The Wand of Death is one of the fabled Artefacts of Evil. It is the simplest of these devices created by some unknown god or gods in the lost past of the universe. The user simply points the wand and states the correct trigger word and a black bolt of negative energy springs forth, draining the life from everything it strikes, to a maximum of 12" (treat the beam as ½" wide).
The trigger word is chosen from among 20 combinations of syllables and each combination drains a different amount of energy from along the line, from 1 to 20 d6. This number is rolled immediately and applied to every living thing along the deadly ray's path starting with those things nearest the user. Each possible unsurprised target gets a saving throw, with those further than 1" away getting the benefit of any DEX bonus. Beyond 6", victims get +2 to their save and beyond 9" +5.
Trigger syllables will not be easily determined and the twisted black hawthorn wand may remain a mystery until Legend Lore or a sage are consulted. Even then, such work will only reveal one syllable at a time. Of course, alert characters may hear trigger words being used by whoever owned it before them.
As each victim is drained of hp, the total remaining in the ray is likewise reduced until it is completely used up or the maximum range is reached.
Any victim drained to 0 or less hit points is disintegrated.
The hit points of those creatures struck only by magical weapons are augmented such that "+1 or better to hit" are drained at a ratio of 1:2, "+3 or better to hit" at 1:4 and so on. Thus a 50 point beam which struck a solar would drain it of only 8hp.
When found the wand will have 1-100 charges and each d6 damage done will drain 1 charge. There is no way short of a wish for a mortal to determine the number of charges remaining. Any evil creature struck only by magical weapons will be able to read the number of charges by holding the wand by the handle end and concentrating for a round.
Unliving things such as walls do not block the path of the beam, although a globe of invulnerability or anti-magic sphere will. A wall of force will not.
If operation of the wand would reduce the number of charges to less than 1, the extra charges so needed are removed from the operator's levels. Thus, a 7th level cleric who summoned 10 dice of damage from the wand while it had 4 charges remaining would be reduced to a 1st level cleric, leaving the wand with 1 charge - the minimum possible.
If the operator is reduced to less than 0-level by the wand they become a formless mist (treat as invisible) which will reform in 1d6 days as a wraith.
The wand's effect on the undead is somewhat different. If an undead creature is struck by the beam then it is drained of hit points as normal, but every 4 hit points adds a charge to the wand. The remaining damage in the beam is still reduced as normal.
For example, a beam of 14 damage strikes a zombie with 9hp. The zombie is destroyed, 2 charges are restored to the wand, and 5 points of damage remain in the beam.
Although using the wand is not itself an evil act (it is an excellent weapon against the undead, for example), it is indiscriminate and accidental killing of innocents and allies is easy, leading to possible alignment drift.
Use of the wand additionally causes fear (save applies) in any being under 4th level within its range who sees it, no matter whether they are allied with the user or not.
The wand operates at 18th level (9th level spell) for the purposes of magic resistance.
The wand is an artefact and thus not subject to normal destruction; the DM should determine the single method of destroying the wand using the list on DMG p164 as inspiration.
Sale Value: 20000gp
Experience point value: 8,000xp