Appearance

A heavy staff of black oak, with the House Crest of Adelheim etched prominently into the platinum topper.  Seven snakes, each of a different metal, wind up the staff from bottom to top.  Their jeweled eyes begin to glow with an inner light as each of the other Kings' Items are dedicated to the Cause.

Benefits

The bearer of this staff gains the ability to cast seven different summoning spells.
 

  • Scatha, the medic (copper): Scatha manifests as a small swarm of tiny snakes that descend upon the battlefield and bite into the flesh of any wounded.  Their bite immediately stabilizes the victim, and the fortunate soul will slowly regain health as long as the snake remains attached.  Scatha can initially split into two of these, but the number scales up with the number of other Kings' Items pledged to the cause.
  • Ness, the guardian (brass): Once summoned, this snake sits coiled around the caster, often around his shoulders.  It will guard the caster with its body and spitting venom, entangling incoming weapons in its coils and deflecting arrows to a limited extent.
  • Akheku, the key (bronze): A small, fingerlength viper that is capable of slithering into a keyhole and unlocking almost any door.  Only those doors guarded with the most potent magics stand a chance against this snake, and it will resist many of the most common safeguards.  Enchantments and poisons designed to kill won't affect it (as it isn't alive), though it may still be slowed or potentially ensnared by them.
  • Apophis, the assassin (steel): Apophis can be given a named target within a 5-mile radius of the caster, and will track it down unerringly.  Once the target is found, Apophis will wait until the victim is distracted before striking out with its deadly poison.  If caught, Apophis cannot be questioned and will wither away to nothingness almost before the captor is sure of what he's caught.
  • Haku & Rahu, the hypnotists (silver): This pair of snakes can charm or hypnotize most targets within a 10-ft. radius.  Once the target falls under their trance, the bearer of the Staff may attempt to implant a suggestion into his victim's mind.  The subject remains immobile while in trance.
  • Abraxas, the advisor (gold): Enigmatic and highly intelligent, this snake possesses in-depth knowledge of the future and the arcane arts.  When summoned, the caster can ask it 3 questions before it returns to sleep for a full month.  It will always answer the questions truthfully, but will use as few words as possible to answer.
  • Glaurung, the king (platinum): Over ten feet long, this snake is a formidable opponent that can match several soldiers at once in combat.  It possesses the ability to swim through almost any liquid, and is capable of transporting the caster across such surfaces safely.  Glaurung also boasts a large rattle which it can use to intimidate its opponents.

 

Drawbacks

This is a twisted item, with some of the original owner's taint.  Beware the advisor snake, especially.  While Abraxas must tell the owner of the Staff the truth, the truths it tells seem designed to cast doubt on the rest of the bearer's companions.  After all, it knows that if the Staff's owner betrays The Cause it will receive many blood sacrifices in return for its services.  The same is true to a lesser extent with the rest of the snakes.  If they have the opportunity to cause strife and mischief between the bearers of the Kings' Items, they will.

Lore

Chosen by Linus, the Arcanist.  A master of the arcane arts and devoted follower of peace, Linus was the first to become concerned over King Verin's ever-expanding interest in conquest.  He argued often with his brothers over what was to be done about it, but for the most part they were each too consumed with their own duties to take action.  He consulted with Abraxas often about the future, and became quite worried about Adelheim's eventual downfall.

Increasingly paranoid, Linus blamed his brothers for the imminent destruction of their homeland.  He began to modify the Staff of Seven Snakes, calling upon his years of experience in the arcane arts to free it from the grips of the other artifacts.  Adelheim would NOT fall under his watch, he reasoned.  Not if he had to safeguard it himself.

In the end, it wasn't Verin's death that caused the rift between the remaining six kings.  In the grey years that followed Verin's death, Linus' mind was further poisoned by Abraxas, and it was at his own hand that many of the remainder perished or were lost.  In the end, Valenor the Wise and Silath the Skald were able to lure their crafty brother into a trap that ended his reign, though Valenor ended up paying the ultimate price for it.

Twist

This is the only one of the Kings' Items that can retain its powers after the bearer has forsaken his Cause.  After each use, the snake in question must be fed a suitable sacrifice to prevent it from deactivating entirely.  The sacrifice can range from a little bit of blood for the medical snakes, to a live human sacrifice for the king snake.

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? Quest

In association with Johnn Four, and all the fine folks subscribed to his Roleplaying Tips Weekly mailing list, we bring you our second collaborative Quest!

Here's the required stat block template to use for your entries:

* Awesome Name
* Appearance
* Benefit
* Drawback
* Lore
* Twist

For an awesome description and guide to these stat blocks, check out Johnn's post describing it.

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All entries submitted before each date will be eligible for each random draw. So enter early and often.

Thanks to Gator Games for their prize sponsorship!

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Cheka Man