Can a magical rod, more specifically, the Rod of the Pact Keeper, double as a quarterstaff?

Rod of the Pact Keeper (DMG Pg. 197)

Rod, uncommon (+1), rare (+2), or very rare (+3) (requires attunement by a warlock)

While holding this rod, you gain a bonus to spell attack rolls and to the saving throw DCs of your warlock spells. The bonus is determined by the rod's rarity. In addition, you can regain one warlock spell slot as an action while holding the rod. You can't use this property again until you finish a long rest.

Most magical staves or rods specifiy whether or not the weapon can act as a magical quarterstaff, such as the Staff of Power.

Staff of Power (DMG Pg. 202)

This staff can be wielded as a magic quarterstaff that grants a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls...

However, even if not specified, can it be argued that a rod, if used as an improvised weapon, may be utilized as a quarterstaff?

Improvised Weapon (PHB Pg. 147)

At the DM’s option, a character proficient with a weapon can use a similar object as if it were that weapon and use his or her proficiency bonus.

I realize it clearly states "At the DM's option", but I'm still curious to what the popular ruling may be, or if there is something around the web that may further support this argument.

Again, I realize I may simply work this out with my DM, but it is always nice to have some form of backing to these sort of things, such as a Sage Advice, a Tweet from J. Crawford, or some RAW or RAI to help build my case to the Dungeon Master or other players.


3 Answers 3



DMG p.139:

A scepter or just a heavy cylinder, a magic rod is typically made of metal, wood, or bone. It's about 2 or 3 feet long, 1 inch thick, and 2 to 5 pounds.

A quarterstaff is about the same weight but 6 to 9 feet long i.e. more than twice as big.

Essentially, a rod is a "stick" - you could try to make a case that it is similar to a club but clubs generally have weighted ends, albeit not as weighted as a mace.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that in old editions some rods could be used as maces (in the description). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 10, 2017 at 15:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin this would work in 5e as well, right? I mean, if there were rods with similar rule in their description? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Jul 10, 2017 at 16:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the item description says "It can be used as a cooking utensil" then it can be used as a cooking utensil. If the item description says it can be used as a mace, sure thing also. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 10, 2017 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might be worthy to add their potential use as improvised weapons though \$\endgroup\$
    – OganM
    Jul 10, 2017 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know I'm 6 years late, but is there any reason a blacksmith couldn't incorporate one of these rods into a hafted or shafted weapon? I.e. Stick a blob of hot iron onto the end and call it a mace etc \$\endgroup\$ Apr 6, 2023 at 14:59

You can use magic staff as a quarterstaff

It is explicitly stated in the Dungeon Master's Guide, page 140:

Unless a staff's description says otherwise, a staff can be used as a quarterstaff.

However a rod is not a staff

DMG page 139 says that a magic rod

is typically made of metal, wood, or bone. It's about 2 or 3 feet long, 1 inch thick, and 2 to 5 pounds.

So it is probably one-handed, resembling a club or a baton. A quarterstaff is a two-handed weapon with a length of 6-9 ft.

You still can fight with it though

It can be more than just an "improvised weapon". A rod can be treated as a club, as it stated in the Player's Handbook, page 147:

In many cases, an improvised weapon is similar to an actual weapon and can be treated as such. For example, a table leg is akin to a club.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It WAS two handed in earlier editions. Not in 5e. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 10, 2017 at 8:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not just D&D rules, it's scripture: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me :) (Am not able to unearth the old article where I recall this being the source of distinction ... been a lot of years) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 11, 2017 at 2:22

Unless otherwise noted, as in it's specifically called out as usable as a quarterstaff, it is not usable as a quarterstaff.

See page 140 of the DMG. See the comment below.

Mostly it's because it has the name "staff" in there. Otherwise, logically, may actually be too short to be a quarterstaff. 5e can be inconsistent as far as calling staffs out as being usable as quarterstaffs.

Some staffs can act magically as rods, but not all rods are large enough to be a quarterstaff. A rod is only 2-3 feet, and a staff can be up to 4-9 feet tall.

Anything, like the Rod of the Pact Keeper, that is named as a rod, will actually be shorter than your standard staff (only 2-3 feet in length), and therefore should not be counted as a quarterstaff. But because of the change in the way 5e works quarterstaffs, it's possible for a DM to rule it as allowable.

In older versions, the longer length allowed it to be used as a double weapon. 5e has done away with the double weapon thing. Now, a quarterstaff is called "versatile," so in 5e, you can dual-wield a one-handed quarter-staff. I think that the length issue may be an artifact of earlier editions. I might allow a shorter character to wield a rod as a staff.

Because rods are so short for a Medium sized creature, you might want to rule that those can only be wielded one-handed.

Magically, there could be a reason why you would not want to damage rods and staffs that are not classed as weapons--they might be too easily damaged by combat and there could be a chance that they would be destroyed.

There's been lots of discussion about the way quarterstaffs are handled in 5e around the net, or regarding using earlier versions instead.

A lot of people, myself included, prefer 3.5 & 4's way of handling it. And if you house rule that way it's very clear as far as length is concerned. It's 1D8 in 5e and can't be used as a double weapon. But you could make it 1D6/1D6 with the double weapon penalties.

A quarterstaff is a double weapon. You can fight with it as if fighting with two weapons, but if you do, you incur all the normal attack penalties associated with fighting with two weapons, just as if you were using a one-handed weapon and a light weapon. A creature wielding a quarterstaff in one hand can’t use it as a double weapon—only one end of the weapon can be used in any given round. --3.5 version

With the versatile instead of two-handed that you get in 5e, a shorter version that can be used one-handed is allowed, but I take umbrage with that because it's considered 1D8 and a club only gets 1D4, and a club can be shorter and is weighted differently. As a DM I wouldn't allow a short quarterstaff, and if I did, I might make it one handed and take it down to the level of a club. Or do something in between--at 1D6--depending on how it is made.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with mostly everything you said. Only discrepancy I found was in the DMG Pg. 140. Under staffs: "Unless a staff's description says otherwise, a staff can be used as a quarterstaff." \$\endgroup\$ Jul 10, 2017 at 8:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ re: "I've had a hard time finding..." on DMG5e p.139 you'll find a description of rods: "A scepter or just a heavy cylinder, a magic rod is typically made of metal, wood, or bone. It's about 2 or 3 feet long, 1 inch thick, and 2 to 5 pounds." \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Jul 10, 2017 at 12:40

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