Explanations of RPG-specific terminology and jargon.

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2answers
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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 ...
2
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1answer
239 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 ...
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4answers
909 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: ...
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3answers
3k 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 ...
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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 ...
42
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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 ...
3
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2answers
222 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 ...
9
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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 ...
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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 ...
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9answers
6k views

What is 'railroading', and is it a bad thing?

What is 'railroading', and when is it generally considered to be something negative?
2
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2answers
459 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 ...
33
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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 ...
42
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6answers
13k views

What is Sandbox play?

How would you describe the concept of sandbox play? How about to someone who is used to adventure modules or adventure paths?
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2answers
550 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 ...
8
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3answers
834 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
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3answers
998 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" ...
16
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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 ...
15
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3answers
952 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
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1answer
341 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?
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10answers
3k views

What defines the “old school renaissance”?

I'm aware that the old school renaissance (OSR) is all about hearkening back to old versions of D&D and the play styles of the 70's and 80's, but what characteristics really define this movement? ...
8
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3answers
325 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. ...
11
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2answers
480 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), ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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4answers
805 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?
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4answers
11k 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"?
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2answers
369 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 ...
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3answers
4k 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 ...
15
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1answer
5k 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 ...
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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 ...
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10answers
4k views

Glossary of Common RPG Terminology [closed]

This thread is a Community Wiki to define terminology specific to the world of RPGs which outsiders looking to come in may not be familiar with. This question is for terms which are not unique to a ...
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4answers
4k views

Glossary of Common Dungeons & Dragons Terminology [closed]

This is a Community Wiki containing a list of terms specific to the D&D game with which outsiders looking to enter may not be familiar. Dungeons and Dragons may share some terminology with the ...
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4answers
1k views

What does 'swingy' mean?

What does 'swingy' mean, in the context of tabletop roleplaying games?
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2answers
4k views

What does AEDU mean?

I have seen the acronym "AEDU" (or perhaps ADEU) used on the community boards at wizards.com, but haven't stumbled on the definition, and a google search goes nowhere (I doubt they're suddenly ...
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3answers
1k views

What is a 'Death Spiral'?

And what does it mean for combat in a game?
8
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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 ...
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4answers
989 views

What is an “ashcan” release?

What are "ashcans"? What are their purpose? Where does the name come from?
6
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3answers
557 views

Does Challenge Rating scale linearly?

In other words, given a CR of x the official definition of CR is that four adventurers of ...
16
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2answers
790 views

Where does the word 'grognard' come from?

I see many people online describing themselves as grognards of a particular system or style of play. Usually they're referring to their die-hard love of an out of print version of a game. But where ...
5
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1answer
216 views

What is an Adventure Path?

After reading the questions, What are the D&D Adventure Paths? and Which Paizo Adventure Path most lends itself to 4e conversion?, I began to wonder about this term beyond what is self evident. A ...
6
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2answers
443 views

What makes something a signature monster?

I've seen the term "signature monster" thrown around a lot but I'm not exactly following it. What makes these monsters signature? What makes any monster signature to a given game? Is D&D the only ...
16
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6answers
998 views

What is a Mega Dungeon?

I've come across the expression "mega dungeon" quite a few times on the net. It seems like it's not just about the size of a den of monsters but it might imply a play style or something. What are the ...
14
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1answer
2k views

What is a macguffin?

During our regular game session, everyone keeps saying,"We need to find the mcguffin!". Is this a new sandwich or something?