Stat sticks are weapons carried or equipped by a character primarily or solely for the statistics they give.
This happens when possessing a weapon gives bonuses to a character even if it is not used. In extreme cases, the weapon will provide these bonuses even when held by a character who cannot
legally use it. If that sword gives additional MP
who has it in their inventory, then why not give it to your mage? Your mage can't use the sword as a weapon, but he can certainly use the MP!
This also happens when weapons are used to house valuable types of inventory in such a way that more of that type can be carried with the weapon equipped than without. Your character may have the Diamond Sword in his inventory even though he never uses it, simply because it's a convenient place to store power diamonds.
May also be used to clear stat requirements for Level-Locked Loot
Contrast Ornamental Weapon
, when your weapon truly has no use outside of looking pretty.
- In World of Warcraft, this term refers to all weapons equipped by spellcasters and healers. In previous expansions, it also referred to any melee weapon equipped by a hunter or any ranged weapon equipped by a melee class until the Mists of Pandaria expansion removed the ranged weapon slot and turned guns, bows, and crossbows into two handed weapons, turned wands into main hand weapons, and removed throwing weapons from the game (warriors and rogues now have an infinite supply of throwing knives in their pockets instead).
- This also somewhat inaccurately referred to the Relic class of item during the Cataclysm expansion. Although relics were not weapons, prior to Cataclysm every relic had a unique effect on one or more of the wielder's class abilities, such as raising the damage of a spell, adding a side effect, or increasing the area of effect, which made them a more dynamic tool than standard pieces of armor (the relic item slot also occupied the same spot on the character sheet as the ranged weapon slot for those classes that could equip ranged weapons) until Cataclysm replaced their unique effects with straightforward stat bonuses. Like throwing weapons, relics were removed from the game in the Mists of Pandaria expansion (although relics and throwing weapons in players' inventories were merely downgraded to unequippable Vendor Trash, which some players still hold on to out of sentiment).
- The Monk class introduced in Mists of Pandaria has most of their attacks consist of unarmed punches and kicks, while weapons reside on the monk's back and only get drawn for a weak "Jab" attack used to generate resources for everything else. A cosmetic glyph allows the monk to forego this as well and jab with their fists. A highly requested feature by monk players is to at least allow the display of fist weapons during unarmed attacks.
- Also has been the case for feral Druids since practically forever, as they transform into bears or cats to fight. You don't even see their weapons.
- Also done in Diablo III. As seen in the page's image, most of the Monk's weapons are cosmetic, leaving swords, maces, axes, etc. around his waist while still allowing them to provide the stat bonuses, including actual weapon damage. As the Wizard and the Witch Doctor classes are primarily reliant on spellcasting and have no incentive to use their weapons in melee, only the Barbarian and Demon Hunter actually are seen using the weapons that they have equipped. The Crusader, introduced in the Reaper of Souls expansion, is also surprisingly reluctant to swing his weapon around for an armored knight; while a melee build is possible, most of his attacks are based on casting holy magic from a distance.
- Of notable mention, the Enchantress companion uses her free hand to cast most of her spells (and she wields a two-handed staff in her other hand) and the Demon Hunter can put her crossbows away to throw grenades, chakrams or bolas as a primary attack.
- In Torchlight equipping two weapons of the same type doesn't increase the speed at which you fire them, so the offhand weapon becomes useful only for the stats and gemslots it provides you with.
- Certain items in Team Fortress 2 can be used to attack with, but the main draw are effects you either get when the item is out or just equipped. The Pain Train when used by the Soldier is the clearest example of this trope: the only difference between it and the Soldier's default shovel is that having equipped makes you take extra bullet damage but cap points faster. Since the shovel is almost useless to begin with, you'll probably never even take it out when you have it.
- Dragon Age: Origins has this trope in the case of dual-wielding backstab rogues. Normally dual-wielding attacks alternate hands, so both weapons are equally important. However, rogues only ever backstab with their right-hand weapon; their left-hand weapon can therefore be used as a Stat Stick.
- This is the idea behind Chefstaves in Kingdom of Loathing. Since Mysticality classes attack using spells, attack power is useless to them; Mysticality related enchantments are much more important. Most utensils are weaker than other weapons while increasing Mysticality or spell damage, but the Chefstaves exemplify it. They all have the same power as the starting weapons, but they provide great percentile spell damage increases, as well as 2-3 of the following: MP regeneration, bonus power to certain elemental spells, direct and/or percentile Mysticality increases. Of course, KoL is unusual for an online game in that a weapon's power doesn't act as a limiting factor to the damage you can do with it, so the trope's only intended. As you level up your Muscle stat, it's eventually possible to hit powerful enemies with a Chefstave about as effectively as with an axe, even though the game keeps reminding you that you're really not using the Chefstave to its full potential.
- Slight variant in Flyff: Billposters carry sticks around, since Assist buffs can only be used with a stick equipped. Thus, if one can afford it and has money to spare, there is no reason not to get one that gives additional MP or INT while it's equipped.
- Mabinogi allows player characters to apply enchantments to their equipment, allowing you to make weapons that increase your intelligence or MP scores to make you a slightly better spellcaster. Wands, however, can make a kind of double-inversion: they're intended for use in spellcasting, but they're... acceptable for hitting things with. But you can use them as a weapon, combined with their meditate-while-running attribute (drastically increase MP regeneration) and Mana Shield (absorb damage as MP damage), to make a low damage output blood tank.
- Magic-user Evie starts out only wearing cloth; and building sufficient skills for even light armour is difficult and time-consuming. Since she relies primarily on innate magic armour to avoid being a Squishy Wizard, any armour that she does wear is almost entirely for the stat boosts.
- Also, as of the Labyrinth expansion, Staff Evies can no longer use their staffs for melee, only for magic, making their staffs essentially this.
- Demon's Souls and all the Dark Souls games let you have two weapons out at once, one in each hand. You can wield one with two hands for extra damage while the other Sticks to the Back. Some weapons provide passive bonuses for being equipped but aren't actually that useful as weapons, so if someone it going to use them, they'll just be stuck to their user's back 100% of the time.
- In both Demon's Souls and Dark Souls III, weapons can be upgraded to regenerate HP (Blessed) or MP (Crescent in Demon's Souls, Simple in Dark Souls III) over time. Upgrade an extremely light weapon this way, and you've basically got a regeneration ring that you wear on your back.
- Demon's Souls: The Kris Blade enhances magic, the Morion Blade's gives a huge bonus to damage when health is lower (which, despite the description, applies to all damage you do when the weapon is equipped, not just the Morion Blade itself), and the Adjudicator's Shield provides substantial health regen.
- Dark Souls: The Grass Crest Shield is sub-par as a shield but increases the rate of stamina regeneration. This alone makes it good enough to cause Complacent Gaming Syndrome, as almost every other player you encounter will be wearing this shield on their back while two-handing their weapon, no matter what kind of build they have.
- Dark Souls III: The Crystal Sage's Rapier is useful as a weapon for an Intelligence build with sufficient Dexterity, but anyone can benefit from its passive effect as a Random Drop Booster, especially since it's available long before the Covetous Gold Serpent Ring is. The Scholar's Candlestick is especially useless as a weapon: holding it boosts the strength of Sorceries, but its attack damage is almost nothing if you don't have high enough Faith — a stat Sorceries don't use, because their spells are strengthened by Intelligence. The Morion Blade makes a return and gives bonus to damage when health is lower, in which it still applies to all damage you do when the weapon is equipped and it stacks with Red Tearstone Ring.
- Final Fantasy IV: Is it more effective for Rosa and Rydia to equip bows and whips respectively so they can cause decent physical damage between spells? Or is it better for them to use staves and rods to improve their magic? Especially prominent in the DS remake where it is an entirely valid strategy to have Rosa constantly Pray when she is not casting, giving both her and Rydia an unlimited amount of MP.
- This is often recommended for Final Fantasy VI for characters whose effectiveness is not dependent on their basic physical attacks (which is most of them); why does Sabin need the weapon with the highest physical attack power (in the GBA version, the Godhand) when his best skills are all powered by his Magic stat (raised by Tiger Fangs but NOT the Godhand), for instance?
- Final Fantasy X: Lulu's puppets. Her only use for the attack command is amusement. Yuna doesn't even have the amusement factor. Unless you give them Stonestrike or Deathstrike weapons.
- Final Fantasy XI has a number of these, but the most famous of them are the eight level 51 elemental staves. Each of them has a number of significant stat boosts themed around its element (for example, the Fire Staff boosts Attack and the Wind Staff boosts Evasion), as well as far-more-important hidden effects that increase the potency and accuracy of spells of its element at the expense of the same for the element that it beats. Needless to say, any mage worth their salt buys the ele staves and swaps them to match every spell they cast.
- Final Fantasy XIII temporarily does this to some of the characters, whose primary attack is disabled while they're locked into one-to-three classes, some of which don't ever attack physically directly. This trope ends, at least technically, around the halfway mark, when all classes are unlocked for all characters. Even though Hope, for example, can attack physically, he really shouldn't be.
- This gets played up later as you find weaker weapons with added effects, such as making debuffs more successful or boosting your healing skills, making their abilities more worthwhile than their lackluster stats.
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII continues the trend. Each Schemata has its own individual weapon, even if that Schema doesn't even possess any attacks. A Schema with the Ghostly or Preta Hood accessories will likely carry around a BFS not for actually attacking, but because it gives an HP boost.
- Averted in Final Fantasy XIV thanks to some pretty fantastic character animations. Spellcasters are seen holding up their staves/wands/whatever and clearly casting spells from them. Monks use fist weapons and clearly strike enemies with them.
- Final Fantasy Tactics has some early-game daggers and swords that increase your Magic Power stat by one. Doesn't sound too great, but when 10 is considered a fairly high magic stat and most early-game staves and rods don't increase it...
- In Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, since your Black Mage will usually be hurling basic-level blasty spells at your enemies and have a Strength penalty anyway, they might as well carry something that grants a massive Magical Attack. The same is true of the White Mage, only with healing spells instead of fireballs and ice blasts.
- Persona 4 has a few characters who generally resort to this. Yukiko is both The Medic and an offensive Fire mage so rarely finds herself using her basic attack. Fittingly, her weapons are paper fans so this trope is mostly justified. The stranger case is Naoto, who is primarily a magic user despite her weapons being revolvers, so even guns end up being used for this. Teddie's claws somtimes fill this role too, as he's mostly used for his Status Buff skills and Ice magic.
- Angband has a weapon type specifically designed to do this—the Defender.
- In Dungeons & Dragons 3.5ed most weapon enchantments provide bonuses and special abilities specifically for the action of swinging the weapon. But a few such as Defending, Warning, or Eager apply as long as you are wielding the weapon. This is easily abused by applying them to Armor Spikes, which are technically always wielded while still leaving your hands free (or leaving your weapons free for actual weapon enchantments). In fact, it's common for spellcasters to get armor solely so they can apply weapon enchantments to armor spikes.
- The infamous Nightsticks provide their benefit as long you possesses them, even if you aren't holding them. Theoretically, you could have an entire vault of Nightsticks somewhere and keep the benefits while out adventuring.
- Dungeons & Dragons: 4th edition has implements. The non-magical versions are only useful if you have some special feature or ability that gives benefit for using them (as general implements provide no bonuses.) Otherwise, they're only useful for the enhancement bonus for more accuracy or damage. 4th edition also subverts it with an optional automatic enhancement bonus rule, which makes magic items only useful for the powers they give rather than through statistical benefit.
- Dungeons & Dragons Online does oppositely. Wizards, sorcerers, and occasionally other caster types will usually run around holding two scepters just for the passive bonuses to spells, at the cost of making melee attacks inaccurate and weak. High-level crafting (like the highly customizable greensteel) can also make weapons with fantastic passive bonuses.
- Ancient Domains of Mystery's Sword of Nonnak is a slightly above-average sword (can't be upgraded through blacksmithing, though), but for mages it's a viable choice for even a late-game weapon, as +5 Willpower is very handy for a spellcaster, and immunity to cold and death attacks is always nice.
- This will happen to you in Disgaea games when you start creating high-powered gear in the post-game. A high-leveled, high-tier sword will still give huge, HUGE boosts to intelligence, meaning that if you want to train a low-level spellcaster, give her a really awesome sword and watch her destroy absolutely everything. From the third game onward, Magichange lets you turn your high-leveled monster into one.
- Tales of Symphonia:
- Genis Sage fights with a Kendama, a Japanese children's toy. It enhances his magic power, and he mentions that having something to focus on helps him concentrate on spellcasting in combat. He can hit things with it, but... there's a good reason he mostly uses magic.
- His sister, Raine, is a through-and-through White Mage, who holds onto a staff to enhance her magic (and thus, healing) powers... except she's an aversion, since she's apt to run onto the frontlines and beat people up with it. She's not too bad at it, either, due to her Ex Sphere. Raine can even be seen smacking the hell out of several armed solders with just her staff in the opening.
- In Dragon Quest IX, wands do very little damage, but, if you buff your wand skills, your magic using classes gain huge bonuses to Mana. This is essential for the Squishy Wizard classes.
- Mario Kart Wii, a racing game, has the lightning cloud. Normally, its only use as a weapon is to pass it on to someone else so that they get zapped with it... but your speed increases slightly while you hold it, and your speed when off-road isn't reduced, meaning the best strategy is to not use it as a weapon for as long as possible and then pass it off at the last second.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the iconic lightsaber becomes this for the Jedi Sage and the Sith Sorceror. Since both classes are based on using Force Powers, you quickly lose the need to use the two lightsaber attacks available to you.
- An Imperial Agent that takes the Sniper specialization will still have the vibroknife as a secondary weapon, but only two abilities that use it. One of those is a decent stunning attack, but mostly the vibroknife is just there to boost your stats.
- This applies to some companion characters as well: a number of healing companions can be equipped with a vibroknife in their offhand slot, but will never be seen using it.
- If you have the luck to find a bow (or crossbow) that enhances statistics rather than the weapon itself, they can become this in the endgame of Might and Magic VI and VII — due to how the combat and inventory system works, blasters always take precedence when it comes to attacks, but stat-enhancing enchantments only requires you to carry the weapon, not actually use it.
- Rogue Legacy: Swords for the Dragon class, since their only attack is magical. Can also be the case for Archmages if you have enough mana / Siphon to be able to rely largely on spells.
- The Legend System allows players to design mundane weapons by choosing three properties from a list. Some aspects of these rules lend themselves to Stat Sticks:
- Defensive weapon properties function as long as the weapon is wielded. Natural Weapons always count as wielded, making them ideal for carrying defensive properties while you do your actual attacking with something else.
- A weapon with the [Arcane] property doesn't gain increased accuracy from being enchanted, and can't benefit from certain properties like damage bonuses; instead these are transferred to any magical attacks made by the wielder.
- In Planescape: Torment, reaching the specialization levels (7 and 12) in your primary class allows you to buy unique weapons from Coaxmetal in the Lower Ward. For a mage, these weapons are the Runeblade and Karlaac's Knife. The former gives 50% magic resistance, while the latter allows memorizing twice the amount of first-level spells you normally can. Both are utterly useless in melee due to lack of Enchantment (which nearly all later enemies require to be hurt), low damage, and in case of Runeblade - deliberately terrible accuracy.
- Appears in Dungeon Crawl in two forms. Magic staffs can be used as weapons, but their accuracy and damage ratings are based on the user's skill with the magic school they enhance and can't be improved with scrolls of enchantment. Thus, by the time they could be used as a decent weapon they are nearly useless compared to magic. Casters will also frequently equip randomly-generated artifact weapons with useful properties even if they never attack with them.
- Path of Exile:
- Spell damage has no relation to weapon damage, so casters will usually use wands (which increase spell damage), scepters (which increase elemental damage), or daggers (which increase the Critical Hit chance for all attacks made while equipped). These weapons can also generate with modifiers to increase spell damage, mana, cast speed, or spell critical chance.
- For physical characters, there are multiple skills that only attack with the main hand, so you can have the main damage-dealing weapon in their main hand and a Stat Stick in their off-hand using the same principle. The Prismatic Eclipse is the good example of dual wield Stat Sticks, since the global increase to attack speed with green sockets is one of the highest attack speed boost available via equipment.
- Minion-based characters will frequently use one of the unique weapons like the The Queen's Decree unique greatsword, since these are the only weapons that have an impact on minion skills.
- Force weapons in Phantasy Star Online are usually this, seeing as the strength boosts for canes, rods, wands and cards are very low and some increase magical strength. Oddly enough, even the most common rare weapons are staples for Forces since they'll usually boost a specific technique's power more than some of the higher end weapons, making weapons for them more crucial that Hunters who rely on weapons.
- In many MOBAs such as Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars and League of Legends, characters can hold a certain amount of items in generic slots, and benefit stackingly from these items even if it makes no logical sense (Although for balancing reasons shoes tend to be an exception). This can lead to such ridiculousness as a Stripperific character wearing two full sets of heavy armor at the same time, a swordsman using a crossbow, or an archer triple-wielding swords, while their attack animation remains unchanged.
- Warcraft III: Heroes don't have individual weapons, so whatever the weapon's effect is always applied to the hero, no matter how many there are. Many custom maps put in a limiting system for RPGs.
- In Mass Effect 3, you can get Power Enhancer upgrades for pistols and SMGs, which can turn them into this - especially if the weapon in question has low weight and as such little effect on your cooldowns. After a certain number of intel upgrades for your cooldown speed, your guns start existing solely to buff your Sentinel/Adept/Engineer/Vanguard Shepard's biotic attacks, tech blasts, or in the case of the Sentinel, both - you can rip through everything with your powers, and they recharge extremely quickly.
- Lord of the Rings Online has several classes that can use a bow. However, unless you're a Hunter, the bow's damage is irrelevant 99.9% of the time, as it will only be used for the passive bonuses and the occasional pull. So, Guardians, Champions and Beornings will be looking at bows *only* for the passive stat bonuses. Ironically enough, Hunters will almost never be looking at using these same bows from levels 45 and up, as they will be using their Legendary Bows instead.
- The Wakfu MMORPG treats basically all weapons like this. Players' main form of offense are their character spells, which generally do more damage per AP cost than any weapon of the same level. Even considering elemental resistances and weaknesses, you're probably better off spending a turn using spells to set up for future turns or to buff your allies for their turns. Weapons give some useful stat bonuses, such as elemental damage bonuses, extra Control, extra range, and extra AP at higher levels, but those bonuses are largely the only reason players even bother. Choosing between crafting "Close Combat," "Area of Effect," and "Ranged" weapons mostly depends on which type usually gives you the stats you want rather than how the weapons themselves are used.
- The Torn Notebook and Burnt Pan in Undertale become this in a Pacifist Run. Since you won't be attacking monsters with them, they're largely equipped for their special buffs: the Notebook extends your Mercy Invincibility, while the Pan makes food heal an extra 4 HP.
- In Dungeon Fighter Online, the Launcher specialization of the Gunner classes is best equipped with the Hand Cannon category guns. Said weapons are rarely used by a Launcher character.
- The Creator class is an even more straight-forward example of this, as they are best equipped with the Broomstick weapons, but cannot even attack with them.
- Earthbound for the most part averts this since characters are not seen using their weapons during battle, and for detail, the "attack" command depends on the type of weapon equipped (Bash for melee weapons, shoot for ranged weapons). Equip a baseball bat and Bash someone? Equip a gun and shoot someone? Makes perfect sense. Then this trope applies once you get Poo's only equippable weapon in the game: the Sword Of Kings. Equip it, and... it will still say Bash, making it seem as if he doesn't even use the sword.
- Borderlands 2 has Miss Moxxxi's weapons, most notably the Rubi. While not useless on their own, any damage you deal while holding them will heal you for a percentage, including melee and grenade damage. This is especially useful on melee-oriented characters like Zer 0 or Krieg, as well as on Salvador, who can use two weapons, one that deals damage, and the Rubi to keep his health up.
- Weapons with burning or freezing properties in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild can be used as regular weapons to attack enemies with (and, in fact, can one-shot enemies of the opposing type), but many players carry them around as a means of helping with temperature regulation in certain environments. Equipping a Fire Rod or Flame weapon offers a level of protection in cold or snowy regions, while Ice Rods and Frost weapons can help with withstanding the heat of the Gerudo Desert during the day (but not Death Mountain, which averts Convection Schmonvection and just sets you on fire without the proper precautions).