The "forlorn hope" is a military term used by some League Free Companies to refer to a band of soldiers or other combatants chosen to take the leading part in a military operation, such as an assault on a defended position, where the risk of casualties is high. Some mercenary units have one or two of these rods crafted intentionally for use by hired magicians (especially those who already have some experience on the battlefield), paying the additional costs to bond their wielders and supplying them with as many useful potions or pieces of crystal mana as they can afford. Such magicians are usually quite well paid.
The forlorn hope it is occasionally compared to the wand known as the Acolyte's Mercy. While both implements allow a magician to wield the heal spell, a wand is rarely considered a good choice for use in the midst of a chaotic melee. The rod on the other hand is useful in the midst of battle, where it allows the magician to swiftly heal an ally without putting aside their weapon. It still has value after a battle when the spell can be performed at a more leisurely pace. In the Marches a forlorn hope is sometimes called a pressman's needle, while in Dawn, Highguard and Wintermark it is more commonly known as a vanguard's succour.
- Form: Weapon. Takes the form of a rod. You must be wielding this implement to use its magical properties.
- Requirement: You must have the magician skill to bond to this item.
- Effect: You can cast, or swift cast, the heal spell as if you knew it.
- Materials: Crafting a forlorn hope requires no special materials. It takes two months to make one of these items.