I'm not keen on big-ass magic staffs being made the 'mage' weapon primarily for what another poster said: they look they should be usable in melee as well, in which case it then becomes "why not use them in melee too?" and then you just got normal mages instead of rapier mages which is what I wanted. However, I also think the 'rods' in Pillars 1 were lacking something, and weren't quite sure what they were meant to be. Rods I always thought were more cane-length implements, the largest of the implements, half-way to being a staff but made of metal and thin, and could actually be used as canes, but in Pillars they seemed to be even smaller than wands and looked like handles someone had broken off something, they were incredibly bland looking. Sceptres were closer to being rods than rods, and they looked like unwieldy bludgeoning pompous things.
I actually like the 'baguette' magic wands in Pillars, they looked awesome and I liked wands being a thing. I would prefer the looks of the wands over the other two, and was annoyed that stat-wise the sceptres were just better.