Follow TV Tropes


Stance System

Go To

The ability to switch between sets of abilities or attack styles. The Stance System is frequently used to make it possible to map a large number of actions to the finite number of buttons on a controller without resorting to increasingly complicated combos. Each action may require as little as a single button press to execute, but the same buttons will perform different actions depending on the stance the character is currently in. The character's current stance may be visually accompanied by a change in Idle Animation.

Normally a stance remains as-is until switched; an occasional variant gives a character access to a new series of moves, but only for a short window of time before going back to their base stance.

See also Dual Mode Unit and Real-Time Weapon Change. Compare Job System and Limited Move Arsenal. If the change in stance is accompanied by a change in physical form then you probably have a Swiss-Army Hero on your hands. If the change consists of swapping out for a different person, see Swap Fighter.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 

  • In Assassin's Creed, Altair can switch between low-profile mode, which has moves like blending with crowds and gently pushing people aside, and high-profile mode, which allows freerunning, throwing, and attacks. In combat, different moves are available depending on whether the player is blocking.
  • In Ghost of Tsushima the player can unlock various sword stances, each meant to directly counter a specific category of enemies (Water Stance works against shielded enemies while Wind Stance is meant for enemies wielding polearms).
  • The Little Big Adventure series - Twinsen can switch between four "moods" that influence his movement, his magic ball throwing, his swordwork, and, in the sequel, his use of the ray gun. Normal is used for interacting with other beings, Sporty gives him faster movement and the ability to jump, Aggressive lets him attack enemies with his fists, and Discreet is used for sneaking.
  • No More Heroes allows you to change between 'High' and 'Low' stances depending on how you hold the Wiimote.
  • Episode 3 of Penny Arcade Adventures has the Cardboard Tube Samurai class. Different stances that the samurai can take will both raise one stat and offer a stance-selective option of moves.
  • In Solatorobo, Red's Mini-Mecha can utilize this system come the second half of the game, coming in four different types (S, R, G, and C), that can alter his moveset to become more agile, more resistant, or gain access to different types of attacks. Said types can be upgraded even further to enhance how much they influence Red's stats on New Game Plus runs.
  • This trope was the entire selling-point of Spider-Man: Web of Shadows. Spidey could switch between the black symbiote suit which infects him throughout the game or the classic red-blue outfit at any time with the press of a button, the use of each deciding his path down the Karma Meter. The black suit favored combat, brutality and black tendrils while the classic suit preferred webbing, combo-slinging and acrobatics.


    Beat'Em Up/Hack and Slash 
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Devil May Cry 2: Trish's melee moveset varies depending on whether she holds the Sparda sword or not. By default, she uses the Sparda in a swordplay fighting style. But when she throws it to an enemy via the Round Trip skill, Trish will employ enhanced punches and kicks instead. A button can be tapped to manually recall the Sparda and have her revert to swordplay, while another input allows her to plant the Sparda on the ground and switch to hand-to-hand combat. Unfortunately, her second stance in this game is mostly just noticeable via the Round Trip, as plenty of her moves and their controls aren't listed nor named in-game.
    • The series was one of the first to use a straightforward stance mechanic in an action game form thanks to Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and its Styles system; Swordmaster allows advanced use of melee weapons, Gunslinger grants new techniques to ranged weaponry, Trickster adds advanced dodging and aerial abilities, and Royal Guard allows you to stop nearly any attack cold. Dante later obtains Quicksilver and Doppelganger as spoils for defeating Geryon and Doppelganger. Dante is restricted to only one Style at a time, which can be swapped at a Mission Start screen or Divinity Statue. In the Nintendo Switch release, there's an option to use a Real-Time Style Switching feature that was implemented in later games past DMC3.
    • Devil May Cry 4:
      • The game decided to push the previous stance system to its natural evolution with the ability to switch styles on the fly as Dante with the push of a direction on the D-pad, allowing for even crazier combos than DMC3. Although Dante is back to his basic four Styles, midway through his segment of the game, he unlocks Dark Slayer, a homage to Vergil's single style of battle in 3; unlike his brother, Dante doesn't focus on Vergil's various teleportation "Trick" techniques, instead using Yamato to emulate a few of his brother's trademark moves.
      • In the Special Edition, Trish retains her Sparda swordplay and hand-to-hand abilities from DMC2, but the latter stance is now officially called "Bare Knuckle" and utilizes her lightning powers. For ease-of-use, her Sparda moveset is tied to the Style button, while her Bare Knuckle moveset is tied to the standard melee button. Few of her Bare Knuckle moves are also dependent on the Sparda being thrown beforehand via the Round Trip skill.
    • In DmC: Devil May Cry, developed by Heavenly Sword creator Ninja Theory, the stance system returns in the form of your standard Rebellion sword, an Angelic weapon (focusing on fast, crowd-hitting attacks) and a Demonic weapon (focusing on slow, heavy-damage attacks). Vergil in the Vergil's Downfall DLC campaign uses this gameplay system too. Though he only has Yamato, Vergil has three different stances just like Dante. His normal stance with Yamato, his Angelic stance which imbues his katana with lightning-fast, crowd-hitting attacks, and his Demonic stance which imbues his katana with slow, but heavy attacks. Vergil's Devil Trigger, Doppelganger, can also be switched to any stance and will mimic any of the player's input.
    • In Devil May Cry 5:
      • Aside from his returning four basic Styles, several of Dante's weapons have multiple stances or modes that can be switched between. The Balrog gauntlets and greaves can switch between a boxing mode and a capoeira-style mode, while the King Cerberus has three transformations depending on the move; the ice-elemental nunchucks from DMC3, a fire-elemental bo-staff and an electrical three-sectioned staff. His Styles can also directly affect some of his other weapons; the properties of his "Swords Formation" skill vary depending on his current style, Swordmaster converts the Cavaliere from two buzzsaws into a motorcycle weapon, Gunslinger now provides separate button inputs for the Ebony & Ivory, and a hidden Gunslinger mechanic of the Double Kalina Ann allows Dante to use just one rocket launcher instead of Dual Wielding them.
      • Nero's "Tomboy" Devil Breaker gives him an entirely different moveset when activated, the drawback is that you lose it if Nero takes damage while it's active.
  • Genji: Days of the Blade (the one with "real-time weapon change") gives the ability to switch between four characters who can themselves switch between two weapons in real-time. The concept isn't the same, but from a gameplay standpoint, it's a stance.
  • This shows up in Heavenly Sword. Each stance is oriented towards some specialty (power, speed and range).
  • In Judgment (a spinoff series of the Yakuza franchise), the protagonist Yagami fights by switching between two styles: Crane, which emphasizes crowd-control via spin-kicks and Tiger, which emphasizes focused hard-hitting attacks.
    • The sequel Lost Judgment adds in Snake, which focuses on counters and grapples as well as the self-explanatory "Boxer" style with DLC while the Kaito Files DLC gives Kaito "Bruiser" and "Tank", which are basically just Kiryu's Brawler and Beast style respectively with some additional moves.
  • Onechanbara's stance system has been a staple of the series, that also doubles as Real-Time Weapon Change. Aya can switch from single to dual-wielding swords, Saki has access to grapple moves with her fists, Reiko pulls out a shotgun or SMG, and Misery's sword becomes a Whip Sword (the latter two ladies are playable in Bikini Zombie Slayers). Kagura and Saaya from Z and Z2 more so count as real-time weapon changing, but the game(s) themselves count them as stances.
  • Pretty abundant in Sengoku Basara, sometimes overlapping Super Mode.
    • Date Masamune has the War Dance/Six Swords stance in which he foregoes blocking and defense for wielding all his katanas at once for a more aggressive fighting style, and in the 3rd game, modifies his normal skills. Either it's activated manually by equipping the skill/his unique item or it's an aftereffect of his BASARA attack.
      • His second-in-command and Battle Butler, Katakura Kojuuro, can pull off a "Berserker Mode" which also forfeits his ability to block and evade to add some Good Old Fisticuffs to the action. This mode also comes with a cool Sword Drag to complete the picture of the wrath of a usually calm and reserved man when he chooses to get REALLY serious.
    • Honda Tadakatsu has the Heavy Mode skill, which turns his style from a Lightning Bruiser into a Mighty Glacier by trading his normal drill-spear into a gigantic Pilebunker.
    • Magoichi can switch guns with certain attacks, going from a pistol to a shotgun or machine gun.
    • Nobunaga can do this in the third game as well, where he can switch from using Sword and Gun to attacking with his Guardian Entity, the latter of which makes him an outright Game-Breaker.
    • The fourth game introduces newcomers Shima Sakon and Goto Matabe. The first is a happy-go-lucky, gambling-loving jock who can switch between kick- and blade-based moves, and the latter is a murder-obsessed madman who can switch between swinging around his Precision-Guided Boomerang or swiping at enemies with his gauntlets after tossing said boomerang.
  • All of the Autobots in Transformers: Devastation can switch between their robot and vehicle modes on the fly (and said vehicle modes can be used for Car Fu). There is also a close combat and ranged combat stance, and each of the five playable characters has varying degrees of ability at both (e.g. Wheeljack is primarily geared for long-range firefights, while Grimlock is primarily up close and personal).
  • In Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami, Kiryu can switch between "Brawler", a balanced style that can Counter-Attack, "Rush", which is fast and evasive but weak, and "Beast", which is powerful and can automatically pick up environmental objects but is slow. In Kiwami, he gets a fourth stance, "Dragon", which is closer to the fighting style he uses in the other games. It starts with almost no moves and severe restrictions and requires Nonstandard Skill Learning to unlock its abilities. In 0, the Legendary style, "Dragon of Dojima", is this with its full moveset unlocked. In the former, Majima also can switch between the balanced "Thug", power-based, Batter Up!-using "Slugger" and fast, capoeira-like "Breaker", as well as "Mad Dog of Shimano" which favours a knife.

  • In BlazBlue, Litchi Faye-Ling usually starts out carrying her staff, but can switch into a different stance by planting the staff on the ground and fights more on chi control and martial arts. Though she can still command her staff with telekinesis.
    • In Chronophantasma, Nu-13 has this system where one form she's her usual self, in another form, she took on Lambda-11's style. Newcomer Kagura Mutsuki also has this of sorts, which would change what kind of normal attacks he has, the only thing that's constant in him would be just his Sonic Boom/Flash Kick-esque charged attacks.
  • Bushido Blade - The stance system was the foundation of the game as, with the exception of projectiles and a few speciality moves, all characters had the same moves with the same weapons in each of the three stances, just different speed and power. The sequel moved from the ability to shift up and down to only being able to shift up in a circular manner. The spiritual sequel, Kengo: Master of Bushido, changed this to allowing up to four combo-sets to switch between that were earned by defeated the practitioners of various styles.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy
    • Cecil is capable of switching between his Paladin and Dark Knight classes. As a Paladin, he favors close-range aerial attacks, while as a Dark Knight, he favors ground-based ranged attacks.
    • Lightning can switch between different Paradigms: Commando for close range combat and Ravager for ranged magic attacks, plus Medic in Duodecim to recover Bravery.
    • In the 2015 game, Exdeath has three different modes: Berserker, which favors heavy attacks and grants the Bravery-sapping Black Hole move; Nullifier, which lets him seal some of his opponents' skills with his attacks and The Power of the Void; and Obstructor, which inflicts status debuffs and increases their effectiveness.
    • Also from the 2015 game, Y'shtola has two stances: Conjurer, a support-oritented stance which favors a slower and more methodical playstyle and grants the Bravery-recovering skill Aetherial Pulse; and Thaumaturge, which favors a more aggressive playstyle and grants the Bravery-stealing skill Foul.
  • Divekick has Uncle Sensei, who alternates between two different angles of Diving Kick depending on whether he's standing on his feet or his hands. His air special lets him switch stances (and angles) mid-kick.
  • Dual Blades has a version of this called the "power combining system" that is similar to the Samurai Shodown series' Slash/Bust system, which is rather fitting given that series is one inspiration for this game and its sequel, Slasher: The Power Battle.
  • In For Honor, the Highlander switches between a Defensive Stance (by default) and an Offensive Stance (by holding the heavy attack button down). In Defensive stance his options for attacks are limited, but he can parry and block, as well as use light attack combos and Celtic Curse (a mix-up capable rush attack). In Offensive Stance, his attacks become unblockable (meaning they can only be avoided by dodges or parries) and he has access to new combos and mix-up options, as well as a powerful kick and grab, all at the expense of being unable to block and parry, meaning he has to rely on dodges and aggression to survive. Switching between these stances is key to winning with the Highlander.
  • Zappa from Guilty Gear, as represented with the spirit possessing him, grants him about three default stances, the 3-Ghost, the Demon Dog and Flying Sword stance, which grants him quite the diversity of moves depending on which spirit is active. Under certain circumstances, then he will get the Raou spirit (an armored, energy being spirit thing) which is more powerful than the rest. In Gold Mode, he's permanently using Raou, thus losing his Stance System.
    • Leo Whitefang, who made his debut in Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, is noted for his aggressive Brynhildir Stance, in which he faces backward. Leo gains quite a few new moves and specials but at the cost of limited mobility as he cannot jump, giving his already poor mobility. Furthermore, he cannot block. Using Brynhildir Stance allows Leo for some terrifying pressure and mixups.
  • The Gundam Vs Series uses a Stance System to imitate machines with Mecha Expansion Packs, letting them change gear on the fly. A prime example is the Strike Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, which can swap between the speedy Aile Striker, melee-focused Sword Striker, and long-range Launcher Striker; Extreme Vs. also threw in the I.W.S.P. from SEED-MSV, which can do a little bit of everything, but runs on a timer.
    • There's a similar set-up for machines that can swap equipment; the prime example is the Gundam Ez8, which can switch between a fairly orthodox playstyle and one where he busts out his 180mm cannon for long-range bombardment.
    • The Shining Gundam as it appeared in Gundam vs. Gundam Next Plus worked like this during its Super Mode; it can fight bare-handed, which is mostly identical to its base form, or pull out the Shining Finger Sword, which limits it to melee moves which are incredibly powerful and have more reach than one might suspect.
  • Several characters in Injustice: Gods Among Us have multiple fighting styles. Wonder Woman switches between using her lasso and a Sword and shield, while Nightwing uses escrima sticks which can combine into a staff.
  • Most Stand users in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle can choose between having their stand on or off, with different moves between the two stances as well as a bigger hitbox in the former stance.
    • Shigechi has "offensive formation" and "defensive formation" instead.
    • Johnny and Gyro can mount on their horses, getting a number of benefits (bigger reach, resistance to knockdowns, cannot be grappled) and disadvantages (bigger target, cannot recover their Guard gauge, grapple, or collect corpse parts) as well as different movesets.
  • Kengo: this mechanic is most elaborate in the second game of the series (known as Sword of the Samurai in EU): not only the player has access to pretty much all the nine stances based on the position of the sword (high, upper right, right, lower right, low, lower left, left, upper left, center) but the martial schools of Edo will have their own personal variation of these stances, while some of the illustrious swordsmen will have their personal stances. What type of stance you adopt determines which Ko, Ken and Tai techniques (Attack, Parry and Counterattack) you can use in combat. The more you practice with a stance, the more points you'll gain to add techniques to said stance, with certain techniques (usually the most effective and complex ones) requiring more points than others.
  • In Killer Instinct Season 3, The two-headed Eyedol has a moveset for each of his heads. The first head is the Warrior Head, which is played like a rushdown character, while the other head, the Mage Head, is more of a zoner. Unlike most examples, the player has no direct control over what stance they're in; It switches randomly as Eyedol uses special moves, and can be forced by punching the other head awake.
  • Hotaru Futaba from The King of Fighters has moves that change her stance which in turn give access to different attacks. Note that she debuted in Garou: Mark of The Wolves and didn't have a Stance System. Only after her inclusion in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum did she get that.
    • May Lee Jinju from the same series also has a 'Hero Mode' which offers her different and more powerful attacks. Jhun Hoon also has a mode in which he stands on one leg and his attacks differ.
    • Shion, the sub-boss of KoF XI can switch between using a spear or martial arts.
    • Old Master Chin Gentsai may as well be the first one to use this in the series proper, being able to attack (and dodge attacks) in a drunken stance or from a lying position. In XIII onwards, he has a new set of stances entirely, with him standing on one foot or in a ducking position.
  • In Magical Battle Arena, Fate Testarossa's block special lets her switch between Lightning and Sonic form. Lightning Form is her default and gives her a Mid-Range fighting style (5-hit melee combos and 3-hit long-range attacks), while Sonic Form turns her into a more Fragile Speedster with a Short-Range fighting style (7-hit melee combos and 1-hit long-range attacks).
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3:
    • This is Phoenix Wright's niche in Ultimate (along with Confusion Fu), whose three modes make him Difficult, but Awesome. He starts fights in Investigation mode, where his attacks leave a lot to be desired damage-wise, but keep his opponents away long enough for him to search for good pieces of evidence. In Trial mode, his moves change and each good piece of evidence turns into a decent, spammable projectile. With three good pieces of evidence, connecting with an "Objection!" attack makes him enter Turnabout mode, a Super Mode that makes him a lot stronger and faster, with awesome attacks and one of the most damaging Level 3 Hyper Combos in the game.
    • Other characters in the game that use stances are Amaterasu (though that kind of borders between this and Real-Time Weapon Change) and Jill.
  • The Mortal Kombat series seems to have had different stances added in recent years in order to make things more interesting.
    • Mortal Kombat 4 has Kai, who can change to a handstand position and use an array of kicks.
    • Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon actually called it Stance shifting. Deadly Alliance was one of the earliest examples to use literal switches of fighting stances and weapons to expand the move-list without compromising user-friendliness.
    • In Mortal Kombat X, each character has three variations that they can choose from at the beginning of the match that gives them differing movesets. Liu Kang and Tremor also have two different modes in one variation, and Triborg has a fourth variation: Cyber Sub-Zero
    • By Mortal Kombat 11, an interesting variation of this was implemented through the use of customizable gear and variations.
  • Aigis in Persona 4: Arena has one in form of Orgia Mode. In the original game, it's just a temporary boost in strength for several turns. Here, while her old moves are still available, the way she moves changes drastically that their play styles tends to get very different.
  • Toro Inoue, the Sony Cat in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale fights like this (during the reveal, the PlayStation blog referred to Toro as having "a unique stance-based fighting style"). Justice Toro is a martial arts master who specializes in close combat, Torobi is a Ninja that uses long-ranged tactics and Oni Toro is a Youkai that prefers a wide-area assault.
  • Mito from The Rumble Fish has 2 stances, one which she swings her wooden sword in wide arcs and another where she uses mainly thrusts.
  • Samurai Shodown, starting with the third game, gives the player access to a Slash or Bust version of each character, Slash being closest to their original moveset, and Bust being a brand new one. From V onward, certain Bust versions became their own characters, usually the Evil Counterpart to the original character. Throughout the series, characters can also have their weapons knocked out of their hands, giving them a different, more limited hand-to-hand moveset until they can recover their weapon.
  • Skullgirls
    • Squigly has a rather unique twist on this concept. All of her ground specials are based off of one of two stances, the dragon stance, and the whip stance. Holding the button while performing the special, however, allows Squigly to stay in the stance. Doing so alters her movement, charges up her moves, and after a while makes the next move used from that stance a Level 2 variant, giving it more unique and powerful properties as well as more combo opportunities. In addition, she can actually end her stances extremely quickly if another button is tapped while she's in the stance, allowing her to continue her combos via Lag Cancel. Having a Level 2 stance allows her to end the stances even quicker to offer even more unique combos.
    • A more traditional version is Eliza. While she acts as a pretty standard air-dashing character normally, using any of her quarter-circle back and punch moves will cause her parasite Sekhmet to come out of her body and act as a different character. Sekhmet is completely Immune to Flinching, has hard-hitting normals, and travels very fast, but her only reliable mixups are high/low and cross-ups, and any time Sekhmet is active she will cause the super meter to drain. Proper Eliza play involves knowing how to utilize both forms effectively.
    • To a lesser extent, there is also Ms. Fortune and Beowulf, whose moves differ depending on whether the former's head is still attached to her shoulders, and whether the latter is brandishing his folding chair.

  • All of the Soulcalibur games. The iconic example is Maxi, who has different stances depending on what side of his body his nunchaku end an attack on. This has become more prominent in later entries in the series, as the movelist has expanded.
    • There's also Tira, who switches between her 'Gloomy' and 'Jolly' personas, with different movesets as a result. Certain actions can be taken to manually switch her between these modes, and it'll also happen with certain damage calculations.
    • Voldo deserves special mention: his stances include turning his back to his opponent, attacking from a prone position, doing the worm, and crab-walking in both head-first and feet-first configurations.
    • Ivy can use her Whip Sword in either whip or sword mode (or in IV onward, a third mode that resembles a chakram). Most games add additional stances, such as swinging it above her head or to one side.
    • Nightmare (up to SCII) / Siegfried's (SCIII and beyond) stances involve holding his BFS in both hands, dragging it along the ground with one hand (which limits mobility), or holding it behind his back. In III and onward, Siegfried also has a fourth stance where he crouches down behind his sword. He can't move at all in this stance but he will automatically Guard Impact anything that hits the sword.
    • Mitsurugi typically has a few stances, including one in which he holds his sword above his head and pointed toward his opponent and another in which he sheathes it in preparation for a few different variations of Sheath Strike or Iaijutsu.
  • One of the earliest examples in video games is Gen from Street Fighter, who can change between Crane and Mantis-style Kung Fu on the fly.
  • Super Cosplay War Ultra has EX versions of certain characters, changing the properties of their special attacks. Most notably, it turns their normal specials into EX Supers, and vice versa.
  • Super Smash Bros.
    • Both Melee and Brawl have characters that can completely change their moveset via "transformations": Zelda can transform into Sheik, Pokémon Trainer changes between his 3 Pokémon, and Samus' Power Armor can break and reveal Zero Suit Samus. Due to the huge difference between each "stance", both the community and development team considers each of them separate characters.
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U gets rid of transformations, instead giving most of the involved characters their own character slots. However, it also gives a more straight use of the stance system in the form of Shulk: Shulk has a set of 5 Monado Arts that can boost one of his attributes at the cost of weakening others for a few seconds; so he can, for example, increase his speed at the cost of his attack and jump height, or greatly increase his defense at the cost of his movement abilities and attack power.
    • Pyra in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can switch out with Mythra and vise versa. Compared to the other transformation characters, their differences are downplayed, as they share the same moveset besides special moves and move properties.
  • Almost a constant for jugglers and chaotic type fighters in Tekken, from small time-window activation (Flicker Stance, Kenpo Step) to constant switches (Lei's five animal kung fu, back-turning, Hwoarang's left and right stances). Tekken 7 Season 4 newcomer Lidia even has stances within stances.
  • In Touhou Shinkirou ~ Hopeless Masquerade, characters select a religious faction at the start of each match which affects the properties of most of their attacks, corresponding to the Japanese equivalent of the Four-Temperament Ensemble. There's Buddhism (Anger) which greatly prefers short-range and melee attacks, Taoism (Joy) which prefers low-spread, fast-moving projectiles, Shinto (Melancholy) which prefers high-spread and homing projectiles, and Atheism (Calm) which is somewhere in the middle. Hata no Kokoro, being an unstable living collection of theatre masks who attacks with Emotion Bombs, is capable of changing the "religious stance" of both herself and her opponent mid-match.
  • Several characters from Virtua Fighter have different sets of attacks depending on their stance, most notably Lei-Fei and Vanessa Lewis.
  • In X-Men: Next Dimension, three characters (Beast, Gambit and Toad) have different stances listed. Forge can also play to a different style depending on what type of ammo he's loaded in his variable gun.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Crysis uses this trope in regards to your Powered Armor. It has five modes you can switch between at any time; Armor, Speed, Strength, and Cloaking, and Regeneration.
    • Crysis 2 simplified the stance system by specifying Cloaking and Armor as the two 'major' stances (dedicated keys to instantly swapping to either, most of your energy is consumed by these two stances) while relegating Speed and Strength as minor stances (they automatically activate if you're sprinting or pushing an object out of the way), with passive regenerative health.
  • Starting with Jedi Outcast, the Dark Forces Saga allows the player to switch between three different lightsaber styles (light, which is weak but fast and can chain attacks indefinitely; strong, which is slow and can't chain more than one attack but is powerful; and medium, which can chain five attacks at once and is decently quick and powerful). Enemies with lightsabers also use one of the three styles, and are Color-Coded for Your Convenience. Jedi Academy expands a little further by adding the saber staff and dual sabers, which are respectively sort-of evolutions of one of the other styles (dual sabers are like the fast style with more power owing to the second saber added, saber staff is closer to strong style with medium's speed) and can also still be used with a single blade in one of the other styles, respectively fast for one of the dual sabers and medium for one blade of the staff.
  • Overwatch:
    • Lucio swaps between two music tracks, either healing all allies over time or giving them a major speed boost.
    • D.Va pops out of her mech when he dies or uses Self-Destruct, which gives her a powerful pistol but leaves her as a vulnerable Glass Cannon.
  • Unreal series' examples:
    • Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict has Melee and Weapon modes for every fighter.
    • Unreal Tournament 2004 has the Leviathan vehicle, which has two modes: mobile artillery with a giant swarm homing missile launcher, and stationary with a huge Wave-Motion Gun which outputs an explosion which rivals the one of the Redeemer.
    • Unreal Tournament III, in addition to the Leviathan, has the Nemesis, one of the Necris vehicles, which has three different modes: slow, but with increased rate of fire; the regular one; and a fast, but FOV locked one.

    Idle Game 
  • Sword Fight: Five stances are selectable, with Attack and Defend available from the start and the other three having to be unlocked by earning Awards.
    • Attack: Balanced. Raises Attack, Defend, and Hit if the skill is improved.
    • Defend: Defense and Damage Resistance goes up but Attack drops. Atk% is halved to 50% and attacks reduce Stamina by 5%.
    • Barrage: Raises Attack at the cost of Defense. +20% Damage, 2x Power Strike chance, 50% chance to ignore Combo Attacks.
    • Blitz: Raises Attack and Hit but reduces Damage. +15% Attack Speed, 2x Combo Attack chance, lowers enemy's Counter Chance by 50%.
    • Guard: Raises Defense and Damage Resistance but reduces Attack. 2x Counter Attack chance.

    Maze Game 
  • Styles in Pac-Man 99 are a series of named buttons that can be swapped at will with the right face buttons. A chosen Style will become active upon picking up a Power Pellet, and will augment its effect in different way depending on the chosen Style.
    • Standard is as it says: default Power Pellet functionality, just like in normal Pac-Man.
    • Stronger doubles your attack power, allowing Pac-Man to fire two Jammer Pac-Man for every blue ghost consumed. However, it greatly decreases the active time of the Power Pellet.
    • Speed boosts Pac-Man's movement speed by 75%, but substantially decreases his attack power, lowering the number of Jammer Pac-Man sent.
    • Train doubles the number of ghosts added to the ghost train when touching a sleeping ghost. However, touching a sleeping ghost while Train is active also adds an extra Jammer Pac-Man to the queue, which can be suicidal at later stages.

  • The Monks in Dungeons & Dragons Online have stances that change their Ki Manipulation and their Elemental Powers, creating offensive or defensive advantages at the sacrifice of another ability. Many general and combat stances in the game for other classes have similar tradeoffs.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • All of the tank jobs had a stance for tanking, sacrificing damage for defense, higher "enmity" or threat generation and access to certain abilities, but also one for increased damage. Shadowbringers got rid of the offensive stance and removed the drawbacks from the tanking stance.
    • Healer classes and jobs had access to Cleric Stance, which swapped their offensive spellpower and healing power around. Then the devs realized that "stance dancing" was not actually fun for healers, so healer damage calculation was changed to run off healing power all the time, and Cleric Stance's effect was changed to something that no longer qualifies for this trope.
    • The ranged jobs (Bard and Machinist) both have a stance that sacrifices their mobility advantage over spellcasters for increased damage.
    • Pugilists and Monks have three stances: Fists of Wind (increased movement speed), Fists of Earth (improved defense), and Fists of Fire (increased damage output).
    • Thaumaturges and Black Mages have two stances called Astral Fire and Umbral Ice. Astral Fire increases the the damage of fire spells and halts MP recovery. Umbral Ice increases the damage of ice spells and provides significantly increased MP regeneration. Switching between the two stances is the key to success as these classes.
    • Astrologians can switch between Diurnal Sect and Nocturnal Sect when out of combat, which give certain healing spells an additional regeneration or shielding effect, respectively. Their Level 80 ability Neutral Sect temporarily gives their spells the effects of both stances.
  • Granado Espada gives all of its characters at least three stances. Player Mooks have more, but are limited by what weapons they're holding, occasionally requiring a Real-Time Weapon Change.
  • In Grand Chase, Amy can switch between Performance and Fight modes in all three of her classes. While both can fight, Performance mode is more focused on buffs and singing/dancing/violining, while Fighting mode more on hand to hand combos.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 has two stances for each class that specializes in melee combat:
    • Hunters have Assault Stance (increased damage output at the cost of defense) and Guard Stance (increased defense at the cost attack power).
    • Fighters have Brave Stance (increased damage to the front of enemies, but less when attacking from behind) and Wise Stance (more damage when attacking from behind, less from the front)
    • Bravers have Weak Stance (increased damage when hitting enemy weak spots, but less damage to all other parts of the body) and Average Stance (increased overall attack, though not as significant as other stances)
    • Bouncers have Break Stance (increased damage to breakable body parts, but less damage to other parts of the body) and Elemental Stance (more damage when exploiting elemental weaknesses, but less damage otherwise).
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: Jedi Knights and Sith Warriors learn different lightsaber stances that offer passive boosts: specifically, Shii-Cho (I), Shien (V), Ataru (IV), Soresu (III), and Juyo (VII), though all but the first one are additionally restricted to a particular Prestige Class. Bounty Hunters and Troopers can switch out ammo for similar effects. The Imperial Agents and Smugglers have truer stances, being able to take cover, required for many of their attacks. Several classes can go into a stealth mode as well, effectively another stance.
  • Warhammer Online has two stance-based classes. The Marauder is a servant of the Changer of Ways, and as can adopt different stances by painfully mutating his left arm; the mutations are claw, club, and blade, for anti-magic and utility, fighting a group, or fighting a single target. The Shadow Warrior is an elf trained in the guerilla warfare style necessary to fight against the Dark Elves in their own land; their stances are sniping/scouting, skirmishing, and close combat. When players switch stances frequently in the middle of combat, players call that "stance dancing."
  • In World of Warcraft:
    • The warrior class was like this until the Mists of Pandaria expansion: Berserker Stance (does more damage and takes more), Battle Stance (balanced) and Defensive Stance (less damage) had restrictions on what abilities could be used, and switching between them was part of gameplay. While the stances still exist, the ability restrictions were removed as they were felt to not make a dynamic playstyle, and what stance to use is now a matter of the player's role in the party and how much damage they are taking.
      • General Nazgrim, in his boss fight, also switches between stances. When he's in Battle Stance, his attacks grant him rage. While he's in Berserker Stance, he does more damage and gets more rage, but also takes more damage. While he's in Defensive Stance, he takes less damage and gets Rage every time he's struck by someone who does not have the debuff he puts on his tank.
    • Druids have shapeshifting, in which cat and bear forms completely change their abilities and playstyle. However they usually stay in one form most of the time (determined by their specialisation and role), only shifting for brief periods to give emergency healing, gain mobility or providing a temporary tank.
    • They also had or used to have specialized shapeshifts for either offensive spellcasting or healing tied to the respective talent trees. The treant for healing now only exists as a visual flavor option and the moonkin for offensive spellcasters is more of a buff than anything now.
    • The T440 Dual-Mode robot alternates between melee and ranged attack modes based on how close the player fighting him is. Regardless of whether your class and spec is best at melee or ranged combat, you must periodically force him into the other mode, because he gradually does more damage the longer he stays in one mode.

  • Awesomenauts:
    • Derpl switches between a mobile form that can lay snaring traps and fire a Cat-apult and a stationary siege mode with a Gatling gun and detonatable nuke.
    • Ted McPain can freely swap between a machine gun with the ability to call in an airstrike and a Short-Range Shotgun with an attack-speed boost.
    • Chucho hops on and off his flying hyperbike. On the bike, he can freely fly, fire a forward-facing gun, and activate a Nitro Boost. On foot, his bike fights for him as a turret while he uses dual pistols and throws sticky bombs.
  • Dota 2: Brewmaster's Drunken Brawler lets him switch between three stances that give him different passive bonuses. Earth Brawler grants Armor and magic resist, Storm Brawler grants evasion and movement speed, and Fire Brawler grants crit chance. With Aghanim's Shard he gains a fourth stance, Void Brawler, which grants Status Resist and slow on attack. He can consume his Cinder Brew to triple the stance effects.
  • Heroes of Newerth:
    • Solstice changes form based on the time of day, and all of her abilities gain different properties based on the form. Her day form is more tank-focused and have bigger AoE, while her night form has better single-target damage and is stealthier.
    • Master of Arms used to have different abilities based on which gun he had equipped. The Bulldozer has enhanced range, fires charged shots that stuns, a lightning shot that splits on hit and slows enemies, and grants a damage absorbing shield to an ally globally. The Cheetah fire rapidly but requires ammo, fires charged shot that knocks back, lobs an acid bomb that deals damage over time and reduces armor over a large area, and grants a speed and damage boost to an ally globally. A rework merged both his skillsets into one package and only kept the gun bonuses.
  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • Alexstrasza is able to transform into the Dragonqueen. Dragonqueen grants Alexstrasza a different set of basic abilities, which function like stronger versions of her normal kit (Q is free to cast, W has a bigger radius and heals more, E knocks enemies back) but have independent cooldowns and are unaffected by Alexstrasza's talents.
    • Valeera's Vanish gives her a new set of abilities which are powerful openers. She's a softer example since breaking stealth - either by attacking or being attacked - switches her back to her regular kit.
    • Greymane switches between a human with a pistol and a worgen that attacks with his claws. There is a major limitation on this though, since Greymane can't transform unless he has an enemy to pounce on and always changes back into a human when he mounts up.
    • Deathwing swaps between the melee damage-dealing Destroyer and the ranged crowd-control based World Breaker. There's no limit to how often he can swap, only requiring a brief channel or a use of his mount ability.
    • Fenix is a softer example, switching between two different basic attack modes, either a long-ranged bomb or a rapid blaster. His other skills are unaffected.
    • Ana's Aim Down Sights ability lets her extend the range of Healing Dart and Sleep Dart and lets them pierce one target, at the expense of slowing down her movement speed.
    • Lucio swaps between two auras (songs), either healing all nearby allies over time or giving them a speed boost, both of which can be amplified with his E.
    • D.Va pops out of her mech when it's destroyed or she uses Self-Destruct, which gives her a powerful pistol and can be talented to have a new set of abilities while outside her mech but leaves her as a vulnerable Glass Cannon.
  • A few of the champions in League of Legends are based around stances:
    • Udyr, the Spirit Walker, has four stances based around animal totems that give him a different passive ability when he activates them (Tiger Stance boosts his attack damage, Turtle Stance heals him as he does damage, Bear Stance lets him stun enemies, and Phoenix Stance deals bonus fire damage).
    • Jinx can switch between Pow-Pow, a short range machine gun that grants her bonus attack speed, and Fishbones, a rocket launcher that increases her attack range and attack damage and also makes her basic attacks deal area-of-effect damage, but costs mana per basic attack.
    • Shyvana is able to transform into a dragon once she has her Fury meter fully charged, which grants her basic abilities a boost; her Q damages all opponents in front of her, her W has its radius increased, and her E explodes on impact. She will remain transformed for as long as she has Fury left, which will rapidly deplete while transformed.
    • Gnar shapeshifts from a squishy ranged form into a brutal melee form. His passive has him build Rage as he deals and receives damage. At reaching maximum Rage will transform him into Mega Gnar, gaining bonus damage, health, and defenses, as well as a new set of abilities for a duration until his Rage depletes and he transforms back to normal.
    • Aphelios has five different guns. He holds two at a time which he can freely switch between, and cycles his weapons as each run out of ammo. Each gun has its own passive and active ability and alters his Ultimate.

  • Lost Souls (MUD) has this in the form of a "combat mode" system, encompassing both such basics as aggressive and defensive modes and esoterica like berserking and combat meditation.

  • In The Lost World: Jurassic Park (Console), the Compy's attacks will change depending on whether it is crouched, standing normally, or upright.
  • Mega Man 11 centers around the Double Gear system. The Speed Gear enables Bullet Time, while the Power Gear drastically powers up Mega Man's attacks. They have to be turned on manually and can only be used one at a time (both with a time limit), and has a short cooldown.
  • Sonic Heroes, which featured the ability to choose one of three characters on the fly while having the other two invincible and in some sort of formation with your character. The swap is so near-instant that it's pretty much a glorified stance change. Contrast to other games that used this idea before, which often had some sort of delay or disadvantage to switching characters mid-game.

  • 7th Dragon 2020 gives us a rare dungeon crawler instance with the Samurai class. The Samurai is able to switch between Iai and Battou stances, where the Iai stance allows the usage of elementally-imbued, single-hit attacks while Battou stances are for multiple-hit physical attacks.
  • Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book: Party members can take an Offensive or Defensive stance in battles:
    • Offensive does more damage, and performs bonus attacks.
    • Defensive does less damage, but can block enemy attacks.
    • Two or more characters in the same stance can combine to perform powerful offensive or defensive actions, depending on the Chain gauge and their position on the Visual Initiative Queue.
  • Bravely Second gives us the Fencer Asterisk, which has three stances. The Wolf Stance focuses on attack, the Aurochs Stance relies on defense, and the Falcon Stance focuses on speed.
  • Meganada in the second Digital Devil Saga has two stances that he can switch between, one based on physical attacks and defense and the other on magic and magic resistance.
    • The first form of the Final Boss of the first game had this as well. Each time their HP drops below a certain point, they switch between their Vishnu and Shiva forms. Vishnu is a more passive stance, mainly inflicting Status Effects on the party (although it does have the nasty Vaikunta spell), and Shiva focuses on dealing raw damage.
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, Shale has three four different modes she can use: Attack (melee), Attack (ranged), Defense, and Passive Defense. Her abilities in each mode change radically, as does her performance on the battlefield, and the bonuses she bestows to party members within range. In the fourth mode, she is actually completely disabled, while all nearby party members enjoy massive bonuses.
    • Dragon Age II allows usage of some Prestige Classes' abilities only if that class' basic Sustained ability is active, e.g. Blood Magic, Spirit Healer's Aura, and Berserking. Non-prestige class skill trees occasionally include mutually exclusive Sustained abilities that offer different bonuses, essentially functioning as stances, e.g. Rogue Specialist's Precision, Speed, and Power; Warrior Defender's Elemental Aegis and Turn the Blade; and Vanguard's Control and Might. Lastly, some companions' specializations have Sustained abilities akin to prestige classes, like Fenris' Lyrium Ghost and Merrill's Wrath of the Elvhen, but Anders takes it a step further, only using half of his special abilities when the mutually exclusive Panacea or Vengeance modes are active.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition has the Tempest specialization's Flask abilities, which provide powerful temporary boons to the user. Flask of Frost significantly reduces damage and briefly freezes enemies who attack the Tempest (and can be upgraded to provoke nearby enemies to attack the Tempest), Flask of Fire knocks enemies who attack the Tempest away and eliminates the stamina cost (and cooldown when upgraded) of abilities, and Flask of Lightning allows the Tempest to move much faster than everyone else (with time coming to a near-stop if upgraded). Only one can be active at a time, but the Tempest can learn a passive that increases Flasks' durations if used immediately after one expires.
  • Dragon Quest VIII: Party members can be assigned one of five stances. The player can override these at the start of each turn, if necessary.
    • "Fight wisely" — balance of attack and defence.
    • "Show no mercy" — all out attack, the stance that uses most magic.
    • "Psyche up" — build up a Charged Attack.
    • "Focus on healing"
    • "Use no magic" — if you want to save MP for later.
  • All the characters of Dungeon Siege III have two attack stances that they can use.
    • Lucas uses either a sword and shield for single enemies or a two-handed BFS for groups.
    • Anjali can attack with a spear or turn into an Avatar and use fire blasts.
    • Katarina uses Guns Akimbo for close quarters or a rifle for range.
    • Reinhart switches between Entropic Magic or Dynamic Magic.

  • In Earthlock each character has two different stances that they can switch between to change how they fight
  • Etrian Odyssey: The Ronin class, debuting in the first game, has certain skills based on which of the three stances are active. Overhead/Upper increases offence and defence, with focus on offence, Seigan/Clear increases the same, but with focus on defence, and Iai/Drawing increases speed. Subsequent games in the series tweak and refine the stance mechanics, adding new skills that interact with or enable Stances, on top of a stance that combines the effects of all three.

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake has Cloud who can switch from his default Operator Mode which allows him to run and do basic swings to his enemies, to his Punisher Mode where his movement speed slows down to a crawl but he can counterattack and his swings build up the ATB gauge faster.
  • Fire Emblem Fates has the Attack and Guard Stance system. Allies adjacent to an attacking unit will follow up their attacks, while allies that have paired up with another unit increase their stats and nullifies an attack after the shield gauge fills, in addition to negating all attacks made by an Attack Stance unit. A skill (Attack & Guard stance) exists that adds the follow up attack ability to Guard Stance units, but removes the ability to negate enemy follow up attacks.
  • In the Steven Universe fangame Flawed Crystals, Stevonnie can switch between letting Steven, Connie, or themself dominate the fusion, leading to a different set of abilities for each. Steven is The Medic but lacks offensive abilities, while Connie has access to more powerful offense but loses Steven's healing abilities. Stevonnie can use a limited set of abilities from both, but has to learn them through level up. Steven and Connie also gain stat bonuses to defense and attack, respectively.
    • At the beginning of the game, switching personalities is a free action, making Stevonnie very versatile and capable of making up for the gaps in other gems' abilities. However, as the game progresses, the personality switch will gain a cooldown, requiring Stevonnie to wait up to 5 turns before they can switch again. This has the effect of turning Stevonnie into a Crutch Character in the late game.
  • Granblue Fantasy has several characters whose primary gimmick is one of these.
    • Sturm can switch between Impetuous Blade and Deft Blade using her Sword Switch skill. Impetuous gives her a stacking attack buff when she attacks, while Deft gives the enemy a stacking defense debuff instead. Additionally, her Blitzkrieg skill gives Sturm an extra attack boost during Impetuous Blade, while in Deft Blade, it activates whenever Sturm dodges an attack and gives the enemy a delay effect
    • In a similar vein, Drang has two stances named That's How I Roll and Bursting Bubbles that he can swap between in the same way Sturm does, which mostly influence the behavior of his Fair Trick skill. In the former stance, it delays enemy attacks and also automatically activates when Drang does a charge attack; this stance also gives him a gradual boost to his attack specs. The latter instead gives Fair Trick healing properties and has it automatically activate when the enemy does a charge attack instead, in addition to giving a gradual boost to Drang's defense specs.
    • Yuisis has two "modes"; Starslayer and Heavensbane. Starslayer is much more defense-oriented, allowing her to tank hits meant for her teammates and dish out strong counters, while Heavensbane is offense-focused and gives her very strong charge attacks.
    • Threo's weapon is able to switch between axe and sword forms, though unlike the other examples who can change their stance with the use of a skill, Threo's changes after using a charge attack. The axe form focuses on keeping Threo alive through healing and countering attacks, while the sword form focuses on taking advantage of Threo's low health (usually achieved through using Ground Zero) to deal massive damage to her enemies.
    • Narmaya has two stances, named Dawnfly and Freeflutter, that she can switch between, though she can only do so every few turns and can't use other skills the turn she switches. In Dawnfly, she can boost her own multi-attack rate and delay enemy attacks, while in Freeflutter she can lower an enemy's defense and boost her own attack against enemies in Overdrive. When she's fully leveled up, she unlocks a skill that makes her next attack have the properties of both stances at once.
  • The primitive Action RPG Hydlide gave the player character "Attack" and "Defend" stances.
  • Jade Empire has this in spades: 6 martial arts forms, 4 weapon forms, 5 transformation forms, and several support or magic forms (throw fireballs, slow enemies down, sap their spirit, etc).
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The Drive Forms from Kingdom Hearts II. Valor Form gives Sora a second keyblade and enhances melee attacks but prevents casting of magic, Wisdom Form enhances magic, Master Form is focused on crowd-control and enhances both melee and magic, and Final Form increases ...well, everything. There's also Anti Form, which can't be chosen automatically and instead occurs randomly when Sora tries to enter one of the other forms besides Final. Anti Form is an extreme Fragile Speedster, having increased movement speed and rapid but weak attacks, but takes increased damage and can't replenish HP (among other downsides). The Final Mix version adds Limit Form, which gives Sora access to his old abilities.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep expands on the Drive system with Command Styles and Dimension Links. By filling up a meter with special moves, you'll enter a "Command Style" that gives elemental powers to your attacks and enables a special finishing move to be used. Dimension links will replace your entire command list with ones related to characters you've met throughout the story, allowing you to completely change the way your character fights for a short time. Both of these are useful for adapting to the three characters' strengths and weaknesses.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords gives the player the ability to set each character's combat style in order to determine what kinds of tactics they use. It's expanded further for Jedi characters, who can learn a number of lightsaber forms, each with different advantages and disadvantages.
  • Juna Crawford in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is the only character in the game to change between the close range but single target and powerful Striker Mode or the longer range but multiple target weaker Gunner Mode. In the fourth game Crow can also switch between similar stances.
  • The Monster Hunter series has two weapons that utilize differing modes:
    • The Switch Axe's default form is an axe that has long reach and affords a fair amount of mobility to the wielder. It can morph into a sword form after building up power, which sacrifices its reach and mobility for fast, powerful slashes and elementally-charged finishing moves.
    • The Charge Blade's default form is a sword and shield, which has minimal reach and modest attack power, but good mobility and defensive capabilities. After gathering power into phials, it can morph into an axe form, sacrificing defense and mobility for long reach, overwhelming attack power, and elementally-charged blows.
  • In Nioh, the player can hold their weapons in one of three stances. A high stance produces slow, but strong attacks; a low stance allows for weak, but quick strikes; and a middle stance balances the two out, while also being the easiest stance for blocking incoming attacks.

  • Pokémon has a few cases, though not all are manual:
    • Aegislash, which takes the form of an animate sword and shield, has the unique Ability "Stance Change". In its Shield Forme, it has some of the highest defenses in the game; in its Blade Forme, its attack stats skyrocket and its defenses drop to almost nothing.
    • Minior follows a similar defensive stat setup in the form of a round floating chunk of rock. Once its HP dips below half, however, it can then activate its unique Ability "Shields Down," upon which the rock casing breaks off and reveals its true form inside, a brightly-colored star. Its stats then shift to an emphasis on offense and speed as one of the fastest Rock-types in the game.
    • A Darmanitan with the Ability "Zen Mode" functions in this way. Normally, it's a fast-moving physical hitter and a pure Fire-type. Entering Zen Mode, however, causes it to turn a teal green and curls up into a largely stationary ball, appropriately enough, as if in a meditative stance. When in Zen Mode, it gains the Psychic-type and its defensive and special-attack stats skyrocket at the cost of its physical stats. The Galarian counterpart, meanwhile, also has a Zen Mode, but it goes from pure Ice-type to gaining the Fire-type and gets a boost in Attack and Speed instead. It's also a foil in that its regular state is calm and peaceful while its Zen state is violent and aggressive.
    • Morpeko switches between Full Belly Mode and Hangry Mode at the end of each turn. Aside from it looking different, however, the only difference is that its Signature Move, Aura Wheel, is Electric-type when in Full Belly and Dark-type when Hangry.
    • Eiscue begins a battle in Ice Face Forme, in which its head is surrounded by a large ice cube. During this time, it has Mighty Glacier stats, with high defenses but low Speed. When hit with a physical attack, however, the ice breaks and Eiscue assumes Noice Forme, which is how it really looks without the ice on its head. In this state, Eiscue's defenses drop drastically but it gets an even more drastic increase in Speed, able to outrun all but the speediest Pokémon. Eiscue will get its ice back and revert back to Ice Face Forme if it starts hailing mid-battle, if Eiscue switches out and returns to battle while it's still hailing, or if the battle ends and a new one begins.
    • Castform has four forms, depending on the weather at the time. When sunny, it becomes the Fire-type Sunny Forme that looks like a highly stylized sun. When rainy, it becomes the Water-type Rainy Forme that looks like a raindrop. When hailing or snowy, it becomes the Ice-type Snowy Forme that looks like a cumulonimbus cloud. Otherwise, it's a Normal-type nameless form that resembles a round cloud. Castform itself can induce any of those three weather types and has a Signature Move, Weather Ball, that doubles in power and changes to match Castform's type when sunny, rainy, hailing, or snowy.note 
    • The Normal/Psychic Meloetta always begins a battle in Aria Forme, in which its green hair flows down the side of its head and it specializes in singing. When Meloetta uses the move Relic Song, however, Meloetta becomes Pirouette Forme, which is Normal/Fighting instead, and its hair becomes reddish-orange and is tied around its head. As Meloetta in Piroette Forme fights by dancing, its stats get shuffled around from a moderately fast special (magic) attacker to an exceptionally fast physical attacker.
    • Cramorant uses this trope in an odd way, adopting stances based on not paying attention. Cramorant begins a battle with its mouth closed and not attempting to eat anything. When Cramorant uses Surf or Dive, however, it will then assume Gulping Forme if its HP is over half full, during which it attempts to eat an Arrokuda. If its HP is half or less, however, it enters Gorging Forme, during which it attempts to eat Pikachu. Any attack on Cramorant when in Gulping or Gorging Forme will revert it back to its base form by Cramorant launching the hapless Pokémon in its mouth at the attacker, dealing damage and inflicting different effects depending on if it's Arrokuda or Pikachu.
    • If Wishiwashi is at Level 20 or higher and is at a high enough HP, it will begin a battle in Solo Forme, then large amounts of other Wishiwashi will come to its aid, upon which it enters School Forme, causing the school overall to resemble a submarine. The school counts as a single Pokémon and has stats rivaling or exceeding some Olympus Mons. When its HP is low enough, however, the other Wishiwashi leave, bringing it back to Solo Forme, dropping its stats to the lowest in the entire series.
    • In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a Pokémon's moves can be mastered by leveling it up or giving an item to an NPC, unlocking the ability to use that move in Strong Style and Agile Style. Strong Style boosts the move's damage or effects and increases its accuracy if it's under 100, but at the cost of potentially making the user's next turn come later. Agile Style lowers the move's damage, but will give the user a free turn either after their current one or later in the match, allowing them to get two hits off before the opponent can react.

  • Soma Union: All playable characters can switch between Power and Support roles. The former gives them offensive skills while the latter gives them healing and buffing skills. They can change their role in battle, but if they end the turn in a different role from what they started the turn in, a cooldown will be placed on their role changing command.
  • Nearly every game in the entire Soulsborne series including Dark Souls, Dark Souls II, Dark Souls III, Bloodborne, and Elden Ring have the ability for various weapons to be able to be changed and allow for different attacks. Bloodborne especially as *every* main weapon is a "Trick Weapon" with an alernate variant that alters its attack style either slightly or drastically.
    • Numerous bosses also change their attack styles and, instead of gaining new attacks, just gain entirely new attack styles completely. Just to name a couple examples: Gherman the First Hunter, Martyr Logarius, Ancient Hero of Zamor, and the Soul of Cinder.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Mysterion's moveset changes depending on whether or not he's alive or dead. When alive, he's a Glass Cannon who uses martial arts aided by his shadowy power. When he dies, he turns into a ghost who can debuff the enemies but never actually deal damage. His Limit Break in each mode respectively is a Suicide Attack (he pulls out a bomb) and a revive that is the only way to bring him back to life.
  • Ki-Adi-Mundi in Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes has two lightsaber styles that dictate his combat style in-game: an offensive Ataru form that deals high and more frequent damage and a defensive Makashi form that aids himself or the player squad with debuff cleansing, defensive stat buffs and increased tenacity. One of Ki-Adi-Mundi's abilities allow him to switch between these two forms depending on the situation, with a constant cooldown of two turns.
  • In Tales of Graces, every playable character switches between two different sets of artes (apparently being called Alpha and Beta), each using a different style [for example, Cheria switches between throwing knives (her Alpha artes) and light spells (her Beta artes), likewise, Asbel switches between a combo of sheath bunts and kicks (Alpha artes) and sword combat (Beta artes].
  • Patty in the PS3 version of Tales of Vesperia has four battle modes when fighting: Normal, Advance, Brainel, and Critical. Normal is exactly what it sounds like, Advance emphasizes direct attacks, Brainel prefers range and spell casting, and Critical has the benefits of both Advance and Brainel. Knowing the difference between the modes is crucial, since certain techniques are different depending on her form.
  • True Crime: New York City has four (not including the default) individually trainable martial arts forms: Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Wushu, and Muay Thai. Marcus can switch between them in real time, and cannot use them with weapons.
  • The Witcher allows the player to switch between Strong, Fast, and Group styles of swordfighting. Some enemies can only be hurt effectively by fast or strong style, while group is effective anytime you fight more than one foe.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2:
    • The player characters are "Drivers" who bond with magical creatures called "Blades" that lend them their weapons and power. Each Driver can engage with three Blades at a time, each with their own weapon and associated Arts, elemental affinity and unique Special attacks and skills, and can switch between them during battle.
    • The prequel DLC Torna ~ The Golden Country allows you to play as the Blades themselves. Each Driver has two Blades as well as their own weapon so you still have three movesets to choose from per team.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Several Real-Time Strategy games have three stances consisting of Aggressive (an attack bonus at the cost of a defence penalty), Defensive (a defence bonus at the cost of an attack penalty), and Balanced (neutral) stances.

  • Sort of used in the Chinese Overlord tank from Command & Conquer: Generals, where you can build on top of them a propaganda speaker that heals your troops, a gatling gun, or a bunker.
    • The American Strategy Center can use 3 different battleplans: "Bombardment", which increases unit attack power and equips with an artillery piece, "Hold the Line", which increases unit defence and improves its own armour (depicted as sandbags), and "Search & Destroy", which deploys scanners and improves unit weapon range. The bonuses are strong enough to make the American faction play very differently in each mode. They are also free to be switched at any time, though that takes a few seconds and disables all units to adjust.
  • Dawn of War has a variation where the stances decide how far the squad engages spotted enemies (until destruction/chase for a while and go back/hold position), adding the "Burn" stance (prioritize buildings in range higher than enemy troops) and "Hold Fire" (a, aha, relic from the previous games where cloaked units decloaked to attack, automatically switching to hold fire to prevent Leeroy Jenkins. Useful against human enemies, but pointless against the computer, who always knows where your sneaky units are). Most units also have a secondary set of stances indicating whether to use ranged or melee weapons. This is relevant because units hit with a melee attack must respond in kind, meaning that all-round units like Tactical Marines will have an easier time defeating ranged combat specialists like Fire Warriors by leaving their usual ranged attack stance. On top of this, units engaged in melee only take 50% ranged damage, so getting into a slugfest can preserve a squad under heavy fire until reinforcements arrive.
  • StarCraft:
    • Terran Siege Tanks have two modes, Tank Mode and Siege Mode. Siege mode transforms the already-formidable tank into powerful long range artillery, but renders them immobile and unable to defend themselves if the enemy somehow manages to get close enough.
    • Zerg Lurkers have to burrow to be able to attack. Burrowing grants them invisibility, but prevents from moving.
  • Warcraft III:
    • Druids of the Claw and Talon can shapeshift into bears and crows, giving them more damage and resilience but leaving them unable to cast spells (the expansion allows them to cast their basic spell when shifted).
    • Footmen can use Defend; raising their shields to greatly reduce the damage (and in the expansion, reflect) damage done by some ranged attacks at the cost of movement speed.
    • The Berserk ability temporarily increases attack speed but also increases damage taken.

  • The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth added a new character called the Forgotten, who behaves both like this and a Tag Team. They consist of the Body, who has a skeletal physical form and can't fire tears and instead uses a bone club to melee attack enemies or toss it and boomerang back to him, and the Soul, who can fire tears and has flight, but can't move too far away from the Body. Additionally, both have seperate life bars. The Body can only hold red hearts and the Soul can only hold soul hearts, and running out of either kills them both.
  • The Abomination in Darkest Dungeon plays the role of mid-range support in his human form, with access to ranged attacks that stun or inflict blight on enemies and a self-healing skill. He can transform into his beast form once every battle, giving him access to high damage close-range abilities, but it stresses out the party and himself when transforming and while transformed.
  • Slay the Spire: This is the Watcher's whole gimmick. She can switch between Calm and Wrath, a defensive and aggressive stance respectively, at the start. Calm gives her two energy upon exiting it and Wrath doubles both her and her enemies' damage. Learning to play her well involves using cards with the energy boost from Calm that allow her to power up more and go ham in Wrath, while also being able to exit Wrath when needed so she doesn't get two-shot. In addition, there is also Divinity, which can be gained by collecting 10 Mantra during a battle, which grants three energy and triples her damage. Entering Divinity with a good hand almost always means an instant win. A certain card, "Blasphemy," exploits this by granting her Divinity instantly but killing her at the end of her turn.


Anime & Manga

  • In Crush Gear Turbo, the VT chassis enables Crush Gears to have an incredible boost of speed depending on which side the battery box slides into (front for dash, and back for spins).


  • The Alethi swordfighting stances from The Stormlight Archive. Each represents a different fighting style named after one of the Ten Essences, ranging from the elegant Windstance to the brutal Ironstance.

TV Series

  • Normally, the eponymous Kamen Rider Den-O needs to be possessed by his four/five Imagin to fight (with an appropriate form for each Imagin). Late in the series, he gets a form that doesn't need possession, Liner Form, whose main weapon, the DenKamen Sword, allows him to switch between the fighting styles of his previous forms.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5:
    • In the Tome of Battle supplement, the techniques of each fighting discipline are divided into maneuvers (which function as Special Attacks) and stances (which provide passive bonuses), which are learned through separate progressions. While a character can only access a subset of their known maneuvers at any one time, all their known stances are always available. There are also a number of feats which provide benefits while in a stance of a specific discipline. The capstone ability of the Warblade Character Class is "Stance Mastery", allowing a character to remain in two stances at once. The Master of Nine Prestige Class receives the more limited "Dual Stance" ability, which allows them to combine stances from two different disciplines for a short time.
    • The Master of Masks Prestige Class can swap between different "Persona Masks", each of which grants abilities and a false Character Alignment related to the persona (e.g. the Assassin mask grants sneak attack and stealth bonuses, while disguising their alignment as Lawful Evil). They're also slightly better at using other magic items worn on the face, giving them more reason to swap out. At higher levels they gain the ability to switch between masks more quickly or turn them invisible.
    • The Dragon Descendant Prestige Class is a monk who can switch between channelling the spirits of various dragon ancestors mid-combat, each granting a different benefit - Rampaging (raw combat bonuses + immunity to fear), Subtle (Stealth Expert + Back Stab), Eldritch (has a weak ranged attack), Enduring (Super Toughness) or Ancient (Counter-Attack specialist). As they gain levels, they can switch between ancestors more quickly and eventually channel two at the same time.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Style feats give access to special bonuses or abilities while a particular style is active, and can be upgraded up to twice with additional feats. In contrast to the stances from Tome of Battle and Path of War, styles are not active at the start of combat (meaning it's sometimes better not to spend time entering one), and each must be invested in independently (meaning that learning more than one style is difficult and rarely useful). The "Master of Many Styles" monk archetype comes the closest to the spirit of this trope - gaining floating style upgrades that apply to whichever style they're currently in, and the ability to stack an additional style each turn of combat. The Unchained Monk can also learn the "Formless Mastery" ability, which grants bonuses against enemies using style feats and can be selected only by a monk with no style feats of their own.
    • The Hunter class's "Animal Focus" class feature grants one of twelve minor bonuses which can be switched between as a swift action. Both the Hunter and their animal companion can maintain a focus, but for the Hunter it acts as a limited-use Status Buff (meaning that like style feats, they generally need to spend an action in combat to activate it) while for the companion it's continuously active. If the Hunter's companion is currently dead then as compensation the Hunter gains both Animal Focus mechanics, which operate independently.
    • Psionics Unleashed, a third-party update of D&D 3.5's psionic rules, adds the "active energy type" mechanic, which limits psionic characters to using one element at a time; they can change their energy type each time they pause to regain psionic focus, and some specialists can ignore the restriction entirely.
    • The third-party supplement Path of War is a Spiritual Successor to D&D 3.5's Tome of Battle above, inheriting its stance mechanics. Each discipline also has its own style feat (see above) which can be learned by characters who know at least one stance from that discipline. Finally, it has Elemental Flux, a Supernatural Martial Arts discipline whose maneuvers and stances function differently depending on which of the four elements the character is currently focusing on (layering a second stance system on top of the first).
  • Sky-Scraper of Sentinels of the Multiverse. Most of her cards are tagged with Tiny, Normal, or Huge. Playing them replaces her primary card with the version for that size, changing her power - with her standard card, Tiny lets you deploy and recover Link gadgets, Normal provides card draw, and Huge has a sonic thunderclap that can do impressive mass damage - but also risks harming her allies if her damage is increased.
    • Additionally, the video game based on the universe (not the video game based on the card game. That's a different one.) will feature a stance system.
    • The Naturalist is a shape shifter who has three different forms he can assume; Gazelle, Alligator, and Rhino. While able to use his cards in any form, each also could confer an additional benefit based around health recovery, attack boosting, or defence boosting respectively.
    • Mr. Fixer, a martial arts master, has multiple copies of three "style" cards, which grant his attacks different effects ranging from double attacks to paralyzing his opponents. Mixing them with his various tool cards is how you make his deck effective.

Other Video Games

  • The Doctor in Dead by Daylight, prior to patch 3.5.0, functioned in this way. He would switch between Punishment Mode, which allowed him to inflict damage to survivors and move at his regular speed, and Treatment mode, which slowed him down, allowed him to inflict Madness passively to survivors inside of his Terror Radius, and replaced his regular attack with Shock Blasts that inflict Madness and briefly prevented survivors from performing any actions but moving.
  • The Watcher in Slay the Spire does this for card games. Wrath stance causes her to deal double damage but also take double damage. Calm stance doesn't do anything on its own, but leaving it grants extra Energy. There's also the Divinity stance, which gives a burst of Energy and triple damage, but it only lasts a turn and usually require slowly building up 10 Mantra to activate. There are cards and effects that interact differently based not only which stance you're currently in, but also from switching stances.
  • From Warframe:
    • Weapons can be modified with stance mods, which allow you to give them new comboes. Beyond just changing up the comboes, these can also add in unique effects, like guranteed elemental procs or openings to launch finishers. Most weapons have a specific stance polarity, but the stance forma makes them compatible with any stance.
    • The New War segments that allow players to control Teshin mark the first time where it is possible to change stances within a mission - when changing the element of his Spell Blade, Teshin also changes the stance he is using - Heat damage uses the Crying Mantis stance and its highly mobile attacks, Cold damage uses the slower but heavier hitting Crossing Snakes stance, while Electricity damage uses the rapidly consecutive strikes of Swirling Tiger.


Video Example(s):


Splatoon 2 - Flingza Roller

The Flingza Roller changes its shape depending on how you swing it. It can be swung vertically for a slow, long-range, heavy-hitting attack, or horizontally for a faster close-range swing.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / StanceSystem

Media sources: