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As per the title. I'm looking only for RAW and/or official rulings.

The Flagbearer feat:

As long as you hold your clan, house, or party’s flag, members of that allegiance within 30 feet who can see the flag (including yourself ) gain a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, and saving throws against fear and charm effects. You must hold the flag in one hand in order to grant this bonus. If the standard is taken by the enemy or destroyed, this bonus becomes a penalty, affecting all creatures that the bonus previously affected for 1 hour (or until you reclaim the lost flag).

Can the flag be flown from a weapon? Something stick-shaped, like a quarterstaff, or a spear?

Alternatively, is there anything stopping you from attacking with the flag as an improvised weapon?

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Yes.

Banner of the Ancient Kings is simultaneously a flag usable for the Flagbearer feat, and a magic item that you're supposed to attach to a spear. It doesn't grant an exception from Flagbearer's requirement that the flag be held in hand (but does add its own requirement on top of that), so the implication is that a spear-mounted flag counts for Flagbearer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ While I'd prefer something more concrete, this is in fact my own interpretation as well. With that in mind, and the fact that voters seem to like this answer best, AND the fact that if I don't pick an answer now I'll probably forget to do it, I'm going to select this one as the answer. Like you, this was the closest thing I could find to concrete RAW for this. It's still a big grey area, though. \$\endgroup\$ – BRW Jul 28 '17 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Being a very strict GM, I could argue that Banner of the Ancient Kings directly allows attaching it to a weapon. The Flag (item from Flagbearer feat) doesn't -- that's from a RAW position -- so it cannot be used this way. Being a lenient GM, however, I wouldn't even bother with that and would allow the cool Bard/Knight to attach the 10 GP item to a weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy Jul 28 '17 at 21:29
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The wording is too vague, ask your GM how they read it

Quick googling didn't get me any official ruling, perhaps there just isn't one. So let's try to analyze the text, the only part that (very unclearly) tells us what should be done for the bonus to stay active:

You must hold the flag in one hand in order to grant this bonus.

One could argue that if you are holding your flag with two hands, you are also holding it with each of the hands. Like if you have Charisma of 20, you also have Charisma of 16 and Charisma of 15 and qualify for the feat, so it is OK to attach the banner to a two-handed weapon.

If that doesn't pass, you could attach it to any one-handed weapon and then you could qualify for holding that with one hand.

A very strict GM could then say that if a flag is attached to something, you are not holding it with your hand, you are holding the thing it is attached to. That strict GM could just quote the flag's description saying that "Carrying a flag in combat requires a free hand", and perhaps actually name the intent: you trade one free hand for a small bonus to everyone in 30 ft. radius.

That same strict GM could also argue that while Banner of the Ancient Kings can be attached for a weapon and qualify for the Flagbearer feat, the artifact lays special emphasis on this possibility, while the Flag (10 gp item) doesn't.

An even stricter GM with some taste for absurd situations could argue that to qualify for the Flagbearer feat while using the Banner of the Ancient Kings you need to carry the Flag (10 gp item) in one hand, and the Banner of the Ancient Kings in the other hand, perhaps attaching it to something. To me it sounds like a perfect solution (no).

All in all, again, there is no official ruling I could find, and the wording of that feat is very, very vague. Ask your GM to get the answer.

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No, you can't gain benefits by attaching it to a weapon.

Unlike other banners like the Cavalier's Banner class ability or magic standards, Flagbearer explicitly states:

You must hold the flag in one hand to grant this bonus.

If it's on a quarterstaff, you aren't holding it in one hand. If it's attached to your spear, you aren't holding the flag in one hand, you're holding your spear. However, nothing I can see stops you from using it as an improvised weapon (though improvised weapons are rather weak). Improvised weapons and what counts as them is under GM purview, though, and thus not really wholly under a RAW answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Technically anything can be used as an improvised weapon. Also, Surprised Weapon trait is +2 to hit with improvised weapons, and Monk of the Empty Hand gets to flurry with them, and gets Improvised Weapon Mastery as a bonus feat, to use them with no penalty and the stats of a longsword. Wouldn't necessarily call them weak. \$\endgroup\$ – BRW Jul 28 '17 at 17:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Wayne well, okay. They're weak without significant investment (one of your two traits and a generally subpar option). A fighter with a longsword has the same attack bonus by level 6 with no feat or trait investment. An Unchained monk will manage the same and still have flurry with any monk weapon she chooses. They might make it to "manageable", but they aren't strong. \$\endgroup\$ – Delioth Jul 28 '17 at 17:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ A flag held directly in the hand without a pole is not effective for its intended purpose, which is to be held aloft and waved for visibility. No physical contact is required between the bearer and the cloth of the flag for them to be called a flag bearer, so why should it be required to gain the Flagbearer benefit? Also, google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=flagbearer \$\endgroup\$ – barbecue Jul 28 '17 at 21:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @barbecue While that fits with the common english definition of flagbearer, the question asked for a [rules-as-written] response. The RAW says nothing about attaching the flag to any flagpole or weapon. The RAW says nothing about holding it aloft or waving it for visibility. The RAW states that the user must hold the flag in one hand to gain a bonus. While this GM would rule it as you and others have said, the question is about the [rules-as-written]. \$\endgroup\$ – Delioth Jul 28 '17 at 21:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Where in the rules does it state that a flag consists solely of a piece of cloth, and does not include the pole to which it is attached? The burden of proof is on you to support your unusual definition. \$\endgroup\$ – barbecue Jul 28 '17 at 21:39

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