The Staff of the Dark Anagog is an item only few have living knowledge of… those who have come into possession of such a stave usually keep such a fact hidden, and protect the item with their lives.
The Staff of the Dark Anagog is always a slender, tapering piece of ebony wood that ends in a spike of silvered steel and is capped by a life-sized grasping hand, also worked of silvered steel. The Staff is usable as a weapon, and is equal to a quarterstaff +1. It’s silvered ends allow it to be used effectively against all lycanthropes, and add +1 to all damage rolls when used against undead.
The Staff confers certain powers that are only available to those who have access to the sphere of Necromancy, and as such is an inherently evil item. The powers are accessible once per day per power, and have unique touches which were set into the item by its creator (staves of the Dark Anagog always have from 44-88 charges when found, and can be recharged through certain rites):
Power: Cost in charges: Duration:
Spellcloak 1 5 rounds
Mordant’s Laughing Skull 1 (indefinite)
Mordant’s Unseeable Minion 2 1 round/level
Robes of the Necromant 2 5 rounds
Abomination 3 (indefinite)
Use of this power takes 1 segment, and calls into being a shimmering blue radiance that clings to the neck of the Staff wielder, and flutters back and beyond as if a cloak in strong winds. The Spellcloak increases the wearer’s AC by 1, and allows its wearer to make all saves vs. Spells at +2 for the duration of the Spellcloak. The Spellcloak functions above and beyond any other AC-affecting enchantment, including Armor and Spirit Armor. It is able to be destroyed instantly by a successful Dispel Magic.
Mordant’s Laughing Skull
Use of this power takes 3 segments and requires the skull from any living thing, from bird or rodent to giant creature. Upon use of this power and touching the Staff of the Dark Anagog to the skull, the skull is imbued with a special ability that will not manifest until the skull is touched again by living flesh. When this happens, the skull will resonate with a loud, mocking laughter that penetrates all Silence spells. The creature who set off the skull must save vs. spells at -1 or be struck by a terrible fear and flee in any direction at top movement rate for 2d6 rounds. This power is such that once cast upon a skull, may last indefinitely until the skull is touched by living flesh.
Mordant’s Unseeable Minion
Use of this power takes 5 rounds of uninterrupted concentration (breaking of this time will result in use of this power lost for that day), and results in the summoning of what necromancers call a degenerate non-corporeal… that is, a freshly-slain wraith, ghost, or other vaporous undead. The Minion is not invisible: it has no visible substance. The Minion is equal in hit dice and THAC0 as the Staff wielder, though its inherent AC is always 0 or 4 vs. blind or blindfighting creatures. The Minion radiates a constant cold, not damaging but able to be readily detected, and can be seen as a wispy eyeless face when subjected to Detect Evil, Detect Magic, or Detect Undead. The Staff wielder may see what the Minion sees, but may not hear, taste, feel, or touch what the Minion does. This ‘sight’ has an unlimited range, but may not extend beyond the plane that the Staff wielder is currently on. The Minion’s physical attacks that land do 1d6 damage and those struck must save vs. paralyzation at +1 or be unable to attack for the following round only. Slaying of the Minion does not result in earned experience, but it does cause the wielder of the Staff to suffer 2 hp loss (non-permanent) immediately. The Minion may be immediately destroyed by a successful Dispel Evil, and may be turned or destroyed as a Ghost by a cleric. The Minion is vulnerable to holy water and holy relics, just as if a category undead.
Robes of the Necromant
Use of this power takes 1 segment, and results in the Staff wielder suddenly being swathed in wispy robes of dark, smoky shadow. The Robes increase the wearer’s AC by 2, and also allow for utter protection against any life-draining spell or attack, all the way up to but not including exposure to pure Negative Planar energies. The Robes may be immediately destroyed by a successful Dispel Magic.
Use of this power takes 10 rounds of uninterrupted concentration (breaking of this time will result in use of this power lost for that day), and requires a whole, sound, uncontained zombie undead creature at hand and available when the Abomination is cast. Successful use of this power will result in an imbuing of power from the Staff to the zombie, creating a greater undead creature which will be under the full control of the Staff wielder:
Abomination, zombie: (AC 6 HD 2+4 AT 1 DAM 2d4 + special XP 188+2)
The Abomination will look identical to the origin zombie, save that worms will now be able to be seen actively rooting just below the creature’s flesh and in any open orifice or wound. When the creature attacks, its foe must save vs. petrification for each strike or be infected with a foul disease that requires 2 saves vs. petrification per day, or loss of 1 point of constitution and 1 point of strength. Once either stat reaches 0, that character dies. The Abomination is otherwise identical to the origin zombie, including all vulnerabilities and resistances.
The Staff of the Dark Anagog was created by Mordant l’Tare, a high-level necromancer dwelling in the post-Nethereen fervor of Halruaa. Mordant was thought to have created nineteen such Staves, with a special Ring of the Dark Anagog to control and trace each Staff, but this has never been proven. What is known is that the necromancer l’Tare sold several of these Staves to his colleagues, who in turn used the powerful items against friend and foe alike.
Mordant l’Tare was last seen in 118 DR (the Year of the Wasted Wish), outside the Inn of Severance in East Astagol. During an apparent dispute with another of the Inn patrons, Mordant was challenged to and accepted a spellduel. During the duel, l’Tare was seen to have used several powers of a Staff of the Dark Anagog, but was engulfed in a cloud of burning hazes summoned by his aggressor. Both mages disappeared in the conflagration, but a magic-user calling himself Nagal visited the Colorful Tower in the same city that very night and claimed to have destroyed Mordant. To prove it, Nagal bore a Staff of the Dark Anagog. The spellcouncil at the Colorful Tower acknowledged this Nagal as Mordant l’Tare’s successor, and relinquished the fallen necromancer’s principal powers to him, including two more Staves of the Dark Anagog. Soon after, Nagal too disappeared, and all three Staves with him.
Much time passed before another Staff of the Dark Anagog surfaced. During the magefair at Feywater near Suldoon, in 287 DR (the Year of Eager Smiles), a necromancer by the name of Shinnet Darkspinner demonstrated the ability to safely ride in a conjured Death Chariot, and was visibly protected by the Staff’s Robes of the Necromant power. True enough, Darkspinner was unharmed by the spectral arms and mouths which formed the Death Chariot, and he was said to have grinned like a wolf when presented with the austere Showmanship award. Shinnet Darkspinner’s fame was brief, however, for he was slain during an orc attack just outside Ragamaito Fort in the eastlands in the spring of 288 DR (the Year of the Black Pennant). Darkspinner’s Staff of the Dark Anagog was never recovered.
Twice more have the creations of Mordant l’Tare surfaced in the recorded histories of the Realms: during a spellbrawl at the magefair at Hulthorp near Chessenta, in 1211 DR (the Year of Spiral Horns) between seven unknown magic-users, a priestess of Mystra known as Harmona the Spellweaver, and the wizard Arliikian of Baldur’s Gate. During the battle, an Abomination appeared and one of the unknown magic-users was visibly protected by a Spellcloak. After the battle, the Staff being used was never found. A final sighting of a Staff in use was more recently witnessed by the many, many attendees of the nuptials between Sarastyce Huntinghorn and Amareene Guilderstock at Huntinghorn Hall in Cormyr in 1355 DR (the Year of the Harp). The wedding between the two Cormyrian nobles was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a magic-user visibly clad in a Robe of the Necromant and a Spellcloak who demanded that Amareene ‘leave off with her pseudo-lover and return posthaste to the tower’, to which several groups of Huntinghorn color-bearers responded with drawn swords. The magic-user was slain on the spot, and discovered to be none other than Adriphin Cormaeril, the then-youngest lord of the Cormaeril house. Adriphin’s Staff of the Dark Anagog was confiscated by war-wizards attending the wedding, and was hurriedly rushed to the palace at Suzail as evidence. The Staff was not seen again, and is presumably in the possession of the palace wizard Vangerdahast, or in the palace vaults.
To this day, there is no public knowledge of anyone owning or using a Staff of the Dark Anagog.