Stagger seems to be a bit of what others were hoping was looked at for the coming year, so I decided to write up some thoughts primarily having played non-warriors and a treasure hunter. I know stagger has been discussed a lot over time and there is no particular easy fix. I do have a lot of fun with combat overall, enjoy figuring out timings and tactics or how to be helpful to other characters. But, stagger and stun locks are unfun to me. It moves combat from an active challenge of timing to being unable act in any form beyond deft recovery, and berserkers having the grounding shout for bard abilities. Most of this writing is on stagger.
One is unable to command stack while staggered, so often times when I have used deft recovery and attempt to stand or crawl or exit, another stagger hits before I can. This does lead to logs that that are spam filled with crawl commands for myself as I near 1 second stagger only to go, oh nope staggered again, or my go out command not going through while not realizing it won't stack for when the stagger ends.
Another consideration is that whatever roundtime one is under while being hit by a staggering ability does *not* decrease while the stagger is ticking down. If I am at 2 seconds roundtime when hit with the staggering ability, I have to make it through the stagger count down and my original roundtime when it finishes. Travel time does tick down while under stagger, so I am not sure if RT not decreasing while under stagger is intentional or a bug.
Playing a non-warrior there isn’t really much defense against stagger abilities passively, as the majority of defense is based on 100% melee or 85% of ranged rolls in regard to shield bash, and tackle. Staggering blow lasts up to 13 seconds iirc, is another where rolls/damage will matter as far as melee as defense, and it has a cool down of 7 seconds often means I am hoping for lucky rolls with less stagger to get away. This leads to times where one is tackled and knocked over, then the negative rerolls means stagger lock for days depending on what enemy or enemies are there. Shield bash and tackle can’t be fended off, or dodged. Sweep does apply against the usual melee/ranged amounts and dodge, with melee being better in my opinion as it isn’t impacted by encumbrance as dodge would be. Shield bash can target those already on the ground, while tackle and sweep can’t.
In the case of myself playing a treasure hunter, keeping melee/ranged under 400 is the requirement to keep the dodge rolls of coward's contingency, which give 10 seconds of their stealth- as-dodge when knocked from hiding. With glyphs this can mean dodge rolls upwards of 700-1000. This is great until it runs into moments where an enemy leads off with a tackle or shield bash and knocks one to the ground then curb stomps with -9 rerolls. An unlucky roll against staggering blow is also rather unfortunate if the dodge roll is crap and the stagger is super high in time. (This will be leading into an expanded treasure hunter feedback post later this week if I am not lazy.) I would say the enemies that are high enough in ability that to spot my character with 700 stealth rolls all tend to lead off with a staggering ability of some kind. If spotted by a group of enemies it was luck of the draw if deft recovery worked, and if I could type fast enough to take another action to escape if it did.
I understand if the abilities are not intended to be dodged, but it leaves dodge as a lackluster option. Dodge also really gets tanked by encumbrance amounts, along with the graceful dodge and cunning dodge getting nixed by riln and lockboxes. (Penalty to the rolls was drifted as an idea one time instead of not working and I liked that.)
For scholars, I think this could leave them in dissatisfying position of not having any skill caps of melee or ranged that can go above 400, not as many stealth caps as adventurers to use for combat, and no particular defenses against certain staggering abilities because of the cap of 400 for both melee and dodge. I understand the non-warrior guilds aren’t supposed to be going hard into combat, but it a lot of the content, and can be fun for everyone. Having options of more things to use in combat, or support of others in combat beyond stagger abilities would be my ideal thought for the non-warrior guilds, while also some balancing to stagger to not stun-lock forever. Truestrike is the only offensive combat ability generally available to all, which is mostly useful if one has time and patience to build it up, otherwise most staggering abilities tank balance to try to use it in the first place.
Last tangent thought: Word of horror and rooted in place seem pretty great for a purely bard character, but I do find the warrior hunting ground combinations using it unbalanced. Totally get the warrior bard builds using it are scary but being helpless for 30 seconds or however long it lasts, especially if knocked to the ground with negative rerolls unable to stand sucks. Mesmerize at least breaks. Certain Icewind creatures do also suck when they apply rooted in place, but human mobs are a lot more deadly in my opinion with how often they use abilities that can knock a character to the ground.
1: Staggering blow to have the text staggering blow in the name. It can be confusing for players to know why in the world they were staggered by an attack.
2: Increase cooldowns for staggering abilities/decrease how long one can be staggered.
3: Have a stagger immunity kick so for a period of time overall all stagger time is reduced when applied so instead of being staggered max length again and again. Or alternative take hits to max rolls as a debuff, which leads into:
4: Stagger as debuff: Decrease offensive or defensive max rolls, say you roll 700, now roll 500-600 etc instead. Standing would still require roundtime to get up from, with greater penalties to ranged and defensive rolls on the ground. (One can still hurl weapons while on the ground, not sure if bug or intended but I love and hate doing it while locking myself into rt)
5: Dodge to work against other abilities. Someone can dodge a leg sweep but not a tackle or shield attack.
6: Command stacking functioning while staggered would be great.
7: An ability suggestion for deft recovery to give defense against stagger for like, enough time to type a command and get the heck away.
8: Less crazy negative rerolls where they also tick down with the stagger time, one negative reroll less per second instead of them remaining at -7x or -9x. Every second it drops from -7 to -6 or so on.
9: General abilities to assist other characters stuck in stagger, and the ability for non-warriors to have some form of staggering ability or help group members with balance.
10: The lands are dangerous, and I think a melee/ranged/dodge/shield cap of 500 for scholars would be neat if they don't get any other abilities for combat in particular.
An example of some stagger for days that I chucked into a pastebin, which has an example of crawl spam and being at 2 roundtime while under stagger https://pastebin.com/LTcM5EEZ