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The Staff of the Leech

by John Hare

This six foot long piece of tapered wood appears somewhat mouldy and always feels moist to the touch. It is only a quarter of an inch around at the bottom and three inches at the top. The staff head is that of a large leech with a large open mouth. Along the side of the staff evenly spaced on either side are 10 red crystal globes (10 per side, for a total of 20). In combat the staff is treated as a +2 weapon and on an unmodified roll of 18 or more the head itself strikes the target and attaches to it. If the target is living then this attachment drains 2-12 hp from it, and will do so for as long as it is attached. The victim may make a strength check to remove it or the wielder may command the staff to release.

Should a staff manage to kill its victim with its draining ability (reduced to zero hit points or lower) then one of the red crystals becomes clear and the victim becomes ethereal in 2 rounds. The victim leaves all possessions behind when entering the ethereal plane. The body is now implanted with a Leech which takes one month to incubate and grow into a young Leech. If the body is humanoid then the Leech will use it like a suit of clothes as it grows. If the body is some sort of monster or non-humanoid creature the Leech will emerge from it and begin searching for its own kind.

This implanting process may be stopped if either a cure disease or heal spell is applied before 10 days have passed. If it is applied before disappearing into the ethereal plane then the victim won't disappear.

When all 20 globes become clear then the staff becomes non-magical and loses all draining abilities until recharged by a Leech of X'yeth who will recharge the staff for a small fee.

The idea behind the staves is to allow the Leeches to acquire host bodies before the invasion begins and to use them to communicate with the other inhabitants of a plane. However they are only used as skins as long as the Leech wearing it can fit inside. Eventually the Leech leaves the actual body and maintains instead ethereal control which appears as some silvery insubstantial feelers on the host body.