The staff has a long history in both Asian and Western combat arts. Known as the bo in Japan, the guin in China, and the quarterstaff in Europe, it is generally hewn from different varieties of hardwood and six to eight feet in length.
With no sharp edges to cut, nor weighted ends to increase striking damage or penetration, the staff is primarily considered a non-lethal weapon popular with individuals, such as monks or friars, who would typically show mercy (or “quarter,” hence its English namesake) towards their attackers. Mercy, however, is a trait that cannot afforded to the living dead.
The skill required to deliver a single neutralizing blow with a staff, with its lack of an aggressive point and equal weight distribution, is very high indeed. Individuals who can do so consistently have typically trained with this weapon for years.
Given the staff’s weight, dimensions and the skill required to wield it effectively, thrusting attacks to the cranium have limited effect on the undead. It is extremely difficult to penetrate a ghoul’s brain case with a thrust from a staff, even if directed towards vulnerable areas, such as the eye socket. The circumference of the weapon is typically larger than that of the average eye socket, not to mention the precision required to deliver such a blow. Centrifugal attacks will also do minimal damage on the undead skull, mostly superficial in nature depending on your strength and ability to generate momentum with the weapon.
With a limited ability to quickly deliver a neutralizing blow, how useful is this weapon in undead combat? The most effective use of the staff, or any staff-like implement, is using it to obstruct an attacker’s onslaught by using the length of the weapon to keep the ghoul at bay. This can be done by grasping the middle and end of the staff with both hands and forcing the tip into the midsection of the zombie.
In executing this technique, there is a slight chance of the ghoul grabbing or pushing the weapon out of the way. Should this occur, pull back and reset your weapon, and force the tip back into the corpse’s midsection. Most zombies will be too focused on reaching their prey to execute such a defensive maneuver.
Using this strategy, you can keep a zombie at an adequately safe distance indefinitely, as long as you have the strength to continue to do so. Do not underestimate the usefulness of this tactic, as it may provide a small window of time for you or your party to escape. This technique can be also used in coordination with another human to pin the ghoul against a surface while your teammate delivers a finishing blow. If you have a sufficient strength and weight advantage over your attacker, you can also use this technique to maneuver the zombie backward and drive it over a ledge, cliff or embankment.
Given the limited destructive power provided by the staff, it should be your last resort if no other weapons are available. It does provide some advantage over being completely unarmed, and can be used effectively in a team-based operation.
Armaments used at this distance fall into one of two categories: Obstructive or destructive:
Obstructive weapons – this category is defined by the fact that it would be very difficult to deliver a killing blow with the weapon, given its weight, length, and physical structure. Although they are long (six feet or more) they lack an offensive fixture (a blade, axehead, or sharpened tip) to realistically neutralize an attacker. As such, fighting techniques are meant largely to delay or obstruct the undead. The obstructive category generally encompasses one type of long-range weapon: the staff.
Destructive weapons – All other weapons in long-range combat fall under the destructive category, as they have the sufficient properties (mass, weight, structure) to deliver vicious blows to the undead. They will have some form of offensive attachment, typically made of iron or steel, that has the ability, given sufficient training by the bearer, to eliminate an attacker from a safe distance. Although engaging in long distance warfare with a ghoul is a relatively safe engagement, using weapons in this class requires more skill and training than any other undead combat range.