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In a RPG party, if

  • Tank → Front line in case the party should be dealt damage

  • Damage Dealer → Deals damage to enemies

  • Healer → Heals teammates

  • etc.

… what's the name of the role for the character that buffs teammates (using spells or auras)?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 8 at 9:25
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The term I have heard the most would be Support, as it is their role to assist the other party members.

While in a lot of system Healers double as Supports, or Supports double as Healers, they're not the same thing. It highly depends on the system, though.


For demonstration of these terms: My next character in an upcoming Pathfinder campaign is a "Rogue oriented Heal and Support". Using this exact phrasing got the message across to the group.

Of course, and I can not stress this enough, it highly depends on the system. Support is kind of a generic name to designate a lot of different things.

Healers can be considered support, and are perhaps the most essential and wide represented "sub-specialization"... Until you use a setting where there is no Healer.

Skill Monkeys in D&D/Pathfinder are "enablers" (thanks @Mast for the term - very fitting), and could be considered as Support. But I rarely saw the term Skill Monkey outside of those systems.

So yes, Support is a voluntarily broad term, that might encompass other things - but it suits the description (someone giving buff is a Support) and is commonly used enough for people to understand the role you want to play.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast It's one of those things that comes naturally. A buff supports your teammates. A support is an enabler. It doesn't do much of itself, except making sure the rest does their task better. There's simply no term that fits better, hence it comes naturally to call it a support. If a better term is required, one that could have sources, it won't be system-agnostic anymore, I think. \$\endgroup\$ – Mast Nov 6 at 8:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, but Support is also a broader term. Sometimes crowd control specialists can also be termed support - like stun locking hostiles so your glass canon can go to town with little danger, or grouping up enemies for higher fireball efficiency. \$\endgroup\$ – Gloweye Nov 6 at 8:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gloweye: Context is key. Support is the correct label OP is looking for in the given context, but that doesn't mean that support can only mean one thing regardless of context. Your grandma cheering you on from the sidelines and the guy who fixes your phone for you are both also a form of support but that's not really the context of the question. Stunlockers or kiters can be considered a kind of support in a tacitcal discussion, but if you tell me you are picking a "support class", I'm going to infer you mean party buffs. \$\endgroup\$ – Flater Nov 6 at 11:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, i completely agree the answer here is accurate. I've upvoted it. But I thought it useful to mention the term is broader than just buffs (which was more relevant to the earlier revision of the answer than to the current revision). \$\endgroup\$ – Gloweye Nov 6 at 11:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is more true in video games than table tops, but support can also mean a role that debuffs enemies. \$\endgroup\$ – Captain Man Nov 6 at 16:18
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While Support is the most common name—found widely even outside of RPGs, as video games use it frequently as well—it may be worth noting that the official terminology for D&D 4e—the only edition of D&D to officially codify roles like this—is that such classes are “Leaders.” That terminology may be used by D&D 4e players in other systems, even non-D&D systems, so it’s worth being aware of.

For the record, the four codified roles in D&D 4e were Controller, Defender, Leader, and Striker. Striker is cognate to DPS; Leader, as stated, is about buffs (and also healing). Defender is the tank, about aggro and soaking punishment. Controller is about area-effect stuff, especially things that disrupt enemy formations, deny particular areas of the battlefield, or otherwise gets in enemies’ way—in many games, this might be considered a form of support.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth adding that there are also variants of Support that aren't Healers or Leaders. One such variant would be the 4e Controller, which supports other characters by de-buffing enemies and restricting enemies' movement options. Then again, this question is also specifically about the "buff allies" variant, so this might be irrelevant. \$\endgroup\$ – MrSpudtastic Nov 5 at 17:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ In our games (ShadowRun) often Support is so occupied by "buffing" others, that he cannot do anything else and the Leader of our party is somebody totally else, like Fighter opening the way by killing enemies and choosing ways to go. Or Rigger using its drones to scout and oversee area and providing communication to all and directing the team where needed. Or a Face, who negotiate and the rest of team provides him with all kind of support, from informations to buffing him with spells to intimidating opposition. (Its another world, another story, another rules, but it is marked system-agnostic) \$\endgroup\$ – gilhad Nov 7 at 0:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @gilhad The 4e term “Leader” was always a kind of misnomer—it doesn’t really have anything in particular to do with actually leading the party. At a complete guess, they wanted to avoid the name “Healer” believing it to have some stigma associating it with a boring role, more akin to a chore than a game, so they tried to come up with something that “sounds” more exciting. They did similar things in 3.5e, where they massively overpowered “support” spells as part of their effort to encourage players to use them and not see them as boring. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 7 at 3:49
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There is no specific term

"Support" is the closest term, but the meaning of "support" can vary wildly by context. A "support" can refer to "someone who buffs", but in most contexts it doesn't just refer to "someone who buffs", I've even seen it used as a catch-all for "not-DPS".

I have seen "buffer" used sporadically in writing, but I've never heard someone use it out loud.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I use "buffer" out loud. You will hear it, if we play together. This is anecdotal though. \$\endgroup\$ – aloisdg says Reinstate Monica Nov 6 at 8:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @aloisdgsaysReinstateMonica to be fair, the entirety of my answer is anectodal \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Nov 6 at 9:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @aloisdgsaysReinstateMonica I use buffers on floor was and waxed cars. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 6 at 13:02
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In many MMORPGs I also called them Buffer, but it's my jargon for them. They don't really have a name, but if we really want to give them one the Support would be the best, but actually the Healer is a support type too. So if we want to give the most correct naming I would use some Buffer-Support, because it declares the role and the type too:

  • Buffer-support → Empower team from behind.

For some party they are useless, because they need time to achieve their goal, but they can help a lot. As my experience says, buffer-support are very important in every group, but if it can only buff others and nothing else, they are pretty useless. If we make it to a Buffer-DPS (low DPS but has buffer skills), than it will be the best for the team, like a Leader (e.g.: Empowering battlecries, or aura effect for the front line).

  • Buffer-DPS → Deals low damage for the team and empower allies

The last which can break a game is like a tank character with buffer skills. As my experience dictates they are the most unbalanced type of characters due to the high survivability with the option to buff themself more and more powerful. It could balance them if they don't have any healing or high DPS buffs, just like more and more defense.

  • Buffer-Tank → Takes damage for the team and nearly undieable

As we see the buffer is something more like a sub-type from the other primary-roles (tank, heal, dps).

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    \$\begingroup\$ You are talking about computer MMORPGs, is it correct? In this case, the answer is off-topic, since the stack is about tabletop role-playing games, not videogames, see rpg.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Nov 6 at 10:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's true. But if we say, that the video-games are based on the rules of the RPG than we can say, that the naming is the same for the roles. Of course they are not the same, but the names can be. I used the online games as a reference only, as I have more experience in the online game naming. (I have only the 5e DnD core rulebooks). Other hand the only word what refer to online games is the MMORPG what (if needed) I can alter to RPG. \$\endgroup\$ – Camorri Nov 6 at 10:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I agree with Camorri—there’s more than enough overlap in terminology and jargon to see value in an answer like this. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 6 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ This sounds like it would just get confused for the non-verb (and much more common) term "buffer" which means a barrier between two things, e.g. the tank is a buffer between the enemy/danger and the weaker party members. \$\endgroup\$ – TylerH Nov 6 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH I agree with you that it's confusing. That's why I said that it is my word creation (my jargon) for it. Buffer means in my job (IT-programming) something other too, than a character who gives buffs to other. But that was the only idea from me, when I wanted to call them somehow. \$\endgroup\$ – Camorri Nov 6 at 15:48
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TVTropes¹ and Wikipedia both class buffing in the "Healer" role.

If you want a term specifically for a class that buffs teammates, I suggest...

Force Multiplier

__

¹ Warning - your productivity will suffer if you click that link. :-)

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    \$\begingroup\$ For "Force Multiplier", can you support the idea that this is a term commonly used to refer to "the role of characters who buff teammates"? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 8 at 9:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast, only ancedotally, in that I've been hearing and using the term for over 30 years in RPG games, war games, and in use by real-life military people. \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Nov 9 at 3:14
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They're a subgroup of what Treantmonk refers to as God(s), or the Controller(s) of Reality in their Guide to Playing a Wizard. It's a rather tongue in cheek breakdown of the party roles, but it's got a core of truth to it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ While this may be how they're sometimes seen depending on the RPG system, can you support the claim that these are terms commonly used to refer to "the role of characters who buff teammates"? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Nov 8 at 9:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ The original question didn't ask for the most common name, just what people call them and my answer gives one such name for them. Others were already given by other answerers so I didn't see it to be worth repeating the other names tha others have already said. \$\endgroup\$ – Haegin Nov 11 at 17:28

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