Buff (video gaming)

For the usage of the term buff in relation to game updates, see Nerf (video gaming).

In role-playing games, a status effect is a temporary modification to a game character’s original set of stats that usually comes into play when special powers and abilities (such as spells) are used, often during combat. It appears in numerous computer and video games of many genres, most commonly in role-playing video games. The term status effect can be applied both to changes that provide a character an advantage (increased attributes, defensive barriers, regeneration), and those that hinder the character (decreased attributes, incapacitation, degeneration). Especially in MMORPGs, beneficial effects are referred to as buffs, and hindering effects are called debuffs.

Curing status effects

This matter varies as widely as the effects themselves and the games in which they appear. Some status effects go away on their own after a certain amount of time has elapsed. Most games contain items capable of healing status effects. Often these items heal a specific status effect, though many games also include one or more universal status effect removing items. Many games also include magic spells that can eliminate status effects. Most of the time status effects are removed at the end of a battle, however in some cases they continue to persist until either they are cured or until the character rests. Games with classes most likely will include a class capable of healing, which by default will have a chance to remove negative effects.

In addition, many games have weapons, armor, or other equipment that can prevent a character from getting a status effect in the first place. Depending on the game, some add a percentile amount of chance to resist given effect each time the player is affected by it, while others make them completely immune to an effect. However, sometimes the equipment that is resisting an effect, will in exchange, as a penalty, grant vulnerability against a different effect. This forces players to think tactically in games that utilize this method of defense.

Buffs and debuffs

In many MMORPGs, the terms buff and debuff are commonly used to describe status effects. Some spells or powers may debuff an enemy while buffing an ally at the same time.


Buff is the term generically used to describe a positive status effect that affects mainly player or enemy statistics (usually cast as a spell). Examples of buffs include:

  • Increase the movement speed of the target.
  • Increase the attack speed of the target.
  • Increase the health points of the target.
  • Increase target's perception.
  • Increase target's physical defense.
  • Heal the target over time for a period of time.
  • Boost the damage output of the target.


Debuffs are effects that may negatively impact a player character or a non-player character in some way other than reducing their hit points. Some examples of debuffs are:

  • Reduce the movement speed of the target.
  • Reduce the attack speed of the target.
  • Decrease the resistance of the target to various elements or forms of attack.
  • Reduce the stats of the target.
  • Cripple target's perception.
  • Lower target's physical defense.
  • Drain target's health capacity.

There are countless other debuffs, depending on the game played, though all share the same concept: to make a certain target less powerful in one or more aspects.

Buffs and debuffs in MMORPG gameplay

Buffs and debuffs play a more significant role in MMORPGs than in most single-player games. This is due to the factor known as hate, or aggro. Hate determines the target priority of monsters in instances and encounters, and a spellcaster that casts debuffs, especially early on in a fight, will suddenly find him- or herself drawing a lot of unfriendly attention. Buffs tend to draw less hate from mobs when compared to debuffs, healing, or direct damage spells, but in a PvP battle may make the caster a target in order to deny the buff to the enemy force.


Many modern Real Time Strategy games have hero units, single units that are powerful, but limited in number (usually only one of a single type allowed). In addition to their normally very high stats, many heroes also have auras which confer beneficial status effects or attribute bonuses to any friendly units that enter within a certain radius of the hero. This makes the hero unit an important factor in an engagement as, in addition to their formidable combat skills and powerful abilities, they also make the units around them more effective.

Some heroes and spellcaster units can also confer or inflict buffs, debuffs, and other status effects to units as spells.

See also

External links

  • Giant Bomb
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