The Deathstick was meant to be one of the deadliest tools of destruction forged yet, a sinister new weapon in the hands of The Children of Ma-O , capable of dealing death to the members of any faith that dared to stand in the way. After receiving guidance from their God in a dream that they dreamed simultaneously, the three Cardinals of the cult ordered one of their hidden cells to travel to the Seamus Straits where the remains of their last temple lay submerged under the sea, contact their underwater brethren who had been turned into merpeople when their God destroyed Castle Seamus and get them to give them a rod of gold from the original temple, gold being one of the few things left untarnished by the saltwater. They took a large ruby and a peridot that belonged to a jeweller who was a cult member. Buying them would have been expensive and a robbery would have attracted unwelcome attention.
The jeweller worked over a period of weeks to forge the gold and the jewels into a sceptre worthy of any king or queen, and it was then given its initial enchantments.
The ruby was given the power to burn and destroy with its fires when a fire spell was concentrated through it. As for the peridot, a far darker and nastier spell was cast upon it, that would cause flesh to rot, meaning that even a small wound from it would become infected and unless soon cured, would lead to a painful and lingering death.
At this stage only a Cardinal of Ma-O could use it without the magics turning upon him or her, but within a few days the time would be right for a spell that would make it useable without penalty by any sincere member of the cult. All that was needed was to keep it safely under lock and key in a bank vault until the right time.
Just when it seemed that nothing could possibly go wrong, it did. The jeweller often mixed with the great and the good and one of them was a captain of the City Guards, who decided to play a joke on him and accuse him of being a member of the Children of Ma-O, intending just to scare him for a laugh. Thinking the captain was serious, and that he had genuinely been uncovered and would face the death penalty and public humiliation, the jeweller confessed everything he knew. Once he started talking he could hardly stop, and he gave them the names of all nine members of his cell and, far more damagingly to the cult, the location of the Deathstick and what it was meant for, and agreed to testify against the cult in open court, thus making doubly sure he could never rejoin the cult ever again.
He and his wife and children were renamed and relocated to the other side of Banhoesea except for one, who turned the offer down and was not long afterwards found floating in a civilian dock with his throat slit open. The nine cult members faced the pyre, burned alive as an example and a warning to anyone else who might consider worshipping Ma-O. The sceptre was impounded only to vanish from the main City Guard headquarters, stolen by one of the Guard’s more corrupt members, and vanished, and both the City Guard and the cells of the Children of Ma-O are franticly searching the city for it.
On the face of it, the Deathstick is incredibly powerful, capable of killing a person either with a ball of flame, or by rotting their bodies with a pulse of dark magic, but because it has not been properly finished yet, it has some serious problems. The flame ruby can only be fired once a day without trouble as it has not been aligned. After that, for each time it is used in the next twenty-four hours, there is a 20% chance of it exploding, killing it’s owner and fracturing the sceptre into fragments, that goes up by 20% each time it is used. For each time it is used more then once in twenty-four hours, it needs an extra twenty-four hours to go back to normal. If it is fired five times in a day, for example, without blowing up in the process, it will have an 100% chance of exploding if it is used in the next five days.
With the peridot, there is no such problem as the spell is not hot. However, it is one of the darkest spells possible, capable either of killing someone outright or of wounding them as much or as little as the user wishes. However, the Wiccan Rede apples and the result is, that the user of the Deathstick suffers twice as much harm as is caused by it.
In gaming terms, the rotting spell can do as little as 1 point or as many as 50 points of damage, but the PC using it will suffer 2 points of damage for every 1 caused, so if he or she kills someone with it, he or she will almost certainly lose his or her life. In addition to that, his or her soul will most likely end up in hell for using dark magic, meaning there is no way of being resurrected even with the most powerful magic available to mortals. The Deathstick can harm creatures that cannot be harmed without magical weapons, but each time it is used it’s location is detected by a Cardinal of Ma-O using powerful magic, so cult cells can be informed of roughly where the user is (providing the user keeps moving it should not be too hard to avoid them, but woe betide the user who stays too long in one place.)
Plot Hooks-One Stick to Smite Them With
The PCs must undergo a quest either to destroy the Deathstick or to return it to the City Guards, with the Children of Ma-O determined to stop them and recover their deadly weapon.
The PCs buy it in a black market or a back street jewellery shop and discover its powers by accident. What will they do?
In The Name of Ma-O
The PCs are cultists trying to recover the Deathstick so it can be perfected and used without side effects.
A Cardinal of Ma-O has got hold of it and can use it's full powers without any problems, and the PCs must somehow beat him or her in combat.