Magic Staff
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A wizard's staff has a knob on the end, knob on the end, knob on the end
A wizard's staff has a knob on the ennndddd!
What he does with it is magic!

A wizard's staff has a knob on the end
And runes run up the shaft
It's long and proud and stiff and loud
It's the pride of wizardcraft.

The Wizard's Staff **George Anketell** (after Terry Pratchett)

Basic Information

A magic staff is a staff which serves as a tool and frequently a symbol of office for a wizard. This is rarely an iron-bound quarterstaff or anything similar - although it may serve as a weapon in a crisis - and is more normally decorative and ceremonial, and quite possibly a nod to the age-equals-wisdom meme as a "wise old man's walking stick" whatever the age of the wizard.
A wizard's staff is generally a highly personal piece of equipment - often one he makes for himself - and will generally reflect his personality in appearance and function. Using another wizard's staff may be dangerous or even impossible - some users believe that they are self aware to some degree, or at least highly bonded to their creator and resist strangers - although there are some stories of staves being inherited. Possibly the death of the previous user allows the staff to be re-attuned.

The staff may serve as a larger replacement for the wand or may be a separate tool to be used alongside it, depending on tradition. In many systems the staff serves as a magical earthing or stabilising device or as a concentrator or reservoir for magical power. Alternatively they may serve to maintain a spell which would normally take the wizard's own effort to prolong. In most traditions they can also serve as an extension of the wizard's body, delivering workings that would normally require him to touch the subject.

Staves are traditionally made of wood (and in magic, tradition counts for a lot) - this may be necessary or just conventional. It may also be possible to make a staff from bone, metal or even minerals such as stone (if you are content with a damned heavy staff) or composites. The materials of construction may vary depending on the type of magic the staff is to specialise in, and shaping and ornamentation may be vital magic (perhaps following the laws of sympathy or correspondence) or just macaroni.

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Many RPG systems treat the wizard's staff as a piece of consumer hardware or a mere accessory. Subvert this. It's probably more significant to wizards of the European tradition than the familiar - something which is also much misused in RPGs.
  • A system in which a wizard can botch up a working staff from a broom handle is likely to be very different from one where a staff takes years of careful enchantment.
  • If staves are customised to their users, then a wizard's staff may say a lot about him.
  • The death of a powerful wizard may spark a succession crisis for the right to inherit his staff. In some cases, the staff may have its own ideas.
  • Making a staff may be an important milestone for a wizard - perhaps a transition from apprentice to journeyman - or even promotion to master. In a more academic setting, your staff may be like your thesis (and that for a BSoc much less impressive than that produced by a PhD or DSoc). Self-taught prodigies may produce some weird and wonderful things indeed.
  • Alternatively, creating a staff may be the wizard's equivalent of a quest for the legendary sword, involving locating rare materials and world class craftsmen and complete with substitute forging montage.
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