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In Curse of Strahd, there is a magic item known as the Gulthias Staff, found on page 221. It says it requires attunement; however, two features of the staff seem more inherent.

Both are in the main section of the magic item. One reads: "If the staff is broken or burned to ashes, its wood releases a terrible, inhuman scream that can be heard out to a range of 300 feet. All blights that can hear the scream immediately wither and die." And the other reads: "Its evil makes beasts visibly uncomfortable while within 30 feet of it."

In the Dungeon Master's Guide, on page 138, about attuning: "This focus can take the form of weapon practice (for a weapon), meditation (for a wondrous item), or some other appropriate activity." It then reads, "Otherwise, at the end of the short rest, the creature gains an intuitive understanding of how to activate any magical properties of the item, including any necessary command words."

Beasts being visibly uncomfortable while near the staff doesn't seem like the wielder is doing anything in particular. It looks like this is an inherent aspect of it.

And as for if one destroys the staff, I wouldn't think this would fall under attunement either because it's not like the wielder needs to learn how to break the thing. The effect it causes appears to be inherent, sort of like someone destroying the One Ring from The Lord of the Rings.

Do I understand correctly that these two aspects don't require attunement to function?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't a duplicate. This question specifically has to do with the Gulthias Staff, especially in regards to the creature scaring and snapping the staff. \$\endgroup\$ – One Eye May 14 at 16:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ With respect to attunement, this staff and the belt referenced in that question have the same wording, so the ruling and logic are identical. You’re asking the same question about the same wording, the only difference is that it’s a different item. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov May 14 at 16:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you want to edit the question a bit to ask only about the effect of breaking the staff as it relates to attunement, we can reopen. But as written, this really seems like the same question about a different item. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov May 14 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OneEye This question boils down to "How does attunement work?", which has already been answered elsewhere. \$\endgroup\$ – RevanantBacon May 14 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OneEye I tweaked the title a bit and reopened. This is a good question. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov May 14 at 19:40
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I'd say neither of those requires attunement.

It doesn't say "when the wielder" or "when holding" the staff (which is included in the description of other staves.)

It just says that the beasts are nervous around it and the act of breaking or burning it triggers the scream.

Basically, there's no mention of someone having it in or on their possession like other staves.

Also, neither of those extra, add-on "abilities" are listed using the normal bold face heading reserved for powers. So by formatting alone, I'd rule that attunement wouldn't be required to 'activate' those extra abilities.

In short, I'd rule (and did rule in a recent CoS session) that both of those two "powers" function regardless of attunement.

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