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The in-game help mentions a technique called "special move canceling":

Lastly, take advantage of special move canceling! This is an advanced technique with which you can cut short the duration of certain moves, effectively becoming faster than usual. For example, try performing an evasive roll immediately after landing an attack, or while drinking a health tonic, and notice how the duration of those moves is cut short. Use this technique to create devastating attack combinations while staying out of harm's way!

Sounds cool! So this mentions these two combinations:

  • Defensive roll immediately after landing an attack
  • Defensive roll while drinking a health tonic

But it hints that there are more possible combinations that can lead to making some moves shorter. What are those combinations?

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So basically like Shield Canceling in Smash Bros.? – Raven Dreamer Aug 22 '11 at 22:55

Rather than provide an incomplete list of skills that are susceptible to this, let's look at how you can identify them yourself. A comprehensive list would take a while to compile and is not any more useful than being able to identify such skills yourself upon seeing them.

Special move cancelling works for any action that has an animation that goes beyond the point where the effect takes place. You can tell when the effect takes place when you see feedback from the UI. For example, when you pop a potion, you'll see the moment you get the health. Once that happens, you can either sit through the rest of the animation or roll out of it. Likewise, any weapon or skill that has an animation beyond the point where it deals damage are candidates for this. Simply roll to end the animation prematurely and continue on your way.

Rolling doesn't allow you to interrupt charging or reloading a weapon. You're able to walk during a reload just as early as you could roll, and attempting to roll doesn't have an effect. Likewise, cancelling 'Secret Skills' doesn't seem to be possible via a roll. I tested a few (such as burning carousel, the one that makes you spin around and shoot fire from your bellows in all directions), but admittedly not all of them (as it would have driven me crazy) and the roll did not end the skill prematurely.

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Any gun which has a reload animation (like the Dueling pistols, which slow you down while reloading) can be canceled by rolling.

Also, certain special moves (Q) have a small period of slowdown, or the effect of the move is instantaneous but there's a longer animation that plays. These moves can be rolled out of. Keep in mind that any special move that the effect is continuous (like Mirror Shield) cannot be roll cancelled.

One that come to mind is using the Scrap Musket and Final Warning and roll canceling out as soon as the shot is fired to negate the slowdown while the rest of the shot animation plays.

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I would have preferred a more comprehensive list, but the essence of your answer is still very useful, so thank you! – Oak Sep 4 '11 at 4:52

I'm often using the following combination because it offers high dammages, wide angle attack and an interesting move canceling: Scrap Musket + Brusher's Pike.

To use the move canceling, simply shoot the musket right after you attack with the pike. You can almost use the two weapons at the same time: you'll get a powerfull (but localized) attack with the pike and a regular (but wide and, if you use this upgrade, knock back) shot with the musket.

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