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) Quarterstaff.png
Name quarterstaff
Appearance staff
Damage vs. small 1d6
Damage vs. large 1d6
To-hit bonus +0
Weapon skill quarterstaff
Size two-handed
Base price 5 zm
Weight 40
Material wood

A quarterstaff, known as just a staff when unidentified, is a kind of weapon.

Quarterstaves are made of wood and therefore will not be rusted by rust monsters or wetting; however, many iron weapons do more damage.

Quarterstaff skill

Max Role

Only quarterstaves themselves use the quarterstaff skill, and the Staff of Aesculapius is the only artifact staff.


Quarterstaves make up about 1.1% of randomly generated weapons (on the floor, as death drops, or in shops). They are found more frequently as the special death drop of wood golems, which leave behind a pile of 2d4 quarterstaves instead of a corpse.[1]

Arch liches are sometimes generated with a quarterstaff[2]; however, they will not use it in combat because they lack a weapon attack.[3] Player monster healers[4] and wizards[5] (including Newt on the Wizard quest) may be generated with a quarterstaff.

Wizards start with a blessed +1 quarterstaff.[6]


Unless you plan to use the Staff of Aesculapius, it is not worth investing skill points in staves: they are two-handed and much less effective than other two-handed weapons (such as battle-axes or two-handed swords).


Wizards began starting with quarterstaves in NetHack 3.3.0.[7] In NetHack 3.2.3 and previous versions their starting weapon was a +1 athame.[8]

The weapon was changed as part of the process of merging of the influential Wizard Patch into mainline NetHack. It was probably intended to remove Wizards' easy access to Elbereth early in the game, to compensate for increased power from the redesigned spellcasting system, which allows virtually unlimited casting of spells.


SLethe, the SLASH'EM version of the Lethe patch, adds a silver capped staff, which deals additional damage against silver-hating monsters.

In Fourk and FIQhack, a wielded quarterstaff increases the success rate of spellcasting, similar to a robe.

Encyclopedia entry

So they stood, each in his place, neither moving a finger's
breadth back, for one good hour, and many blows were given
and received by each in that time, till here and there were
sore bones and bumps, yet neither thought of crying "Enough,"
or seemed likely to fall from off the bridge. Now and then
they stopped to rest, and each thought that he never had seen
in all his life before such a hand at quarterstaff. At last
Robin gave the stranger a blow upon the ribs that made his
jacket smoke like a damp straw thatch in the sun. So shrewd
was the stroke that the stranger came within a hair's breadth
of falling off the bridge; but he regained himself right
quickly, and, by a dexterous blow, gave Robin a crack on the
crown that caused the blood to flow. Then Robin grew mad
with anger, and smote with all his might at the other; but
the stranger warded the blow, and once again thwacked Robin,
and this time so fairly that he fell heels over head into the
water, as the queen pin falls in a game of bowls.

[ The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle ]


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