RPG Status Effects

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game-design rpg

What are Status Effects?

What a way to open the article but with a question, indeed status effects.

If you’ve ever played an rpg before, one common status effect you may be familiar with is Poison, only curable by an antidote, and sometimes oddly sleeping it off (it’s a wonder what a good night’s rest solves in RPGs.)

In short status effects are normally temporary or semi-permament ailments or benefits (rarely) on an entity which normally negatively affect said entity in a myriad of ways, ranging from periodic damage, stuns, disablement or even annoying transformations.

But some of the most consistent effects are:

  • Poison
  • Berserk
  • Sleep
  • Petrification
  • Paralysis
  • Silence
  • Blindness
  • Charmed

Temporary effects are those that will solved after some time has passed, or by a simple interaction with the entity.

Semi-permanent effects are those that stick around and usually require some kind of “heal” or “cure” to remove the effect, that or dying, because dying always works.

Status Effects

Here are a list of some status effects, more may be added once I encounter them or find them interesting to write about.


Mostly an annoying status effect, berserk commonly forfeits control of an entity from the player and has it AI controlled.

But what exactly does Berserk do?

It varies from game to game, but the main effect is it causes the entity to attack whenever possible without regard for it’s own well being, these entities will ALWAYS use physical attacks where possible, even if they have magic.

Some implementations of berserk also act as a ‘buff’ raising the attack of the entity making them more potent in physical battles.

Most implementations have Berserk as a permanent effect, it can only be removed by some item or magic that can sooth the berserk or clear their mind.


Blindness is the enemy of any entity that needs to actually hit their target, as it aims to reduce their accuracy or hit rate.

This usually cripples low accuracy entities such as Berserkers, who often deal large amounts of damage, but at the cost of accuracy or even defense.

In some instances blindness can even affect the entity’s evasion making them unable to react to things like projectiles.

There are different variations of blindness, some temporary ones caused by things like a flash bang, or permanent like being shot in the eye with squid ink.


Burns are a form of “slip damage” effect, these effects tend to inflict damage at the intervals or in response to various actions.

Burns are kind of a discount form of poison in that they inflict a rather small amount of damage compared to poison, but have other effects, possibly reducing the physical strength of the afflicted entity.

Burns are permanent, and won’t simply go away after waiting it off.


Similar to the Berserk effect, charmed robs control of the entity, but instead of it attacking the enemy like it’s suppose to, the entity has been charmed to fight FOR the enemy.

Charmed enemies tend to have full access to their abilities and will fight to protect their charmer at all cost.

The effects of charm are normally temporary, however it will go away after control fades after some time, or they get a good smack over the head by a fellow teammate reminding them of their allegiance.


Fear is an interesting status effect, different implementations do different things, but the one I think of is a sort of berserk state, but instead of charging head first into the enemy, they are instead actively running away from those enemies.

Fear cripples entities and reduces their attacks to pathetic levels while forcing them to flee from their attackers.

In some cases only half of the effects are required to make it a good enough effect, having both would make it dreaded.

Fear is normally temporary and pretty short lived in most cases, only lasting a turn or so.


A frozen entity cannot move, cannot act, and is a brittle existence.

Freezing tends to restrict the entity so much that they become a sitting duck and only need a gentle nudge to head into the oblivion.

It essentially acts like Petrification, but reduces the entity’s physical resistances to 0, causing common damage to be absolutely devastating.

Freezing is temporary and an entity will dissolve after some time, unless they’re standing in a sub zero area.


Paralyzed entities normally have their speed reduced to 0, forcing them to act last, in the case of TRPG, it involves completely immobilizing them, they still their turn, but they can’t move.

In some implementations of Paralysis, like in Pokemon, the entity can still act, however they will occasionally be so paralyzed they can’t move for that turn.

Paralysis is a temporary or permanent effect, meaning it can either dissapate after a period of time or remain indefinitely.


Turned to stone, the entity is turned to stone, yeah stone.

Petrification like Frozen disables the entity completely, unlike Frozen, Petrification raises physical defenses to their highest level, rendering all physical attacks useless.

It’s like a standing brick wall, however some implementations of petrification make the entity more susceptible to magical damage.

Petrification is permanent effect, oddly curable by poking said entity with a gold needle, I’ll be honest a Dryad’s kiss sounds so much better than a needle shivers.


The most devastating, but normally easily cured status effect, Poison is the purest form of “slip damage”, it’s whole purpose is the inflict damage upon the entity at every given interval.

What makes Poison devastating when compared to a Burn or other slip damage effects, is it’s a stackable effect, meaning it can get worse, maybe at it’s basic level it was shaving a measly 1 HP off your 999 HP beat-stick, every turn, but then it “levelled-up” and now it’s scooping 200 HP off every turn, good luck keeping up with that, along with that 500 damage dragon that’s been pestering you for the last seven turns.

Burns hurt, Poison kills.

Poison is a permanent effect, easily curable by a cheap antidote (kinda strange when you consider, you can cure Poison from the Last Boss with the same antidote you used for your local snake bite, all hail the RPG chemists!?)


Rot is another form of slip damage, however it also affects those around the rotting entity, other entities that attack a rotting entity may also begin to rot, unless they’re undead, in which they will instead recover from the attack.

If an entity dies of rotting they cannot be revived, as they will turn into an undead and must be exorcised instead.

Rot is a permanent effect, and can be considered incurable with an item if you want to make it plenty dangerous,


Silence is golden, except for the party’s spellcaster, who’s been crying for the past few minutes against this Petite Dragon.

Silence is the enemy of every of every spellcaster who has ever needed to use an incantation in their life, unless you’re some OP MC, who’s oddly good at silent casting without any prior magic training, I call hacks.

Silence in many implementations is a skill or magic disablement effect, it’s so odd that being silenced suddenly renders your sword techniques useless, “if only I could shout DRAGON SLAAAAAASH”.

I believe Silence is one the most poorly implemented of all the status effects, instead of only restricting spoken abilities such as spell-casting, it goes as far as to restrict even physical skills.

Note This opinion is based on old JPRG experience, I haven’t played that many WRPGs.

Silence is can be a temporary or permanent effect, it’s main purpose is to disable spell casting and other skills.


Sleep is kind of like paralysis, except it’s temporary.

Sleep has the entity enter a resting state, in some implementations this could be used to recover MP, however this also lowers their defensive and evasive abilities.

As mentioned before, sleep is a temporary effect, and will either resolve after some time or after getting hit.


Zombies are afflicted with a berserk state, to make matters worse, magic that would usually heal them, now deal damage instead, dying while in zombie doesn’t rid the entity of the status effect either, the entity will continue to move even after reaching 0 HP, however by then a countdown timer will start before they completely collapse.

They will also recover from blighted land.

Unlike other status effects, Zombie has multiple states, one while alive, and another while dead.