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Stances are always toggled—that is, you can elect to use or not use a particular stance. That is, a stance is "always on" or "always off" as you perform an action (running, attacking, resting, activating levers, etc.).
Stances differ from Action Boosts. Unlike the limited uses per rest and short period to use a boost ability, stances are indefinite in duration.
Stances break down into four categories:
- General Stances - Many of these are free feats granted to all characters, while some can be chosen
- Metamagic Stances - Available or chosen by spell casting characters
- Monk-related Stances - Special stances exclusive to the Monk class
- Class and Enhancement Stances - Stances provided through selection of Prestige Enhancements or class feats
Stances from different categories might be active simultaneously. However, only one stance (or type of stance of a subgroup) within a category may be active at one time, with the exception of Metamagic Stances.
Most stances must be moved from your Character information window (from either Feats or Enhancements pane) to your toolbar. Upgraded versions do not automatically replace older stances on your toolbar.
The general stances are common to all player characters. Many general stances are often free feats granted to all characters. Improved versions can be chosen later as the player attains higher character levels.
With the exceptions of the archer-related stance subgroup and the Attack stance, you can only have one general stance active at one time. Certain actions may deactivate these stances automatically.
- Attack - With Update 11 and its graphic change of the personality HP/spellpoint bar, the Attack feat is now a toggle for the Auto-Attack stance. You can have Attack toggled in conjunction with other stances. To use, place the Attack feat in your toolbar.
- Combat Expertise - While using Combat Expertise mode, you suffer -5 to your attack rolls but gain +10% feat Armor Class. Spell point costs double while this mode is active.
- Defensive Fighting - This feat reduces the character's attack rolls by 5% but adds 5% to his or her Armor Class. This standard defensive stance is granted automatically to all characters once they meet the prerequisite. Casting a spell ends this mode.
- Power Attack - This feat exchanges part of your attack bonus for extra melee damage. It reduces your hit bonus by 5, or your Base Attack Bonus, whichever is lower. Successful attack damage is increased by the same amount. Two-handed weapons get twice that damage bonus. (Unarmed strikes count as one-handed.) Typically, this means one-handed weapons get +5 and two-handed get +10 to damage.
- Precision - Grants +4 on to-hit rolls and bypasses 25% fortification. (description doesn't show 25% fortification reduction, but it is there)
- Resilience - While using Resilience mode, you gain a +4 bonus to all saves. Spells have three times their normal cooldown when this mode is active.
- Sneak - The character becomes invisible to all monsters that fail a Spot and Listen skill check versus your Hide and Move Silently skills. This stance can operate with other defensive or offensive stances, but Sneak deactivates once you are detected and successfully attacked. Rangers at level 17 get Hide in Plain Sight, which increases their stealth significantly.
Characters using bows and other ranged weaponry can add or be granted these stances:
- Precise Shot - Targeted ranged attacks pass through friend and foe alike to strike your target (no damage will be done other than to your target).
- Improved Precise Shot - Ranged attacks pass through and potentially damage all foes in the projectile's path until they reach your intended target.
Spell casters can choose stances that augment their spell's power, duration, potency, and the like.
Update 11 has adjusted the ability for players to customize spells to use a particular stance.
- Empower Healing Spell - While this metamagic feat is active, healing spells are 50% more effective, but they consume 10 additional spell points.
- Empower Spell - Increases any variable numeric values of a spell by 50% at a cost of 15 additional spell points. Saving throws and spells without random values are not affected. Despite its in-game description, Empower Spell works perfectly with non-damaging spells.
- Enlarge Spell - Spells affected by distance can be cast 100% further (doubling distance). Each spell cast while Enlarge is active costs 10 more spell points.
- Eschew Materials - Your spells cost 2 more spell points but removes need for normal material components except for expensive material components, such as for Stoneskin and Trap the Soul, which are still required.
- Extend Spell - Grants a caster the ability to extend a spell's duration. For 10 more spell points, a spell's duration will be increased by 100%. Not all spells can be extended in this mode.
- Heighten Spell - This feat makes spells harder for monsters to resist by raising the effective level of the spell to the highest spell level your character can cast, but causes the spell to consume 5 more spell points per level raised. Heighten Spell has no effect on spells without a saving throw.
- Maximize Spell - Spells cast have all numerical values increased by 100% for 25 additional spell points than normal. Saving throws and non-random values are not affected.
- Quicken Spell - Spells will be cast faster and cannot be interrupted by a concentration check, at a cost of 10 additional spell points per casting.
The Monk enjoys fighting stances unique to his class. These stances provide elemental damage, augment speed or ability statistics, or adjust how ki, the mystical power source of a Monk, is gained or consumed.
Monk fighting stances, below, can be active in tandem with many general stances. However, only one Monk fighting stance can be active at a time. The Lesser version of each stance (such as Lesser Mountain Stance) are granted to all Monks at level 1. Upgraded versions of each stance are granted automatically to a Monk of appropriate level, or they can be chosen as Feats.
All Monk fighting stances also grant attack feats known as finishing moves. A stance need not be active to use an attack from a different stance source. For instance, a Monk can use a Storm Strike while in Mountain Stance.
- Mountain Stance - Focuses on endurance and defense, granting increased Constitution, physical damage resistance, bonuses to Armor Class, and increases to melee threat at the cost of reducing your Dexterity and movement speed.
- Wind Stance - Focuses on movement, granting increased Dexterity, melee and thrown attack speed and bonuses to double strike chance at the cost of reducing your Constitution while active.
- Sun Stance - Focuses on an aggressive offense, granting increased Strength at the cost of decreased Wisdom. While in Sun Stance, you generate ki when you successfully strike opponents, and additional ki when you critically hit opponents.
- Ocean Stance - Focuses on redirection and the supernatural, granting increased Wisdom and Saves at the cost of decreased Strength. While in Ocean Stance, you get Dodge bonuses. In Greater and Ultimate Ocean Stance, you regenerate +1 ki (which stacks with Enhanced Ki and Monk Serenity capstone).
One Monk stance defines the speed of Monks as they fall, reducing the need for Feather fall items over time:
- Slow Fall and its final upgrade, Perfect Slow Fall—A monk's focus allows him to reduce gravity's effects. This feat can be turned off should he desire normal gravity. Its ability to reduce falling damage increases every two levels. In practice, even when this feat is turned off, a monk falls more slowly than he would normally. In Perfect Slow Fall (Level 20), a Monk never takes any damage from falls of any height.
An Epic level Monk with 12 levels in that class and WIS 23 can receive:
Class and Enhancement Stances
Some Prestige Enhancements can activate special abilities by expending a limited special ability, such as Armor Boost (for instance, on the Fighter Stalwart Defender enhancements). Despite the naming of some of these abilities, however, they aren't true stances as these are forms of Action Boosts, which have a time limit, while normal stances do not expire.
- Rogue Subtle Backstabbing - Toggle for less hate from melee attacks.
- Wizard Pale Master - The special Shroud forms have cooldowns, but place the character in a different defensive state where they are protected and even healed by negative energy. These stances also change the character to different racial forms for purposes of spell treatments.