In Video Games, a status effect is any temporary modification to a character's usual abilities or rules (especially rules of combat). These are virtually omnipresent among RPGs, but also show up in other genres of video gaming (often in direct proportion to other RPG Elements), and can show up in tabletop gaming as well. This provides opportunities for strategy and variety in gameplay by allowing a player to deal with foes (or vice versa) in ways other than simply reducing their Hit Points to zero; it's a favored strategy of the Gradual Grinder, among other things.
Because this is a very broad concept, status effects cover a wide variety of ground, but they can generally be classified into just two groups:
- Status Ailments are primarily negative, unwanted effects: Damage Over Time, restricting a character's actions, or so on. By far the more commonly encountered class of effects, these usually persist until explicitly cured or removed. At the same time, the player can easily acquire dedicated cures for each ailment at nearby shops.
- Status Buffs are primarily positive effects like boosted attack power, HP regeneration, etc. These are usually temporary effecs that typically wear off at the end of a given battle.
The two categories are not always exclusive — some effects are both positive and negative, which can make them good or bad depending on the context they're applied to. For example, if a system enforces a One Curse Limit on negative status effects, this means a character afflicted with a minor inconvenience may be protected from acquiring a more severe one. Likewise, an effect that increases damage dealt and damage received could work for or against the character who has it.
Typical sources of status effects include:
- spells and items that can directly (or indirectly) cause them
- enchanted equipment that imparts an effect to its wearer
- a nearby Field Power Effect from the environment itself
No Examples, Please — but only because trying to list all the games with some kind of status effect system would basically end up being a list of every RPG ever made.