As any wildlander will tell you, during the coldest of winters trees can explode. In the Veradeen, such split trunks are a fairly common sight, and they are regarded as a sign of bad luck by the snow elves; to make anything from the gnarled, ice-damaged wood is to court misfortune.
And yet, a powerful artifact is made from just such a piece of cursed wood, and has proved a valuable tool to many an elven channeler. The Gallows of Winter is a long, snow-white piece of wood that looks like a twisted branch, but closer examination reveals it is in fact a warped length of heartwood. Knots jut out at odd angles, from which hang tangled leather straps and slings, sufficient to hold numerous fairly small objects, up to about the size of a cricket ball. These straps are usually full of odd, uncut gemstones, animal skulls and pieces of other natural materials. The Gallows is charged with necromantic energy and crafted with the lore of the Old Rituals, the power of charm magic. Taken together, this allows it to steal drips and drabs of the life-force of creatures around and empower the fetishes that hang from it, slowly transforming them into useful charms. The Gallows of Winter is a covenant staff.
The wielder of the Gallows may choose to begin the charm creation process at any time, by selecting the type (effect) of the charm she wishes to create. One of the fetishes in the staff will begin to accumulate mystical energy from dead creatures nearby. By touching the Gallows of Winter to a freshly dead corpse (the corpse's effective HD halves every five minutes after death), the covenant item steals the last dregs of vitality, gaining a number of stored potential points equal to the creature's HD. The staff cannot store any HD unless it has been willed to create a charm. To supplement the energy stolen from the dead, the caster may sacrifice 10hp at any time, and this effectively adds one HD to the staff's current total. Once it has enough HD stored, it begins the gestation process. The table below indicates the character levels required to create different sorts of charm, the number of HD needed and time to create the charm.
2nd level: Can create Minor charms (1 HD, d20+d6 hours).
7th level: Can create Lesser charms (5 HD, d3 days).
12th level: Can create Greater charms (15 HD, d10 days).
17th level: Can create True charms (40 HD, d20 days).