Monday, April 6, 2009

The Heartwood Staff

The origin of this item is completely unknown. It is speculated by the more poetic of sages that it may have come into existence concurrently with Thylia (the world) itself, or may have even been used to create the world through some unknown power. Such speculation, however, is mere flight of fancy as those who know more about it than mere heresay, the druids, guard its secrets assiduously.

The staff is approximately the size of a standard quarterstaff and appears unadorned and unremarkable. It has been rumored that some of the greatest events of history have been precipitated by the staff being carried by an individual who simply did not know what he held in his hand. A detect magic spell will not reveal any magical dweomer, nor will an identify spell yield any usefull information. Legend Lore, on the other hand, may provide some leads for further investigation.

The primary powers of the staff are as follows:

1) The current custodian of the staff functions as if he were a 5th level druid. However, during such time, he must abide by the restrictions of the druidic faith or all such power is lost. One who is already a druid functions as if he were two levels higher.

2)At any time, the staff can provide the function of a Combine spell functioning for any druid or sympathetic creature touching the staff. The duration of this effect is limited only to however long each creature in the effect remains in contact with the staff and can be initiated with one round's concentration.

3) Thrice per day, the staff can be called upon to create the effects of the Weather Control and Plant Growth spells at 20th level effect with area of effect centered upon the staff and its custodian.

4) Once per week, the staff can summon a Nature Elemental (see Monstrous Manual Annual Compendium volume IV for details). The elemental will set about returning the surrounding 1 mile of terrain to a completely natural state, removing all traces of civilization for 24 hours. This power involves the completion of a 1 hour ceremony on the part of the custodian.

5) Once per century, the staff may be used to initiate a major climatological or ecological shift of staggering proportion upon Thylia. For example, a vast desert can be made to bloom and be verdant as a jungle - permanently or until the staff is used to restore the original state. Such use, though, causes an equal and opposite reaction elsewhere in the world (GM determination). The change is not instantaneous, but may take the entire thousand years to complete. Use of this power subjects the custodian immediately to artifact transformation per below. Use of this power requires an 8 hours ceremony and must involve the entirety of a druidic circle of no less than 10 individuals.

Minor powers (see Book of Artifacts or AD&D 1e DMG):
4 x I
2 x II
3 x IV

Curse/Artifact Transformation: There are two modes of transformation. First, upon using any of the primary powers, the custodian must make a save vs. paralyzation or immediately renounce his current occupation, change alignment to True Neutral, and seek out training as a Druid (any PC becomes an NPC for this purpose as the character is no longer under his player's control, but that of the staff itself).

The use of the 5th primary power invokes a 2nd transformation, this one automatic. Upon successful completion of the ceremony and the inauguration of the desired change, the custodian is immediately subsumed by the staff and absorbed entirely to reside within it forever.

If the staff should come into the hands of a non-druid and this becomes known to ANY druid, representatives of the order will arrive almost immediately and demand that it be turned over to them. Quick and polite compliance will earn the respect of the order, perhaps even a reward. Failure to comply will gain the party a very powerful enemy. Currently, the Shadow Circle (a covert sub-group of the Druidic Order who believe that civilization itself is a crime against the Balance) seek the staff for their own agenda. They will stop at nothing to acquire it and, in their eyes, use it to restore the Balance.

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