The only information I have so far comes from DiabloNut’s database. In the database you can find an item called the Staff of Herding with the description, “Only one bovine in all of Sanctuary could possibly have a use for this.”
This item will be crafted using the Blacksmith, Haedrig, after finding the plan to create the staff. This plan only requires your Blacksmith to be level one, so you will not have to level him to create the staff. There are 4 versions of the staff, each one pertaining to a separate difficulty.
To obtain the first version of the Staff of Herding you must obtain several items. Each of these items has no value to vendors, and are account bound, and cannot be traded or sold on the AH.
The first item, which can already be obtained in the beta, is the Black Mushroom
Description: "The witch Adria seeks a black mushroom? I know as much about black mushrooms as I do about red herrings." —Deckard Cain
Location: This item can be found in Act 1. I have already heard of multiple locations in which this item has been found. My assumption is that it can be found in only one spot per game, if it happens to spawn at all. It can be found sprouting from the ground in several possible locations. I originally found this item sprouting out of the rock floor in the cathedral. Any information on additional spawn locations, along with accompanying screenshots is welcome.
The second item is Wirt’s Bell
Description: "When the demons come, close your eyes and ring this... it takes you far, far away..." —Unknown
The third item is Liquid Rainbow
Description: The colors swirl and twist in hypnotic patterns.
The fourth item is Gibbering Gemstone
Description: It seems to be active but it's difficult to tell.
The fifth item is Leoric’s Shinbone
Description: This charred piece of Leoric was clearly once connected to his ankle and knee.
Then you of course need the Plan: Staff of Herding
Location: Unknown. It is my assumption that the plan may only be found after completing the game in that difficulty, such as it was in Diablo II where you had to beat the difficulty before you could open the Secret Cow Level. Of course this could be different in Diablo 3, or they may allow you to create the staff, but not have access to opening the secret level until you beat the difficulty. It all remains to be seen.
Once you have all the materials and the plans you can have Haedrig create the staff at a 10,000 gold crafting cost. To open the cow levels in later difficulties all you need is to find the corresponding pattern, and use the previous level of the staff plus an additional crafting cost to create the upgraded versions. Here is a list of the materials for each staff.
Staff of Herding: Requires Black Mushroom, Wirt’s Bell, Liquid Rainbow, Gibbering Gemstone, Leoric’s Shinbone, and a 50,000 gold crafting cost
Nightmarish Staff of Herding: Requires the Staff of Herding and a 200,000 gold crafting cost
Hellish Staff of Herding: Requires the Nightmarish Staff of Herding and a 500,000 gold crafting cost
Infernal Staff of Herding: Requires the Hellish Staff of Herding and a 1,000,000 gold crafting cost
The total cost to craft the final version, the Infernal Staff of Herding, is 1,750,000 gold.
Also note that each of the staff plans beyond the first has a resale value. This means that these patterns will probably be able to be found more than once, allowing you to vendor, and/or possibly trade and sell them on the AH.
Plans: Staff of Herding has no gold value
Plans: Nightmarish Staff of Herding sells for 1000 gold
Plans: Hellish Staff of Herding sells for 2500 gold
Plans: Infernal Staff of Herding sells for 5000 gold
It is also unlikely that the staff will be sellable on the AH, or allowed to be traded to friends.
The first task I ask the community to do is to find and take screenshots of all the different locations for the Black Mushroom in Beta.
Update: Crafting costs have increased to 1.75 million total gold. I have confirmed that the Black Mushroom can be obtained by more than one person in a single game. This gives the ability to invite friends to your game to pick it up from the same location. Also found out that the Black Mushroom is account bound and cannot be traded and if dropped will not allow other players to pick it up.
Edited by Speaker, 27 April 2012 - 12:27 AM.