molly. And what would Murphy say about it? Still, not bad thinking outside of the box on this one ... $\endgroup$
    – davidbak
    Apr 21 at 23:57
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It might be a bit on the small end, but nothing more normal1 to carry around with you than a simple pen:

simple ballpoint pen

Comes in all variations, materials, sizes, prices, colors…

1: apart from the ubiquitous computing devices aka smartphones

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If your witches/wizards/sorcerers were able to masquerade as symphonic conductors, a conductor's baton would be the right shape and size, and is quite natural to wave about with ornate flourishes.

CarolynKuan conducting with a conductor's baton

(Image from Wikimedia Commons, by Asavio, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.)

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The wand-cane:

Place the wand inside of something else bigger and less conspicuous than a wand. A cane, either fancy or for disabilities, is easily justified, and authorities won’t take it away from you even going into an airport or security area if it’s for “disabilities.” For a cane with separate feet, the business end can fire through the cane. Otherwise, it looks like a non-lethal version of a sword-cane (little do they know…)

Drumsticks:

Your wizard is likely to look a bit odd. So lean into it an carry a flute and a pair of drumsticks. What musician doesn’t look a bit quirky?

Tools:

A screwdriver, a hammer and a tool belt lend themselves to looking like or concealing a wand.

Toys:

You’re not a crazy wizard, but a dad or mom with a toy wand or gun in a diaper bag.

A wrapped gift:

It's something long and thin, with a bow wrapped in paper. Maybe in a box. Well, obviously it's a gift. What? I dunno. Unless they suspect someone, who's going to ask you to open it? No, it's a surprise (a big surprise) - you'll tell what it is. Okay, it's a religious candle. For a baptism (by fire). Who knows? Maybe you covered it in wax, and it looks like a candle. A little heavy...

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  • $\begingroup$ Where's the Hockey Stick and the Baseball Bat?! This is so Dresden Files! $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Apr 20 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish like the walking cane bit, imho that are better for (short) staves, where OP already knows how they could work $\endgroup$
    – Hobbamok
    Apr 21 at 8:23
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Most tools, actually

I'll generalize what others are saying. It's easier than you think to find a long 1-foot item you can carry around and hide a conductible material within, and those are mostly tools. So let's focus on the 3 conditions to make an item and take them each out, then think about the many examples :

1) Having the right size

The fact is, most smaller tools have an handle you can use, and this handle is more often than not twice the size of the palm in order to give a comfortable grip. So items with the right yet believable size are quite common. If they're too big, use a foldable version : Umbrellas, police batons...

2) Hiding the rod, gem and casing

Since most items are not transparent, hiding a metal rod and/or casing should be a piece of cake!

As for the gem, hide it in the handle and use in the direction it's originally aiming for, or as its base and hold the tool the other way round when shooting magic. You might also like to craft a mini-trapdoor to shoot lasers without destroying your tool. The gem is too stylish and glimmering? Surround it with something else so it cannot be seen at all, or just apply some paint and varnish to hide its true nature. If it's still too visible, chain the gem to the handle like a keychain, and when you're about to use it insert it into a conveniently shaped plug.

3) Accessing the metallic rod

Then, accessing the metal isn't hard either, it can be either done as some stylistic inset, hidden behind a moveable plate or just as a button. Lots of wooden brain-teasers boxes make heavy-use of small or hidden buttons to open their content, so doing it on other things doesn't seem too nasty in comparison.

Putting the above into practice

  • Most worker tools can have a wood handle of this size : Hammers, screwdrivers1, old thick rulers, ... Add a plug and wear a keychain or just make the gem part of the hook on the handle to hide your spellbuilding talent.
  • You're an artist? Take your chisel, or some 10' wide brush. You're more into photos? Always be on the lookout for the best picture with a foldable tripod to ensure your next shot will be magical.
  • You're a barman, or you're the coffee machine expert at the office? Take your thermos or a shaker and slap inside your coffee or the rod. Hide the gem on the lid, and use a well-placed metallic circle to make contact. If you're more into smoking than drinking, you can just use a long smoking pipe instead!
  • You're charged of cleaning the place? Dustpans brushes and feather dusters will clean off any doubts. You can't really see what's inside the brush many feathers/hair, so put the gem inside! Or perhaps you're more into the portable vacuum cleaners, with the gem in the vent and a super, magical all-in-one button to turn it on?

And some items that you might not think about

  • A pair of compass : Pick one, extend it to the maximum and it surprisingly can reach the length of a A4 paper. The two sides are travelled by the rod, and the gem is hidden in the knob to fine-tune your (magic) circle.
  • Globetrotter? Take your portable battery to charge your phone and spells any time you're far from a power source.
  • You're following the Hippocratic Oath? You always carry a big, white-opaque siringe to make a joke on your new patients... Until it's time to take their magic pills. The siringe wand is to be carried the metal tip in the palm.

1 : Peck, a famous TV series use a very special screwdriver to the point it's 3 letters away from being magic.

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Travel chopsticks

Travel chopsticks
Source: Snow Peak

These unscrew in the middle and the tips nest inside the handles for transport. These are a bit unusual to carry (outside of East Asia) but shouldn't raise too many questions1.


1 I've only been asked about them once (at a security checkpoint at the US National Archives IIRC); when asked what they were I replied "Chopsticks. For eating." and the guard didn't ask any more questions.

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Sometimes the best place to hide something is in plain sight.

Under the name "magic wand" or similar several companies merchandise objects aimed at adult personal entertainment.

In a good part of the modern world nobody would have anything to object against a person who carries such magic wand with them, even though most would try to be modest and reserved about the possession of such object.

And also in their case

the magic travels through them until reaching the business end

One could write an entire user manual with just an appropriate choice of words.

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    $\begingroup$ I am actually just happy to see you, Dutch. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 20 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ I was going to suggest exactly this, particularly when getting through things like airport security. It's the kind of thing that does not encourage questions that result in the owner providing details. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Apr 20 at 20:16
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for your last sentence. I'd buy one just to read the manual! $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 10:43
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    $\begingroup$ +1, that was my first thought too. Depending on the situation, you can go one step further, wear your fancy wizard robes and pretend you are cosplaying. You will attract more attention from muggles and maybe a couple curious questions, but you are also battle-ready for any eventuality. $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ Mandatory comic strip. $\endgroup$ Apr 23 at 11:45
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  • Flashlight. Not quite normal to carry one of those in business attire, but it could be in the glove compartment of any car.
  • Bicycle pump. Perfectly normal if one is in the backpack along with a bicycle helmet.
  • A slightly odd-shaped drinking bottle, as carried by hikers or outdoor sportspeople. It would have to be non-transparent to hide the contents, but those exist.
  • Can the metal rod be telescoping? A slightly old-fashioned transistor radio receiver.
  • A detachable part of a fancy handbag or briefcase.
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    $\begingroup$ A water bottle wouldn't even need to be transparent. It would look like a straw. Metal reusable straws are even a thing, and unless they try to drink out of it... $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 21 at 3:00
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Instead of completely avoiding notice, you can attempt to hide in plain sight if you pass it off as a

Pimp Cane

enter image description here

Gives a whole other meaning to the phrase "black magic". In order for this to work, your immortal would need some swagger and possibly other accoutrements like a fur coat or gold chains. With this method, you gain access to the Bruce Wayne Defense, meaning that the ostentatious and/or highly visible public profile of the person in question deflects further investigation into their true nature by making any suspicions seem absurd.

If your immortal can't pass this off, making it a cosplay item is a viable alternative. Nobody would expect a guy dressed like Gandalf at a convention to actually be able to do magic. Got into a magic fight in public with another immortal? It's just scripted LARPing backed with some special effects, nothing to see here.

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Knitting needles

About the right size and shape. Goes well with the "wise old grannie" trope.

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Glasses

Glasses feature three very distinctive ways in which you can hide your magic wand, which I have generously pointed out in the following schematic:

enter image description here

The location and direction of the magic wand within your glasses will depend on whether you're a lefty or a righty, and on how you prefer to hold your glasses in moments of extreme hardship.

For the frames, a wide variety of fancy, non-conductive and low-profile materials is available, from bone to bamboo.

Instead of the glasses only housing the one wand, it can hold an additional two wands, which can be used as reserves, or for moments when you need that extra firepower that three soul gems can produce. Or to lend a colleague a helping wand.

Bonus feature: it also won't fail you if you just need a quick, inconspicuous boost of magic mead while attending a boring conference on the ethics of transmutation:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Of course, modified glasses let you straighten them out fully. $\endgroup$
    – user253751
    Apr 21 at 16:11
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Reusable straw case

As plastic straws are becoming less common, people may carry their own reusable straw with them. Straw cases are widely available, so this would be a rather normal, rod-shaped, nearly foot-long object, that could be adorned at the tip and be made of any material without drawing much attention. Bonus points if the wand actually opens and has a removable hollow core that could really be used as a straw - the wand isn't just disguised as a straw and case, it actually is one. This object is only slightly unusual, and is probably about as lightweight and compact as the dimensions of the wand allow.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hikers or preppers might carry a lifestraw water filter, or similar. Used by hikers instead of boiling to filter out bacteria and parasites. $\endgroup$ May 5 at 2:58
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I present to you, just as an example, the Powerlight Multipurpose:

enter image description here

It's 8.75 inches long, so adding about 3 inches and making it slightly thicker is no big deal. But the thing is, it's not just a flashlight: you can use the battery as a power bank for your cell phone or whatever. There are a whole lot of varieties of this sort of flashlight out there. This one also has a steel tip at the base for a window breaker and a concealed blade for a seatbelt cutter, and you can get others that have some mini-screwdrivers in the handle and so on, so it's essentially a multipurpose tool.

I wouldn't look twice at someone carrying something like that around all the time. It might be harder for men to carry around innocuously in some types of clothing (someone in work clothes having it on their belt, no issue, but it would be a bit off for a three piece suit), but a woman could have it in a purse or bag, and even if you couldn't carry it directly on you, having one around within reach, at worst, merely makes you look paranoid about emergencies, not a magic user.

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A medical brace

A medical brace often includes metal struts for reinforcement. With added bonus that it's more difficult to get disarmed.


To hide a longer staff around the house you can use standing lamps or a free standing coat hanger next to your entrance in case you need to defend yourself against intruders. A quick release button to drop the coats on them might be handy.

random example from alibaba
enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I think the device in your image is a coat and/or hat rack $\endgroup$
    – talrnu
    Apr 21 at 16:25
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Hide it in the sole of a shoe or boot:

Shoe knife

Criteria:

  1. It needs to be about a foot long? So is a foot!
  2. Protective non-metal coating? Sounds like a standard shoe sole to me.
  3. Able to come in contact with the skin? Here's where we need to get a little creative. Make a device similar to the shoe knife except that instead of kicking one shoe against the other activating the blade, it retracts a panel under the heel of the foot to allow the foot to make contact with the wand.

This has added advantages over hand held devices, such as:

  1. It allows you the use of both of your hands to do other things (flip through a spell book, grapple an opponent, use a physical weapon).

  2. It is much less conspicuous to use (you don't need to raise your arm to aim it and can be done totally invisibly under a table).

  3. It's harder for someone to take away from you (any object you are carrying can be wrested from your hand much easier than a shoe can be taken off your foot).

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  • $\begingroup$ Not very practical, but worth an upvote just for the creativity. Shoe bomber! $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 21 at 23:51
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A mobile phone

Everyone has at least one (also no one would that suspicious if you wanted to carry several). They come in all shapes and sizes (thus you are being a hipster with an old-school phone with an antenna if you need a larger object). No one will notice that you have it out always or if you start pointing it at people you just say your taking a picture.

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  • $\begingroup$ You could also have a electronic tablet if you need something specifically larger than a mobile phone, and/or go with the dual screen phones or convertible tablets. Either way, this was going to be my answer before I saw it was already made. $\endgroup$ Apr 22 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ Having the "soulgem" sitting on top as bling would work - just be sure to post a few instagrams of it so you can turn it into a fashion trend :) $\endgroup$
    – Dragonel
    Apr 22 at 16:04
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A prosthesis! Arm, hand, finger even. They touch skin on one end, can be made of non-metal materials like carbon fiber, and can be designed with a hole in the palm or a fingertip. I'd give my right arm for a magic wand prosthetic arm...

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  • $\begingroup$ Or just tape the wand to your forearm and wave your arms and wiggle fingers around like you can do magic without a wand. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Apr 21 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen Yeah, surgical implant was another thought too! There's a nice space between your forearm bones that a wand could fit, if you don't mind being unable to twist your wrist much. $\endgroup$
    – talrnu
    Apr 21 at 23:20
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Are there no other fans of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel here? In Season 2, talent manager Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein) manages to blend in and get free room and board at a resort in the Catskills for a summer by always walking around with her magic wand, a plunger (a.k.a. force cup, plumber's helper, etc.):

Alex Borstein as Susie Myerson in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Plumber's garb optional. It won't work everywhere, but people in service occupations are notoriously invisible to the upper classes.

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A cigarette holder. Although seriously unfashionable now, they were common between about 1910 to 1970. For men, about 4 inch (10cm) long, for women 4 inch to 20 inch (40 cm). It might be hard to make a functional cigarette holder with a jewel at its end, but a wand could pass as one, at first glance.

It depends if you can push your story back to the 1960's, or make some of the characters eccentric dandies, who might be able to get away with it in the 2020s.

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    $\begingroup$ As you said, not so useful now, but given this is a story about immortals, it's certainly a design that would've been popular at some point for concealed wands. Definitely useful for a flashback or two. $\endgroup$ Apr 23 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ Tobacco pipe... $\endgroup$ May 5 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ I was assuming that it had to be basically straight $\endgroup$
    – CSM
    May 6 at 7:54
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Drumsticks? I think the TV Dresden used one in one episode. Drummers are known to be ... eccentric ... too (among other things), so assuming that persona as a disguise might be able to hide other wizardly irregularities too. Plus a lot of people avoid drummers, and a lot of wizards or other magical types, trying to pass in a mundane world (in many fictional scenarios), would be ok with that.

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Invisible (or in a pocket dimension)

I understand that the premise of the question is finding an object and many objects were offered already but believe me, invisibility is much better than disguising it as an object that might raise suspicion or pose a risk.

As you said:

wands and staves are two of the many means by which magical creatures can harness, to a limited degree, other magical creatures' powers.

They are magical creatures and they should be able to use their wand or stave at will and even quickly if needed. However, they don't want them to be seen so they use an invisibility charm to render them invisible. They might even keep them in another dimension (or a pocket dimension) and conjure at will.

The risks of disguising as or carrying as another object:

  • You can lose it or break it
  • It can get stolen
  • You can forget that it was your wand/stave (because of other similar objects, where you left it etc.)
  • It can be confiscated (depending on the laws/rules in your universe)
  • It can be revealed (by other magical creatures)
  • You can have other mundane items that humans use and can be useful for you also

Note: The pocket dimension idea can be a bit better because of the risks but invisibility is still a good idea also.

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Laptop or other flat object

The wand need not be disguised as a rod, if it can be hidden in a flat object. This opens up laptops, books (a big Bible would do the trick).

Those sticks that girls put a couple of through a bun or topknot

My hairdressing acumen isn't great, but it would work. If the gem has to show, this is a good option.

Necklace

Depending on fads, a necklace could incorporate a rod, either hanging or as a central spar for a whole lot of metal bits to hang off

Cross / crucifix

For places where a masturbatory aid won't be allowed in...that also aren't in Saudi Arabia.

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How about drum sticks? Not the most common but still easily explainable if questioned.

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enter image description here

The eyepencil which is a makeup item look like a lot a magic wand and it can be manipulated with the hands and with the fingers in the same way the magic wand can.

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Put it in a sheath and strap it to your arm. Or make a hidden pocket in your coat sleeve.
Tall enough boots?

How big around does the device have to be? How flexible can it be? Some clothing styles might allow a hidden pocket down the outside of your leg. Put a dummy object or spare wand on the other side so it looks more like a style.

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Wands

Don’t Hide It

The answer is blindingly simple. Carry it in the open and pretend your one of the street magicians with card tricks and bunnies in hats.

Make it a prop

Literally, just make it one of the “fake” looking wands that the said magicians above use

Staves

Hmmm. Maybe as a quarter staff with a twist open thing to reveal the crystal (if the crystal needs to actually be in line with the target). Either that or in a collapsible/extendable magician’s wand as mentioned in the first paragraph.

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