Postfest IV: Staff of the Hornwood
Date: Mon, April 04, 2005
Topic: Spells of Oerth
The Old Faith Druids have a saying: "The trees never forget", and sometimes, the gods make sure those memories are respected by those who walk beneath the leaves. Discover the secrets of a piece of the Legacy of the Hornwood, and the blessing of one druid's work by the goddess Ehlonna.
Staff of the Hornwood
Special thanks to Darva Shriver for help with this item.
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
In the days before Geoff was claimed and conquered by Keoland, the realm was a collection of Flan tribes, the loosely allied remnants of the great Kingdom of Oyt that once reigned there. Chief among the leaders of the tribes were the druids of the Old Faith, spiritual and political guides to the people and guardians of the land itself. As the Keoish came, many of these druids accepted the fate of their land and mingled with their new neighbors or simply withdrew into the woodlands, out of the sight and mind of their new lords.
A few strong-minded druids were not content to let their lands fall to the despoiling hands of the Keoish, however, and fought tenaciously to preserve the old order. Buhgilah Galdahyd was once such druid.
Buhgilah was born to druid parents in a small village called Wolfarrow in the Hornwood, and she quickly adopted her parent’s love of the woodlands, the goddess Ehlonna and the heritage of her Flan ancestors. By the time the Keoish settlers came, Buhgilah had progressed through her clerical training and become a proper druid, gathering a small but loyal following of lesser clerics and druids and Flan tribesfolk from the woods. When the Keoish noble who had laid claim to the lands around her grove demanded tribute and obedience, Buhgilah and her people were not about to bow down without a fight.
For nearly a decade, Buhgilah and her followers fought a series of bloody skirmishes with the Keoish settlers, enlisting the faerie folk, animals and even the trees of the wood to their cause. As time wore on however, it became clear that their cause was doomed. This saddened Ehlonna, who had been pleased with the druid's work and foresaw the neglect for the woods that the Keoish would bring. In an attempt to preserve the tradition and cause that Buhgilah so desperately fought for, Ehlonna instructed her to create an enchanted staff through which to channel the power of the woods.
The Staff of the Hornwood is an ornately carved staff carved from treated and seasoned hornwood, the tree that gives the Hornwood its name. The decoration is simple yet beautiful, depicting intricate knot work patterns that pay tribute to the forest and the goddess Ehlonna. Into the head of the staff is set a fist sized chunk of petrified wood carved into a rough image of a female head. Most keepers of the staff usually adorn it with leaves and feathers from their grove, but these are not part of the staff, nor are they required for its magic to function.
Once per day, the Staff may be commanded to produce food for up to 10 human sized creatures, in the form of ripe Yarpick nuts. Consuming one such nut fulfills a creature’s nutritional needs for that day. Creatures larger than human size may require multiple nuts to be satisfied, but smaller creatures must still consume one entire nut.
In addition, once per week, the Staff may be commanded to take the form of a normal wolf, of full hit points. The wolf is friendly toward the staff's wielder, and may be compelled to undertake simple tasks on his behalf. Such tasks include tracking ("find the orc we were chasing"), guarding ("bark if any kobolds come near camp") and combat. In the event the party faces powerful opponents and is acting in the best interest of the forests or the people of Geoff (DM's discretion), the staff may take the form of a Dire Wolf instead of the normal wolf form. If slain in normal wolf form, the staff reverts to staff form and may be retrieved by the owner without consequence, but if slain in Dire Wolf form, the staff is instantly and irrevocably destroyed.
These powers of the staff may only be used by Clerics and Druids of Lawful or Nuetral alignments, but in the hands of any character, it functions as a Staff +3, granting +3 to a characters to hit rolls, and causing 1d6+3 points of damage.
In the event a character attempts to use the staff for exceptionally evil or selfish reasons, there is a 10% (cumulative for that specific character) chance of each such action invoking the ire of Ehlonna, who will call upon the spirit of the Hornwood to punish the transgressor. Such punishment comes in the form of a pack (2d4) of Dire Wolves who appear and immediately attack the owner of the staff. The wolves will ignore any other creatures unless those creatures enter the combat of their own accord, in which case they will be attacked as well.
Since the passing of Buhgilah, the Staff of the Hornwood has changed hands many times, generally among the more experienced and influential druids of the forest, but its current whereabouts are unknown. The last known owner was a Geoffan cleric by the name of Jervalan Oytwhisper, who is thought to have been slain in the stark mounds when his party was ambushed by Sword Wraiths, so common rumors place the staff somewhere in that area, but these rumors are unconfirmed.