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A debuff is the contrary of a buff. It is an effect that while it persists hampers the target in some way. Among other effects, debuffs frequently lower attributes, hinder the effectiveness of the target's actions, or cause damage over time.[1]

Sometimes the term debuff is also used to describe the act of removing buffs on hostile targets, but it is better to refer to such an action as a dispel or cure after the common spells that remove such effects. Another popular name for removing debuffs is decurse.

A good example for a multi-function debuff is the Hunter's Mark. All attackers on that target gain increased ranged attack power; additionally the target cannot hide from the Hunter, no matter if they stealth, turn invisible, or morph into beast form. Hunter's Mark, being in the Arcane school, is removable with Cloak of Shadows and other skills and talents which remove magical debuffs.

Debuffs come in many varieties and most of them are race/class specific spells or abilities.

Debuffs are also color coded, with poison debuffs having a green border, magic debuffs a blue border, physical debuffs a red border, diseases a brown border, and curses a purple border.


There is no effective limit on the number of debuffs that may be applied to a creature at one time.[2] Prior to the release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, a single target could have at most 40 debuffs at one time.[3]

Similar debuffs generally do not stack with eachother. [4] One prominent exception is damage over time debuffs, multiple copies of the same damage over time debuff from the same character generally don't stack with eachother, however multiple damage over time debuffs from the same character and multiple copies of the same damage over time debuff from different characters will generally stack.

Examples of Debuffs

Dispelling Debuffs

A list of types of debuffs, the classes that can remove them and the earliest level that class gains the ability.

  • Poison: Paladin (8), Druid (14), Shaman (16),
  • Disease: Paladin (8), Shaman (22), Priest (22)
  • Magic: Priest (18), Warlock [Felhunter] (30), Paladin (42)
  • Curse: Mage (18), Druid (24), Shaman (Resto talent, 40)

Examples of Abilities that Cure or Dispel

Unclassified Debuffs

Some debuffs are not classified in any way, and as such can not be dispelled by any class. There are some exceptions to this - some Bleed effects, which are unclassified, can be cured by using a Luffa or the Dwarven racial ability Stoneform. Also, Paladins can dispel nearly any debuff on themselves by using Divine Shield, as can Mages by using Ice Block.

List of shared (non-stacking) debuffs

Armor reduction
Attack speed lowering (melee)

Attack speed lowering (ranged)
Attack power reduction (melee and ranged)
  • Paladin [Vindication]: Scales with level, -574 fully talented @ level 80.
Attack power reduction (melee only)
Casting time increase
Critical strike chance against target increase
  • Paladin [Heart of the Crusader]: Tier 2 Retribution talent, 3 ranks, +1/2/3% against targets debuffed by Judgements.
  • Rogue [Master Poisoner]: Tier 9 Assassination talent, 3 ranks, +1/2/3% against targets poisoned by the rogue.
  • Shaman [Totem of Wrath]: Tier 9 Elemental talent ability, +3% against foes within 40 yards of the totem, each shaman can only have one active Fire Totem at a time.
Critical strike chance against target increase (spells only)
  • Mage [Winter's Chill]: Tier 6 frost talent, 3 ranks, gives frost talent spells a 100% chance to apply the Winter's Chill debuff @ max rank, increasing spell critical strike chance by 1% per stack, stacks up to 5 times.
  • Mage [Improved Scorch]: Tier 4 fire talent, 3 ranks, gives [Scorch] a 100% chance to apply the Improved Scorch debuff @ max rank, increasing spell critical strike chance by 5%.
  • Warlock [Improved Shadow Bolt]: Tier 1 Destruction talent, 5 ranks, causes [Shadow Bolt] to increase spell critical strike damage against the target by 5% @ max rank.
Damage received increase (bleed)
  • Druid [Mangle (Bear)] / [Mangle (Cat)]: Tier 9 Feral Combat talent abilities, +30%.
  • Hunter [Stampede]: Rhino ability, +25%, 12 second duration, 1 minute cooldown. Rhinos can only be tamed with Beast Mastery, the tier 11 Beast Mastery talent.
  • Warrior [Trauma]: Tier 6 Arms talent, +30%, triggered by melee critical strikes.
Damage received increase (magic)
  • Death Knight [Ebon Plaguebringer]: Tier 9 Unholy talent, 3 ranks, requires 3 ranks of [Crypt Fever]. The death knight's diseases cause [Ebon Plague] instead of Crypt Fever, in addition to Crypt Fever's disease damage increase, Ebon Plague increases magic damage by 13% @ max rank.
  • Druid [Earth and Moon]: Tier 10 Balance talent, 3 ranks. Causes the druid's [Starfire] and [Wrath] spells to apply the Earth and Moon debuff, which increases magic damage taken by 13% @ max rank.
  • Warlock [Curse of the Elements]: +13% @ max rank, also reduces Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature and Shadow resistance.
Damage received increase (physical)
  • Rogue [Savage Combat]: Tier 9 Combat talent, 2 ranks, causes the rogue's poison debuffs to increase physical damage caused to the target by 4%.
  • Warrior [Blood Frenzy]: Tier 9 Arms talent, 2 ranks, causes [Deep Wounds] and [Rend] to increase physical damage caused to the target by 4%.
  • Death Knight [Brittle Bones]: Frost talent, 2 ranks, causes [Frost Fever] to increase physical damage caused to the target by 4%.
Healing received decrease
  • Mage [Permafrost]: Tier 2 Frost talent, 3 ranks, -20% @ max rank.
  • Hunter [Aimed Shot]: Tier 3 Marksmanship talent ability, -50%.
  • Priest [Improved Mind Blast]: Tier 3 Shadow talent, 5 ranks, -20%, 100% chance of being applied @ max rank by Mind Blast while in Shadowform @ max rank.
  • Rogue [Wound Poison]: -50%, each weapon can only have one poison applied to it at a time.
  • Warrior [Furious Attacks]: Tier 8 Fury talent, 2 ranks, gives whit melee attacks a chance to reduce healing by 25%, stacks 2 times, higher proc rate @ rank 2.
  • Warrior [Mortal Strike]: Tier 7 Arms talent ability, -50%.
Hit chance decrease (melee and ranged)
Hit chance against target increase (spell)

See also


  1. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Blizzard. Spells & Abilities. Retrieved on 2009-06-12. “A debuff is a buff with negative effects, such as Curse of Tongues. Spells like these do damage over time, or modify your character in a negative way.”
  2. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Daelo 2008-12-03. The Debuff Limit and You. Archived from the original on 2008-12-03. Retrieved on 2009-06-12.
  3. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Vaneras 2006-08-14. 14/08 New debuff limit. Retrieved on 2009-06-12.
  4. ^ Blizzard Entertainment Zarhym 2008-08-28. 3.0.2 - On Debuffs, Buffs, and Raid Stacking. Archived from the original on 2008-08-28. Retrieved on 2009-06-12.