Last Updated on January 22, 2023
Staves, spears, halberds, and glaives: two-handed weapons with more handle than striking edge – these are polearms.
The same goes for naginatas, yaris, boar spears, tridents, and lances. Even that cool little chainsaw on the end of a stick that can allow you to kill undead without getting too close is technically a polearm.
There is some debate on whether a quarterstaff is a polearm, since staves have their own category of magic item and tend to be used by nonmartial spellcasters as readily as martial-oriented classes.
Since quarterstaffs are covered in the Polearm Master feat and since there are so many staves to offer, we decided to include them in this list but to give priority to the other types.
Therefore, the only magic staves you see here will be specific to martial classes, like the rest of the polearm family.
Either way, with all staves and magic items, the cost is less dependent on what type of polearm it is and more on the laws of supply and demand.
Cost depends on scarcity and scarcity drives conflict, both socially, economically, and narratively.
Therefore, when deciding how available to make these items in your game, check out our post here on magic item pricing.
We put together a list of magic polearms you can use at EVERY tier of play. Most of these will be in the WoTC published material, but there will be some homebrew thrown in as well.
A Brief History of Magic Polearms
Magic staves and spears have a famed tradition around the world.
The staff of the monkey king from Ancient China was said to amplify Sun Woo Kong’s magical abilities and his skill in kung fu, and it could change to fit any size.
He won the staff from the water dragons under the ocean where it was being used to hold the water, and its removal is why there are waves in the ocean today.
The spear of Lugh Long-hand from Ancient Ireland was a gift to him from his mother who was a renowned goddess or priestess, depending on the story.
He was able to throw this spear through a tiny hole in a disc-shaped rock in order to defeat his rival and avenge his lost love.
And of course, there is Gandalf’s staff, rumored to be cut from the same tree that once held the light of the Silmarils and was used to strike down the balrog from the top of Mount Caradhras.
All these and more can be created or found using the WotC published material.
Polearms in Tier I
Tier I magic items are generally considered “common” in rarity and polearms even more so.
There are exactly zero magic polearms in the Common Category. As such, if you find a Polearms in Tier I, it is either Uncommon or Homebrew and should cost anywhere between 50-100 gp.
Uncommon polearms tend to be a bit more powerful for early levels and should be handed out by a patron or earned in a special side quest.
Here is our list for Tier I magic polearms followed by a detailed explanation of how and when to use them.
Hollow Polearm (Homebrew)
The caps of this staff can be opened up to store a tiny object inside, such as parchment or an alchemical potion or powder.
As a bonus action in combat, you can open the compartment and incorporate the effects of such an alchemical potion or powder into your next attack.
We recommend using Alchemist’s Fire, any of the magic dusts, or a poison. Fun stuff!
Polearm of the Top Shelf (Homebrew)
You can use this polearm to reach a small or tiny object that is above your head. If the polearm can reach the item, it will fall directly into your hands.
Polearm of Resizing (Homebrew)
This special sheath can be used to hold your polearm in a small scabbard. It functions similarly to a bag of holding but only for polearms, and the entire thing takes up the same space as a dagger.
Splitting Polearm (Homebrew)
This polearm is composed of two or three sections, your choice.
As a bonus action, the polearm can be dismantled into two clubs if it is a staff, a club and a dagger if it is a spear, a club and a short sword if it is a glaive, or a club and a hand ax if it is a halberd.
Polearms in Tier II
In Tier II, magic is starting to get a bit more accessible. Magic Polearms could be found in small treasure hoards, attached to important bad guys, or on display at a magic item shop for 500-1,000 gp.
Rifled Spear (Homebrew)
This spear has narrow grooves spiraling down its shaft that increase its range and accuracy when thrown.
You may throw this spear at long range without disadvantage.
Weapon of Warning
A common Uncommon (really?) enchantment, this standard bonus allows you to act in any surprise round and will negate advantage on attacks against you from creatures that are hidden.
You can use versions of this for any polearm.
Staff of the Adder/Python
Often interchangeable (but not really) with the Staff of the Python, the Staff of the Adder is better for martial characters. The head of the staff is shaped like a stylized snake, and as a bonus action, it will animate.
The animated snake’s head deals a poisonous bite (1d6 piercing plus DC 15 Constitution saving throw for 3d6 poison).
If you have the Polearm Master feat, you can still gain an extra attack with the other end of this staff.
Now imagine a Yuan-Ti druid/rogue with both the Staff of the Python and the Staff of the Adder and the polearm master feat. Just think about it and shiver.
Heavy Halberd (Homebrew)
This halberd is heavier than your typical ax on a stick (which is saying something). The extra weight allows it to build momentum.
If you miss an attack on your turn, your next attack on that same turn deals an additional die of damage.
Any time you score a critical hit, you get an extra free attack to be taken immediately against any creature within range of the Heavy Halberd. If this free attack happens to be critical, you gain another free attack.
Magic Polearms at Tier III
In Tier III, you are expected to be a powerhouse. Even in low-magic settings, like Dragonlance, you should have some magical abilities to add to your reputation.
These magic polearms can be flashy and useful – perfect for Tier III.
This is a standard for Tier III. It doesn’t seem like much, but a consistent +2 is better than adding a 1d4 to your damage output, and you don’t have to roll for it. It is always there.
Also, a +2 is a simple bonus to give. You can grant a +2 to any other magic weapon, and it just makes sense. For example, a +2 staff of warning. Easy-peasy.
Like the +2, it doesn’t seem like much at first, but +7 damage is like having a third die roll on your critical hit that rolls high. +7 is better than the averages on 1d10 and 1d12, and it is certainly high for a 1d8.
DMs, consider combining the vicious and +2 enchantments to make a +2 Vicious Spear. That’s something to get excited about.
Staff of Withering
This magic staff does initially seem like it would be something a nonmartial character would wield. It’s a regular quarterstaff that has a limited necrotic burst for when you get cornered.
However, martial characters with this staff would make much better use of that quarterstaff aspect, more than likely getting multiple attacks and extra damage.
The extra necrotic burst would just be rotten icing on the necromantic death-cake. Yum.
Polearm of Extending (Homebrew)
Size doesn’t matter… until it does. As a bonus action, you can speak the command word, and this staff, spear, glaive, or halberd will double its reach until the start of your next turn.
For martial characters, that means sacrificing your bonus action, but you should still have at least two or three attacks by this point, plus a reaction.
Polearms in Tier IV – For DMs Only
At Tier IV, you are a legend worthy of sagas. These items should not be randomly discovered but handed out for specific in-game and story purposes.
These polearms will significantly alter your characters’ battlefield abilities and social reputation.
Therefore, as a DM, don’t just hand these out willy-nilly. Make the PCs work for it. Make it the goal of a sidequest, or have them pull it from an underboss or BBEG’s dead hands.
Here are 4 game-changing Polearms for martial characters.
Note: Any of these Staves can be transformed into Spears, Glaives, or Halberds with a wave of your powerful and mighty DM hand.
Staff of Power
This is a monstrously powerful item. It does require attunement by a sorcerer, wizard, or warlock, so make sure you have at least one level in one of those classes.
See the Dungeon Master’s Guide for the full description, but here is a quick summary:
- The staff has 20 charges and regains 2d8+4 charges at dawn.
- Expending 1 charge on a melee strike deals and extra 1d6 force damage.
- You can cast a number of evocation spells using your Spell Save DC and Spell Attack bonus.
- You can break the staff over knee to deal immense force damage to anyone within 30 feet of the resulting explosion, including yourself. There is a 50% chance you will avoid damage by being shunted to a random plane of existence.
Staff of Striking
This staff deals a +3 to attack and damage, and you can expend up to three charges at a time to add 1d6 force damage to your strike.
This staff would be perfect for monks, druids, and polearm specialists fighters.
Staff of Thunder and Lightning
This is a hugely powerful item. Any class can attune to it, so we recommend monks, druids, and other polearm specialists. See the Dungeon Master’s Guide for the full description, but here is a quick summary:
- Grants a +2 to all attack and damage.
- Deals 2d6 lightning damage on a successful hit once per long rest.
- Stuns your target with a Constitution save vs. DC 17 once per long rest.
- Throws a bolt of lighting with a DC 17 Dexterity save that deals 9d6 damage one per long rest.
- Each creature within 60 feet becomes deafened on a Constitution save vs. DC 17.
Staff of the Monkey King (Homebrew)
You can find loads of homebrew options out there for this particular artifact. Here is ours.
This staff can be attuned by monks, rangers, or druids. If any humanoid picks up and attunes this staff, they undergo a transformation that takes 24 hours.
At the end of that transformation, they become a simian hybrid and gain a +2 to Strength and Dexterity. Abilities improved this way may exceed 20.
In addition, if they do not already have a better unarmed fighting ability, their unarmed attacks now deal 1d6 + Strength or Dexterity (whichever is higher) bludgeoning damage.
If any Beast that is a primate (ape or monkey) picks up this staff, they undergo a transformation into a medium sized simian/humanoid hybrid that takes 24 hours.
At the end of the transformation, the creature’s ability scores increase to 10 unless they are already higher. The Beast retains the Multiattack and Fist abilities of an Ape.
If the staff becomes attuned to another creature, this transformation reverses itself.
This staff grants a +3 to attack and damage rolls.
The staff can be shrunk to fit as a piece of jewelry when not wielded or enlarged to have a reach of 10 feet and deal an additional damage die.
The staff can be released to fight on its own as if it were a Dancing Sword. When this ability is used, you may only fight with unarmed attacks.
You may cast the following spells at will using the staff as the material component: longstrider, jump, expeditious retreat.
Finally, once per long rest, you may cast the following spells using the staff as the material component: stoneskin, mislead, elemental weapon, fly.
Polearms of all types have a long history in fantasy, folklore, and mythology. We hope you can use these in your game tonight.
Remember, swing soft, hit hard, and roll on!
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Rich is an avid D&D player and DM. He has been playing since the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st and 2nd editions. He has run campaigns of various editions with family and friends for over 20 years. Playing DnD 5th Edition in person at local game stores and online with VTT’s over the past 10 years has provided a consistent connection to how the game has grown. He strongly believes in understanding the source material, but catering the games to your individual players. Feel free to ask anything in the comments or drop him an email: [email protected].