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Magic staff

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Image:Scroll2.png "The staff is [...] the tall pillar bearing the weight of the sky above."
- From the Treval Codex

A magic staff is a product of Magecraft specifically designed for use with personal magic. Both its creation and proper use require some amount of special lore to be acquired. A magic staff is a valuable tool once the owner has mastered its unique quirks: it acts as an extension of the wizard for all practical purposes, its location can always be sensed, and can store some Djed for a short time for deferred release, thus allowing the wizard to string more spells together than he would normally be able to. The staff's main drawback is that a wizard accustomed to using one finds himself disoriented and less effective when deprived of it.



Early wizards quickly recognized that the world of magic is dominated by two opposite and complementary shapes: the line and the circle. In fact, many classes in Theoretical Magic proposed a classification of magic disciplines into "masculine" magics, in which the line - or linear motion - was essential (e.g. Projection, Reimancy, Flux, Webbing) and "feminine" ones based on the circle (e.g. Shielding, Alchemy, Summoning, Animation). Unsurprisingly, personal magic is more attuned to the line, whereas world magic sees more of the circle.

Within a few centuries, mages had devised tools for augmenting a wizard's performance based on these power shapes. The magic staff, serving as a linear accelerator of Djed, assists a personal mage as an extension of his body: it can carry magic just like the wizard himself, but it is more flexible and resistant to abuse. Its world magic equivalent, the magic plate, is based on the circle and catalyzes world energies, allowing the mage to use his body or the plate itself instead of the usual tools to execute lesser works virtually anywhere and with little preparation. Both items are the product of Magecraft.

It was soon noted how a mage with a staff was especially suited for war. Indeed, the staff doubled as a weapon of both offense and defense, without breaking the wizard's concentration. Useful spells could be loaded in it minutes before the start of a battle and simply "accelerated" at the right time. Being able to cast magic through it allowed for greater reach in close combat without exposing the wizard's vulnerable limbs to enemy attacks. Its main drawback - increasing dependance on the staff, making the wizard's spells weaker and more dangerous when not using it - was seen as a minor side effect as both Alahea and Suvan began funding research projects for magic staffs. Entire Magecrafting guilds took to crafting hundreds of identical staffs, with lone artisans making far greater specimens for the fewer elite wizards of the lands.

At the height of their influence, both nations provided their fighting force with staffs. In Alahea, all non-commissioned officers were issued a standard three-pronged Aide-class staff, though given the high costs of Magecrafting even these lesser items, they were to be returned upon retirement. Also, should the soldier lose or break the staff and be found negligent in its protection, he would be forced to work its cost off, serving at minimum wage for years. Suvan was more practical with its staffs, requiring its battle-mages to pass an additional proficiency test before issuing them the trademark bayonet-equipped Puncturer staff. There were strict crafting requirements to make these staffs absolutely identical, so that a wizard losing his staff would be able to use a replacement without going though the usual adjusting period.

While the rank-and-file had to borrow the cheapest products of the noble art, the elite would not settle for anything but the best and most unique. These were the few who could spend fortunes on the extravagant reagents required for high-level Magecraft, and custom-made staffs quickly became a status symbol among personal mages lucky enough to have one. As is the norm in every subculture, anti-staff schools of thought developed across the community. While Areesa Tallshade was never seen without one of her own staffs (mostly for show), Rupert Pycon despised them with a passion. Sagallius Hrinn assembled a large collection of powerful staffs, but rarely if ever used them - like others, he just hoarded those he deemed too dangerous to meet on the field of battle. Even in Alahea, excluding the cheap military-issued Aide staffs, only about one in ten wizards possessed a staff - perhaps about half that much in Suvan.

Many a staff was destroyed in the Valterrian. Sadly, most "staffs" seen today turn out to be patched up military models, scavenged from some ruin and maybe given a cosmetic upgrade to make them look more unique. These are the least effective and durable of all staffs, and for the most part should belong in a museum but still manage to get the job done with no fancy tricks. The custom-made items are far rarer and more valuable, each deserving a name of its own and a page on a book of magic. They often have additional powers and abilities typical of Magecrafted objects.


Taming the staff

A magic staff is a power conduit for personal magic. This is its first property and the easiest to control. Any magic or Djed that could ordinarily pass through the caster's body will be able to cross the staff unimpeded.

  • Reimancy's Res can be shot out of the staff as if it were the wizard's skin, for greater aiming accuracy and focus.
  • In Leeching, a touch from the staff is equivalent to a touch from the Leecher himself.
  • In Familiary, the Familiar can burrow inside the staff for protection at any time.
  • In Projection, the wizard can project his staff-wielding arm from the staff itself for additional reach.
  • In Morphing, the staff can be morphed into one's body, making it easy to carry around while morphed.
  • In Auristics, the staff can acquire the sense of touch and relay information like an antenna while equipped.
  • In Hypnotism, being touched by the staff can replace a vocal or vision stimulus.
  • One's own Voiding portals can be slowly moved by pointing the staff at them.
  • In Shielding, the staff is incredibly conducive to being shielded from harm, making it much more durable.
  • Flux streams can cross the staff, creating shortcuts when wielded with both hands that speed up Flux movements across the body.

These abilities are not immediately available. The wizard must acquire the Lore of taming the staff first, trying to channel his Djed through the item and discovering its inner structure and unique capabilities. Generally, the more powerful a staff, the harder it is to tame and the longer it takes. Weak wizards may be utterly unable to tame a high-level staff. The procedure must be repeated for every new staff (hence the Lore is specific to the staff, i.e. "Lore of taming Staff X"), but once the staff is tamed the wizard receives its benefits to all the disciplines he practices.

Timeline: generally 1 to 12 months depending on staff level, 1-3 threads of staff wielding required to obtain this Lore

Sensing the staff

Once the staff has been tamed, the wizard can enter a deeper symbiosis with it, leaving his own unique magical footprint on the item. Like a scent, this will allow him to detect the staff no matter where it is in the world, and even get a vague glimpse of its surroundings. Once the Lore of sensing the staff has been acquired, the wizard is acutely aware of the staff's presence. This may also unlock some other abilities of high-level staffs. At this point, the wizard will be uncomfortable without a staff by his side and have trouble reaching his usual peak performance without one.

Timeline: generally 1 to 6 months depending on staff level, another 1-3 threads of staff wielding required

Communing with the staff

The highest form of staff mastery is the ability to store spells inside the item for a brief period. In technical terms, the user casts a spell inside the staff and decelerates it to near-stillness. At the right time, he accelerates it once more, firing it out of the staff. The Lore of communing with the staff requires such intimate knowledge of the staff's inner workings, down to the tiniest impurities, that some wizards never even reach this level.

Most staffs are able to keep a spell in stasis for up to an hour, after which the Djed dissipates - if the staff is a well-crafted one - or takes effect inside the staff - if it is not. Needless to say, the latter event is not a pleasant one in most cases. Careful usage of this power lets the wizard unleash a stored spell even while wounded or poorly concentrated. In practice, this ability puts the staff's craftsmanship to the test. A staff without structural enhancements from Magecraft will risk rupturing if subjected to more than one stored spell at a time. Aide-class staffs were infamous for quickly overheating when accelerating a spell, causing burns to the wielder. In general, communion is by far best practiced with a quality staff. Some wizards reportedly were able to channel Gnosis power through a staff they communed with.

Once a wizard has communed with a staff, his performance will decrease sharply when not using a staff he is not attuned to in this way. Not having a staff at all will reduce his ability by roughly 50%, making him very vulnerable. Having a non-communed staff will reduce him by about 25%. If the wizard does not wield a magic staff for a year, he will lose communion and recover from this withdrawal syndrome.

Timeline: generally 3-12 months depending on staff level, another 3-10 threads of intensive staff wielding


A magic staff is just another Magecrafted item that undergoes a special step. A Magecrafter needs the Lore of Staffmaking to be able to make a magic staff: this lore requires Competent-level Magecraft and can be learned from a teacher easily enough.

The additional step of making a magical staff increases the item's MC (Magecraft Coefficient) by 1. This can be the only step taken in the process, so the staff may very well have no additional properties aside from the standard ones. This was the case with military-issued staffs, which were in most cases MC1 items.

The modern process is as follows. The Magecrafter inserts the staff between special magically-insulated clamps, coats it in expensive mineral powders and wraps it in D-wire coils. Then, two personal mages cast spells of different disciplines from both ends of the staff at the same time. The process can be repeated until the powders have been absorbed inside the staff.

The staff must be crafted from organic materials for the process to work: something meant to be the extension of a living, breathing person must have been alive itself, at some point. Metal and stone do not absorb the charged powders and generally disturb the magical stream inside the staff, though they can be tacked onto the item in small amounts as later add-ons. Most staffs are made of expensive wood, though bone and ivory are not unheard of, as well as other, more exotic materials. Also, the staff must be at least two thirds as tall as its wielder for full effectiveness. Back in the day, children of noble mage lines practiced with smaller "stafflings" before moving on to bigger and more difficult staffs in adulthood.

Known staff classes

  • Aide (MC1) - standard military issue for Alahean NCO's for the last four centuries BV, replacing the plethora of older designs with a standardized form. It had three sword-catching prongs for blocking incoming blades and a reinforced butt for counter-attacking. Officers tried to replace it with a proper staff as soon as they could.
  • Puncturer (MC1) - the staff of choice for Suvan battle-mages, it could be equipped with a vicious bayonet on either end. While the bayonet tended to interfere with stored spells, it was often more deadly than the actual spells. There were different models for women and Isur, though most self-respecting Isur would not be seen using this staff.
  • Avakalashi's Bounty (MC2) - the Valedictorian staff at the Royal Academy of Magic in Alahea, this elegant rose-blossomed staff was given to the best student in the class to keep for a year. The student with the highest grades in the Academy received one as a gift upon graduation, and its symbolic value far exceeded its actual spellcasting aid.
  • Pillar of the Sky (MC4) - this staff identified a mage as belonging to the Uplifted, the most conservative wing in Alahean wizardry. Sporting column-like grooves and acanthus leaves, the staff truly looked like a pillar of solidity.

Featured staffs

This section lists staffs that have appeared or have been mentioned in actual roleplay.

  • Pathfinder (MC3) - Formerly owned by Sagallius and usually stored in the Void, Pathfinder is considered a lesser staff to leave the workshop of renowned staffmaker Qaliana Sveransis in 16 BV, but still plays a crucial role. Aside from a minor enhancement to sturdiness, it was enchanted as a compass leading to the other staffs in Sagallius' possession. This cedar staff features the carvings of four robed figures on its tip, as they stare off in the four directions. Following events in The Game, Konti wizard Kamalia Timandre currently owns Pathfinder.
Part of a series of articles on Magic
Concepts Magic · Magic list · Djed · Personal magic · Gnosis · World magic · Djedline · Arcanology
Personal magic Auristics · Familiary · Flux · Hypnotism · Leeching · Morphing · Projection · Reimancy · Voiding · Shielding · Vorilescence
Gnosis Gnosis · Gnosis list· Gnosis Marks · Religion
World magic Alchemy · Animation · Glyphing · Magecraft · Malediction · Summoning · Spiritism · Webbing
Magic in Society Magic institutions · Magic factions · Famous wizards
Lost Disciplines Architectrix · Dominion · Pathfinding · Static · Sensing · Florabundance · Linkage
Other Antimagic · Paramagic · Wizard psychology