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Staves of Withering are rumored to be crafted by the Cult of Velsharoon in the charnel houses of Skull Gorge. While their motivations for creating these macabre weapons remain unclear, the Archmage of Necromancy must have dark plans, indeed.I found that the 1e version of the staff was limited to Clerics only, but the 2e version is usable by any class, so I decided to make it usable by Cleric, Druids, Mages, including all Specialist Wizards except for Illusionists (since the staff is empowered by necromantic magic). I can only imagine how OP the staff might become if it were usable by Kensai and Fighters. Since Clerics, Druids, and Mages/SWs have relatively weak THACOs at low and mid-levels, using the staff against difficult foes might be more of a liability (especially those with high ACs), given that it has only a +1 to hit bonus (which is non-magical--it was the only feasible way to restrict the staff from being used against outsiders and magical creatures).
Those struck by a Staff of Withering suffer a progressively enervating fate. Each hit drains its target's vitality, rendering it weaker and less agile until collapsing a lifeless husk. Victims that survive an attack regain their vigor soon afterwards, although with a more "intimate" understanding of the twilight between life and death--perhaps what the Lord of the Forsaken Crypt intended.
THAC0: +1 (non-magical)
Damage: 1d4+1 (crushing)
Special: Drains the target's Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores by 1 point cumulatively upon each hit (no save). When any ability score reaches 0, the target dies. The target must also save vs. Wands with a -2 penalty or be slowed. The draining and slowing effects of the staff cannot be dispelled, but wear off after 3 turns for those who survive.
Wielders of Staves of Withering (and their parties) do not gain experience points from deaths caused by its ability-draining effects. Experience is awarded only if the target is killed by by the staff's crushing damage. Candlekeep sages speculate the staves are enchanted to transfer the experience by some nefarious means to Velsharoon and his clergy.
Creature Immune: Undead (-15 to hit) and Outsiders
Speed Factor: 2
Proficiency Type: Quarterstaff