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There are two in-game concepts called Poise. The player has the stat Poise, which is obtained from Armor, the Lothric Knight Long Spear, Yhorm's Greatshield and the Wolf Ring. There is also the hidden value "poise health" that determines when your "hyperarmor frames" are interrupted, and the visible stat Poise acts as a defense stat for this poise health, reducing how much poise damage is inflicted by enemy attacks.

The stagger resistance given by the skills Unfaltering PrayerPerseverance, Stone Flesh, and the pyromancy Iron Flesh are unrelated to poise, and simply allow you to take a certain number of hits without staggering. The Great Hammer version of Perseverance, however, does activate the player's poise.

 

 The ability to withstand attacks without breaking form 

How Poise Works

In a nutshell, you are only able to resist stagger during "hyperarmor" frames, and your Poise stat determines how many attacks you can take before you can be staggered out of hyperarmor frames. Because hyperarmor frames are not fully uninterruptible and use Poise to determine whether or not you can be interrupted, it would be more accurate to call them "active poise". In the game's code, the supposedly deactivated value for poise is in fact activated during animations with active poise.

All characters using the player model, including the player character, most NPCs, and non-player invaders, have a hidden poise health of 100. All attacks that hit the character will reduce this value, and when the value reaches 0 the character will be staggered regardless of whether or not they are in the middle of an attack with poise frames. The stat Poise will reduce how much poise damage a weapon inflicts to this poise health, by a percentage equal to the amount of Poise. Your Poise stat is always passively reducing incoming poise damage, whether or not you are using an attack with active poise. However, you are only able to resist stagger during active poise, and at any other time you can be staggered regardless of how much poise health you have left.

Furthermore, all attacks and actions with active poise will give a multiplier to your current poise health (usually negative), allowing you to take more or fewer hits before being staggered. The modifiers for normal R1 and R2 attacks on weapons with active poise were greatly reduced in the 1.08 patch, to the point where characters need very high poise to resist stagger from one or two attacks now. However, as of the 1.08 patch, attacks with active poise will now automatically refresh your poise health back to 80% of full after modifiers. For example, if you are using a Greataxe weapon (maximum poise health for R1 is 27) and you have 0.1 poise health before the attack, then as soon as your attack starts your poise will instantly reset to 21.6.  What this means is you can now resist stagger from one or two attacks every time you attack, which allows tanky, high poise builds to play much more aggressively. Weapon arts with active poise have much higher modifiers than normal attacks do, being anywhere from 0.30 to 2.00 vs 0.10 to 0.27, and weapon arts will refresh your poise health back to 100% of full instead of 80%. Attacks that are blocked by a shield do not reduce your poise health at all.

Your poise health does not regenerate, but will immediately refresh back to 100% every 30 seconds or when it's reduced to 0, whichever comes first. In addition, the 1.08 patch made it so that your poise health resets to 80% of full whenever you use a normal attack with active poise and to 100% of its full value whenever you use a weapon art with active poise.

To use poise, you need to know these things: how much poise damage your opponent's attacks deal, what the poise health of your attacks is, and how much Poise from armor you need to reduce your opponent's poise damage far enough to not drop your poise health to zero. In addition, since your poise health resets back to 80% with every normal attack, it would also be helpful to have enough poise so that 20.01% of your poise health is left over, as this will allow you to resist stagger through your opponent's attack every time you attack. For weapons that only have active poise during their weapon arts, this is less important since weapon arts reset poise health back to 100% instead of 80%.

Active poise is found on certain weapon attacks including, but not limited to, Ultra Greatsword, Greathammer, and Greataxe R1s, Greatsword two-handed R1s, fully charged R2 attacks, most Weapon Skills, and the medium and heavy rolls. The 1.08 patch also gave active poise to two-handed Hammer attacks. Testing is still ongoing to determine which attacks have poise frames and what their poise multipliers are.

Sources:

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/4vnan9/how_poise_works/

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/58ru20/how_poise_works_in_108/

https://www.reddit.com/r/darksouls3/comments/58ppik/hard_data_about_poise/

 

Stat Poise Information

Each piece of armor has a Poise rating, and your total Poise is the sum of each of your armor pieces. Naked characters have 0 Poise. In general, wearing heavier or more protective armor increases Poise.

As of patch 1.07. the Poise formula seems to reduce the effects of poise for armor and rings added once the player has any poise. Every piece added that increases poise will be subjected to the following formula:

    

 

So if adding the Wolf Ring (12.5 poise) on a character with 10 poise:

Weapons & Poise Damage

Information via Gamefaqs (Some values were changed in the 1.08 patch and may no longer be accurate. They will be updated as soon as the new values are found.)

 Trivia

For a long time, it was believed that the poise stat either didn't work or was intentionally disabled on release, due to a player finding a value in the game's code that determined whether or not poise was active and seeing that the value was 'off' by default. It was later discovered by other people that this value was only turned on during what was thought to be hyperarmor frames at the time, and that poise damage is constantly being calculated at all times but you are only able to resist stagger during attacks or actions with hyperarmor frames.

Boulder Heave is unique among spells in that it also inflicts poise damage. If an opponent is struck by the debris, it will deal a large amount of poise damage. However, spells and skills that cause knockdown do not take poise into account.

Enemies that do not use the player model, such as Darkwraiths, Silver Knights, and Black Knights, do not follow the same rules for poise that the player character and NPCs do.




    • 11 Feb 2017 07:04  

      For the spammers, I use a parry shield. Just spam parry and as soon as your poise heals, you should be able to get them and make em pay for being a a hole

      • 14 Jan 2017 00:11  

        It's funny how the Darkwraith's (Black Skeleton Men) that are centered around getting the red eye orb actually have normal poise, or maybe dark weapons just don't stagger darkwraith's...But I'm gonna assume the latter since I've tested other small weapons, with only greatswords and the like staggering them, really funny though.

        • 05 Jan 2017 08:48  

          @Below me: Thats actually the best explanation ive read for a while.
          Sadly though, while it makes sense storywise, its gameplay effect is horrible. I was one of the first hundret players of Demons Souls and i loved it, continued to play all the Dark Souls parts obviously. What made the series great, starting with Demons Souls, was that you could actually use any weapon and armor combination you wanted and make it strong and a viable build. Hell, there are even examples of people wearing 2 shields that are incredibly successful. Which meant, you could build any class you could come up with in these games. Whether it is a heavy tank (heavy shields, armor, stats are endurance, resistances and health but obviously not much damage), or fast builds with light armor, a mix of both, a templar, a black templar, a witch hunter, a monk, a mageknight, it didnt matter. All of that was very viable.
          With Dark Souls 3 however, i feel that so many cool and interesting builds were taken away because they simply arent viable anymore.
          This results in a mix of the same builds over and over in the game used by all the players. Why? Because it might be nice to use something because it looks cool (in theory) but as soon as you realize that you simply cant win with it or barely so, you will search for an effective alternative to focus on.
          And what did we get? Estoc spams and dagger spams. Obviously in a game where even the weakest weapon can stagger and interupt your attack and simply cause that you cant do anything, the fastest weapons will be choosed.
          I dont say that you cant use other weapons and that all are irrelevant, just saying that they are not as effective as those breaking poise immediately.
          And then theres the final result, when armor doesnt give you anything noticeable, when slow weapons leave you open for attacks and getting staggered all the time while you wear heavy armor, then you simply wont use them anymore and vertain builds become "bad".
          Which means that Tanks, like in DS1 and 2, wearing heavy armor arent viable anymore. Means that medium and light armor is the most you will see, means that many cool builds become irrelevant and unused. Till now i still have to see a heavy tank, a templar or a black templar. All three rely on high poise due to heavy armor, but since you get staggered a dozen times in 2 seconds when getting hit by a dagger, why would anyone play them if not to cosplay it?
          And thats why sadly DS3 is the worst of the series. Not by what it offers itself.
          It has some of the coolest bosses, locations, weapons and weapon arts, NPCs and armors and a great story again. Its multiplayer is awesome and all the stuff you can use to in PVE and PVP, the covenants and all that. But the poise and the weapon stances of DS2 taken out, hurt the freedom and sandboxing in this game. And that was the biggest strength of the whole series, the freedom to build a character you want, roleplaying it. With DS3 that freedom is limited to a small amount of choices you have. And that makes it a bad part of the series, sadly.
          I understand the reason why, i just think it was a bad solution and it has a bad effect on the gameplay and the experience.

          • 04 Jan 2017 07:15  

            I think I understand what the creator of the series was going for... I am sad to admit but there is a possibly valid reason why poise doesn't work in dark souls 3... You people aren't going to like this, but there is a reason..... You are ash.. Do you know what ash is? A fine gray fluffy powder made up of carbon residue left behind by burning... You are not an undead corpse like you were in previous games.. You have no skeleton or bones in your character to give you fortitude, you are a creature made of ash in dark souls 3.. Ash is a substance that cannot be burnt completely up since you are already have been burnt by the First Flame.. Ash is spent left over residue which has no fortitude.. I am surprised that your character isn't blown away by wind... If you are a "ashen" undead then it means that you literally are more than likely held together by the curse itself... This means that a being made of ash and soot held together by the deep essence which would be "blood" and the ash which makes up your "flesh", would only mean that you are going to flinch even if some undead bad guy so much as sneezes in your general direction even if you are in full Havel armor... The undead bad guys you are fighting are "normal" undead with full poise but you are ashen undead... You can't rot at least normally like other undead unless you fill yourself with the curse, but you can't have normal poise because you have no frame, or muscle to hole you in place, because you are ash, the equivalent of dust held together by a curse and a deep essence which resembles blood... That would be the closest scientific explanation, or in other words, as lay man would say, From soft heard through the grapevine that you like getting your own rear end handed to you on a silver platter along with your head and they realizing they were ending the series decided to troll you one last time by putting you the most unfair of positions by making your body out of ash and soot, so you can get flinched to death for a few chuckles.. But hey look on the bright side when you get the First Flame this time you don't have to worry about it burning you to a crisp like in dark souls 1, since ash can't ever be burnt since it is already been burnt, so you can keep the First Flame forever...

            • 03 Jan 2017 22:08  

              I'm wearing full Havel armor and you're telling me that a whip can stagger me!? To me the poise system is broken. Went to the battle area in "pontiff sulyvahn" and got stun locked by a rapier, dagger, whip. You name it and I've got staggered by it in mid-attack

              • 30 Dec 2016 17:46  

                with some weapons (e.g the dagger or something light) you wont stagger someone with a heavy weapon like smoughs great hammer if they attack at the same time as you YOU again will be staggered prior to hitting the person aswell.

                • 25 Nov 2016 21:13  

                  Here would be a nice patch...


                  Regulation 9.99 (Cause I'm assuming From wont listen. Ever)
                  - Decreased the speed of the curved sword two-handed normal attacks and running attacks, and katana running attacks.
                  - Kicks are considerably faster and will break the guard of all shields except Greatshields, which will require the horse hoof ring to break through.
                  - Slowed down the Estus Flask animation
                  - Increased the speed and attack power of all magic except Pyromancy (It's quite fast and strong enough)
                  - Player dark spirits now get full estus and ember end health (If embered)
                  - Increased the speed of Ultra Greatswords and Great Hammers.
                  - Reduced parry frames for all parrying tools, especially caestus.
                  - Greatly increased the effects of Poison.
                  - Added the "This ones me" Gesture

                  • 15 Nov 2016 10:10  

                    I'm already seeing havels and hollowslayer/profaned/any GS appear as the new thing, tanking hits to take two thirds of your opponents health bar w/stacked cloranthy ring and crest shield (usually green blossom too) and recovering enough stamina to do it all again very quickly. Yet I can still get stunlocked to death by three rats. Sigh, back to the drawing board.

                    • 07 Nov 2016 21:43  

                      Why can't just PvP and PvE use different poise systems?
                      I don't get why the game is ONLY balanced around PvP when it's mainly a PvE game...
                      Seriously, why not both? They took the time to come up with this ridiculous new formula... why not keep the old when considering Npc's and monsters?

                      • 31 Oct 2016 18:42  

                        poise is for casuls anyway

                        bringing back old poise would be a nerf to strg weapons making the hiperarmor and their attacks useless and making trades useless against a full havels gothard twinblades spamer

                        what ds need is to nerf the dex weapons not bringing ds1 poise back

                        • 30 Oct 2016 10:10  

                          New poise now means bigger weapons are harder to interrupt. Otherwise you still get staggered no matter what armor you wear.

                          Oh, but the monsters get ds1 poise as well as the new poise. So silver/black/cathedral/lothric knights? Near impossible to stagger. Barely clothed hollows with big sticks in crucifixion woods? Can't be staggered while they attack.

                          Good job *****ing up pve from. Why not make it so you can't summon friendlies next?

                          • 30 Oct 2016 06:53  

                            With the new update in order to hyper armor through any attack, (excluding launches or fully charged heavy attacks) you need 37.51 poise or higher. 80% of that is just over 30 poise which is the maximum poise break of any weapon in the game.

                            • 26 Oct 2016 19:25  

                              I *****ing hate the fact that meyazaki "whoever his face is" has a huge hard on for Lightweight curved sword katanas and what not. I really enjoyed DS 1 and 2 where armor actually meant something. With Poise not working everyone is literally forced to use light super quick weapons and people that might have wanted to play a tankier play style with Ultra Greeht swords, axes and maces will get out performed in almost every PVP battle against katana, curved sword and rapier users cause they get interrupted with every damn attack. What the ***** From.

                              Blood Borne was alright but i got bored of the gameplay real quick because essentially the playstyles were limited to spamming dodges and going in to smack a baddie and then pull out real quick to avoid the 50 attacks that were gonna follow. Its a shame that the last Dark Souls game got so frackin linear. (not as bad as BloodBorne ofcourse) But still. PVP is pretty much ruled by these meta weapons. You dont use em. You will be at a slight to severe disadvantage.

                              I did some testing to so i am not completely talking out of my ass.

                              I played with Axes and sure. I hit hard. But it was a 30/70 chance that i was gonna get steam rolled the second i faced opponents using quicker weapons.

                              Could be Just GIT GUUD. But I am pretty sure some of you guys can relate to this.

                              • 26 Oct 2016 10:49  

                                I can't help but feel I overlooked something, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but.. The way I see it, you'll usually be at 80% (80) poise health with weapons that have hyper armor, due to it instantly resetting back to that value each time you swing. (Which would be quite frequently in PvP) So wouldn't that mean that even without any poise on, you could still take the 30 poise damage from the heaviest weapon classes just as before..? I don't exactly understand how poise is supposedly only for heavier armor sets if naked guys still have plenty of poise health to tank through attacks just as fine.

                                • 24 Oct 2016 07:11  

                                  The new poise is absolute cancer. All you whiners got what you asked for. R1 spam with a mace/greatsword in full havels is now a legit strategy. I can' wait until From nerfs this to the ground. I will be laughing at you crutch warriors when that time comes.

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