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Maldin's Greyhawk

Secrets of the Twin Cataclysms

by Denis Tetreault
Version 2.3

One of the most powerful and most interesting legends of the World of Greyhawk is the story of how two mighty civilizations destroyed themselves utterly in events know as the Rain of Colorless Fire and the Invoked Devastation. According to official publications, very little is known of the details. The Suel and Baklunish Empires were locked in a long and bloody war, great migrations of refugees scattering across the Flanaess, and in a single day of cataclysm were wiped off the face of the map. A millenium later the scars of their doomsday still darken half a continent. We are told that this destruction was called down by the most powerful wizards of those empires, and that an arcane device known as the Bringer of Doom was at least partly involved. See MC5 Greyhawk Adventures Monstrous Compendium Appendix: Hordling entry, and the first Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix pg 55 for physical descriptions of the Bringer of Doom. Some unofficial  information has been revealed on the various listservs. Len Lakofka, creator of the Suel legends and deities, has said that in his home campaign powerful magic items (artifacts) known as the Binders were involved somehow, though he has released no further details. Also Gary Gygax has stated that the Bringer of Doom was but a minor component of what happened, that the powerful hand of gods were directly involved, and that he had never bothered to work out the actual details of the event. So... in the absence of a direct official story, DM's are free to come up with their own legends. This is what Greyhawk is all about! ;-)

What follows is a description of what happened in my campaign. It not only includes what I've designed, but my players helped create a part of it by their actions in an adventure I ran which time-travelled back to the week before the famous events. Interspersed within this story are descriptions of the characters actions. I won't describe the details of that adventure, for there was much more to it than can be presented here (including interactions with several different groups not mentioned here, a rescue mission to a military fort, their attempts to alter the timeline in minor ways, and attempts to solve several mysteries from their own time, etc.), but I will describe the actions they took that directly effected the progression of the Twin Cataclysms event itself. DMs can use this as a basis for ideas for their own time-travelling adventure.... who knows what will happen in your own campaign. Can the players stop it in time? The answer should be no. You shouldn't allow them to because that would change all of history, but you'll have fun watching as they desperately try to stop it! ;-) In our case they failed of course (in a BIG way), but still to this day everyone unanimously agrees that it was the most memorable night of adventuring they've ever had in 18 years of playing AD&D. I'll argue with anyone who says that scripted or deterministic adventures are not fun. For those DMs looking for a 3rd Edition conversion of these magic items and the arcane spells involved in this ultimate catastrophe, please visit my webpage on the Mechanics of Destruction: Origins of the Twin Cataclysms.

The Seeds of Destruction

In 4897 SD (-618 CY) the Suel wizard Xodast Xuel-Crix, also known as "the Brooding Mage" discovered a powerful artifact known as the Codex of the Infinite Planes. Using the powers of this artifact, and the written knowledge within it, he began to research the physical structure of the planes and how they interconnected. Not how beings and objects can be transported between planes (such as mundane portals, gates and conduits), but true interactions (such as the overlap between the Prime and the Border Ethereal, and the manner by which pieces of planes can merge with other planes, as sometimes happens on adjacent Outer Planes according to the Planescape campaign materials). During this time he also summoned powerful beings who possessed fragments of knowledge on how the planes can interact. The Plane of Shadow is one of those rare planes that can under certain circumstances interact directly with the Prime. It was for this purpose he used the Codex to summon and entrap a Shadow Prince (see WG7 Castle Greyhawk, pg 97). The results of his research he recorded in the thankfully lost volume "Non-Conduit Transdimensional Fabric Fluxes and Real-Time Inter-dimensional Matrix Transformations". The ultimate fruit of this research was the creation of the artifact known as the Bringer of Doom, created in 4906 SD (-609 CY). That year Xodast was killed during another summoning-gone-wrong using this "planar matrix transferance" theory. The Codex lay in the ruins of his castle for three quarters of a century before its rediscovery.

We must have what we cannot use

The High Wizard Ilkben had been studing the mysterious ruins of Tovag Baragu (see Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, pg 98) for much of his career. That was his true love, not that he had come up with any concrete answers. He had hunches of course, however it seemed that Tovag would remain as much a mystery as it had for as long as his ancestors had been recording their histories. Nonetheless, he had done well for himself, climbing to the top of his field and becoming the most powerful wizard in the empire - both in politics and skill. Recently though his lord, the Great Kha-Khan himself, ruler of the Baklunish Empire, had been applying some pressure on him to come up with something to turn the tide of their great war with the Suel Empire. Things were not going well at the front. The Suel had begun using powerful magic on the battlefield against the Baklunish armies. All that was about to change.

In 5087 SD (-428 CY) Ilkben acquired the Codex (see my Codex article for more information). With it he was able to not only prove that Tovag Baragu was a powerful gate complex (he had hunches all along, but had completely underestimated the scope of its true power), but the Codex enabled him to determine how to operate it! In 5092 Ilkben brought together a group of gifted mages to help both in his research and to assist in the creation of a weapon that would end the hateful war with the Suel by its mere existence - sort of a Mutually Assured Destruction deterence thing. He would construct it mainly to see if it could be made, but hoped it would never have to be used. Using the Codex, he began work on a three part artifact (I know, but believe it or not I came up with this long before I ever got around to reading the Gord books!). Known simply as the Ashen Staff, it was to be assembled but once, and functions as a key to "turn on" and control the gate complex, and shape the energy drawn through the gate into a desired spell effect.

The Whims of Istus: What will happen has happened already

Enter the PCs!...... They had heard of the mysterious ruins next to a salt lake and were in the area, so they decided to check them out. When they arrived they found a faint image projected between two pillars near the center of the huge structure. The scene was a night-time view of a large lake-side city with a totally unfamiliar architecture. This group had been all over the Flanaess, visited the outer planes, and had just found out about spelljamming.. Distant and strange locales fascinated them. Could this even be another planet or alternate Prime? Over the following months they delved into libraries across the Flanaess, finding out Tovag Baragu's name, what little history was known (handed down from the nomad tribes), and that visions were sometimes co-incident with astronomical events (turns out they happened to be there during a planetary conjunction).

While doing research in Zeif and Ekbir, they were asked to perform a service for the Church of Al'Akbar, and successfully completed I9 Day of Al'Akbar (which I had placed in a desert valley located at J6-125 and  I6-124) just before the winter solstice. On their way to returning the artifacts to the high priests, they detoured back to Tovag. The image of the city was visible again. The rare "views" of distant or strange places sometimes seen between the pillars (as described in the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover) are meta-stable gates that can only be viewed at certain astronomically special times (such as the equinox, eclipse events, etc.) when Tovag accidentally activates. At this time, if the Talisman of Al'Akbar is placed over the center hole (a perfect fit!) the currently active gate will stabilize and allow passage thru it. Using the Talisman of Al'Akbar at the moment of winter solstice, the party caused the image of the city to become a functioning gate (one way as they were about to find out). They decided against bringing the artifacts through the gate (I may have had something to do with that!), so one of their temporary companions (for just the I9 adventure) stayed behind. The rest entered the gate, walked down to the city, and found that they were in Udrukankar, the Baklunish capital, just 5 days before the infamous event. They had not moved in space, but in time. Were they worried? YOU BET!!! ;-)

The Beginning of the End

Crossing through a market square, the party passed a madman in rags shouting at the crowd about the end of the world. Of course the crowd paid him no attention. He was no different than a score of other lunatics the group had seen in as many cities over the years (I had made a point of placing such people in adventures for quite a while previous to this in anticipation), so they laughed it off with comments about a "lucky guess", and "if he only knew". The madman caught a glimpse of the PCs as they walked by, paused for an uncomfortable moment, pointed at them, and began shouting "Death walks the streets... the end of the world is nigh.... the Doom Bringers are among us!" He then collapses on the ground, foaming at the mouth and dies. Now that creeped out the players! Of course, the players still thought him just a madman... After all, they had nothing to do with what was about to happen to his civilization.

After wandering around the city a bit, and making friends with a priest of Al'Akbar (one of the few familiar sights in the city), they decided to visit Tovag, just outside the city limits. As they approached the edge they noticed a group of people in the distance, gathered in the center (remember, Tovag is huge). One of the characters decided to approach the group while the others waited. As the PC neared the group of wizards performing observations of some sort, their leader was watching carefully. The inate powers granted by the Codex enabled Ilkben to immediately know that there was something seriously alien about the character. Before the PC could even speak and before the rest of the party could react, Ilkben teleported the PC and his wizard assistants to his laboratory at the top of one of the huge towers in the Emperor's Palace. The PC was questioned, and after some intimidation he told Ilkben that the Suel were planning to unleash some sort of cataclysm in a matter of days. Ilkben was aghast at this news, even though he was privy to all the most secret intelligence gathered by the Baklun military, yet his detection abilities told him that this stranger was telling the truth. No one had even suspected. In reality, at this point in time, the Suel were not planning anything. Ilkben asked the PC to join in the circle of assistants, and assist in his research (how could a player turn down that kind of offer, nor was the player willing to say no to such a powerful wizard), and they hurriedly completed the final piece of the Ashen Staff. Without the warning, and the PCs help, the Staff would not have been completed for some time. The PC didn't understand the principles behind the arcane actions he was asked to perform, and never knew the nature of that huge book Ilkben was using as he led the arcane fabrication process. ;-)

Meanwhile, things were not going so well for the rest of the party. Another group was also watching the wizards from the edge of Tovag. They watched the lone PC approach, and disappear with, the wizards. They followed the remaining PCs back to the city, and a group of fighters, assassins and wizards ambushed the party, easily overpowering them, and magically transported them back to the Citadel in the Suel capital city. A frightening evening was spent in bowels of the dungeons, screams echoing through the dank halls, as time ticked towards what the PCs were sure would be their ultimate destruction in the Rain. The Council's divinitory magic quickly determined that the PCs were from another time. They were then personally interrogated by the Suel Council of Mages. The sense of power permeated every stone, the very air, of the huge Council Chamber. The PCs caved almost immediately. Not knowing anything that had been transpiring between Ilkben and their lost comrade, they quickly told the Council that the Baklunish were about to launch some sort of massive magical attack upon the Suel, the Council's divinitory magic immediately confirming that their story was truthful. This was information that appeared to come as a total shock to the Council. A hurried discussion of this turn of events ensued, temporarily throwing the Council into chaos as the PCs watched. For a moment the PCs were forgotten as suggestions were tossed about between the archmages. Off handedly, the PCs were waved away with the phrase "the Council grants you your freedom as reward for your valuable information", and the discussions continued. As the confused PCs were led away by the guards, the final fragment of conversation they heard was the mention of a name.... "As loath as I am to suggest this, the powers of the Device of Xodast must be unleashed. We have no choice. Time is against us. His Tome of Research must be retrieved from the vaults and consulted".

It was at that point that my players finally realized what was truly happening. Not only had the Suel not been planning any attack, but it was the PCs who had been the CATALYST that actually precipitated the final destruction of half a continent, of millions of lives. I've never seen anyone go as white-as-a-sheet and get monster goosebumps as my players when they realized what they had done! All they could mutter was "Oh my god!" A night they'll never forget. ;-)

Still in shock, and much to their surprise (they had expect nothing less then death), the PCs were tossed out into the main square of the city. Two days until doomsday. As they began to wander about trying to formulate a plan, they noticed the Imperial Assassin squad following them. They suddenly realized that they knew too much to live. Thus began a chase through the city by high level assassins, and a narrow escape. The next several days involved a series of events and mini-adventures unrelated to the topic at hand.

The Hand of Darkness

It is important to understand how the Bringer of Doom works (in my campaign) to understand what follows. The Bringer of Doom actually takes a large volume of one plane and effectively "superimposes" that plane's spacial structure (in an Einsteinian many-dimensional sense) over another plane for a short period of time. When the Suel mages used the artifact on that infamous day in 5094 SD, they actually temporarily merged a portion of the Gray Wastes with the unfortunate Baklunish Empire. The results were three-fold.

1) The decaying nature of the Gray Wastes caused the decomposition of matter in the overlap zone... man-made constructions were particularly susceptible and quickly crumbled to dust.

2) Terrible diseases were inflicted upon all life, both plant and animal, killing most everything in a myriad of the most horrible deaths ever witnessed on the Prime. A nightmare of unimaginable proportions.

3) Anything that was on the original region of the Gray Wastes also temporarily existed on the Prime Material overlap zone. Unfortunately tens of thousands of hordlings just happened to be on maneuvers there at the time. Once they realized they had been somehow dragged onto the Prime they decided to PARTY!!!! Much to the horror of the Baklunish people. This is how the horde of hordlings got around the summoning restrictions on their number... they weren't actually summoned. Technically they were still on the Gray Wastes... and on the Prime.... When the overlap ended they were all sent back "home".

And who else was there? The region of the Gray Wastes that was within the overlap zone was part of Incabulos' realm. He was accidentally dragged onto the Prime along with everything else. Much to his joy. During the overlap period he romped through the Baklunish capital on his nightmare mount, reaping souls with his great scythe. The climax of the Baklunish nightmare. In my campaign, there is no record of Incabulos whatsoever before the Rain of Colorless Fire/Invoked Devastation. Once he was so kindly "invited" onto Oerth, he decided (was able) to maintain a presence, and has been slowly building a following ever since. The reason why he doesn't seem to really belong to any normal Greyhawk pantheon is because of the unusual nature by which he came to Oerth.

The Rain of Retribution

When the noon sky over Udrukankar began to darken, buildings began to crumble under their own weight, gruesome diseases began to spread like wildfire across the land, and then thousands of demonspawn began appearing everywhere and rampaging through the populace, Ilkben and his team rushed to Tovag Baragu assembled the Ashen Staff, and as the climax of an arcane ceremony, inserted it into the 2-inch hole in the very center.

The assembled staff functioned as a key and opened a massive gate to the positive material plane producing what appeared to be an intensely bright straw-yellow beam emanating from the center of Tovag up into the sky. Ilkben and his team perished at that point as the beam expanded to include the entire mile diameter structure. The "material" spewing from this beam reached a thousand miles into the sky (so it appeared to disappear into space from the point of view at the Baklunish capital and fell back onto Oerth over the Suel empire... the effects of which are recorded by history. The beam was so bright that early Flan mythology from the eastern Flanaess speak of the night when the moon in the sky briefly brightened three fold as light from the beam reflected off its surface.  Because it was not properly shut down, energy "leakage" from Tovag helps maintain the Sea of Dust's present condition. Only assembling the staff again can shut Tovag down..... or re-open the energy gate if not done properly!!! ;-)

"Oh, sorry sir... was that your 'Great Kingdom' there, Sir Ivid sir...?"


And what happened to the PCs in the end? I'll leave that story for another day. ;-)

I would like to point out one thing, however....

Because his research began a chain of events that resulted in this continental disaster involving the death of millions, destruction of the two greatest empires on Oerth, and the 1000 years of terror wrought by Incabulos and his followers since then, one could argue that the relatively unknown and unremembered "Brooding Mage" is probably responsible for more suffering on Oerth than any other single being, mortal or not. Iuz has a long way to go yet. ;-)

And then there's the guilt the PCs now carry with them... ;-)

Major Artifact: The Ashen Staff

The Ashen Staff is a 3-part artifact created by Ilkben and his team of wizards using the Codex. It has only been assembled once, on the day that Ilkben called down the Rain of Colorless Fire on the Suel Empire. Except for an obscure reference in the Scroll of Dust, there is very little information recorded about this ancient item.

The main shaft (the only portion that is normally referred to as the Ashen Staff) resembles a white, unglazed ceramic staff approximately 5 feet long and 2 inches in diameter, with no markings or decorations. In the top of the staff is a small hole approximately a half inch in diameter. The staff is much lighter then a solid ceramic staff would be, about the same weight as a similarly-sized wooden staff. The unglazed ceramic has an almost gritty feel, and the few references to this magic item attribute that feature as the reason for its name. There is no record of this item ever being used for anything special, nor is there a record of its maker. If wielded while casting a spell, the spell effect is amplified by a factor of 10 in all of its characters (range, area of affect, duration, damage, etc.). In its true purpose, the staff functions much as a wand of spell focusing, except any spell effect can be focused and amplified if a properly enchanted template is used. While appearing to be a minor artifact (indestructibility, immunity to divination and detection, etc.), it doesn't seem to be particularly special. As is the case with all artifacts, it must certainly have inherent dangers - the most common being the possibility of a spell backfiring on the caster, however little else is known about those dangers. The Ashen Staff just hasn't been used enough times through history for information to have been passed down. After reading accounts of former apprentices, a sage in Melkot believes that Marchanter Melkotia once possessed the Ashen Staff. No one else believes that those sketchy accounts of a white staff refer to this particular item.

The second part of the staff is a 6 inch diameter crystal sphere, perfectly transparent with a slight lavender tint, and is known as the Great Crystal. The crystal has a 2 inch diameter circular depression in it approximately an inch deep. In the center of that depression is another depression a half inch in diameter and a half inch deep. The crystal has artifact-like properties (indestructibility, immunity to divination and detection, etc.), and is believed to function as a master gate-key (see the Planescape campaign setting for descriptions of gate keys). When attuned to both the user and an existing planar gate, the user can force the gate to open on a desired plane. How this attunement is achieved, history has not recorded. What is known is that the item has both arcane and psionic properties. What is not known is that the crystal can also control the flow of energy through that activated gate, and has indeed only been used once in that function. Spending most of its history inert and undetectable, it is believed that Quaal once possessed the crystal. It is unknown what he learned about it, if anything, and the crystal has been lost since. After stumbling onto several writings of Quaal during his Vesve campaigns, Iuz has come to believe the crystal could be of great use to him for controlling gates, and currently has several teams searching the Flanaess for it. Unbeknownst to anyone, including Iuz, the crystal still contains the psionic "mental" signature of one of Ilkben's special assistants - the assistant that imbued it with psionic energy. Since 545 CY (6060 SD), the crystal is no longer inert, and it began "leaking" energy in 584 CY. In a relatively short time, the Defiled Glades (WGR4 The Marklands, pg 51) within the Vesve Forest began to form, and continues to grow. The artifact's immunity to detection and divination has thus far prevented anyone from discovering exactly what is forming the Defiled Glades.

wand aftermathThe third part of the Ashen Staff is a small ceramic wand a half inch in diameter and 10 inches long. A device of what seemingly appears to be fairly limited power, it has ironically been blamed for the destruction of the Suel Empire by lesser sages of dubious intellect and dismissed by expert sages as merely a weak imitator of the Rain of Colorless Fire's spell effect as a kind of "memorial" to the event. This device is often called the Fire Wand of the Suloise (see Greyhawk Adventures hardcover pg 75 for details on its use and effects, I've also included the text of that entry at the bottom of this webpage) and, unlike the other two parts of the Ashen Staff, has been passed from wizard to wizard for centuries, leaving quite a long history. While its spell effect is undeniably deadly, it is of quite limited range and effect, and experts all agree that this could not possibly have any relation to the actual historic event. The wand is in actuality the spell effect "template" Ilkben created for the Ashen Staff. As a seemingly minor artifact of limited ability, most never realize that it is indeed an artifact (indestructible, etc.). The last known owner of the wand was a mid-level member of the City of Greyhawk Wizard's Guild. Experimenting on an unknown magic wand he happened upon, he accidentally precipitated an effect now referred to at the Guild as the "Drizzle of Colorless Fire". The remains of his home on the outskirts of the city are pictured here, once a rectangular one-story stone and wood structure with an attached three-story circular tower. A large tree next to his house is now a deep circular pit. The present location of the wand is unknown.

To assemble the Ashen Staff, the template is inserted into the hole in the top of the staff. Approximately a half inch will still protrude from the top. Although Ilkben only created the single template, it is theoretically possible that a sufficiently knowledgeable and skilled archmage might have since created another. Then the crystal is place on top and automatically locks into place. Once assembled, the staff has the power of a major artifact. What additional abilities (or curses) it will acquire is unknown. It is likely that spells cast and 'focused' with the assembled staff would generate effects of regional importance. The presence of any nearby planar gates, hidden or not (see the Planescape campaign set for details on naturally occurring keyed gates), would likely result in rather spectacular effects. The crystal's planar "setting" can be changed by attuning to it, otherwise it will remain set to the last plane it was set to, and that may have been the one set the one and only time the staff was last assembled. It is possible that Quaal managed to change the setting on the crystal, if the nature of the Defiled Glades is any clue. Inserting the assembled Ashen Staff into Tovag Boragu, the most powerful gate system on the planet (and an artifact in its own right), without fully understanding how to control it would likely be a truly unwise action of epic (and continental) proportion.

Q & A arising from the Secrets of the Twin Cataclysms

Parts of this story have been posted to the Greytalk listserv in the past, and others have asked me questions about it by private email. Below are some of those questions, and the answers I provided.

> -Wasn't the Codex also linked to the destruction of the Isles of Woe?

Yes. That event is recorded by the sages (canon of course). The actual cause of the Isle's destruction (non-canon, my campaign) was an unwanted side effect of Yagrax's use of the Codex producing massive earthquakes in the vicinity of his capital.

> Have you linked the destruction of the three greater pre-Oeridian civilizations together? [meaning the Suel and Baklunish Empires and Yagrax's empire]

The earliest recorded civilization is of course Sulm and the Scorpion Crown caused it's destruction over 2000 years ago. But yes... the Baklunish and the Suel were destroyed 1000 years ago by indirect result of the Codex (by items made with the Codex) and Yagrax's more modest empire was toasted 160 years later (my date) by direct result from use of the Codex.

But this is small potatoes. The Codex has also been used directly to destroy two planets (Borka and Greela) and a sun (Anti-Liga)! In my campaign, of course. ;-)

> -How much of this history is known to sages in the Flanaess?

Very little. Much of it is "DM fun" on my part (so I can create my internally consistent "Big Picture") and a bit is known to some of my players who participated in a couple of interesting adventures I mentioned above, but...

Some bits of info are known in obscure books that PCs could track down.
For example:


1. Xodast somehow created the Bringer of Doom which was later used in the ID (but no references to the Codex, not even his assistants knew he had it)
2. Yagrax had the Codex, and part of its curse destroyed his island
3. Tzunk had it, and used it to seize the City of Brass (efreeti capital) temporarily.


4. The Wizards of the Final Retribution were responsible for the Rain, and their leader was a powerful wizard named Ilkben. They used Tovag Baragu and another item (artifact) to create the Rain (again, no references to the Codex, even Ilkben's assistants weren't aware of the Codex)
5. That the dwarves of Kirahk were attacked and destroyed by Yagrax just before he obtained the power to expand his empire.

The following  facts are "lost knowledge", and are unrecorded anywhere in history. Legend Lore will not even reveal this information. The only way to find this out is to actually acquire the Codex:

1. The fact that Xodast or Ilkben even HAD the Codex, never mind used it to create the artifacts they actually used to destroy half a continent. Not even their assistants at the time were aware of the Codex.
2. That Zagig also once possessed it, and used it to trap the nine powers and to chip pieces off of the Obelisk.

Q & A arising from the Scroll of Dust

Much of the Scroll of Dust can be understood from the above descriptions. Just a couple of quick points that may not be entirely clear or should be emphasized....

Ilkben was "the greatest wizard that lived".

The Ashen Staff was bastardized into "Askaf" over the centuries, and the "Great Crystal" is but one of the three parts.

Tovag Baragu is the "Eye That Watches", and the central-most region (with the hole into which the Staff was inserted) is the "Lock of the Ancients"

The collapse of the Baklunish Imperial Palace (Ilkben's lab was the top of one of the towers) is the "Towers did fall" part.

And finally... a few bits of information that no divinitory magic could ever reveal, both because artifacts resist all such magic, and for other reasons I will not reveal here. The only way characters could find out the following is to participate in the actual events.

1. In my campaign, a small group of worshippers of Al'Akbar escaped during the Invoked Devastation, with a high priest, through a gate. The high priest had a staff of curing that was capped by the symbol of Al'Akbar... that staff (and the cup) was transformed into an artifact by Al'Akbar himself when his avatar appeared to the escapees, and the Talisman of Al'Akbar is actually only this capping symbol piece. The rest of the staff has been lost. (Hmmm... could be an adventure in there!) The Cup was originally the cup used at the main temple during ceremonies and carried to safety by the high priest..

2. Who wrote the Scroll of Dust? The Chief Scribe/Recorder (who was also a low-level priest) from the the High Temple of Istus in Udrukankar. How ironic (yet typical for Istus) that it became the most holy document of another religion. How could he write it? He was with the group that escaped. How did he come to be with them? Divine inspiration instructed him to remain near the high priest of Al'Akbar all that day. Why did he write the Scroll of Dust? Because he knew he had to. It was his destiny.

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I enjoyed creating it.

If you have any questions about any of this material, feel free to email me and I'll add them to this page (after I answer you, of course).  

Magic Item: The Fire Wand of the Suloise (unedited text from Greyhawk Adventures hardcover)

Fire Wand of Suloise (M): This wand may have been the device that caused the destruction of the Suel Empire, or it may have been created to reproduce the event. No scholar doubts that its creator was a wizard of great power and violent tendencies. The wand is rarely bought or sold, since few magic-users dare to use it. Often it merely falls into the hands of an unsuspecting spellcaster who never realizes its full powers and dangers until too late.

The wand can summon a deadly "fire" to rain down in a 60' cube from a range of up to 80 yards. The "fire" inflicts 5 points of damage per round to all creatures, regardless of protections, resistances, or immunities to normal or magical flame. Such damage cannot be cured by any spell less powerful than a heal spell. Furthermore, the fire will destroy buildings of less than stone construction, and will evaporate free-standing liquid to a depth of 1 foot per round. Note, however, that matter is burned to dust and ashes, not vaporized. Though the wand itself is never affected by the fire, the wand has a 5% chance of malfunction, in which case the effect is centered upon the wand user.

The fire requires 3 charges to operate and has a minimum duration of 6 rounds. After this the caster can end the rain by concentrating for a round and making a saving throw versus spells. Each round the wand continues to operate will drain 1 more charge. If the wand is emptied, then the fiery rain vanishes and the wand explodes, engulfing the magic-user and everything within 10' in a blast that inflicts 3d10 points of damage.

The wand can be recharged, but only in the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Ash, which lies between the Elemental Plane of Fire and the Negative Material Plane.

X.P. value: 4,000 x.p.       G.P. value: 18,000 g.p.

Side notes and Additions: The longer the wand operates, the more difficult it becomes to control. During each addition round (after the minimum duration of 6 rounds) there is a cumulative -1 modifier to the operator's saving throw versus spells. As an artifact (as described in this webpage), the wand does not actually explode. The burst is an uncontrolled release of its energy caused when the wand automatically contacts the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Ash to recharge itself. The wand then has a 50% chance of being dimensionally "thrown" to a random location within 1000 miles via a form of teleportation, and will have 2d10 charges replenished.

For those DMs looking for a 3rd Edition version of these magic items and the arcane spells involved in this ultimate catastrophe, please visit my webpage on the Mechanics of Destruction: Origins of the Twin Cataclysms.

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