An ability that gives a temporary boost of one form or another to a character or an ally. Often called just a "buff". Can be a cast spell, a technological ability, or can be packaged as a single-use item like a potion or drug.
The defining characteristic is that the buff must be temporary. Some must target a specific character for the effect, but more recently "auras", or area-effect constant buffs, have become popular. These apply to all allies inside a range of the caster, with a possible maximum number of total affected. This reduces micromanagement of buffing, but auras most often have a lesser effect than a straight buff spell.
These boosts can overlap with the concept of the Power-Up, in that both make your character stronger. Having said that, Power Ups are more likely to be found in single-player games, and are always stumbled upon in the game-world instead of being bestowed upon you by a third party. Similarly, a Field Power Effect is usually due to external and non-human forces affecting the strength of a set of characters.
For the narrative equivalent, please see Magic Enhancement.
Some standout types:
- Heal, basic repair of damage. This, along with revive, is common enough to warrant separate discussion.
- Cure or Clear, which removes certain Standard Status Effects. Used in Final Fantasy, where in many entries this is called Esuna (or Heal) and healing is called Cure, and by the Terran Medic in StarCraft as "restore". Also, many status effects, like poison, have separate specialized cures, like Antidote.
- Ability Up whether it's Strength, Speed, Defense, Magic, or other stats, this will grant the recipient of these spells a temporary flat increase to that stat, thus improving all internal calculations derived from it (be it damage, healing, accuracy, or so on). In some games this is an "official" buff that can be neutralized by a Status Buff Dispel. In some games, there may be just one of these - usually for Attack, while in others, they may be absent, except for increasing levels of Agility Up/Down.
- Many games that have the Ability Up buff will also have a corresponding Ability Down as the negative counterpart, and the two may cancel each other out.
- Reflect causes spells or attacks to deflect off of the intended target and hit something else instead, usually a member of the opposite party. In some cases this makes no distinction between friendly or hostile magic: If you cast Reflect on an opponent, any attempts by them to cast recovery spells or status buffs of their own may bounce onto you instead.
- Also, most spells will only reflect once before they strike the target; a player can pierce an opponent's Reflect by placing their own Reflect on an ally and bouncing spells off of them.
- Haste speeds up the character. This is distinct from a Speed buff as listed above: Whereas a Speed buff will improve internal calculations (say, accuracy and evasion) derived from one's Speed, Haste actually multiplies the number of turns or actions the character is given during battle. In games featuring a "Slow" status effect, the two will usually cancel each other out.
- Regeneration slowly restores a character's HP. In turn-based games, it will heal a set amount of HP every turn. Although it's the polar opposite of Poison, it doesn't usually directly cancel poison out; rather both effects go at the same time, which may or may not even out depending on the game.
- Charge/Focus increases the effect of the next attack or spell used. Many of these are self-used, effectively using two turns/actions for a single, stronger attack (which, depending on the game rules and opponent's defensive strength, can be more effective than two regular attacks).
- Protect reduces damage taken, often by a specific source. Many games have variations on this for different types of damage (e.g. physical or magic), and some even going as far as having Protect spells against individual elements. A partial reflect may or may not be built in.
Some spell-casting character classes specialize in these enhancements, and they become everyone's friend very quickly when playing in a multiplayer environment, especially when they double as a healer. By the same token, these classes often have trouble looking out for themselves. The characters that specialize in buffs and healing/repairs are often called "support classes", although this classifier is really a superset encompassing any non-combat roles on a team.
Watch out for enemies that can cast a Status Buff Dispel.
- Clerics in Dungeons & Dragons are classic buff specialists, but they have the flexibility to not be one if they so choose. Likewise, wizards and sorcerers are typically combat-oriented blasters or mezzers, but can do as buff specialists in a pinch. A Bard's only non-standard, non-spell ability in combat is to buff party members with their songs, while a "Gish" is a character, usually multiclassed, that combines magical buffs with top-notch combat skills.
- D&D also has a metamagic feat called Chain Spell, that makes a spell hit a number of secondary targets. It will do half damage and be easier to resist though. Of course buffs do not do damage and there is no reason to choose to resist them, making them an easy means of getting full party buffs as there is no drawback. Of course the same is true for Dispel Magic, which if Chained is assured of crippling any competent mid or high level opponent long enough to finish them off.
- Priests in World of Warcraft provide many, including resurrection. Most spellcasters have at least one buff spell.
- Even Warriors and Rogues have some buff effects, although largely self-targeting abilities.
- Druids are also notable for having no less than 3 types of Regeneration buffs. A normal one, one with a instant effect at the beginning and one with an instant effect when it expires.
- Final Fantasy XI has the majority of job classes be able to perform at least one or two buffs on themselves. Red Mages can buff themselves to ridiculous amounts, with White Mages being similar, but having better healing abilities as well as area-of-effect versions of the spells Red Mages know. Bards and Corsairs both have powerful area buffs, but can only have two of them on a player at a time. Summoners possess a few area buffs as well, but have to deal with a 1-minute timer, as well as the large MP cost.
- Regen in Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX are Game Breakers because they heal in real time instead of at the end of every turn, meaning you can either in the former game's case open the Playstation's lid while the characters are doing their magic casting animation, or in the latter game, just fire off a summon spell and be 100% fighting fit once the animation finishes.
- In Final Fantasy VI, Regen is comparatively useless—unless your Stamina is high, it heals very little damage and is per-turn. Even worse, that Vitality stat determines how much damage you take from poisoning: the higher the Vitality, the more damage you take per turn.
- Paladins in Diablo II were a lackluster fighter class at high levels, but were valued for their auras and healing abilities.
- Many unit types in Warcraft III, especially the unique hero units, have buffs and auras that aid their subordinates in battle.
- Buffing drugs are found in Fallout. Buffouts were a steroid that increased strength, Mentats boost mental attributes, and other drugs repair or prevent radiation poisoning. Psycho gives enough damage reduction to make one almost invincible, with a side effect of lowering the intelligence by three ranks for its duration. Notable in that all these drugs carry a chance to suffer addiction.
- The sequel also had Jet, which boosted speed and (IIRC) temporarily increased action points. Though it had the most crippling addiction.
- City of Heroes and City Of Villains are rife with a wide assortment of buffs: Inspirations are one variety which can be bought in stores or are dropped by foes; many of the power sets include buffing (and debuffing) powers of one type or another; and members of a supergroup who have the appropriate equipment installed in their base can actually build buffs for personal use.
- Pokémon has buffs that can affect every stat, including several (like evasion and accuracy) which aren't made obvious to the player. On top of that, there is a move, called Psych Up, which instantly copies all buffs an opponent has used.
- Stat changing buffs do not wear off with time, but are only lost if the buffed Pokemon switches out. Switching is fairly common in competitive play however, Light Screen, Reflect and Safeguard do expire however.
- Also, the move "Baton Pass" allows a Pokémon to switch out with another party member and transfer all status buffs to it. It also transfers all status debuffs, like being locked into battle (Mean Look, Shadow Hold), infatuation (unless the entrant is the same gender as the infatuator or genderless), and confusion. The only status debuffs it won't transfer are the cardinals (Burn, Freeze, Poison, Paralyze, Sleep, Faint).
- As mentioned above, StarCraft also has a few. Terran Medics can heal organic allies and remove status effects of all allied units, while Science Vessels can apply a Defense Matrix on allies (which gives the unit a ~250Hp temporary shield). Infantry for the Terrans also had the stimpack, a haste ability that did damage to the user. The game is generally more keen on Standard Status Effects though.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and its sequel have all fronts covered, and then some. New types in the sequel include Leap (increased movement range and higher jumps), Resilience (harder to hit with Debuffs), Spellbound/Extend (buffs and debuffs last longer), Tranq (most attacks have 30% add to their hit chance, essentially the opposite of Blind), and a few unique buffs for the Cannonier class that serve to enhance the next normal attack (variations of Charge, so to speak)
- The new system Tonberries have to follow forces them to cast a spell to "aim" at a unit before using their signature Grudge skills, which applies a special buff to them and a special debuff to their intended target, and only then can they Grudge the marked unit. In fact, a powerful Tonberry later in the game has the ability to circumvent this as his entire special property.
- Aside from Summon Magic, this is Caro's specialty in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. Her buffs include Acceleration for speed, Strike Power for melee attacks, and Energy Boost for magical effects.
- Magic: The Gathering has many buff type Instants such as Giant Growth, which temporarily increases a creature's attack and defense until the end of turn. There are also auras, but those are permanent.
- To put it in context, instants can be played at any time, last until the end of the turn, and cannot be dispelled (though they can be countered); while auras, while permanent, can be removed at any time, and can only be played during your turn but generally not during combat.
- The EarthBound series has plenty. In this case, the Status Buff Dispel is a good thing, because if the enemy has the ability to cancel out your buffs and debuffs, that also means they have the ability to use very powerful PSI attacks. And wouldn't you rather keep them busy cancelling out buffs than attacking you?
- In Mother 3, buffing and debuffing are vital to winning boss fights; bosses have such high attack and defense stats that they have to be lowered to win unless you're highly overleveled.
- Seiken Densetsu 3 has an entire character devoted to them: Rise/Lise, at least her light classes. (Her dark classes devote themselves to Standard Status Effects instead). Lots of other characters can use some of the same spells, but with limits; Monk Kevin, for example, can give himself a strength buff, but only himself. Rise can give the entire party that same buff within ten seconds.
- If a spell's name ends in "-kaja" in Shin Megami Tensei, it's a status buff. Debuffs end in "-unda". Learn them very quickly or you're finished.
- Two exceptions are Dekaja and Dekunda. Dekaja is a Status Buff Dispel, while Dekunda washes debuffs off your characters and is a LIFESAVER when you get hit with Debilitate (another exception, and one you will learn to DREAD).
- The language used for the stats being targeted is consistent throughout the series with one exception. "Taru-" is attack power, "Raku-" is defense, and "Suku-" is agility and accuracy. The exception is magic power - sometimes it's folded into "Taru-", while in some games (such as Digital Devil Saga) it has its own category, "Maka-". Debilitate will lower all stats. Some games include Heat Riser/Luster Candy, which will buff all stats. While enemies seldom use Luster Candy or Heat Riser, they will gleefully abuse all other status buffs and debuffs.
- There are also the Power Charge and Mind Charge spells, which will typically multiply the damage of the user's next physical or magical, respectively, attack by 2.5 or increase the chance of instant death when casting Hama or Mudo.
- After the first game, Shadow Hearts is fond of these. One of the perks of the final available fusion in either game is that it has a spell that grants all available buffs to the entire party.
- Witch and Angel Borgs in Gotcha Force exist mostly for this reason. They can use the Haste and Strength buffs, as well as debuffs of the same.
- The Dragon Quest series has grown to include an enormous variety of buffing magic spells and abilities, such as Bikill/Oomph (doubles one character's attack power for a while, but they can't get critical hits), Upper/Buff and Increase/Kabuff (raise one ally's defense, or the party's defense), SpeedUp/Acceleratle (boost the party's agility), Barrier/Insulatle (protect the party from fire and ice), and Bounce (create a barrier that reflects magic spells cast on the target). In earlier games, many monsters and some AI-controlled characters could spend a turn gathering their strength, in order to make their next attack stronger. Later on this ability was made available to your characters, as Psyche Up. Dragon Quest VIII made it even better by allowing you to Psyche Up multiple times to build up even more power, eventually giving you the appearance of having Super Saiyan hair, as can be largely expected because of the character designer being Akira Toriyama.
- One of the more memorable buffs from the Dragon Quest series is the Be Dragon spell, or Puff as it is now known, which turned the spellcaster into a fire-breathing dragon for a few turns.
- Breath of Fire games have most of these, and the good thing is most of them are stackable. This is particularly helpful when doing a "No Dragon Forms" run, especially in the third game, since Ryu is the best healer and second-best buffer.
- Although this is the specialty of Kingdom of Loathing's Accordion Thieves, every class gets at least two buff effects. They, like the Negative Staus Effects, last for a certain number of turns, and are listed as effects under your character pane.
- zOMG! has many rings that are buffs, including a passive, persistent buff in the Fitness ring. Some are single-target buffs (and some of these are ally-only or self-only), while some affect all players that were near the user when it was activated. Many buff rings also boost an additional stat or have a wider area of effect when used at higher Rage Ranks. And then there are the buffs that target all players on the screen even at the lowest Rage Rank...
- In Brutal Legend, Eddie also has a guitar solo that temporarily boosts the offensive power of all units near him, the Rock Crusher boosts nearby allied damage. In solo mode once you free enough Dragon Statues, Eddie's mere presence boosts the regeneration rate of all units around him. The guitarists also heal allies and the Doviculus also has the ability to tear out his heart and use it for a solo to increase the power of his allies. His army also has extremely potent regenerative abilities. Drowned Ophelia has a spell to heal allies and the zeppelin heals as well, but the army mostly relies on weakening enemies, as many of their units have weakening auras and unlike the Ironheade's buffs, theirs stack.
- Skies of Arcadia has Increm, which is a flat 25% boost to offense and defense. It's the second Red Magic spell. Advice to new players: build the Red Magic stat, build it for everyone, build it fast.
- A second spell, Quicka, is the game's equivalent of Haste. Not always useful, except for one certain Boss Battle, where it's a lifesaver.
- Xenosaga Episode I has perhaps the most specific Status Buff in gaming history: MOMO Guard, which buffs Ziggy's attack and defense when MOMO is in the active party, but in the back row.
- Magic-specialist classes (Harvest Clerics and Macabre Dancers) in .hack GU can learn many kinds of status buff spells, such as Ap Do (25% speed boost), Ap Corv (strength boost) and so on.
- A few weapons in Team Fortress 2 will provide buffs. The most obvious is the Soldier's Buff Banner, which when deployed will give everyone rallied around the Soldier mini-crits for a set amount of time. The Medic's Ubercharge and Klitzkreig also provide buffs, proving invulnerability and critical hits respectively. The Heavy's Killer Gloves of Boxing will give him 5 seconds of critical hits when he successfully kills someone. The Scout's energy drinks Bonk! and Crit-A-Cola boost his speed and attack, respectively. The Demoman's Chargin' Targe gives him mini-crits mid-charge and regular crits at the end of a charge. Also, after capturing the intelligence, the capturing team all gets a period of critical hits.
- Uther from Fate Nuovo Guerra has the personal skill 'Dragon Attribute', which serves as both defense up and as protection against Standard Status Effects. The downside is that its high level makes him vulnerable to anti-dragon weapons.
- In Mitsumete Knight R : Daibouken Hen, while all characters have access to basic healing spells, higher healing spells and specific status buff spells are character-exclusive, so you have to carefully pick the two female characters of your party out of the five available. There are also four variants of target-affecting status spells : some buff the caster only ; others affect the caster and all his allies ; a few affect the enemies' stats ; and one character, Sophia, has a spell named "Love Song" that buffs The Hero only.
- Non-game example: This is the effect of Ako Izumi's Pactio in Mahou Sensei Negima, via her using a HUGE syringe to inject a Super Serum that increases your speed/strength/stamina... IN THE BUTT!.
- Earlier, Nodoka learns and uses a reinforcement spell to rob Dynamis of his staff.
- The Pactio system has a facility for buffing strength and defence by drawing upon the mage's power, but it hasn't seen use for a long time.
- Another non-game example: In Harry Potter, various spells and potions can be used to grant the characters temporary increases in what we would consider various stats. Most obvious among them being the Supersensory Charm (granting super senses for the duration of the spells effect) and the Felix Felicis potion (granting increased luck for a set period of time). Other, less well-known or useful ones exist, and the fandom delights in inventing more for the purposes of their stories.
- In Star Trek Armada II, Frigates exist solely to provide status buffs to your fleet. The Federation Aegian Class increases the shield strength of nearby ships, while the Klingon equivalent, the Koloth Class, increases the weapon damage of nearby vessels. The Romulan Veles Class vessel allows nearby ships to fire weapons while cloaked, and the Borg Harmonic Defender increases energy regeneration, allowing other ships to use special weapons more frequently.
- Nearly all types are present in Academagia and depending on the specific spell they can be cast on your character, NPCs, or both. Specifically, there are spells to heal damage, reduce stress, temporarily increase certain Skills or Attributes, and even give temporary increases in the chance for success on difficulty roles. There are also spells that can debuff, or impose negative conditions, to other students as well.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic each class has one buff that they can share with other players in the group. Some classes also have additional buffs, for example Sith Warrior's different forms (for tanking or damage).
- Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, Super Robot Wars Destiny and Super Robot Wars Z 2: Saisei-Hen have Basara from Macross 7. The following songs in Super Robot Wars Z 2: Saisei-Hen give the corresponding buffs to his allies:
- Planet Dance: Heals HP
- Totsugeki Love Heart: Raises Morale
- My Friends: Heals SP
- Try Again: Raises Stats
- Dynamite Explosion: Gives Spirit Commands (Fortune, Effort, Accelerate, Flash)
- Dark Souls has plenty. Some of them come from weapons, others come from rings and armor. Heal, cure, regeneration, ability up, reflect, and protect are all present as are many other unique buffs. Debuffs also show up, like slow and poison.