Status effect

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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.

Role-playing game game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting

A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of structured decision-making of character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.

Player character fictional character in a role-playing or video game that can be played or controlled by a real-world person

A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.

Statistic (role-playing games) piece of data representing a particular aspect of a fictional character

A statistic in role-playing games is a piece of data that represents a particular aspect of a fictional character. That piece of data is usually a (unitless) integer or, in some cases, a set of dice.


Acquiring and removing status effects

A status effect in the abstract is a persistent consequence of a certain in-game event or action, and as such innumerable variants exist across the gaming field. Status effects may result from one character performing a certain type of attack on another. Players may acquire status effects by consuming items, casting spells on themselves or each other, activating devices in the world, interacting with NPCs, or remaining in a particular location. Meeting certain criteria may result in the character acquiring a condition, which can have a status effect associated with it; for example: if their hunger level is high they may acquire a 'starving' condition, which produces a status effect that reduces their health regeneration. Some games offer permanent status effects which persist for an entire level and act as modifications to the game's native difficulty.

A non-player character (NPC), also known as a non-playable character, is any character in a game which is not controlled by a player. In video games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer via algorithmic, predetermined or responsive behavior, but not necessarily true artificial intelligence. In traditional tabletop role-playing games, the term applies to characters controlled by the gamemaster or referee, rather than another player.

The process of removing a status effect varies as widely as the effects themselves. Some status effects expire after a certain amount of time has elapsed. Most games contain items capable of healing specific status effects, or rarer items which can heal all of them. Many games also include magic spells that can eliminate status effects. Status effects are often removed at the end of a battle or once the originating enemy is defeated, however some may persist until they are explicitly cured. Games which allow players to rest may remove some status effects when that action is taken. If a game has multiple classes, one will often be a class capable of healing, who will have a greater ability to remove negative status effects than other classes.

In role-playing games (RPG), a character class is a job or profession commonly used to differentiate the abilities of different game characters. A character class aggregates several abilities and aptitudes, and may also detail aspects of background and social standing, or impose behavior restrictions. Classes may be considered to represent archetypes, or specific careers. RPG systems that employ character classes often subdivide them into levels of accomplishment, to be attained by players during the course of the game. It is common for a character to remain in the same class for its lifetime; although some games allow characters to change class, or attain multiple classes. Some systems eschew the use of classes and levels entirely; others hybridise them with skill-based systems or emulate them with character templates.

In addition, many games have weapons, armor, or other equipment that can mitigate status effects or prevent a character from getting one in the first place. Depending on the game, some increase the chance to escape suffering the effect each time the player may potentially receive it, while others grant complete immunity. However, sometimes the equipment that is resisting an effect, will in exchange, as a penalty, increase vulnerability against a different effect, offering the player the opportunity to make tactical choices.

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:

Magic (gaming) attribute assigned to characters within a game

Magic or mana is an attribute assigned to characters within a role-playing or video game that indicates their power to use special abilities or "spells". Magic is usually measured in magic points or mana points, shortened as MP. Different abilities will use up different amounts of MP. When the MP of a character reaches zero, the character won't be able to use special abilities until some of their MP is recovered.


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:

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. Both buffs and debuffs are generally of a temporary nature, wearing off after a certain period of time.


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

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