Both Pathfinder and 3.5e have restrictions on the use of special materials in crafted weapons. For instance, by mithral and adamantine they both specify that items not made of metal (or not primarily of metal) do not gain any benefit from using these materials. Quarterstaffs in particular are called out as examples of this.

Is there an official explanation provided (by WotC, Paizo, Dragon magazine, etc.) for why couldn't you make a staff of metal? It's still an effective weapon, and one might argue it's even MORE effective than a similarly sized length of wood, without the danger of it splintering in combat!

Speculation is never appropriate for an SE answer. Answers must have cited evidence demonstrating the publishers’ position


4 Answers 4


Nobody says they cant

But they are usually made of wood, as wood is much lighter than iron or steel. The heaviest of woods are between 74.4 lbs/ft3 to 84.5 lbs/ft3. While iron has a density of 491.5 lbs/ft3, and steel has a density of 483.81 lbs/ft3 according to Wikipedia. Both are at least six times heavier for the same dimensions.

And evidence of that is the Undine Weaponshaft, which is a mundane enhancement that can be applied to metal quarterstaves, spears and tridents (normally made of wood), it even says they can be made of special metal materials (mithril and adamatine). At the end of Ruby Phoenix Tournament module, there is an npc with an Adamantine quarterstaff. At the Council of Thieves adventure path, there is another npc with a bonded item that is a Mithral quarterstaff. At the Crucible of Chaos module (3.5) there is a magical staff, but this time made of Mithral.

According to the core rulebook on staves (the magical ones):

A typical staff measures anywhere from 4 feet to 7 feet long and is 2 inches to 3 inches thick, weighing about 5 pounds. Most staves are wood, but an exotic few are bone, metal, or even glass.

A typical staff is like a walking stick, quarterstaff, or cudgel.

So, your typical quarterstaff (4 lbs) would weight at least 6 times as much (24 lbs), but its not impossible to be crafted. And also note that this is twice the weight of the heaviest weapons in the core rulebook (greataxe, halberd, guisarme, etc), and as such, why would anyone carry one of those for 1d6 damage if they could deal twice as much damage with an overall better weapon.

So when we read the rules about special materials saying a quarterstaff cannot be made of mithril/adamantine, it is talking about our typical quarterstaff.

A longsword can be a mithral weapon, while a quarterstaff cannot.

An arrow could be made of adamantine, but a quarterstaff could not.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 16:14

Note: Another answer address nonwooden quarterstaffs; this answer addresses nonwooden quarterstaffs.

Only specific special materials and the Dungeon Master's Guide's examples in Special Materials prevent nonwooden quarterstaffs

The Player's Handbook doesn't mention that a quarterstaff must be made from wood in the quarterstaff description (120).

Further investigation shows the following:

  1. The 1st-level Drd spell shillelagh [trans] (PH 278) has the entry Target: One touched nonmagical oak club or quarterstaff and that entry can be read as necessitating specifically an oak quarterstaff therefore—obviously—prohibiting the spell shillelagh from being cast on a quarterstaff made from another material.
  2. The 6th-level Drd spell spellstaff [trans] (PH 282) has the entry Target: Wooden quarterstaff touched and repeats in its description the necessity of a wooden quarterstaff in which to store the accompanying spell.
  3. The 7th-level druid spell changestaff [trans] (PH 208) mandates its focus be a quarterstaff that's made from "a sound limb cut from an ash, oak, or yew," so a quarterstaff of another material typically can't be used as focus for that spell, either.

    Yet all of these other quarterstaff descriptions beyond the initial description do specify wood as if other materials were options.

It's not until the Dungeon Master's Guide mentions that "[i]tems without metal parts cannot be made from adamantine," and then goes on to explain how "[a]n arrow could be made of adamantine, but a quarterstaff could not" (283) and repeating this exclusion in the description of cold iron (284). However, the description of mithral, rather than specifically excluding the quarterstaff, instead excludes the scythe (ibid.), and the description of alchemical silver (284-5) provides no examples at all!

In addition, the Dungeon Master's Guide on magic Staffs says that most "are wood, but a rare few are bone, metal, or even glass" (243), and among the necessary materials for creating a magic staff is a masterwork quarterstaff (284). How these "extremely exotic" magic staffs exist if a quarterstaff can't be made from nonwooden material is mystery.

Just in case, I checked out a couple of other special materials:

  • Abyssal bloodiron (Planar Handbook 69) (also my stage name in my imaginary heavy metal band) places no restrictions on what can be made from it, although the material is limited to weapons.
  • Pandemonic silver (Complete Warrior 136) (on guitar) "can be used to coat the striking surface of any slashing or piercing weapon made of steel," so it's that a quarterstaff deals bludgeoning damage is the problem with adding pandemonic silver to it not that the special material presupposes a wooden quarterstaff.
  • Rimefire ice (Frostburn 80-1) (on bass) says that the material "can be used to create any weapon that is normally made out of wood (or nearly completely of wood, as in the case of a spear or javelin)," but the Player's Handbook descriptions of the javelin, longspear, shortspear, and spear (118, 119, 120, and 120 again, respectively) are silent as to those weapon's compositions, too!
  • Thinaun (Complete Warrior 136-7) (on drums) says that "[o]nly melee weapons made primarily of metal can be crafted as thinaun weapons" yet offers no examples or restrictions.

In other words, a player that wants to, according to rules, have his PC employ a nonwooden quarterstaff is up against only the prejudices established by the Dungeon Master's Guide on adamatine and cold iron… and any restrictions placed on weapons by other specific special materials. Absent those examples—which, don't be mistaken, really are there—and such restrictions, the DM decides if a quarterstaff (or another weapon that game boldly presumes is primarily made of wood like a javelin or longspear) can be made from a nonwooden special material or even just normal ol' metal.

Keep in mind, though, that this DM would look askance at a player that claimed his PC's hey-it-was-free nonwooden quarterstaff were more durable than the typical quarterstaff! (According to magic staffs, that's hardness 5, hp 10, and break DC 24, equal to—surprise!—a two-handed hafted weapon like the greataxe (PH 158).) Seriously.) This DM would make the PC pay something for increased durability, even were the player to claim his PC swiped the metal pole from a construction site or whatever.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ A player who claims an iron quarterstaff should be free when a wooden one has no listed price actually deserved to be beaten by thugs wielding metal quarterstaffs. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 17:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Guilty as charged, Your Honor, I revised that to avoid the wrath of Sampson. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 13:51

Volume of a quarterstaff

A quarterstaff (assuming 2" thick and 7 feet tall) would have a volume of 0.15 cubic feet. By comparison, the bo staff is about 1.25" thick, so we're in the right ballpark.

What did other weapons weigh?

A longsword weighs around 3 lbs. A bastard sword around 4.5 lbs. An axe around 4 lbs. A halberd comes in around 6 lbs.

Material Densities

  • Oak - 47 lbs / ft3
  • Iron - 491 lbs / ft3
  • Mithril - 246 lbs / ft3
  • Titanium - 280 lbs / ft3
  • Aluminum - 170 lbs / ft3

How much does our staff weigh?

Oak (a good hardwood) has an average density of around 47 pounds per cubic foot. That means our quarterstaff weighs around 7 lbs.

The lightest metal that could be useful for our purposes is aluminum. The same staff weighs 25.5 lbs.

Mithril and titanium are close enough in density to be the same for these purposes. We end up around 265 lbs per cubic foot, so about 40 lbs for our staff.

Iron is the heaviest metal, at 491 lbs per cubic foot (steel is about ~5 lbs lighter), so you end up with a 74 lb staff.

For comparison, the weightiest ordinary weapon we can find for a Medium creature is a Large maul employed 2-handed by someone with Exotic Weapon Proficiency (maul), if that's even allowed — that maul's weight is 40 lbs.

In short, unless you're REALLY strong, the metals are just too dense.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 4:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ No really, moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not a hollow metal staff, like an aluminum baseball bat? \$\endgroup\$
    – AmitaiB
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 15:27

They can: Buy a Lantern Staff (Simple Weapon, 15 GP, 9 Lbs). It is a metal quarterstaff with a Hooded Lantern on one end. It is treated as a staff except that it can't be used as a double weapon - unless, I suppose, you take the lantern off the top (and probably save a pound). Of course, that will mean giving up the +1 point of fire damage.

But there you are; they're made of metal, they're generally treated as quarterstaves, and you can use quite a lot of special materials in them.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour! I'm familiar with a lot of D&D 3.5 weapons but not that one! Can this answer provide a source for the lantern staff? Thank you for participating and have fun! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 5:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's in the Pathfinder Player Companion: Adventurer’s Armory 2. Please add page number if you have it and a short passage from that section of the book wouldn't hurt either. Answers should always be cited and especially so on this one since the OP specifically is requesting cited material. \$\endgroup\$
    – lightcat
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 6:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ He asked for "official explanation provided (by WotC, Paizo, Dragon magazine, etc.) for why couldn't you make a staff of metal". Since the online Pathfinder SRD indicates that you can, the answer is provided as the reason why there is no need to cite a nonexistent official source for why you can't, \$\endgroup\$
    – Thoth
    Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 20:14

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .