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Amphistaff

A Skargh amphistaff in collapsed and deployed forms

An amphistaff is a Skargh melee weapon resembling an ornate, elaborate spear or glaive. Most amphistaffs also incorporate some form of ranged attack capability, usually in the form of discharging electric arches or plasma bolts over short ranges. A typical amphistaff is usually collapsible for more convenient carrying, and also serves as a mark of rank and status for officers and distinguished champions.

There is no standard design pattern for amphistaffs, since these weapons are by definition meant to signify the individual achievements of their bearers and are hence always custom-made to reflect the wielder's personality and accomplishments. Every weapon is therefore unique, the basic staff-like form incorporating numerous jagged blades being the only common feature between them all along with their high-quality craftsmanship.

In the battlefield, an amphistaff invariably signifies an officer or a distinguished hero, in itself serving as a rallying banner for lesser Skargh as it signifies the wielder to be a capable warrior and leader. Traditionally, amphistaffs were awarded to warriors who had turned in 100 enemy heads, although exact rules for earning one vary between different Skargh clans in the present day, and largely depend on the field commander's discretion. What is certain that only an extraordinary display of courage and martial prowess merits an amphistaff as reward. A young nobleman earning his amphistaff is looked upon as an officially-endorsed leader from there on, the event essentially signifying the beginning of his officer career. To a commoner, being awarded an amphistaff effectively signifies his elevation to nobility and likewise promises an illustrious future, should one survive long enough to make one.

Consequently, amphistaffs are among the most prized possessions that Skargh warriors can hold, the loss of one being considered a grave dishonour assuming one survives the incident. Ancestral amphistaffs are passed down as family heirlooms for generations, their number often being proportional to the family's social status as it reflects the number of ancestors who have attained prominent rank. A Skargh in possession of such staffs may not, however, carry them in combat until after earning his own amphistaff, and even those who have earned the right rarely carry ancestral weapons to battle, it being considered bad luck and generally only done in emergencies or special circumstances. Since every amphistaff is tailored to reflect a specific wielder's achievements and personality, it is naturally considered unbecoming for someone else, even a worthy descendant, to make use of it as his own. An exception to this is blood feuds, when a son or other relative of a slain holder will often make a point of avenging his kinsman by slaying his killer with the victim's amphistaff in a way of poetic justice.

Amphistaffs aren't necessarily upgraded and made more elaborate as one rises through the ranks - again, they are meant to reflect the wielder's personality, elaborate and constantly upgraded weapons simply signifying one as an ambitious and proud (or simply vainglorious) character. A simplistic amphistaff is likewise no indicator of a low rank, but rather that the wielder simply prefers function over form.

The exact design of the weapon is left largely to the master smith forging it, since amphistaffs are commissioned by commanding officers of prospective candidates some time in advance. The commissioner does provide the smith with some details on the prospective recipient's personality and merits, the smith then accordingly making them manifest in metal in accord to the traditions of the respective clan and his own artistic license. The commander, usually one's liege, then presents the amphistaff to the recipient at an opportune moment when other warriors of his host are present to bear witness, the ceremony essentially being the Skargh equivalent of knighting.

Carrying an amphistaff is a significant privilege that also invests one with serious responsibilities. After being awarded with an amphistaff, the holder is considered a nobleman and is from there on expected to act like one, studying the customs and etiquette of nobility, serving as a leader and setting personal example to lesser warriors. Transgressions that would only yield moderately-severe punishment to a commoner can be capital offenses for a nobleman, such as showing cowardice on battlefield. The bearer of amphistaff is looked upon by his lesser peers as an undisputed authority, and is therefore expected to lead by example in all things.

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