The Staff of Ancient Penumbra
This psionically endowed staff is an artifact from ancient days when Penumbra was indeed the seat of the illithid empire.
The staff is sentient, but quiescent until used. The stories of its passage through the epochs since its creation to the present day would fill volumes. Suffice it to say that it was most recently in the hands of the Unliving King (a creature descended from a group of degenerate illithids that embraced magic, and who eventually managed to transform itself into a mummy-lich).
Description: The staff of ancient Penumbra is crafted of solid substare, the nigh-indestructible material of which the “bedrock” of Penumbra itself is formed. The staff measures 5 feet in length and is 2 inches in diameter. The head of the staff is carved to form a stylized illithids head, with a high swept- back brow and cavernous sockets where eyes might otherwise be (if gemstone eyes once resided here, they’re gone now). The six tentacles meld perfectly with the shaft. The shaft is intricately carved with a multitude of squirming tadpoles – their arrangement provides the perfect rough surface for easily grasping the staff. Scrutiny of the tadpoles reveals four-lobed tails; they are illithid tadpoles.
Powers: The staff is selective about those that it allows to use it. Whenever a character touches the staff, they must make a DC 20 Charisma (Persuasion) check. On a fail the staff is hostile: It lashes out with a defensive pyrokinetic blast, automatically igniting the character holding the staff. The fire inflicts 1d6 + 2 psychic damage every round. After the first round, the character can begin making a DC 15 Intelligence saving throw to end the effect. The fire continues to burn every round that this save is failed but goes out permanently the first round the save is made. If the victim is killed, his remains bum completely, leaving only ashes. Once the staff reacts badly to a prospective new owner, the staff is automatically hostile if the character renews an attempt to use it.
However, if the staff of ancient Penumbra reacts positively to a prospective owner, it mentally reveals its powers. However, the new owner may not be completely happy with what he finds. Anyone wielding the staff who refuses to acknowledge illithid superiority and who does not actively work towards that end is continuously challenged by the staff as it tries to master its wielder.
If the staff gains mastery, it forces the wielder to give the staff up to the nearest illithid. If this means a journey of several days, too bad. If the staff is used against an illithid in combat, every time the attack roll is above 15 the staff inflicts its damage upon the wielder instead of the target (assuming the wielder is not an illithid).
In combat, the staff acts as a staff of striking. In addition, on any attack of a natural 20, the staff of ancient Penumbra lashes forth with a pyrokinetic blast, igniting the foe as described above. The wielder of the staff can elect to trigger the pyrokinetic blast manually at a target within 10′ by expending 5 charges. The target automatically catches fire and bums every round as described above until such time as a successful saving throw is made. Should the holder fail any saving throw, he may can expend 2 charges to gain an additional saving throw. No more than one extra chance at a saving throw is possible, even if additional charges are expended.
At any time, the staff of ancient Penumbra may be called upon to heal damage its owner has taken. When this is done, a psionic effect similar to that of a 3rd level cure wounds spell affects the wielder. This effect cannot be used on anyone but the wielder of the staff. Note that this functions identically for undead creatures. Each use of the staff’s healing ability drains 3 charges from the staff.
The holder of the staff can expend 1 charge to gain a temporary ability to see through fog, smoke, or other visibility-reducing conditions. This effect allows the wielder to see for a distance of 30 feet in such conditions for a duration of 10 minutes. The holder of the staff can expend 2 charges in order to look through solid objects, including lead, metals, stone, wood, and even flesh, to a distance of 6 inches for a duration of 1 minute.
The staff automatically regains charges at a rate of l per week. The staff can hold a maximum of 25 charges at one time. If the charges are ever completely drained, the staff strikes at its owner with its pyrokinetic blast before going quiescent for a week until 1 charge has regenerated.
Sentience. The staff is a sentient lawful evil weapon with an Intelligence of 20, a Wisdom of 18, and a Charisma of 12. It has hearing and darkvision out to a range of 120 feet and communicates telepathically in a gurgling voice.