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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.




    • Anonymous

      08 Nov 2017 18:03  

      So a Ringed Knight SS WA can poise through two swings of an UGS? This is the issue with the "poise" in this game. So inconsistent and nonsensical.

      • Anonymous

        07 Nov 2017 22:08  

        Wish poise in DS3 actually did what it's predecessors had do.
        The series is built around passive/reactive play styles giving us a mechanic that exclusively favors aggressive tactics is pretty ridiculous.

        • 03 Nov 2017 04:44  

          Poise will piss you off indefinitely until you stop being stubborn and learn how it works, and start using it to your advantage.

          If you're using and weapon with hyper armor, wear armor that has high poise stats. I can't tell you how many times I've seen naked hollow players blindly swinging around their ugs. Yes, it does high damage because you put all your stats into str/dex, but you should have put some into vigor too so you could wear some armor. Without armor, you have no poise, thus ugs's hyper armor frames do nothing. You're just trying to stunlock with a high ar weapon... use a katana you dumbasses!

          As an example, my vigor is at 15, with havels and ring of favor I can equip dragonslayer armor and hs greatsword, added with wolf's ring I OUT POISE UGS R1s. I can get a 2-3 hit combo before my opponent starts rolling away, then he panics because outpoising is his whole strategy, and now he has no clue what to do. His added range doesn't matter, all I have to do is get just close enough and start my attack animation at the right time to activate my poise before the ugs hits my character, then I just hack away. Sometimes, I get a stubborn guy who doesn't try to roll away, and thinks he can just attack and out poise me in the middle of my combo... he ends up eating a five hit combo then watching me use the beckon gesture over his dying body (as in, c'mon you can do better).

          Its all because people don't want to learn about poise. They wanna rely on high ar, cheap techniques or gimmicks. Stop being raped by poise and start doing the raping. You wanna git gud? Utilize poise.

          • Anonymous

            16 Oct 2017 12:22  

            Don't try to trade with heavy weapons unless you got a heavy weapon yourself. Try to outspace them instead. I use my dark infused twinaxes (that can do up to 800 damage with L1L1) to heavily punish people with heavy weapons after outspacing their attack, as they are very vulnerable while in the attack animation.

            • Anonymous

              03 Oct 2017 15:15  

              The least they could of done was fix the hit stun on smaller weapons. No reason why a weapon lighter than an axe has a two hit combo. Should only be one.
              DS2 had poise right for the most part. In PvE it worked logically and similarly to DS1 poise. In PvP you were able to poise through lighter weapons 1-3 times and your poise regenerated slowly. Bigger weapons you could never poise through unless in hyper armor. Also if you did Poise through something, your movement was impaired.
              So you can't just get an ez Poise backstab like in DS1.

              • 21 Sep 2017 04:52  

                I should have packed some milk bottles, pacifiers and diapers before heading into this comment section....

                Anyway, the new poise system is much better than DS2. No longer will combat devolve into backstab fishing.
                "Poise doesn't work, this game sucks!" ...Poise does work, and now it only affects weapons that actually need it. Do you want me rolling around in Havel's armor with a dagger, so that even if you roll-caught me, there would be no hit-stun? That would be insane. If you have a heavy weapon, and you are attacking, you have poise. Plain and simple. If you're standing there idle, not attacking, sure a dagger can hit-stun you and get a whopping two hits. The question is, why aren't you attacking? Unlock your camera and use wide sweeps, aim in different directions.

                My main (non-invasion) pvper in DS3 uses a dagger (scummy, I know) as his only weapon. I've had a blast doing that, and you can easily tell the difference between a good and a bad ultra-weapon user. I've instakilled UGS users with parries, and well-timed quicksteps leading into 1200-damage backstabs. I've also had my***** handed to me by Greataxe users who know their weapons, and are masters of timing, spacing, swing-arc, and decision making. It goes both ways.

                More to the point, I've recently made a pure STR character and messed around in the arena with Fume UGS, the Greatsword, and a few other fat weapons... Let me tell you, that was some of the most fun I've had playing DS3. You poise through everything, and kill in three hits almost unconditionally. I fought almost every type of build, and won a good 80% of the matches just by using my head. Want to know the only people I had trouble fighting? You guessed it, I struggled against other Ultra users. Why? Because they had experience with the weapons. They would outspace me, out-trade me, they knew how to roll-catch, and they knew how to throw out clever mix-ups with heavy attacks and weapon-arts. I won all of the other matches by spamming UGS R1's, throwing out "Very Good" carvings and pointing at my recently deceased opponents. However, when it came to fighting people who knew how to go toe-to-toe with a weapon as large as Fume, I didn't stand a chance.

                Poise turns your body into a shield while you simultaneously attack with huge, high-AR weapons. It does nothing for light weapons. If you want we can go back to Dark Souls 2 and I'll just use my high-poise armor to tank through your first swing while strafing, get behind, and lodge my dagger in your lumbar spine.

                Moral of the story? The new system works. Stop crying and git gud.

                • Anonymous

                  13 Sep 2017 01:35  

                  So a guy with like 30 poise can just hyper armor through a two handed UGS R2 with a Great Hammer 2H R1? While I have 37 poise and can't poise through a regular Great Hammer 2H R1? This hyper armor system is *****ing retarded. Mind you I was using the 20.0 goddamn unit UGS.

                  • Anonymous

                    07 Sep 2017 10:54  

                    I hate every aspect of this system, its like bloodborne. I DONT *****ING WANT BLOODBORNE IN DARK SOULS.
                    For Example: I attack one of the Vikings in the Ashes of Ariandal DLC, he has a regular ass Axe not even a great axe, how come he can POISE TROUGH CHARGED R2 ATTACKS FROM A ULTRA GREATSWORD. Just disgusting and in my eyes unfair. So to deal with these Kind of stupid boring enemies you just roll their attacks and backstab them, dont even try doing regular attacks because if you are unlucky random Poise will kick in and they counter you for over 900 dmg in NG with Regular Knight armor.

                    • Anonymous

                      22 Aug 2017 21:59  

                      Basically the faster your weapon swings, the better. It's ridiculous that practically a pocket knife (dagger) is more effective against full plate armoured knights than a curved greatsword, since it consumes less stamina, practically instant hit, and I can just hack away at Lothric Knights with reckless abandon to my hearts content as long as I use the smallest blade possible, stunlocking them, while stuff like hammers, you know, stuff designed to deal with psychotic tincans, bounce off harmlessly due to speed of attacks. GG From. Poise working as intended. You could have just scrapped the entire system and save thousands of lines of codes and processing power.

                      • Anonymous

                        15 Aug 2017 14:21  

                        I got 50 STR FUGS (+5) with charcoal pine resin buff ,yet a naked guy with an ultra type weapon can trade hits with this without stagger while i cant even tank a second hit from him.
                        the new system is so stupid
                        for str builds start attack animation first you will not get staggared yet the dex guy can still take 1 hit and roll away 2 hit for dex guys is mask coz 3rd will kill them...

                        for dex its just hit and run and play passively as much as possible that means just roll roll not to mention the str guy cant even tank 1 hit , str guy cant even pull up his sword and refresh stamina because ultra heavy weapon attacks consume absurd amount of stamina

                        not to meantion that dex weap attacks are so damn fast sometimes they hit you hit them (as str build) they somehow roll away

                        • Anonymous

                          09 Jul 2017 14:21  

                          Basically poise doesn't work like what it should. It may have been deliberately designed different but that doesn't make it right. People should admit From Software screwed up here.

                          Staggering from a punch whilst wearing Havel's armour is ridiculous. Meanwhile, there are enemies with real poise whose attacks cannot be interrupted. The leading result is a game with lots of floaty rolling to avoid uninterruptable attacks and avoid being stun locked by rats.

                          GG From Software. You screwed up. Good thing this was the last game in the series. So much wrong with the fanservice expansion of Dark Souls 1 (and that's pretty much what this game was with the exact same copied and pasted animations), it truly is something that needs a rest before being innovated. Bloodborne innovated the formula. DkS 3 didn't.

                          • Anonymous

                            01 Jul 2017 14:01  

                            Situational poise is irrelevant when most weapons hyper armor frames take too long to start up. A lighter weapon can just interrupt you before your arm swings in an arc, which is the issue with "poise"

                            But weapons like the Mace and Hollowslayer have their hyper armor frames start immediately, which makes them very good. Yeah, I get it, DS1 poise was over the top. But it was far better than the stunlock fest this game is now. The way poise works is completely illogical and lazy. It seems they didn't put much thought into implementing such a mechanic with player vs player in mind either.

                            • 28 Jun 2017 06:03  

                              Basically what this means is that while attacking you have "hyper armor" which means you can't be staggered mid-attack unless the damage to your poise is high enough. The table above shows what weapons do how much poise damage and your visible poise stat determines how much of said poise damage is blocked (it's based on a point-by-point percentage). Just remember that even though the highest poise damage is 30 (Greataxes and greatshields) and your poise heath is 100 until your poise is high enough their attacks will get a multiplier on poise damage that's enough to break your "hyper armor" in 1 hit. Only heavy armor really has enough poise to take 2 or 3 greataxe hits before staggering. That's the long and short of poise.

                              • Anonymous

                                26 May 2017 07:44  

                                -Heavy weapons: Poise, unparryable.
                                -Light weapons: Speed, better stamina management​.
                                -A lot of different categories and mechanics to add variety.

                                Your build won't offer you everything you dream of. So build your character wisly to match your playing style. And get good. :)

                                • Anonymous

                                  16 May 2017 23:22  

                                  I'll admit i read the article twice and still didn't understant sh*t :P
                                  probably it's my fault but just to make sure, considering i'm currently going for a pure strenght PVE only build with Yhorm's Great Machete, would it make sense for me to have a Leo Ring +3 to increase poise or it's pontless?

                                  • Anonymous

                                    15 May 2017 15:11  

                                    How does Stagger work? Are there different types of "stagger"? For instance, sometimes you just get knocked a little bit, but at other times you're knocked completely over: is that just dependant on the weapon type?

                                    • Anonymous

                                      11 May 2017 05:18  

                                      Look at all these dex casuals complaining about massive weapons. If it bleeds, it can die. 500 plus hours talking here. Any weapon can kill any player. Use them right.

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