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Stacking Effects FAQ

Stacking Effects: How to connect the DOTs

What are these "stacks" I keep hearing about?

In most games, and for many effects in PFO, buffs and debuffs have a fixed effect and a fixed duration: A DOT that ticks for 30/sec for 10 seconds, or an expose that reduces your armor by 10% for 3 rounds, for example. Hitting the same target with one of these twice in a row typically won't do anything except resetting the duration back to its maximum.

But PFO also has stacking effects, which allow you to build up the effect through multiple applications to both prolong its duration and increase its effectiveness. So you could have multiple players all stacking the same Exhausted effect on their target, which would take away more and more of his stamina as well as lasting longer with each application.

OK, so what are these stacking effects specifically?

There are 9 stacking debuffs, in 3 broad groups.


There are 3 Damage Over Time effects. They all do damage as a percentage of the targets MAX hitpoints, and also debuff one of the three defenses. The fact that these are percentage based is significant: as your target's hitpoint pool grows, DOTs become more and more valuable. (Assuming that you're able to land them successfully!)

Afflicted: Damage over time for (stack/10)% per round, and Reflex defense debuff for (stack).
Bleeding: Damage over time for (stack/10)% per round, and Fortitude defense debuff for (stack).
Burning: Damage over time for (stack/10)% per round, and Will defense debuff for (stack).

Effect at 100: Damage = 10% of target's max hit points this round, and -100 to relevant defense.

Attack debuffs

These 3 debuffs all reduce Base Attack, plus other effects. Drained and Frightened have identical effects and magnitude. Reducing someone's attack rating does not mean they will "miss" in the sense of not connecting at all, but they will do much less damage, will not be able to land critical hits, and the non-damage effects of their attacks will be significantly weakened or altogether negated.

Oblivious: Debuffs Base Attack and Perception for (stack)
Effect at 100: -100 BA, -100 PER

Drained: Debuffs Base Attack and Base Defense for (stack/2)
Frightened: Debuffs Base Attack and Base Defense for (stack/2)
Effect at 100: -50 BA, -50 BD

Other effects

The last 3 effects don't fit as neatly into a box.

Slowed: Reduces movement speed by (stack/2)%. Debuffs Reflex defense by (stack)
Effect at 100: -50% movement speed; -100 Reflex

Exhausted: Reduces max stamina and stamina regen rate by (stack/2)
Effect at 100: -50 Stamina; -50% stamina regen

Razed: Reduces physical resistance by (stack/4)
Effect at 100: -25 PR

Do all of these stacking effects, um, stack?

Yeah, so that's a language issue. In most games, "stacking" means that 2 different effects can both take full effect on the target, for example a poison DOT and a fire DOT. That'll just get confusing here, so let's talk about "collisions" rather than "stacking" when asking whether different effects can both function.

There is a mechanism for 2 effects to collide: they both have to be affecting the same characteristic, and they both have to be on the same channel. Channel is an arbitrary setting for each effect that doesn't do anything except determine collision potential. So, if we have 2 effects on the same channel that do different things, there's no collision. For example, Afflicted and Exhausted are both on the "Weakness" channel, but they do different things so there's no collision. And, if you have two effects that both affect the same attribute but are on different channels, you still have no collision. Slowed and Afflicted both debuff Reflex, but Slowed is on the "Torment" channel so there's no collision; you get the combined effect of both reflex debuffs.

There's only one combination among these 9 stacking effects where you actually get a collision on the same channel AND the same effect: Oblivious and Drained. They're both on the "Weakness" channel and they both debuff Base Attack, so only the larger one of those two attack debuffs is going to be in effect at a time. (The Perception debuff from Oblivious and the Base Defense debuff from Drained don't collide with anything, so those portions of the effects both work fine.) Other than that one combination, all other stacking effects "stack" with each other.

When I explained this for PFU, there was apparently some confusion regarding whether it mattered that attacks target the same or different defenses. For purposes of determining effect collision, it doesn't make any difference at all whether the attacks all go against Reflex or are split among all three of Reflex, Will, and Fortitude: collisions are determined based on the attributes they debuff, not the defense that the attack targets.

One last note on this: The 3 DOTs are all on different channels. If you were somehow able to land Afflicted 100, Bleeding 100, and Burning 100 on the same target at the same time, he'd take 30% of his max health pool in damage in the first round.

What about recovery? How do I get rid of stacks on me?

Everyone has a base recovery of 10 stacks per round for each stacked effect on them. So if you have Afflicted 10, Bleeding 10, and Burning 10 all on you at once, all three of those DOTs are going to be cleared away within 6 seconds. If you have Afflicted 30, it's going to drop to 20, then 10, then clear. This is a big reason why it's better to build up a strong single stack rather than have lots of little ones.

In addition to base recovery, all characters have access to training the Recovery Bonus feat. This adds 1 point to your recovery rate for every rank trained, so if you have Recovery Bonus 5, your standard recovery rate for all stacked debuffs is 15 per round.

And then, every armor feat line provides a recovery bonus to 3 chosen debuffs, and that bonus is equal to the number of matched keywords between your equipped armor and your slotted armor feat. So if you're a mid T2 player with 6 keywords matched, that'll give you +6 to your recovery for whichever 3 debuffs that armor feat benefits.

Fighter armors all provide recovery bonuses vs Afflicted, Bleeding, and Exhausted. Rogue armors all provide recovery bonuses for Afflicted, Bleeding, and Slowed. So, if you're going up against vets with physical roles, you may want to take their improved recovery versus physical DOTs into account when making your attack choices. Burning might be a better choice, if that option is available to you.

Wizard armors all have recovery bonuses for Burning, Exhausted, and Slowed. So, the converse of the physical roles; afflicted and bleeding will both work just fine here.

Clerics and the crafter roles don't have any particular pattern to their recovery bonuses. It's probably worth noticing that Crusader is the only heavy armor feat with a recovery bonus versus Slowed, but other than that it's just going to be a memorization exercise for each individual armor line if you want to go to that trouble.

So, that's how recovery is calculated: Base of 10, an additional generic bonus based on your Recovery Bonus feat rank, and then bonuses for recovering from specific effects based the number of keywords match on your slotted armor feat. Aside from passive recovery over time based on that math, the only way to actively clear stacks of debuffs is the Shrug Off effect. This design is still in flux, so just be aware that it exists and is relevant, until we get some clarity on the final design.

Recovery is important. A DOT stack of 100 will do a total of 55% of your total health over 10 rounds, at the base recovery rate of 10. If you get your recovery vs that DOT up to 25, that same DOT is only doing a total of 25% of your health pool, and it's completely cleared after 4 rounds. None of the role promotion feats require you to train recovery bonus, but it should not be overlooked.

How do I use stacks effectively? Which ones are the best?

Because stacking an effect increases both its effect and its duration, higher stacks are much more powerful than little ones. The best stacks to apply are the ones you can stack up the highest- so coordinate with the people you're adventuring with and choose effects that lots of you can help pile up. A single stack of anything at 50 is much, much more useful than 5 different stacks of 10.

With that said, do remember the cap of 100 on stack size: you don't want multiple copies of Blinding Dust (oblivious 100) going off on the same target at once.

What about positive stacks?

There are 2 stacking buffs that have the same basic mechanics as the stacking debuffs: Freedom, and Mind Blank. These buffs are granted by, and improve your defense against, control effects. So whenever someone roots, slows, stuns, or interrupts you, he also gives you stacks of freedom or mind blank, which will help you resist the next attempt to do the same thing. So what we should expect to see is the the first stun attempt on a target will land reliably; the second stun less so, the the third even less, and so on. If your whole group is using stun effects on the same target, he's very rapidly going to build up enough Freedom that any further stuns are completely useless.

There are tokens and other effects which can grant Freedom or Mind Blank stacks. It's important to note that these are not Shrug Off effects- they won't do anything to help clear a root which has already taken effect. All they'll do is help prevent the next controls from landing for as long, or at all. If you're worried that someone is about to use a control on you, you'd need to use the Token of Freedom preemptively, rather than waiting for the control to land and then trying to shake it off.

Buff stacks decay more slowly than debuffs: 5 per round, or 4 per round if you have slotted the Bravery defensive feat. So once you've built up a lot of Freedom, your stun immunity will be pretty high for a while, but it will eventually decay to the point that someone can land another stun (and push your Freedom back up).

Where else can I learn about stacking?

This video has some great stacking demonstrations, and examples of a variety of different options.
^This is Dak (Charlie George). RIP <Guurzak>
Wow - thanks very much for this Guurzak! This part of the game has been hard for me to understand - this document really fills a niche. I appreciate the time you put into this - it's in my permanent reference list!

Wow, super useful, thanks a lot. I think I completely understand the whole thing now. Copy and paste into my "101" Doc. smile
Regalo Harnoncourt, Leader of the River Kingdoms Trading Company, High Council of Callambea.
This is the character that I am playing almost 100% of the time. (Tyncale is my Sage/Mage)
Guurzak, some questions:

1- There has been some new role features and attacks within the last two game updates; do any of them change any of the math in your OP? (Such as new ways to apply effects or remove them?)

2- You explain what recovery is and how its calculated, is there a way to see these recovery numbers in game?

3- Do you know of any thread that covers the subject of combing attacks, role features and feats for solo play, PVE & PVP play, and as a party to maximize your Stacking Effects? If none, is it appropriate to discuss it here?
First Elder Durin Steelforge; Leader of Forgeholm; Founder of Steelforge Engineering Company

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