Do you know what I hate even more than wands? Staves. Fucking wizard staves are dumb and awful and stupid. At best they’re just alternate wands, and at worst they’re like a whole secondary spell list that the Wizard hast to keep track of. A nightmare of bookkeeping that most players would seem to regard as a chore, since I’ve never seen a single player pursue creating a staff. Not once in 13 years of playing these games.
These are supposed to be a wizard’s totem. The universal sign that someone is in touch with powers beyond your meek understanding. I mean, far be it from me to put Wizards in a box. There are a ton of great wizards who don’t use staves. I don’t think any of Vance’s wizards use them, and his wizards are just the best wizards who ever wizard’d. But the point remains: a wizard’s staff should be cooler than it has ever fuckin’ been in D&D. Apparently it’s up to me to make that happen. So here we fukkin’ go:
The secret of creating staves has been lost. All which now exist were formed in the distant past by wizards greater than any now living. There may be two staves in the world, or there may be twenty thousand, but there will never be more.
Staves are an inherently immaterial non-substance, twisted into a physical shape. This is different from merely binding an immaterial thing to a material object, which is relatively simple by comparison. If you bind a soul to a stick, then examine the stick under a microscope, you will see the molecules that make up the stick. Perhaps they behave oddly because of their connection to the bound soul, but the soul is still a separate thing, obeying the rules that govern souls. On the other hand, if one were to examine a staff under a microscope, they would be struck blind because the universe doesn’t know what to show them. Blinding a person is the path of least resistance. Staves are under constant pressure as every force in the cosmos tries to put things back to rights, and the only force preventing it are potent magics beyond the ken of some gods.
Even touching a staff is a great burden upon a person’s mind. Anyone who does not have at least a single arcane spell slot must save versus Magic or fall briefly unconscious when touching a staff. Only those who have trained their minds to hold spells can effectively wield these powerful objects.
There are 3 common type of staves. Theoretically others may exist, but have not yet been discovered.
The first type is made of a magic word. Usually a word of some potency was chosen for this process. Something like “Stop,” “Fire,” or “Life.” While wielding such a staff, a magic user may modify their prepared spells on the fly using the word they hold. So if their staff is the word “Flight,” and they have prepared the spell “Fire Ball,” then they may choose to spontaneously cast “Flying Fire Ball.”
These spontaneously composed spells would normally be impossible, and are enabled only by the powerful magics of the staff. However, their spontaneous nature makes them unpredictable. They are wild magics, firing off untested, unfocused, and unrefined. Using this method, the same spell could be cast the same way, and be different each time.The referee must come up with the new spell’s effects on the spot, and should feel free to go wherever their imagination takes them.
The second type is made from a body of knowledge. Touching the staff serves as a sort of psychic connection to every mind on the planet, which knows anything about a given field. While holding the staff, a magic user will be the world’s foremost expert on the subject which the staff covers.
However, the staff is limited to what is already known, So if a staff is made from “History,” then the wielder will know everything that is known about history. But, if the last person who knows about the Battle of Chapsik Hill dies, the wielder will lose access to any knowledge of the Battle of Chapsik Hill. (Unless, of course, they had already committed that information to their own memory).
When relevant, these staves may also grant certain abilities to their wielders. So if a wizard were to come into possession of a “Stealth” staff, then in addition to learning how to move with subtlety, they would also gain the physical agility and muscle memory required to do so effectively.
In most situations, staves of the second type can be ruled as granting a 6-in-6 skill for as long as they are being held.
The third type of staff is made from a consciousness. These may be taken from the souls of mortals, or sources more exotic. Devils, angels, and even fallen gods have all had some part of themselves twisted into staves for the use of powerful magicians. These staves are more than mere intelligent objects, they are true intelligences which have been imprisoned in a physical shape. The referee is encouraged to play them as NPCs with their own personalities and desires; usually involving finding some way to become free.
Such staves can only “speak” while they are being touched, and even then, their voices can only be heard by the one who is touching them. They may offer secrets or advice, but will always have their own agendas, which will rarely align with their wielder’s. That being said, when no one is wielding a soul staff, its consciousnesses experience an existence of complete isolation and loneliness. If they cannot be free, then having a Wizard to be their companion is the next best thing, so they will be reasonably cooperative.
Each Soul-Staff allows the wielder to harness some of the powers the soul held in its own form.
D100 Wizard Staves
- Magic Word: “Animate”
- Magic Word: “Armor”
- Magic Word: “Boar”
- Magic Word: “Cold”
- Magic Word: “Dark”
- Magic Word: “Destroy”
- Magic Word: “Empower”
- Magic Word: “Fire”
- Magic Word: “Flight”
- Magic Word: “Gorilla”
- Magic Word: “Greater”
- Magic Word: “Hate”
- Magic Word: “Hell”
- Magic Word: “Life”
- Magic Word: “Light”
- Magic Word: “Lightning”
- Magic Word: “Mass”
- Magic Word: “Maximize”
- Magic Word: “Monster”
- Magic Word: “Permanent”
- Magic Word: “Poison”
- Magic Word: “Quick”
- Magic Word: “Servant”
- Magic Word: “Silent”
- Magic Word: “Sphere”
- Magic Word: “Steed”
- Magic Word: “Stop”
- Magic Word: “Subtle”
- Magic Word: “Summon”
- Magic Word: “Sword”
- Magic Word: “Time”
- Magic Word: “Wall”
- Magic Word: “Weapon”
- Body of Knowledge: Alchemy
- Body of Knowledge: Animal Handling
- Body of Knowledge: Appraisal
- Body of Knowledge: Arcane Lore
- Body of Knowledge: Art
- Body of Knowledge: Astronomy
- Body of Knowledge: Athletics
- Body of Knowledge: Demonology
- Body of Knowledge: Engineering
- Body of Knowledge: Geography
- Body of Knowledge: Healing
- Body of Knowledge: History
- Body of Knowledge: Languages
- Body of Knowledge: Law
- Body of Knowledge: Literature
- Body of Knowledge: Living Monster Lore
- Body of Knowledge: Local Area (This knowledge changes, depending on what area the wielder is in).
- Body of Knowledge: Metalcrafting
- Body of Knowledge: Music
- Body of Knowledge: Nature
- Body of Knowledge: Noble Lineage & Heraldry
- Body of Knowledge: Planes
- Body of Knowledge: Religion
- Body of Knowledge: Sex
- Body of Knowledge: Ships & Sailing
- Body of Knowledge: Spelunking
- Body of Knowledge: Stealth
- Body of Knowledge: Stone Lore
- Body of Knowledge: Survival
- Body of Knowledge: Technology
- Body of Knowledge: Torture
- Body of Knowledge: Undead Lore
- Body of Knowledge: Designate a person by touching them with the staff. The staff is then connected to the whole of that person’s knowledge until a new person is designated.
- Soul: A monk whose life was spent in meditation. Spell failure chance reduced by 1-in-6.
- Soul: A wizard who loved birds. Wielder is able to cast the spells Speak with Birds, Shriketoss, and Talon Strike once each day.
- Soul: A wizard who was obsessed with expanding her memorization abilities. Grants 2 extra spell slots.
- Soul: A really boring wizard who was never invited to any parties. Wielder may re-cast one of their expended spells each day.
- Soul: A psychopathic wizard who enjoyed casting large area of effect spells. Wielder is immune to damage from their own spells
- Soul: A wizard who took up their craft after escaping an abusive relationship. +3 to saves versus mind affecting effects.
- Soul: A fierce sumo wrestler, regarded as one of the best in history. Wielder may attempt to cast spell even while they are within an anti-magic field. These spells have a failure chance which is worse than usual by 1-in-6.
- Soul: A young girl, ritualistically killed by a drug overdose in order to create this staff. The wielder may alter their size at will, becoming as small as 4″, and as large as 16′.
- Soul: A devoted guardian who died by leaping in front of their liege to intercept an arrow. While held, this staff will move of its own accord to block incoming physical attacks. The caster’s armor rating is improved by 2.
- Soul: A madman arsonist. Never caught during his lifetime. Wielder may summon a line of flame, 30′ long, dealing 6d6 damage to everyone along its trajectory. Each time this is done, the wielder must sacrifice one of their prepared spells.
- Soul: A small fragment of the dead creator god. Any creature the wielder encounters will perceive the wielder to be a member of their own species.
- Soul: The soul of an ordinary person, whose body became the first zombie–which still walks the earth to this day. Every zombie that exists was all for the purpose of creating this staff. The wielder no longer needs to breathe, eat, or sleep.
- Soul: A wizard obsessed with their own longevity. Will teach the caster a series of complex rituals they developed during their life. First is the ward against natural death. Second is the secret of perpetual youth. Third is the ritual of rapid recovery from wounds. The rituals are always taught in the same order. Learning them requires the wielder to gain a full level while wielding the staff. Performing the rituals requires expensive material components, and weeks worth of time.
- Soul: A giant, furious at being trapped in a little weakling’s stick. The wielder is granted great strength (+8)
- Soul: An angel, one of the messengers of the gods. The wielder’s movement speed is doubled.
- Soul: A wild, unthinking warrior from the frozen north. Each morning, 6 spectral axes surround the wielder. If they take any damage, one of the axes will fly off to strike the source of the damage, reducing the remaining axes by 1 until the next morning. The axes deal 1d8 damage, and do not require an attack roll. Note that the axes will retaliate regardless of the source of the damage. If the wizard suffers a fall, an axe will attack the ground, etc.
- Soul: A wizard who spent all of their time in a lab, tinkering with magic. The staff engages in a constant background dialogue with the wielder, discussing how various spells might be tinkered with. For each level gained while wielding this staff, the wielder & staff reach an epiphany! The wielder may choose one of their spells to improve. The referee will adjust the spell to be permanently more beneficial to the caster, with no drawbacks.
- Soul: A stage magician who became immensely popular performing for yokels. Wielder may create as many silent, immobile illusions as they desire.
- Soul: A vampire of impressive lineage. Allows the wielder to cast “Turn Cleric” 3 times each day. This functions the same as “Turn Undead,” but against clerics.
- Soul: A powerful Psion who considers wizards weaklings who are satisfied to merely scratch the surface of what the mind is capable of. Grants the wielder 50lb telekinesis. Objects move a little slowly and clumsily, though.
- Soul: A child psion, turned into this staff before they had an opportunity to develop. Grants the wielder ESP, allowing them to hear the thoughts of a single target within 60′ at a time.
- Soul: A powerful devil, servant to a notable demon lord. Allows the wielder to cast the spells Hellfire, Damnation, and Gate once per day, each.
- Soul: A paladin who will only ever refer to the wielder as “Warlock.” The staff grants the wielder the ability to cast the spells Judgement, Consecrate, and Cure Moderate Wounds. The paladin will be really upset each time one of their spells is cast.
- Soul: A wizard who found the material plane very dull, and doesn’t understand why anyone spends any of their time here. Allows the wielder to cast the spells Dimension Door, Teleport, and Planar Shift.
- Soul: A thief who made her fortune delving dungeons and finding what people didn’t want her to find. Any secret doors in the area will appear to be gently sparkling to the wielder.
- Soul: A druid who is notably silent, apparently in some deep meditative protest. Small animals will do the wielder’s bidding.
- Soul: A tyrannical, but effective, king. The wielder may attempt to dominate any creature with 4 fewer hit dice than they have. The creature does not receive a save. Dominated characters obey the wielder in all things. Only one creature can be dominated at a time.
- Soul: A mathematician who was notably superior to all others during their lifetime. The caster may roll the damage dice for each spell twice, and take the better result for each one.
- Soul: A splinter from the soul of the goddess of time. In every day, there are moments of time which the goddess wanted to keep for herself, before they were stolen by the one who created this staff. Each hour off the day, the wielder may stop time for 1 round. If they do not use this ability in a given hour, it carries over to the next. If they wish, they may continue saving up these brief time stops until the final hour of the day, when they can stop time for 24 rounds. (2 minutes and 24 seconds). If time stops are not used by the end of the day, they are lost, and the staff begins accruing time stops anew.
- Soul: A djinn, who will grant a wish to anyone who breaks the staff. (This is a very difficult thing to do). The staff wielder levitates constantly. They move at their normal speed, but rest anywhere from 1″ to 6′ off of the ground. If they stand still, they can ascend up to 30′. As a consequence of this levitation, the wielder is also immune to any falling damage.
- Soul: An angel who once stood before the court of its god, judging who may enter, and who must go elsewhere. If the wielder fixes their gaze upon a person, they will immediately know the single worst thing that person has ever done.
- Soul: A splinter from the soul of Asmodeus himself. The wielder is immune to damage from fire, electricity, and acid, but takes double damage from any weapon that is silvered.
- Soul: The platonic ideal of a horse. It cannot speak, but will often whinny and neigh in the wielder’s ear. May be used to conjure a horse out of nothing. May conjure 1 horse every minute.
- Staff of the Archmage: Roll a d100 until you’ve landed on one of each of the three types of staff. This staff has all of those properties. Somehow, three staves were twisted together int a single unit. Whoever made this could easily have rivaled the gods for their power.
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