I gave this out as a magic item held by the adventure's villain, Karalel. The story went that Karalel was using the powers of his recently found Rod of Ruin to open up the portal to the Shadowfell which lies beneath the ancient, crumbling keep. As such, I wanted this item to be very special and memorable. I wanted it to have really awesome powers, and as an item of evil, I also wanted it to be harmful or corrupting as well.
All of the properties of this magic item scale perfectly well with Level, all the way from 1 to 30. Thus, a magic item of this profound power should never be discarded due to a PC's rising character level. This item will haunt the adventurers for their entire lives.
Lastly, I never assign enhancement bonuses to magic items anymore. I've been using the inherent enhancement bonus system as soon as I wrapped my hands around the Dungeon Master's Guide 2.
During the climactic battle with Karalel, the Rod of Ruin and it's fully disclosed list of abilities was laid out on the table for all to see. An epic struggle formed around grabbing the Rod out from Karalel's grasp, with the PC's trying to turn the table on the contemptuous cultist. I thought this would have been a great opportunity for the sneaky Splug! to shine, skulking in to pickpocket the Rod right from under Karalel's nose; but alas, he was dismissed by the group. They never realized his potential.
In hindsight, I would have loved to have my Arkham Encounter tables on hand for that final encounter. Something that many have complained about in the game is the inconsistancy in how the Shadowfell is portrayed in the D&D canon. In H1, it is inhospitable to the point of deadly to all life; but by the beginning of the E-Series, it's just very gloomy and overcast. Somewhat like Seattle (no offense, WotC). If the PCs could step through that portal and have a few quick encounters in Gloomwrought, that would be a nice sweet spot between being a dangerous locale, but not so deadly that you can never journey there.
The Rod of Ruin
A black skull crowns The Rod of Ruin and black tendrils of shadow play across the weapon like a dark promise of decay and death. The skull on is icy cold to the touch. Faint whispers and moaning can be heard from it at all times.
This evil artifact was created by an ancient Teifling Prince under influence of the Demon Lord Orcus. Old sages whispers in fear that the purpose of The Rod was not as a weapon, but as a tool to open a rift to the Shadowfell, to bring darkness and undeath to the world of the living. It was the source of a reign of terror over the mortal world that would endure for decades. The Rod of Ruin was destroyed by Gareth Dragonsbane after he traveled to the its master’s lair and stole it from his clawed hand. The Platinum Lord Bahamut directed him to the only method of its destruction, which was to immerse the wand in the black blood of Tiamat's heart.
Gareth used the heart of Tiamat's avatar, and thought the hated Rod destroyed forever. However, Bahamut warned that the Rod of Ruin would eventually return to existence in one century. After being destroyed in Tiamat's blood, the heart of the wand was left behind in the form of a small white gem. The whereabouts of that gem have been lost to antiquity.
Sacrifice to Orcus
When you make a critical hit, two allies within sight of you, who each have at least 1 Healing Surge, lose 1 Healing Surge each; or you must take Necrotic damage equal to your Bloodied value. This damage cannot be resisted or negated in any way.
Master of Death
You deal +1d6 necrotic damage on all critical hits.
You gain an item bonus to Intimidate and Endurance checks equal to your inherant enhancement bonus.
The Dark Lord’s Protection
You do not provoke Opportunity Attacks when you make ranged or area attacks.
r Ray of Withering (necrotic) + Encounter
Attack: Ranged 10 (one creature); Level + 3 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 1d10 + twice your Level necrotic damage, and the target is weakened (save ends).
Corrupt the Flesh (necrotic) + Daily
Trigger (Free Action): You hit with an attack.
Effect: One target hit by the attack takes ongoing 5 necrotic damage per Tier (save ends).
Gift of False Life + Daily
Trigger (No Action): You are dropped.
Effect: Heal 1 Hit Point and gain Temporary Hit Points equal to your Healing Surge Value.