'Buff' is a term to describe an effect (usually cast as a spell) that temporarily enhances a player. The rest of this article will concern this usage. These buffs may last for a predetermined amount of time, or until the player actively cancels them. The opposite of this sense of 'buff' is 'debuff'. There is great variety in what buffs can do, but common types of buffs are:
- Increase the stats of the target. This can include things like strength, dexterity, HP, MP, and so on. Increased stats often allow for greater damage-dealing capability or greater survivability.
- Increase the movement rate of the target. Often this is extremely useful, allowing the target to spend less time traveling.
- Change how the target interacts with the world. This may include vision enhancements like 'see invisible', or 'water breathing' for traveling or fighting underwater.
- Augment one or more of the elemental resistances of the target. These would be used when traveling in hazardous regions like lava fields, or when combating mobs who primarily attack with a particular element.
- Increase the attack speed of the target ('haste'). This allows for same or higher damage done to the mob the target is fighting in a smaller amount of time.
- Add an elemental property to a character's attackers, allowing the character to deal more damage against enemies with a weakness against that element.
Buffs in many cases don't generate as much hate as other actions players can perform, such as direct damage spells, healing spells, or debuffs.
Classes with the ability to buff other players are also the healing classes, such as Clerics and Paladins or buff specific classes such as Archons or Bards. The players of these classes are often begged for buffs by beginning players, who want the buffs to be able to kill mobs or hostile player faster. Buffing classes often complain that they receive very little respect, and that many players take them and their buffs for granted.
'Debuff' (or 'hex') is an effect that may negatively impact a player character (PC) or a non-player character (NPC) in some way other than directly dealing damage. Effectively, these are the reverse of buffs. For every buff effect that increases some quantity, there is usually a debuff that decreases it. Some of the following things are done by typical debuffs:
- Reduce the physical stats of the target. This kind of debuff weakens the target, often causing it to do less damage or take more.
- Reduce the movement speed of the target ('snare').
- Inflict other negative status effects on the target, such as blindness, slow, or silence. The affected enemy will no longer be as capable as it was.
- Decrease the resistance of the target to fire, cold, air, etc. This kind of debuff makes a mob or hostile player more vulnerable to special attacks such as spells.
There are other effects that are technically debuffs, but are primarily used for crowd control, and thus in a different conceptual category. These include 'roots' (stop target movement), 'stuns' (interrupts spells, removes combat queues), 'sleeps' (cause target to cease all activity for a fixed length of time, or until damaged) or 'fears' (causes target to randomly run around for a brief period of time, effectively disabling all actions).