Dragon 391 - Staff Fighters: Weapon of the Common Man

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DnDi_Large.pngDragon 391
Staff Fighters: Weapon of the Common Man

by Rodney Thompson

Swords are expensive and often outlawed by controlling lords, leaving commoners nothing to protect themselves with other than simple weapons, and what could be simpler to make than a staff? The quarterstaff makes a great weapon choice for any hero who comes from a humble background.

Talk about this Article here.

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Excellent article.
I liked how the author includes some the historical background of the staff and staff fighting.
I would like to point out though that while staff fighting has it's roots as a weapon of defense for the common man, many real-world European "Weapon Masters" found it to be a superior weapon as well. Often the Eastern styles of staff fighting overshadow the Western styles in their influence.
Jakob Sutor, Joachim Meyer, Hans Talhoffer, George Silver, Joseph Swetnam, are only some who dedicated portions of their fight manuals to the use of the staff.

It is very conceivable that a Knight of the common man could exist within your game. After all, "Knight" does not have to mean Mounted, Full-plated wearing, sword & shield wielding, tank of Death.

Again, good job Mr. Thompson.

the ordained weapon feats are good examples of how many divine feats can be better designed:  the fluff of the feat strongly suggests the feat's association with a particular deity, but worship of that deity is not an actual prerequisite of that feat.

this issue is particularly bothersome when using the character builder and trying to avoid the official houserule label.  there are some great feats--and paragon paths--that are limited to deities that are setting specific, but that any reasonable dm would allow to be applied to another, similar deity.  channel divinity feats most commonly suffer from this issue.  a paragon path example of this is the morninglord of amaunator, a nice paragon path that could easily be adopted by a worshiper of pelor, in a pol setting.

i find divine feats and paragon paths to be some of the most restricting (and constricting) elements of the game's overall flexibility.  i think it is quite reasonable for wotc to leave it up to the dm to decide whether the cleric of pelor may take the vile, heinous feat of endless suffering undeath or the sun's blessing feat of amaunator.

and for those of you who believe that such constrictions are imperative, i turn your attention to the warlock, whose fey patron can grant him such powers as ulban's outer space coldness and dispater's fiery dis(respect).

divine feats aside, i am glad to see the staff finally get some love.  and i think it is great that the essentials classes are quickly receiving broadening options. 
Excellent article. It is very conceivable that a Knight of the common man could exist within your game. After all, "Knight" does not have to mean Mounted, Full-plated wearing, sword & shield wielding, tank of Death.


when i picture a staff fighter, i am inclined to clad him in leather, or even hide, rather then heavy metal armor.  fluffwise, it seems more likely the case.  thus, i am more likely to see a slayer, with its secondary dex mod, using a staff than a con-based knight.  but that's just my take on it.
The article had some decent stuff; I'm just frustrated that I've waited over a year for enough meat to build a standard staff fighter and Essentials build jumped in there almost immediately.  I'd have been happier if there had been something for tempest fighters in the article but at least kender can finally use their hoopaks!

I might shelve the tempest idea and try a low(ish) strength slayer instead.
The article had some decent stuff; I'm just frustrated that I've waited over a year for enough meat to build a standard staff fighter and Essentials build jumped in there almost immediately.  I'd have been happier if there had been something for tempest fighters in the article but at least kender can finally use their hoopaks!

I might shelve the tempest idea and try a low(ish) strength slayer instead.





As the article points out, there are some great feat combos available for older builds like the tempest fighter.  The dual-weapon feat combined with the new feat that gives a bonus to attack and range... sounds dangerous.
Great article, I love the visual of a staff fighter or all the various styles.  I especially liked all the fluff and backgrond for the feats, leaving nothing just for mechanics or 'a cool trick' sake.  The mechanics really flesh out the story/cinematic effects implied.

Does a combination of the feats Staff Expertise (Heroes of Fallen Lands, pg 317), and Stout-Handed Staff finally allow Small characters to have Reach?  Or am I missing something?
As the article points out, there are some great feat combos available for older builds like the tempest fighter.  The dual-weapon feat combined with the new feat that gives a bonus to attack and range... sounds dangerous.

I don't think any weapon staff folks have "great" feat combos, even after this article. Fun? Sure! I liked my staff fightin' Tempest Fighter/Wizard in the first season of Encounters. He was effective as a defender, had decent defenses, could multimark well, and had a nice backstory. Everyone else had as-good or (mostly) better to-hit and damage except maybe the pregen Astral Seal dude. My character was OK, but not great.

I think I feel some of the frustration expressed here. Most weapon groups have unique feats and items and weapon powers and Paragon Path support(!) and.... Not so with the staff. A handful of unique stuff is available for non-implement users. Even picks get more weapon support. Picks.

There can't even be a Fighter feat that prones/slides/pushes someone on a successful attack as an Opportunity Action when you have CA? Or prones/pushes someone on a successful charge (using the staff as a pole vault thing)? Or prones/slides/pushes creeps who miss you when you Total Defense? Or turns a quarterstaff into a 4/8 Heavy Thrown weapon? C'mon.

It's cool that Divine weapon folks and shorties and Arcane-types get some staff love. I have nothing against Thieves or Knights or Slayers. Their stuff is OK. It's a bit galling that all the players/builds that have been clamoring for a bone thrown their way get zilch, though. It's like getting a Winning Races: Human article that has Half-Elf, Mul, and Revenant stuff. "Hey! They can be humans, too!" It's just not what one expects, so it can be disappointing.

(And yes, Small characters can have Reach now.)
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Could the Sneaky Staff feat also be changed to allow it to be used with rogue melee powers?

At the moment it's only any use for a thief (who use MBA so can utilise any weapon), but rogues are restricted to whats on the power. A simple line of text would allow all rogues to take advantage of it.
As the article points out, there are some great feat combos available for older builds like the tempest fighter.  The dual-weapon feat combined with the new feat that gives a bonus to attack and range... sounds dangerous.

I don't think any weapon staff folks have "great" feat combos, even after this article. Fun? Sure! I liked my staff fightin' Tempest Fighter/Wizard in the first season of Encounters. He was effective as a defender, had decent defenses, could multimark well, and had a nice backstory. Everyone else had as-good or (mostly) better to-hit and damage except maybe the pregen Astral Seal dude. My character was OK, but not great.

I think I feel some of the frustration expressed here. Most weapon groups have unique feats and items and weapon powers and Paragon Path support(!) and.... Not so with the staff. A handful of unique stuff is available for non-implement users. Even picks get more weapon support. Picks.

There can't even be a Fighter feat that prones/slides/pushes someone on a successful attack as an Opportunity Action when you have CA? Or prones/pushes someone on a successful charge (using the staff as a pole vault thing)? Or prones/slides/pushes creeps who miss you when you Total Defense? Or turns a quarterstaff into a 4/8 Heavy Thrown weapon? C'mon.



Some nice ideas in there.  I find it conspicuous that so many of these feats seem so obvious and yet didn't make it into any of the books - this was why I was expecting so much more from the article - there are glaringly obvious gaps and it just seems a no-brainer to plug them in an article. 

I was thinking that perhaps a feat that could restore both ends of a staff-fighting staff to off-hand might be cool - it would help tempests and make shock-trooper staff wielders truly wicked.  The pole vault idea to shift away after a charge might be cool too, although I think that might be more suited to an encounter power than a feat (a slightly tweaked roundabout charge would work though) and you'd need to check out what comparable powers there are out there because a lot of rogue powers have shifts attached to them already (a feat allowing a shift or addiding 1 or 2 to the shift as part of a power could work perhaps?).  Maybe you should submit an article!

Could the Sneaky Staff feat also be changed to allow it to be used with rogue melee powers?

At the moment it's only any use for a thief (who use MBA so can utilise any weapon), but rogues are restricted to whats on the power. A simple line of text would allow all rogues to take advantage of it.



I second that. That line of text should be added to the compiled article.
Could the Sneaky Staff feat also be changed to allow it to be used with rogue melee powers?

At the moment it's only any use for a thief (who use MBA so can utilise any weapon), but rogues are restricted to whats on the power. A simple line of text would allow all rogues to take advantage of it.



I second that. That line of text should be added to the compiled article.



Agreed on this. That could go a long way towards demonstrating that WotC really are working to support both new and old versions of classes.

On that, I really didn't see how anything in the article could be applied to non-essentials fighters.

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Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

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On the subject of feat support for quarterstaves, I agree there's not a lot of explicit stuff, so the new things in the Dragon article are definitely welcome. But doesn't the Staff Fighting feat allow a quarterstaff user to take both Two-Handed and Two-Weapon feats? Maybe there are other weapons that do it, so it's not unique (any double weapon with Stout on the main part would qualify, I suppose), but it's still pretty handy.

I think the main thing that would make the quarterstaff a really awesome weapon would be a Paragon Path or something explicitly designed around it, maybe based on the "warrior of the common man" fluff rom the Dragon article.

That, plus some Monk powers that use the quarterstaff. ;)
I'd be interested to see what feat/power combinations people can come up with to make mileage out of the two-handed/two-weapon combo, particularly if the expertise feat grants range 2 now.
On that, I really didn't see how anything in the article could be applied to non-essentials fighters.



I posted something about that at the thread on RPG.net, but my thoughts about how to implement it have crystallized a bit in the last couple days. Unfortunately, it probably throws off the page count:

I'd like to see power-swap feats (exchange a utility power of this level or higher for _____ as an encounter power) that let the class features given to the knight and the slayer become accessible to standard fighters. 6th level or higher, maybe?
Could the Sneaky Staff feat also be changed to allow it to be used with rogue melee powers?

At the moment it's only any use for a thief (who use MBA so can utilise any weapon), but rogues are restricted to whats on the power. A simple line of text would allow all rogues to take advantage of it.



Please make this change, keep similar to the other rogue weapon feats.

Versatile Duelist
Heroic Tier
Prerequisite: Rogue
Benefit: You gain proficiency with all one-handed, military heavy blades. If a rogue power requires you to wield a light blade, you can use that power with a one-handed heavy blade and can also deal your Sneak Attack damage while using a one-handed heavy blade with that power.

Treetop Sniper
Heroic Tier
Prerequisite: Elf, rogue
Benefit: You can use any bow with Sneak Attack or any rogue power that normally requires a crossbow.



I liked the article. At first I was super excited for the Sneaky Staff feat, but after careful consideration I don't believe it does enough of a job to legitimize taking it over rapier proficiency.

The problem is that the feat does not allow a thief to use the staff for its Weapon Finesse and Weapon Talent class features, so for the same cost (one feat) a rapier wielding thief gets the larger damage dice, better to hit modifier and an increasingly better damage modifier. And the staff is a two handed weapon, so no more dagger in off hand for throwing.

Don't get me wrong, I love the concept and it is almost enough to make me want to play a staff thief ala the old Thief-Acrobat build. In order to make that a worthwhile option, however, I think it needs to be able to keep up with (while not surpassing) light-blade using thieves.

My suggestion is simply modify the feat's benefit to say "Allows the character to benefit from the Sneak Attack, Weapon Finesse and Weapon Talent class features while wielding a quarterstaff." Or something similar. If that seems too good, perhaps remove the Weapon Talent feature from the equation.

I fully understand that sometimes role-playing a concept is going to be intentionally suboptimal compared to a more standardized build. The problem with the feat as written, though, is that it starts out marginally worse than simply using a rapier and gets increasingly worse throughout the character's lifespan. That's no fun, and is probably enough to curtail most players from ever exploring the option.

Thanks.
I was waiting on the compilation to see if my question got answered, but it didn't--so I'm asking here: what does a staff-fighting Knight do when he reaches Level 12 and acquires a Stalwart Knight Utility 12 encounter power via the Greater Weapon Specialization class feature?  We have staff-fighting replacements for Level 1's Shield Finesse feat and Level 7's Weapon Specialization feature in the article, but staff-fighting Knights apparently still have to pick either a heavy blades or hammer/mace power at Level 12.  That doesn't seem right.
Forgot to add this to my previous post: I suppose the staff-fighting Knight can always take the Mythic Slayer's Level 12 Staggering Staff power when he gets Greater Weapon Specialization, so this isn't a huge problem.  I was just curious to find out if that was Rodney Thompson's intention.