Explanations of RPG-specific terminology and jargon.

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38
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12answers
7k 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
206 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
285 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
564 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
votes
1answer
108 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, ...
23
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
43
votes
1answer
2k 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
195 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
512 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
1k 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
693 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 ...
32
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
162 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
263 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
688 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: ...
91
votes
3answers
16k 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
47 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
168 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
186 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 ...
8
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 ...
23
votes
5answers
6k 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
382 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 ...
36
votes
2answers
2k 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
1k 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
406 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
296 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
708 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
703 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
1k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
826 views

What is “RPG Theory?”

I first encountered this term a couple of months ago. A site search here found it tied into the gaming social contract here. Now that I've found it over here, I'd really like to know. What exactly is ...
3
votes
1answer
286 views

Derogatory term for dragon blooded?

As I understand it, the term 'Anathema' specifically excludes dragon bloods. Is there a derogatory term used, either by mortals or exalts, to refer to dragon bloods?
33
votes
4answers
2k views

What is a social contract?

The concept of "social contract" comes up in discussions of group dynamics and RPG theory. We even have a tag for social-contract. But there is no good, easily-found definition online anywhere. Our ...
31
votes
1answer
7k views

What is the Stormwind Fallacy?

In the context of another Question here, the Stormwind Fallacy was brought up. What exactly is the Stormwind Fallacy and how is connected to optimization?
11
votes
2answers
418 views

Yummy, I love the taste of ghosts..?

The SRD says An incorporeal creature has no physical body. Do incorporeal creatures have matter - any at all? If one argues that ectoplasm is matter (with some supplements such as Ghostwalk), ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference between “partial cover” and “cover”?

Degrees of cover and concealment are defined in the Player's Handbook (pp 280-281). There it discusses cover, superior cover, concealment, and total concealment. However, many powers and features ...
25
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin of the word “Soak” for avoiding damage

If anything ever boggled my mind in role playing, then it is the term "soak", as in "soaking damage". Soaking brings pictures of wet clothes to mind, as making stuff wet is what the word is in fact ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

What is thaumaturgy?

I keep getting conflicting reports on what exactly thaumaturgy is. Some sources say it's a form of divine spellcasting. Others say it's a form of summoning. Others still say it's a method of ...
11
votes
2answers
331 views

When was the term “game master” first used?

Dungeons & Dragons coined the term "dungeon master" for the role of the player running the game and adjudicating the rules. When is "game master" first attested (as in, "proven to have existed by ...
21
votes
7answers
6k views

What is a “mark” actually supposed to be?

This is probably way too simple of a question, but I just haven't been able to figure it out. In D&D 4th edition, there's the concept of a mark on an enemy creature; a player character in combat ...
16
votes
4answers
676 views

What's the origin of the term “gold piece”?

What is the literary or historical origin of the term "gold piece" to mean a gold coin? Was it used before D&D, or did D&D coin the term?
14
votes
4answers
8k views

What exactly is a saving throw?

Dungeons and Dragons has had the concept of a "saving throw" for a long time. What exactly is it supposed to represent in the real world? And why is it called a "saving throw"?
19
votes
4answers
7k views

Class level vs. Character level vs. “my” level

Forgive me for not being good at game terminology, but there is one concept that I simply have been unable to fully grasp after reading the core rulebook. In the book, there are mentions of Character ...
14
votes
1answer
4k views

When do you reach a 'milestone'?

The D&D 4th edition term 'milestone' isn't defined in the online D&D compendium, except that you gain an action point when it happens. When does a milestone occur? Has the definition changed ...
8
votes
3answers
277 views

What is the term for points that can be added to any roll?

Let's say you have a game where you have to roll a die for success at a task, based on a relevant ability score, and you can temporarily increase that score by expending some limited point resource. ...
12
votes
3answers
3k views

What is Exalted Paranoia Combat?

Having spent some time reading, and occasionally posting on, the official Exalted forum, I've come across a number of people talking about "paranoia combat" What does this mean? They also generally ...
19
votes
4answers
1k views

What do “Shadowfell” and “Underdark” mean?

English is not my primary language, as such I have some difficult trying to understand the actual meaning of some place names. Shadowfell is the place where "shadows (noun) fell (verb)", or is a ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Where does the term “nova” come from?

At first, I didn't know what "nova" meant, but I've seen it enough in context to infer that it means "doing a ton of damage in a short period of time." Later I discovered that the term isn't as common ...
11
votes
4answers
802 views

What does 'swingy' mean?

What does 'swingy' mean, in the context of tabletop roleplaying games?
25
votes
1answer
2k views

What does RAW mean?

I have seen the abbreviation RAW several times now, what does it stand for?
8
votes
2answers
3k views

When did the concept of Striker, Controller, Leader and Defender enter into the gaming lexicon?

One of the biggest changes I've observed as an old time gamer (AD&D 1st ed, Shadowrun 1st ed etc) versus now exploring 4th ed D&D (and reading about 3.0/3.5 and d20 systems etc) is that now ...