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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 is a kind of two-handed weapon that appears in NetHack. When unidentified, it simply appears as a staff. Quarterstaves are made of wood, and thus susceptible to burning and rotting.


All Wizards start with a blessed +1 quarterstaff.[1] Quarterstaves make up about 1.1% of randomly generated weapons (on the floor, as death drops, or in shops).

Arch-liches have a 29 chance to be generated with a quarterstaff, but lack any weapon attacks and so will not use it in combat.[2][3] Player monster healers have a 34 chance of their initial weapon being made into a quarterstaff;[4] wizards, including Newt from the Wizard quest, have a 38 chance for their weapon to be a quarterstaff.[5]

Wood golems leave behind a pile of 2-8 quarterstaves as a special death drop instead of a corpse.[6]

Quarterstaff skill

Max Role

In vanilla, only quarterstaves themselves use the quarterstaff skill. The Staff of Aesculapius is an artifact quarterstaff.


The quarterstaff is a more than adequate starting weapon for a Wizard, but is much less effective than other two-handed weapons for general combat (e.g., a battle-axe or two-handed sword); a Wizard in the early game may still consider enchanting theirs to survive.


The quarterstaff is introduced in NetHack 3.0.0.

The Wizard's starting weapon was changed to a quarterstaff in NetHack 3.3.0 as part of the process of merging of the influential Wizard Patch against 3.2.X versions into mainline NetHack;[7] in NetHack 3.2.3 and previous versions, their starting weapon is instead a +1 athame.[8] This was likely intended to compensate for increased power from the redesigned spellcasting system, which allows virtually unlimited casting of spells; it also indirectly nerfed their ability to make a reliably-engraved Elbereth (which could still be done, but required starting with an appropriate wand and was limited by its charges).


Noble Patch

In the Noble Patch and variants that incorporate it, the adventuring wizard always generates with a quarterstaff.


In SLASH'EM, Flame Mages, Ice Mages and Necromancers also start with a blessed +1 quarterstaff.

The double lightsaber is a new weapon that uses the quarterstaff skill. SLASH'EM's version of the Lethe patch, SLethe, also adds a silver-capped staff that deals additional damage against silver-hating monsters.


In UnNetHack, cutting down a tree will leave behind 1 to 3 quarterstaves and/or clubs.

A very burnt quarterstaff can be found on the corpse of a wizard, along with a burnt robe, on the second level of the Ruins of Moria (clearly intended to be a reference to Gandalf).

Slash'EM Extended

In Slash'EM Extended, the Death Eater, Acid Mage, and Electric Mage also start with a blessed +1 quarterstaff; the Cellar Child starts with a sticky cursed +3 quarterstaff. The Death Eater quest artifact, The Elder Staff, is a quarterstaff. Several new types of staff weapons are added as well, such as the silver-capped staff from SLethe and the battle staff.

Binders that reach Skilled in quarterstaff gain intrinsic speed, and attaining Expert skill unlocks the critical strike technique.


In SlashTHEM, the Death Eater role reappears along with their starting weapon and quest artifact. SlashTHEM also retains the the silver-capped staff and battle staff, and introduces new artifact staves as well:

NetHack Fourk

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


In FIQHack, in addition to improving spellcasting, a cursed quarterstaff that is welded to your hands does not block spellcasting.


In xNetHack, the quarterstaff provides the same benefits as in FIQHack, improving spellcasting success rates and not blocking casting if wielded while cursed. This effect does not stack with other items that provide the same benefit, i.e., the robe and the wand of nothing.


In EvilHack, there are now different spell-enhancing quarterstaves for every school of magic except enchantment spells. These staves are designed to make magic viable for non-dedicated casters where it would have been either extremely difficult or impossible to cast otherwise, and boost cast rates of spells for their school.

  • Staves of divination are made of wood and aid in the casting of divination spells while wielded.
  • Staves of healing are made of wood and aid in the casting of healing spells while wielded.
  • Staves of holiness are made of bone and aid in the casting of clerical spells while wielded.
  • Staves of matter are made of mithril, making them lighter compared to the other staves, and aid in the casting of matter spells while wielded.
  • Staves of escape are made of wood and aid in the casting of escape spells while wielded.
  • Staves of war are made of iron and aid in the casting of attack spells while wielded. This makes it heavier than its counterparts, but also grants it an extra +d2 to-hit.

The bonus given is a flat +50% spell success chance, applied after all checks except the check for body armor. In addition, Magicbane is now an artifact (plain) quarterstaff; all its other properties are unchanged.


In SpliceHack, The Power Pole is an artifact quarterstaff that acts as the Dancer quest artifact.


In dNetHack, the khakkhara and iron bar also use the quarterstaff skill. The khakkhara does less base damage against large monsters, but is made of silver; the iron bar does more base damage to small monsters, but is not randomly generated and only appears upon destroying a set of iron bars. The double lightsaber also appears, where it is known as a double force-blade.

Naberius is a spirit for Binders that grants skill in quarterstaff.

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 ]