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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 type of weapon that appears in NetHack. It is two-handed and made of wood, and simply appears as a staff when unidentified.

The Staff of Aesculapius is an artifact quarterstaff.


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 of being generated with a quarterstaff, but lack any weapon attacks and so will not use it in combat.[2][3]

Player monsters, including those on the Astral Plane, have a chance slightly lower than 1% of generating with a quarterstaff as their initial weapon before role-based replacements.[4] Healers have a 34 chance of their initial weapon being made into a quarterstaff, while wizards, including Newt from the Wizard quest, have a 38 chance for their weapon to be a quarterstaff.[5][6]

Wood golems leave behind a pile of 2-8 quarterstaves as a special death drop instead of a corpse.[7]

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

Wood golems can also drop other wooden items alongside quarterstaves.

Quarterstaff skill

Max Role

Only quarterstaves use the quarterstaff skill.


The quarterstaff is a more than adequate starting weapon for a Wizard, but at 1d6 damage it is much less effective for combat than other two-handed weapons (e.g., a battle-axe or two-handed sword). A Wizard in the early game may still consider enchanting theirs to survive.

The following information pertains to an upcoming version (3.7.0). If this version is now released, please verify that it is still accurate, then update the page to incorporate this information.

As of commit 780d30ec, a cursed quarterstaff does not block spellcasting. As of commit 780d30ec, they also provide a small spellcasting bonus while wielded.


The quarterstaff first appears in NetHack 3.0.0.

The Wizard's starting quarterstaff is introduced in NetHack 3.3.0, which merged the influential Wizard Patch against 3.2.X versions into the mainline game;[8] in NetHack 3.2.3 and previous versions, their starting weapon was a +1 athame.[9] This was likely intended to counterbalance their 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 can still be done, but requires an appropriate wand and is limited by its charges).



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 SporkHack, there are spell staves for every school of magic except enchantment spells. These staves are all made of wood, and boost the cast rates of spells for their respective spell schools - this is done to make certain types of magic more viable for various casting playstyles that would have difficulty using them otherwise. The bonus given is a flat +50% spell success chance, applied after all other checks besides the check for body armor.


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

A very burnt quarterstaff can be found along with the corpse of a wizard and a burnt robe on the second level of the Ruins of Moria; this is a clear homage to the wizard Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien's works set in Middle-Earth.


dNetHack adds additional weapons that use the quarterstaff skill:

  • The khakkhara does less base damage against large monsters, but is made of silver; khakkharas additionally deal more damage to holy- and unholy-haters (depending on beatitude): the bonus damage is rolled 1d3 times.
  • 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 is somewhat similar to its appearance in SLASH'EM, and is also known as a double force-blade.

The spirit Naberius grants skill in quarterstaff while bound.

The adventuring wizard of the enemy party that collectively acts as the default Noble quest nemesis will always generates with a quarterstaff.

NetHack Fourk

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


In FIQHack, a wielded quarterstaff improves spellcasting, and a cursed quarterstaff that is welded to a character's 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 pre-Rewrite SpliceHack, The Power Pole is an artifact quarterstaff that acts as the Dancer quest artifact.


In addition to dNetHack details, notdNetHack adds the Poplar Punisher, an artifact quarterstaff that has +1d4 to-hit and +2d6 damage.


EvilHack incorporates the spell staves from SporkHack, with some changes made to a few of the staves:

  • Staves of holiness are made of bone.
  • Staves of matter are made of adamantine, making them lighter compared to the other staves.
  • The staff of battle is renamed to the staff of war, and is now made of iron - this makes it heavier than its counterparts, but also grants it an extra +d2 to-hit.

In addition, the base item of Magicbane is changed to a quarterstaff.

EvilHack also introduces The Staff of the Archmagi, an artifact ashwood staff that uses the skill and is created by combining Magicbane and Secespita at a forge. The ashwood staff as a base item deals more damage than a standard quarterstaff.


In SlashTHEM, in addition to SLASH'EM details, the Acid Mage and Electric Mage also start with a blessed +1 quarterstaff. SlashTHEM introduces artifact weapon quarterstaves as well:

SlashTHEM also incorporates the Noble role, with the adventuring wizard and his party serving the same roles.


Hack'EM incorporates spell staves as implemented in EvilHack, with some additional changes made:

  • Staves of matter are made of mithril, as in earlier versions of EvilHack.
  • The staff of holiness is replaced with the staff of necromancy, due to using SLASH'EM spell school categories. Staves of necromancy are made of bone.

Some artifact weapons additionally use the quarterstaff skill, and have their base item changed from other variants:

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 ]