Explanations of RPG-specific terminology and jargon.

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21
votes
4answers
4k views

What does “chaotic” as in “chaotic good” or “chaotic evil” mean?

I do not play D&D, but players in my roleplaying game have called stuff "chaotic," like "chaotic good" and "chaotic evil" and I would like to know what they mean. The game I play does not use this ...
16
votes
4answers
962 views

Friend Computer or The Computer?

I have listened to a recording of a session of Paranoia that keeps talking about "Friend Computer". And Google search confirms that this seems to be a common way to refer to the computer. But the ...
8
votes
2answers
699 views

What is the difference between a fence and a fixer?

What is the difference between a fence and a fixer in Shadowrun? I've seen both terms used but am not really clear on the difference.
14
votes
3answers
1k views

What is a “Living” campaign?

I have gone to many game conventions where I have seen a "Living" campaign referred to. I do not quite understand what a "Living" campaign is. Explain the overall concept of a "Living" campaign and ...
19
votes
2answers
840 views

What is a “shared narrative” RPG?

I haven't done any tabletop rpgs for a very long time. I've just been invited to join in a post apoc game that is "shared narrative". What is a shared narrative RPG?
19
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the correct term for the die with multiples of ten written on it?

What is the correct term for this die? It is a standard die in any 7 dice set. It has multiples of ten from 10 to 00 written on it (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, (1)00). I seem to think that ...
3
votes
2answers
335 views

Past tense for smite [closed]

Odd question. I got into a debate with someone over smite and its various forms of tense (future, past, and current). The dictionary says smote is past tense. For years I have been using smited. Is ...
8
votes
1answer
392 views

What is the meaning of the term “natural 20”?

In Dungeons & Dragons, does "natural 20" mean rolling 20 on a single roll as opposed to a composite 20 from multiple dice? Or does it refer to something else?
5
votes
3answers
533 views

Is “DnD” used officially as an abbreviation for “Dungeons and Dragons”?

I've noticed that it's not uncommon for Dungeons and Dragons to be shortened to "DnD." Is this officially correct? I know official sources often shorten it to "D&D," but have any official sources ...
43
votes
2answers
3k views

What is Player Agency and what is it good for?

Agency, specifically player agency, is a term that frequently comes up as a reason for why a particular rule or GM decision is better than another. How is agency defined in this context and why is it ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the origin of the game terminology “Rocket Tag”?

I've seen a lot of people referring to 3.5 recently using the term "Rocket Tag". Specifically, where does this terminology come from, where was this specific terminology named or created, and what ...
51
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the Oberoni Fallacy?

In my travels across the internet, I've occasionally seen mention of a logical fallacy relating to roleplaying games called the Oberoni Fallacy. What is this fallacy, and where does it come from?
-1
votes
2answers
156 views

Definition of 'bent' used in D&D lore [closed]

What is the meaning of bent in this sentence (from the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook 5th edition)? Half-elves share the chaotic bent of their elven heritage. I have tried looking this ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the history of the term “Dungeon Master's Screen”?

The question What's the name of cardboard wall DMs use to hide their part of table? has a fairly clearcut answer--"X Master's Screen," where X is "Game" or "Dungeon" depending on the speaker, the game ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the name of cardboard wall DMs use to hide their part of table?

What's the name of this thing? Inside part looks like a cheat sheet, but I have seen images with different content inside these "walls". Photo by Sargoth is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported ...
7
votes
2answers
346 views

When did the word “buff” become used to describe bolstering effects in RPGs, and why?

This english.se answer describes how the word "buff" evolved independently in video game dialect. When was the word "buff" first used in tabletop RPGs to describe bolstering effects, and was it ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Is initiative ordinal or numerical?

Is the term “initiative” in D&D 5e combat the number that you roll, or your order in the combat turn?
0
votes
2answers
261 views

Which are races, and which are species? [closed]

In all of the incarnations of D&D players can choose to be of different "races." Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings, from the beginning (putting on pause the race-as-class idea from ODD). In 1e ...
12
votes
1answer
624 views

Where is the origin of the “Duck in a Dungeon” trope?

Let's say your party is in the second floor of a dungeon, and you just arbitrarily see a duck, in the dungeon. The act of there being a duck in a dungeon should provoke a fight or flight response ...
65
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does “dungeon” mean the places adventurers go to kill stuff?

Why does ‘dungeon’, in the context of roleplaying games and D&D in particular, mean the places adventurers go to kill stuff? I’m asking because ‘dungeon’ usually means a kind of prison, and I ...
40
votes
12answers
10k views

What does “minmax” mean?

I've seen the term minmax used on several answers (relating to D&D), but nobody has elaborated and there's no actual answer to the question on this site. What does minmax mean and where did the ...
0
votes
1answer
325 views

Hit dice vs Hit Points [closed]

Old 1E player now getting back into 5E. What are HIT DICE? I understand hit points and a 3rd level player has rolled 3 times for HP ( I do like the MAX at first level and then roll option) but what ...
11
votes
3answers
553 views

What is an ability check without a DC called?

Sometimes the DM will want players to perform an ability check and not set a DC. They will instead use the result of the roll to give a sliding scale of success. Example: Two players are asked to ...
1
vote
1answer
528 views

What does “The Load” mean? [closed]

This question calls their character "The Load". It's not a term I've heard, and the words are too common for Google to be helpful (that question is the only relevant one on the first few pages). What ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is a dead creature's body considered an “object”?

I never really gave this much thought until this question brought it up: Is a dead creature's body considered to be an object? And is it still a creature? My initial reaction was that it would not ...
1
vote
1answer
138 views

Best brand-agnostic term for encounters? [closed]

I'm building myself a little tool for keeping track of campaign and adventure details, and I need a generic term for what D&D refers to as encounters. Something simple that can refer to combat, ...
24
votes
4answers
3k views

What is a “funnel”?

I often see the term "funnel" used in describing adventures or campaigns, but it's not clear to me what it actually means. An example of this kind of use is this blog post talking about playing a ...
46
votes
1answer
3k views

Origin of the term “Splat Book”

Where does the term "Splat Book" come from? Roughly a splat book is any book not required to play the system. There is some debate over its exact meaning, but that is not the point of this question. ...
1
vote
0answers
261 views

Magic Systems: Names for Non-Vancian Magic? [closed]

Vancian Magic is the common magic system used in most editions of D&D. You can go to almost any design circle who is familiar with D&D and use the term with most people immediately understand ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the definition of “creature” and is it used consistently?

In the Starter set and Basic Rules, it mentions "character", "non-player character", "player character", "monster", "creature", and maybe other terms I've missed. Which of these terms are ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

When teaching D&D 5e basic to players of previous editions, which terms have new meanings that will likely lead to confusion? [closed]

When I previously taught D&D 5e to my group, I had a few players who were confused about specific terms. Which terms in the rules tend to confuse people because they get it mixed up with ...
10
votes
2answers
845 views

What constitutes a “story game”?

In Dealing with players of vastly different skill levels?, I got into a discussion with @SevenSidedDie about characterizing Dungeon World as a story game. @SevenSidedDie stated that: @neontapir ...
33
votes
6answers
3k views

Is there a name for the standard 7-die set?

I'm curious if there is a formal name for the standard 7-die set (d4, d6, d8, d10, d10*10, d12, d20), and is there any backstory or history associated with it?
2
votes
1answer
231 views

Werewolf: the Apocalypse auspice name etymologies

As part of his question about the etymologies of the auspice names in Werewolf: The Forsaken, @OpaCitiZen discusses the origins of "theurge": What I'm looking for: I remember, for example, that ...
5
votes
1answer
298 views

Werewolf: The Forsaken auspice names etymology

Rahu, Cahalith, Elodoth, Ithaeur, Irraka. Where do these names - of the five auspices found in Werewolf: The Forsaken - come from, IRL? What real world words, terms, languages do they originate in, ...
16
votes
4answers
892 views

What describes the portion of the social contract that describes explicitly-permitted controversial themes?

I am working on drafting the table culture guidelines for an upcoming game, and I plan to use the lines and veils methodology to lay out content boundaries. Lines and veils are a subtractive element: ...
140
votes
4answers
30k views

What is “my guy syndrome” and how do I handle it?

I've been reading forum posts and blogs who mention "my guy" syndrome as a specific type of difficult player, but I can't seem to find a solid definition for the term. Can someone explain this ...
1
vote
0answers
51 views

Is there a list of RPG jargon words? [duplicate]

Though I'm also interested in general slang words, I'm more specifically asking for slang used in D&D 3.5e. While looking at the comments of a question, I saw someone introducing BAB as ...
3
votes
2answers
217 views

Is there a difference between a Hack and a Clone?

I was recently thinking about cyberpunk-2020 and how much I'd like to update the game while maintaining the features I like best about it. This led me to realize if I did embark on such a system ...
6
votes
4answers
302 views

My class “imbues” a _____ on an item?

I’m writing a homebrew class for 3.x, based on empowering items with magic powers (think an OGL-friendly riff on the concept of the artificer), so I’ve decided on using “imbue” for a verb for those ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Can you help me understand the RPG rules behind Planescape:Torment?

I'm playing a computer RPG, Planescape: Torment, and am enjoying it. Torment is obviously using RPG rules to determine how big of a hit I'll take, or how much damage I'll do with every swing of my ...
27
votes
5answers
9k views

What is “GM/DM Fiat?”

While I explore this site, I occasionally see the phrase "GM fiat" (or "DM fiat", for D&D questions and answers), but I don't know the exact meaning of that. I want to know the meaning of that ...
2
votes
2answers
456 views

Where can I get a list of 4th edition D&D acronyms?

I'd like to have a simple reference sheet for this, as people will frequently reference sourcebooks with a simple acronym. Perhaps this question can be made into such a sheet. Most have been easy to ...
41
votes
2answers
4k views

What do the terms “lines” and “veils” mean?

I have seen the terms "lines" and "veils" used on this SE (including on the chat) a number of times, especially in terms of social contracts between players. What do these terms mean? What is ...
33
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the etymology of the term 'Gish'?

I understand that it roughly means a fighter/mage, as per this question: How to optimize a Gishy [Fighter/Mage] Character? But I just wanted to know more about how the term came about. It's so hard ...
11
votes
2answers
537 views

What are the commonly accepted definitions of reskinning and refluffing?

I have come across this comment that seems to say there is a globally accepted definition of reskinning and refluffing and that it's not the same thing (I thought it was). What are the commonly ...
4
votes
2answers
329 views

About monster definition and distinctions

I was having a discussion with some guy and I argued that I think D&D made distinctions between monsters and regular characters since earlier editions, and it even employed different mechanics. ...
8
votes
3answers
826 views

What is the term for a mean character role-played by a nice player?

Contradictory character seems to mean a character who defies stereotypes or exhibits traits that contradict one another, in a literary sense. I wish to distinguish what I mean from round characters. ...
10
votes
3answers
986 views

What is a “trad game”?

Having come across this term here for the first time, I wonder what it actually decribes. Is it a (pejorative) umbrella term for "conventional" rpgs as opposed to "storytelling"/"narrative-driven" ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the definition of a natural roll on dice

So I am starting in the world of pen-and-paper RPGs, and sometimes the material I read mentions a natural roll, like a natural 1 is always a miss, and a natural 20 is always a hit. I understand that ...