[RPG] Is a Staff with Finesse balanced


If you've seen the movie Ip Man, you'll remember that he used long wooden implements in a way akin to a staff, yet focused on quick, precise strikes, rather than brute-strength bashing. What's a balanced way to house-rule a staff that uses Dex (i.e. has finesse), for non-Monks? Presumably a fighter, given all his/her training, should be able to pull it off (imho).

Best Answer

I don't think so.

The problem I see here, ultimately, is that this would give access to a two-handed finesse weapon with a d8 damage die. No finesse weapons are versatile, and the only d8 damage die is the rapier.

That might not seem like much, until your Rogue multiclasses Fighter and picks up GWF and now is able to reroll 1's and 2's on their sneak attack dice in addition to their weapon dice. The concern here is that this provides a rogue with a weapon that will add, effectively .6 to every sneak attack die they roll (avg of 4.1 vs 3.5).

Let's look at this in light of other options available:

Simple finesse weapons:

  • Dagger d4 (light, thrown)

Martial finesse weapons:

  • Short Sword d6 (light)
  • Scimitar d6 (light)
  • Rapier d8
  • Whip d4 (reach)

The weapon you're proposing would be finesse as well as

  • Quarterstaff d6 (versatile (d8))

This means that the staff would fall into a group has a single finesse option, with a much smaller damage die, and no two handed option. You might be able to get away with it as a martial weapon, but I still don't think it's a great idea. The extra property that allow for the d8 would make it strictly better than the rapier. It would basically become the weapon of choice for Rogues if they could get it, and would become a very strong option for a light armor fighter (though not as strong as the rogue).

Out of turn attacks:

Quarterstaff qualifies for the Polearm Master feat. This means that you'd be giving a Dex based character access to a pretty high powered feat. Again this is going to point at the rogue who would be taking a huge amount of advantage of this and probably inflicting sneak attack a second time most turns. Basically this would also let other classes who don't get armor proficiencies and want to engage in polearm shenanigans boost Dex instead of Str.