What is a Debuff? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]

Don’t you hate it when you’re playing an RPG or JRPG and notice your character gets hit with some odd spell and is now weaker than before? You panic and wonder why did you just die, you had the battle in your favor and should have won easily. Most likely the reason you died wasn’t because you failed to be a high enough level—though sometimes this is the case—but most likely it was because you were hit with what we in the gaming world know as a debuff. Confused on what that term even means? Don’t worry in our What is a Debuff article we’re about to teach you everything we can about this very important gaming term.

Now explaining the debuff concept might seem like a tough concept for many—especially those who are new to the gaming world—but for us here at Honey’s Anime we have a foolproof means of teaching. Down below will be several games that will be used to explain what a debuff is as well as show you how these in game concepts can be both healed and or used for your benefit. Don’t worry about being a newbie to the term debuff because by the end our article we will be sure to make you into masters of the term. Alright now without any more delay, let us explore this all too important gaming term.

A curse and a blessing

Debuffs can usually be a very dreadful thing, more so in the JRPG scene. A ill placed debuff can cause a high-level party of warriors to find their stats—such as defense, evasion and strength—reduced making them weak and all too easy to kill. However, most debuffs can also be utilized by you the player if you have the skills to launch them at your foes. That’s why it’s very important to know that a debuff can be both a curse and a blessing. If you’re still a bit confused, read down below as we show a few examples in the form of the very popular games Persona 5 and Pokemon Sun.

1. Persona 5

  • System/Platform: PS3, PS4
  • Publisher: Atlus, Atlus USA, Deep Silver (PAL)
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Release Date: Sept 15, 2016

A young man going home from school one day finds himself hearing a woman’s cry and runs to lend aid. Despite saving the woman from harm, the young man is seen as the criminal and ends up with an assault charge on his record forcing him to relocate from his current home and go to a family friend’s home/café. However, it would seem fate had this event in store for our young man who ends up getting involved in a strange world and gaining the power to summon other sides of himself in the form of Persona. The young man, as well as several others, will try to rid their city of evil hearts with their new powers as the vigilantes who will be known by everyone as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts.

The Persona series—though in this case Persona 5—is a great example to show how annoying debuffs can be but equally how they can help you out. In Persona 5 debuffs come in many forms such as Tarunda, an attack debuff and Rakunda which acts as a defensive debuff. Enemies will launch these and other skills to make your character extremely weak and vulnerable which can really be a headache. Luckily for you, curing them is easy enough by either waiting 3 turns—meaning you should go on a more defensive path then continue attacking—and or using items that can negate the effect such as Exorcism Water. Also, it’s important to note that while enemies can use these debuffs on you, your characters have the skills to use them as well. This is why we said while debuffs can be a truly bad thing, if you are capable of having the means to use them yourself they can really be a boon in a tough battle that might not be going your way.

Persona 5 Gameplay Trailer

2. Pokemon Sun

  • System/Platform: Nintendo 3DS
  • Publisher: The Pokemon Company
  • Developer: Game Freak
  • Release Date: Nov 18, 2016

Get ready to explore a whole new world in Pokemon Sun! Players will be leaving the all too familiar Kanto region and be heading for the Alola region where new Pokemon await to be tamed and captured. Let Professor Kukui guide you and teach you what new trials await you and your Pokemon friends. Explore Alola and defeat new trainers and gym leaders as you rise to become the number one of the region. The world of Pokemon Sun awaits so get your Rotom Dex ready and see if you can find all the new Pokemon awaiting to be discovered!

The long running and amazing Pokemon series may seem geared for younger audiences but the reality is that Pokemon games like Pokemon Sun can be quite tough. Battles will always test you with using new Pokemon and learning what skills work best to take down your opponents. Then seeing as how Pokemon Sun is in fact an RPG, there are several debuffs that can both help you against tough Pokemon and trainers but equally hurt you. These debuffs come in some different forms like Slow Start—which is an ability to cause your Pokemon or other Pokemon to suffer from halved attack and speed stats for several turns—and or the more classic Pokemon debuffs like Sand-Attack which lowers accuracy. These usually are best handled with just waiting them out or switching out Pokemon but can be quite annoying nonetheless. However, in tough gym fights or against tough trainers, these debuff skills will help you out immensely. Don’t fret if a move you’ve never heard of hits you, Pokemon Sun follows the same theme as past titles and warns you in the text box of the debuffs affect.

Pokemon Sun & Pokemon- Launch Trailer (Nintendo 3DS) (Official Trailer)

Can be not so obvious

In games like Pokemon Sun and Persona 5—the games mentioned above—when a debuff occurs, usually the game is polite enough to let you know with on screen text. You’ll be hit by an attack or spell and see on the screen a warning saying your attack or evasion has been affected. However, in the world of video games, you’re not always given warning in helpful ways, especially in the tough as nails Dark Souls series. These games have debuffs as well, but not all of them are overly obvious and often if a player is hit with them and is unaware of their effect they will find a swift death waiting for them around the next corner. So we can better explain what we mean, we’ll be talking about Dark Souls 3 specifically and explain what a debuff can look like when it’s not overly obvious.

3. Dark Souls 3

  • System/Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment, FromSoftware (JP)
  • Developer: FromSoftware
  • Release Date: Mar 24, 2016

Ashen One, you have a quest ahead of you. The kingdom of Lothric is dying thanks to the Age of Fire ending. Many others have tried to remedy this but all have failed. Ashen One you are the only means of either saving Lothric from dying out by rekindling the fire or snuffing it out and ending the Age of Fire forever more. Many will stand in your way to prevent you from completing this quest. Though with your strength and fortitude you can survive and claim your rightful destiny.

Many people forget that status effects can also be considered debuffs in games like Dark Souls 3. The concept of a debuff is in turn lowering a stat or decreasing your defense, which in turn, is also a status effect. This confusion isn’t helped when games like Dark Souls 3 tend to hide their debuffs behind reading about it via menus and online forums. Debuffs like Toxic not only poisons your character making them lose health but also lowers your stamina regeneration making escaping hard. Equally a debuff like Bleed makes you take more damage from enemies and can be a real nightmare if you get surrounded. Curing these usually comes in the form of items but you can also equip various rings that will negate or mitigate the effects. Just be sure to always look up these debuffs via in game menus or wiki sites.

Dark Souls III- Launch Trailer | PS4 (Official Trailer)

Final Thoughts

Debuffs can be a real nightmare to deal with in most RPGs and JRPGs. Even us here at Honey’s Anime have found ourselves cursing up a storm when a perfect battle goes against us suddenly thanks to an ill placed debuff. Hopefully, now though, you can at least better prepare yourself by knowing some tips on how to deal with debuffs as well as what they do. Though let us add that there are hundreds of video game titles out there meaning debuffs can come in a wide variety of different names and effects, so just be sure to not feel bad about looking them online or asking us here at Honey’s Anime via the comments. Now then hopefully you enjoyed our What is a Debuff article and if you did keep coming back to Honey’s Anime for more articles like this one.

Dark-Souls-III-wallpaper-700x394 What is a Debuff? [Gaming Definition, Meaning]


Author: Aaron

Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!

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