Taunt has two definitions:
- A taunt (noun) is a game play mechanic which, used during combat, forces a creature to attack. Specifically, a taunt ability is one which forces a creature to attack the player initiating the taunt.
- Taunt (verb) can also refer to the act of challenging, insulting, teasing or mocking other players in game. In this context, taunting is a form of griefing.
Not all taunts are created equal. Taunts are defined by two fundamental characteristics, which vary from one ability to the next:
- The first of these characteristics is whether the taunt is a single target ability, or instead is an Area of Effect (AoE) ability. Oftentimes, a character will have both forms of taunts as two separate, distinct abilities. In such cases, AoE taunts are often on a much longer cooldown than single target taunts.
- The second and more subtle characteristic of a taunt is whether or not the ability achieves its result (that of forcing a creature to attack the player) via the numerical addition of threat to that creatures threat table. Some taunt abilities will add enough threat to a creatures threat table to put that player on the top of the list, thereby achieving aggro for that player. However, other taunt abilities will not do this, and instead will simply force a creature to attack the taunter for a predetermined amount of time (e.g., 6 seconds), despite his/her place on the creature's threat table. This can be an important distinction, because in such a scenario, the taunter will lose aggro to the creature after time expires (that is, unless the player takes further action which would increase their threat value and thus elevate the player to the top of the table).
Taunts And Tanking
In TOR, all advanced classes that are capable of serving in the Tank role have at least one taunt ability. No other advanced class has such an ability. The inclusion of the taunt is a critical ability in the Tank's tool kit, regularly saving group members from certain death by allowing the tank to override the normal tendency of a creature to attack players on the top of their threat table - including Healers and DPSers, who often inadvertently draw aggro away from the Tank (especially in the opening moments of a battle).
However, Tanks cannot rely entirely on taunts to ensure that they maintain aggro on all creatures. All taunts are on cooldown timers of various lengths, thus ensuring that they will not always be available for use to secure aggro at all times.
Bioware's Community Q&A Explanations
In the Community Q&A: Feb 17th 2012, Bioware was asked for clarification on tanking mechanics. Here is the excerpt:
Fu-bear: Can you please confirm the exact mechanics behind Taunts? The tooltips purely state that it forces a mob to attack for X seconds, yet I've read reports that the skill appears to equalise threat like a traditional taunt. Can you clarify this?
Georg Zoeller: Taunts work in two ways. First, they instantly put you on top of the target’s threat list. Then, they place a short duration effect on the taunted target forcing them to attack you. Assuming that you then lose threat (say, you just stand there) the NPC will be forced to attack you for the duration of the Taunt. Afterwards, the AI will resume attacking targets based on threat order. If another Taunt is applied after yours, the most recently applied Taunt takes precedence.
Please note this is assuming regular threat rules – there are certain situations in the game, especially unique boss fights, which may cause NPCs to specifically ignore targets. In these cases, an ignored target will not be able to gain threat even with a taunt. In general, these situations are messaged to the player through effects on their buff bar – something we’re looking to make more visible in the future.
In the Community Q&A: Apr 20th 2012, Bioware explained de-taunts:
Cameron Winston (Combat Designer): De-taunt abilities reduce your threat level by a flat percentage of its current value.
Player To Player Taunting
Taunting can also refer to the act of challenging or mocking another player in game. Taunting is often seen in player versus player (PvP) environments, although it can happen anywhere.
In this context, taunting is a form of harassment, and is considered griefing. Griefing can be loosely defined as the act of intentionally annoying another player solely for the purposes of detracting from that player's enjoyment of the game. Griefing (and to a lesser extent, taunting) can sometimes be in violation of the Terms of Service (ToS) for an MMORPG.