The Melancholic Staff taps upon the power of the Realm of Autumn to maximise the bearer's ritual power. These arcane implements are employed throughout the Empire to fortify the abilities of Autumn ritualists. Commonly, these staves are shod in metal and often include extensive metallic decoration - they are often bound in chains or inlaid with polished runes. Some magicians have their staves inlaid with precious gems, while others hang coins or even bars of valuable ingots from their ritual staff.
It is usual to see such an implement engraved with Hirmok, the Rune of Dominion; any or all of the runes of Autumn might also be included, especially if the staff is intended for a specific purpose. For example, the staff of Eddard of Mitwold was inlaid with beautifully carved runes of wealth and bargains, and regularly used to empower Gift of the Wily Broker, helping is market town to quickly establish a reputation for being able to lay their hands on all kinds of valuable goods at short notice. Some staves bear all the runes, surmounted by Hirmok - a contentious move that presents the philosophical idea that the Autumn realm wields power over all magic or all human endeavour via serendipity and synchronicity. Magicians who favour this kind of decoration for their melancholic staves are often considered dangerous megalomaniacs or vainglorious idiots.
Due to the strong correlation between magic of the Autumn realm and themes of wealth and barter, these staves are sometimes called Trader's Staves. The common decoration and the association with bonding lead to them regularly being referred to as Chain Staves or, in Dawn as Iron Spindles. In the League, they are a common sight in the hands of troupe magicians - they are often called Director's Staves.
The staff of the Archmage of Autumn is a version of the melancholic staff crafted to a secret pattern, and grants twice as much power to the wielder - but is significantly more expensive to craft in terms of materials required. Unlike most such staves, the same staves are reforged each year. There have been several attempts to replace the archmage staff with a single, artefact staff - a much cheaper proposal in the long run. Three such staves have been crafted in Imperial history.
The first, belonging to the Suaq archmage Jessam Wheelwright was lost when that worthy and her entourage were cut off from Imperial forces while fighting the Thule in 45YE. Examination with Ties that Bind placed it squarely in the hands of a Thule dragon, where it is presumed to have remained.
The second such artefact staff was constructed two years later, and passed through the hands of several archmages until it was destroyed. The perpetrators used Words of Ending to unweave the staff as part of a campaign of destruction aimed at the symbols of Imperial power. These so-called Firestarters were a cult of anarchists whose leader claimed to be the maniac Mikkal reborn. They succeeded in destroying four out of the six archmage staves and came dangerously close to destroying the Imperial crown as well. They were eventually eradicated during the reign of Empress Teleri. Some historians suggest that the excesses of these Mikkalites were a factor in the appointment of a hard-line, religious Empress following the death of Empress Richilde.
The final such staff was created in 204YE when a particularly strong order of the Golden Pyramid managed to gain a short-lived monopoly on the ilium seats in the Imperial Bourse. It survived three years before being stolen in 206YE from the body of the assassinated Vincent Talbot of Bregasland.
In the reign of Empress Mariika, the Imperial Conclave responded to attempts by archmage Eretin de Tassato Regario try and raise more ilium for a fourth artefact staff with a Declaration of Concord expressing the opinion that the Empire should stop wasting the rare star-metal on artefact staves and simply pay the bounty of ingots and measures needed to re-empower them each year. As Grandmaster Maria i Riqueza of the Celestial Arch said "To lose one such staff is unfortunate, to lose two looks like carelessness, to lose three looks like wanton profligacy. If we let you lose a fourth one, then it makes us look like idiots. There is a good deal more green iron in the Empire than there is ilium ..."
- Form: Weapon. Takes the form of a ritual staff. You must be holding this item in hand to use its magical properties.
- Requirement: You must have the magician skill to bond to this item.
- Effect: Gain 1 rank of Autumn Lore, subject to the normal rules for effective skill.
- Materials: Crafting a Melancholic Staff requires the eleven ingots of weltsilver, fourteen ingots of green iron and twenty measures of dragonbone. It takes one month to make one of these items.