This is my analysis of stuns as a game mechanic in Space Station 13. This is long, but only long as necessary. I want to put the "remove stuns" and "antistun" memes to rest forever. Part I: Stuns in any form. A stun can be defined in two ways: Literal stuns, which incapacitate for any period of time, and functional stuns, which incapacitate for a meaningful period of time. In determining whether a period of time is meaningful, we can use the following criteria. So long as a person is incapacitated long enough to be restrained, rendered defenseless to the point of being able to killed, or incapacitated long enough to be escaped from, the period of time is meaningful. This number is typically around 5 real world seconds, which is what the game itself uses for most weaker stuns (1.6 * 3). I will be focusing on functional stuns, rather than the more general category of stuns which can include such things as disarms, concussions, etc. Stuns are generally used for a few things: Safely attacking a downed person, incapacitation for detainment, retaliatory attacks on someone who is trying to kill you, delaying someone so you can escape, and incapacitating someone so you may steal something from them. To justify the existence of stuns, I'm going to be looking at two things. First, I'm going to look at the functionality of stuns and determine whether or not that functionality is necessary for the game, and second, whether that functionality can only be fulfilled by stuns. The first functionality of stuns is to incapacitate someone so that you may safely attack and (presumably) crit or murder them. Is this functionality necessary? You could make a strong argument that a game is unbalanced if there exists a feature in the game that allows you to defeat another player in such an easy way, with the other player rendered defenseless. I would argue that is not as easy it seems, in that you have to aim and hit the other player, while simultaneously avoid being stunned yourself. I also think this adds tension and meaning to every skirmish, as you know all it takes is one shot and it could very well be your last. Still, I suppose that this is still a matter of preference, and so I am forced to say that no, it is not a necessary functionality. Defending stuns on these grounds is not a great argument to make. However, things aren't as simple as that. This what I'll call an emergent functionality, something that exists not because it is an intended design choice of, but as a consequence of the nature of stuns. There is no way to alter the behavior of stuns, still maintaining its core features, and removing this functionality. So long as stuns exist, then this functionality will always exist. So if stuns need to exist for other reasons (and I will argue why they do below) then, this functionality for better or worse, must stay in the game. The second functionality of stuns is to incapacitate for detainment. Is this functionality necessary and can it only be fulfilled by stuns? I think that the best way to answer this question is to think about who needs to detain others, and why they need to. The list that I have come up with as follows: Security Officers, Heads of Staff, Cultists (of both types), Shadowlings, Xenomorphs, and Abductors. Changelings and Traitors don't need to restrain others, but are highly incentivized to do so. Security needs to detain so that criminals can be punished and placed in the brig. Heads of Staff need to detain people who break into their department, or otherwise try to mess with them in the absence of Security. Cultists of both types and Shadowlings need to detain people so that they can convert them. Xenomorphs need to detain people so that they cannot escape and remove the larva implanted inside of them. Abductors need to detain people so that they can experiment on them. Traitors and Changelings are incentivized to detain people, as it makes their jobs a lot easier, though it is not necessary. So the question now becomes, does there exist a better alternative to implementing detainment than the current system that relies upon stuns? What is necessary for a person to be detained? If a person is moving, they cannot be detained, as any movement on their part cancels the act of detainment. How do you get a person to stop moving? You can convince them, crit them, kill them, or stun them. Convincing someone who you want to detain is in almost all cases not viable, the other party will almost always receive no benefit from allowing themselves to be detained, so they won't do it. Critting a person to detain them introduces the possibility of death, and starts to become an OOC issue. If for example, someone disarms you and you want to arrest them, you can hardly justify almost killing them because they disarmed you once. This means that there are a lot of situations in which the primary mode of detainment would become an OOC issue, I think that this is a bad thing. Killing, is just a more extreme form of stopping movement and has all of the problems that critting does, only intensified. Stunning, has no problems associated with it. Stunning is the ideal solution to stopping movement and allowing for detainment. If a stun can be defined as stopping movement, I would argue that stunning is necessary in all cases. Critting and killing, are just more lethal forms of stuns, but they are still stuns in that they stop movement. In summary, stuns are necessary to stop movement, which is necessary to allow detainment, which is necessary for Security Officers, Heads of Staff, Cultists (of both types), Shadowlings, Xenomorphs, and Abductors to function normally. Now I will detail what would happen in the absence of the ability to detain using a stun in the above situations. If Security Officers could not detain people, then those who broke the law could not be stopped or punished without using lethal force. If an assistant were for example, to break a window to a brig cell in front of you, you could not do anything but try to convince, crit, or kill to get him in jail. This would create a strong incentive for players to sign up and greytide the entire station, knowing that they could very easily get away with it. Crime would go through the roof. Critting and killing in the aforementioned situation is not justifiable under the current rule set, so in doing so you would get yourself banned. This introduces a conundrum. You want to enforce the laws, but at the same time if you try to enforce the law, you will get banned. This means that the rules would have to be changed to allow Officers to react with lethal force in many more situations than allowed now. The problem with that, is that it would justify lethal force in functionally every single situation. This would mean that people would just sign up as Security Officers so they could find people committing crime, minor or major, and validly kill them. As a more minor issue, this also means that Officers cannot non lethally deal with people who they are licensed to kill such as antagonists. All traitors,changelings, nukeops, cultists, etc would have to be killed on sight. Whether the rules were to be changed or not, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place in terms of IC behavior. The mob of the greytide versus the mob of the bloodthirsty redtide. The system that we have now, functions much bettter.