Eep, sorry... got a bit distracted with a bunch of other things going on and I haven't checked this thread in a while!
For the staff, have you thought about building on top of a piece of PVC pipe or a wooden dowel from a home improvement store? That'll give you the base structure, then you can papier mache or glue whatever you want onto it to give it a rougher look if needed.
I'm planning on making a staff for next year's Dragon*Con, and I'm probably going to go with a PVC pipe as my base. I'll need to make mine in pieces that can screw together, because I have to take it apart to fit into luggage for my flight. :P (I would post progress for the costume here once I get started, but it's from the Dragon Age comics instead of DA2, so not sure if it would go in this thread or not).
Cascade: Hopefully you can find one of your SD cards soon! I'd love to see the finished daggers.