Full Item Description
A plain wooden staff with gold leaf inscriptions engraved into it. Those who can understand the inscriptions can see that they are a spell for calling and controlling insects.
The Priests of Mammon as one of the larger faiths in the country, were also one of the richest. Unlike many other countries where the ruling religion savagely repressed all the others, forcing them underground or exterminating them totally, Mammons priests allowed nearly all other religions to co-exist, to build churches and temples, to marry people and to bury or cremate the dead according to their religion, in exchange for a relatively small fee, never more then a tithe and in bad years less then that. They organized a banking system that worked reasonably well, with benefits for their members but open to all. And although as they prospered individual priests and monks might sin, their Church remained remarkably free of scandal.
One of the few cults to be firmly banned, because of the endless havoc and troublemaking its members caused, was The Children of Ma-O Unknown to anybody else, one of the highest ranking advisors to the king was a member of that secret and reviled sect. His wife had converted him. In an age when most nobles had relatively loveless marriages because their parents had arranged whom they should marry, their arranged union turned out to be a genuine love match as well. Others envied their coupledom. They shared everything with each other and one night she told him her final secret, her cult membership. His head told him that he should denounce his beloved wife as soon as possible, so that she could be put to the torture and then dragged away to the stake.
His heart won out however, as there was no way he wanted to be separated from his other half. Instead he gave into her entreaties and joined her cult. Under her influence he stirred up the king so he became deeply jealous of the riches of Mammons priests and desired their wealth for himself. All of it, not just the tenth that they were perfectly content to pay every year to the royal tax collectors. Almost maddened by greed, the king ordered his army to pillage the smaller shrines of Mammon and then move symbolically on the grandest of their cathedrals and take everything inside. The monks were horrified. Some suggested that they hire mercenaries to protect them, others that they flee with whatever they could carry and start again somewhere else.
The Cardinals decided that instead they would call upon the help of their God, surely He would not abandon His flock in their hour of need. And one of them had a dream that night, and he had a plain wooden staff carved and engraved with gold leaf and given to the holiest of the monks, who had done no harm to God or mankind and was surely destined for heaven in the afterlife.
As 30 Guards of the royal army approached with drawn swords there was a loud buzzing and the bees and Crystal Hornets that the monks tended for their honey rose in great clouds and poured down upon the king and his solders, stinging their hands and faces and wherever else their stings could penetrate until the soldiers ran for their lives in the face of this insect infestation and refused to attack as they feared not only losing their lives but their chance of heaven in the afterlife.
The King humbled himself before the power of Mammon and begged for forgiveness and it was given to him on condition that he restored anything he had taken and repaired any damaged shrines and promised publicly that there would be no reprisals. For their part, the worshippers of Mammon refrained from uttering fiery sermons against the King and were happy to put the incident behind them as if it had never happened. It was not in their interests to be at war with the state.
The holder of the staff can use it to summon all manner of insects as long as they are no bigger then a large tarantula. So it will not for example summon giant spiders, although it would work on Cor-spiders or Silverspiders . There are however some serious limitations to the power of the staff. First, it may only summon the type of insect that is within a mile away.
So in swamps for example one is most likely to get mosquitoes, in deserts, ordinary flies, more of a hassle then a danger. If there are bees, Love Bees wasps, Trapper Ants and the like, these will come, but only if within range. In caves, buildings and the like there may be few or no insects capable of answering the call. The insects have no powers of any kind beyond their normal capabilities. To summon them the holder merely needs to hold the staff tightly and think of insects.
Secondly, unless the PC holding the staff has lived a near-blameless life (and very few PCs have) then the insect swarm when it arrives may well attack the PCs and their opponents at the same time and with equal vigour. If the PCs are doing something particularly villainous then the insects might well attack them instead of their opponents. Few people of any race or religion who wield the staff are truly holy enough to ensure the insect swarm that is summoned will totally refrain from attack them and those who are their friends.
The PCs find this and accidentally activate it, and find themselves plagued by an insect swarm.
The PCs need to use this to move a swarm of something nasty from a town.