Part 3. Arcane Incense in 5e

Welcome to Part 3 in the WTF do I do With All This Gold in 5e series. This installment will deal with our house rules for using Arcane Incense.

For centuries, incense has been the smoky conduit between humans and the divine or arcane. It has been used to heal, relax, invoke magic, and become closer to the gods. Sounds like pretty awesome stuff. So why has D&D all but ignored such a bountiful source of material? I am here to offer a little fix for that oversight.

At The Arcana Times, we use incense all the time in our campaigns. It is expensive, but offers a lot of bang for a PC’S Gold-buck. This rule was created to offer another gold sink for my players while giving them a temporary buff in return. While most incense mimic either potion or spell affects, one in particular breaks new ground by changing the 5e rules on recharging magical items.

Arcane Incense can be used to recharge magical items that have become useless with the use of their final charge. Many wands and staves are destroyed if a player rolls a 1 after using the final charge. Under this system, any item that adheres to that set up, automatically goes dormant rather than being destroyed. However, if the useless item is exposed to the smoke of burning incense for thirty minutes, it restarts its life as a charged magical item.

As a DM, I have chosen to go the route of not having a player roll for the 1 and just straight into dormancy. However, you can integrate this rule any way you wish.

You can have them roll, and when a 1 turns up, use this as an alternative to destruction. Example:  A Wand of Fireballs has one charge remaining and the Wizard decides to use it. He rolls a 1 on his destruction check and you tell him the wand is dormant and can only be restored with Arcane Incense.

Alternatively, you could require any item that uses its last charge to go dormant, not just the ones that call for a destruction roll. Example: A Wand of Magic Detection does not require a destruction check upon using the last charge. It just automatically regains charges the next morning. You could have a wand like this go dormant and require incense.

The main underlying rule is that this system should only be used for items that ALREADY have a recharging ability. You wouldn’t want to make this option available for say a Luck Blade that has a set amount of wishes in it. That item has no written rules for recharging those wishes and if you apply this house rule to an item such as that, it could break your game. That said, as a DM you are free to make a judgment call on any individual magic item as you see fit.

Ok now for some general rules that apply to all incense.

Incense is sold in units called Duellas, which is equal to 1/3 of an ounce, or the weight of a single gold piece. Traditionally, an incense trader will carry a balance scale and will place one gold piece on one side, and enough incense on the other to level the scale. The price is then negotiated.

One Duella of incense will burn for approximately 30 minutes, and any benefit will not occur until at least 30 minutes of exposure have passed. Unlike potions, multiple creatures can benefit from incense while it burns. As long as the incense is burned in a fairly enclosed area, and there is room for multiple characters to relax, either sitting or lying down, all can benefit from the magic. Use common sense here. Standing around a fire in the woods, with a blowing wind is not going to work all that well. A cozy cave will work great. My players usually carry tents and set them up during rests to use the incense. Use whatever works for your campaign.

Mixing incenses can be dangerous. A character with proficiency with a herbalism kit can combine two types of incense with a DC of 15. Burning two different incenses in the same room will result in each type of incense doing ½ of its usual benefit. Mixing three will create toxic fumes and every creature inhaling the fumes will suffer 1d6 poison damage for each round exposed. If

Below you will find a list of incenses we use, their prices, and benefits. Below that, I will also include a brief description of each incense type, its benefits, and any restrictions.


IncenseMain propertyRarityCost per DuellaSummary
Arcane Incense (Treant Agarwood)ArcaneVery Rare5000 GPRestores charges to magical items.
Agarwood (natural)ArcaneRare2500 GPRestores Spell Slots on short rest.
Amber (Elektron)ElectricalUncommon500 GPResistance to lighting damage for 1 hour
BalsamCleansingCommon100 GPAs Remove Curse spell
Balsam of ToluRelaxationUncommon500 GPReduces exhaustion by 2 levels on long rest.
Borneol CamphorAwarenessUncommon500 GPAdvantage on all Perception and Investigation checks. 1 hour.
BreuzinhoRegenerationRare2000 GPRegenerate 5 HP from non-magical damage per round for 1 hour
Costus RootTonicUncommon500 GPRemoves all levels of exhaustion on short rest.
Elemi ResinHealingUncommon500 GPWhen spending HD to heal, you always get max
FrankincenseDivinityCommon100 GPStandard incense for 4th level Divination Spell
Luban JawiAnxietyRare1500 GPAdvantage on saves vs being frightened. 1 hour
MastihaDivinityRare2000 GPAs Bless spell for 1 hour
Musk SeedsDreamingCommon100 GPGives sleeper a premonition during long rest.
MyrrhFortificationCommon100 GPProficient in all saves for 1 hour.
Palo Santo ResinHealingRare2000 GPHeals 30 HP and cures disease on short rest
Palo Santo WoodHealingRare1000 GPHeals 15 HP and cures disease on short rest
SandaracWardingRare2000 GPWill protect user from up to 10 levels of spells for 1 hour.
SandalwoodRelaxationCommon100 GPRegain all spent HD during long rest.
Spruce PitchStrengthCommon100 GPStrength increases to 18 for 1 hour.
White CopalPurificationUncommon500 GPRemoves all disease and poison during short rest.
Monastery Incense BlendIntelligenceCommon50 GPCopying Spells, learning languages or skills time cut in half.
Jawee BlendSustenanceCommon50 GPFulfills all food and water requirements for 24 hours.
Kyphi Incense BlendNecromancyUncommon250 GPAs 2nd level Gentle Repose spell, extended to 30 days.


Arcane Incense (Treant Agarwood):

Agarwood is one of the world’s rarest incense. It is formed in the heartwood of specific trees that are infected with a particular fungus. Arcane Incense is the agarwood found in infected Treants. It rarely found and harvested since it requires the slaying of the treant to obtain. It burns with a sweet and spicy scent and when a dormant magical item is suspended above the burning wood; its magical properties are restored.

Agarwood (natural):

Agarwood is one of the world’s rarest incense. It is formed in the heartwood of specific trees that are infected with a particular fungus. It burns with a balsamic-woody scent and when a spellcasting character burns it during a short rest; all of their spell slots are recharged.

Amber (Elektron):

Amber is the fossilized sap from certain trees. It is often used in jewelry, but the grade used for incense is prepared by tumbling multiple stones in a barrel until a static charge is built up in each piece. When burning this incense, the creatures exposed become resistant to lightning damage for one hour.


A cleansing incense that burns with a the scent of a forrest. Any creature relaxing in its smoke for 30 minutes is released from any curse or separated from any cursed item. It works as the 3rd level Remove Curse Spell.

Balsam of Tolu:

This incense smells similar to regular Balsam but has an undertone of cinnamon and vanilla. It is much more uncommon than regular balsam and when burned, produces an incredibly relaxing environment. Creatures exposed for 30minutes and then subjected to a long rest will get amazing sleep. Two levels of exhaustion can be restored after such a night sleep.

Bornol Camphor:

This white powdery incense has a sharp, uplifting scent when burned. It makes the mind awaken and awareness increases. For one hour after being exposed to this incense for 30 minutes, creatures will have advantage on all Perception and Investigation checks.


This rare gray-rocky incense burns with a floral and woody scent. It is highly sought after and prices always reflect its rarity. Any creature exposed to the smoke for 30 minutes gains the temporary ability to regenerate 5 HP of non-magical damage at the beginning of each round. This ability lasts for one hour and the creature must start with at least 1 HP.

Costus root:

This brown dried root produces a sweet floral dirty scent. It acts as a tonic when burned. Exposure to the smoke for 30 minutes will eliminate all levels of exhaustion in any creature.

Elemi Resin:

This soft, gummy white incense smells of lemons when it is burned. Its refreshing smoke has long been used to speed healing. Any creature that has used this incense and burns HD to heal during a short rest, will always receive the maximum healing a HD can do.


This very common incense and its divine odor grace the most holy sites in the world. While it offers no buff to a character it is the required incense for a divination spell.

Luban Jawi:

This incense is a prized commodity on the battlefield. Thirty minutes of this smoke will give the user Advantage on any saving throw against being frightened for one hour.


A rare, yellowish, firm gum resin gives off a light pleasant scent that is a favorite of divine entities. Clerics usually burn this rare incense when trying to gain favor with their deity. When a creature is exposed to its intoxicating fragrance for thirty minutes, they are blessed as the 1st level spell for 1 hour.

Musk Seeds:

These seeds have long been used by shamans and fortune tellers alike to receive dreams of the future. When a creature burns this incense before sleep, they will have a premonition of something that will happen the next day. This of course is at the DM’s discretion.


This is common incense. Raw Myrrh resembles brown teardrops of resin that burn with a woody and spicy note. After 30 minutes of exposure to the smoke, a creature gains proficiency in all saving throws for one hour.

Palo Santo Resin:

The Palo Santo tree is closely related to both Frankincense and Myrrh. It is rarely found in deep forests and some say only elves can lead a person to a Palo Santo tree. Resin collected from a living tree is extremely potent and highly sought after for its healing properties. Thirty minutes of exposure to this resin’s smoke can heal a creature up to 30 HP.

Palo Santo Wood:

The wood of the Palo Santo tree is not as concentrated as the resin, but offers similar healing properties. Creatures exposed to the wood smoke for 30 minutes can heal up to 15 HP each.


Sandarac is a bright yellow, hard resin that burns with frankincense like scent. It is rare and prized for its warding properties. Expect to pay top prices for this incense. When burnt, the smoke wards the user from 10 levels of spells for up to one hour. If a 3rd level spell is cast at a creature warded, the magical protection would absorb all three levels; leaving 7 levels remaining. If a spell is higher than the remaining protection, its effect is as normal without warding and the protection granted is lost.


This common incense is often used for relaxation and healing. Many infirmaries will have this incense burning around the clock. When exposed to this smoke for 30 minutes before a long rest, the creature regains all spent hit dice instead of the normal half.

Spruce Pitch:

Long a secret of forest dweller, this hard blackish resin will increase a user’s strength to 18 for an hour after being exposed to its smoke.

White Copal:

This is a soft white resin known to remove and cure sickness in even the direst cases. It burns with a citrus odor and easy on the lungs of those infected with consumption. After 30 minutes of exposure, a user is cured of any disease or poison they are currently afflicted with.

Those are the pure incense available through most incense traders. There are three fairly common blends of incense on the market.

Monastery Incense:

This is the familiar smell of monasteries around the realms. It is burned constantly because its effect on the mind is highly prized. When in the presence of this smoke, any studying, training, or learning is cut in half. Each day leaning under its influence counts as two days. Each duella of this blend will smolder for 24 hours.

Jawee Blend:

This blend is often found in religious monasteries when fasting and prayer are called for. 30 minutes of exposure and meditation removes the need for food and water for 24 hours.

Kyphi Incense:

This ancient blend has long been used in the necromancy arts. Its ability to preserve a dead body is renowned. This incense acts as the spell Gentle Repose except that the time is extended to 30 days.

Next time: Part 4 Variant Training Rules for 5e

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