Explanations of RPG-specific terminology and jargon.

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10
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4answers
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
358 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 ...
24
votes
9answers
7k 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
772 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
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4answers
9k 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"?
20
votes
4answers
9k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
462 views

What is a “yardstick” character build?

What does it mean to create a "yardstick" build in an RPG, specifically in Neverwinter Nights?
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
313 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. ...
15
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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
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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 ...
10
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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 ...
11
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4answers
1k views

What does 'swingy' mean?

What does 'swingy' mean, in the context of tabletop roleplaying games?
28
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1answer
3k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
548 views

Does Challenge Rating scale linearly?

In other words, given a CR of x the official definition of CR is that four adventurers of level x will on average use up a quarter of their resources to defeat the challenge. For parties with less ...
4
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
18
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10answers
3k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
701 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 ...
10
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4answers
942 views

What is an “ashcan” release?

What are "ashcans"? What are their purpose? Where does the name come from?
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
votes
2answers
414 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
votes
6answers
952 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 ...
21
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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? ...
19
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3answers
875 views

What is a 'Death Spiral'?

And what does it mean for combat in a game?
29
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5answers
1k views

What is 'punk'?

... and how is it applied to RPGs? I´ve heard of: Cyberpunk Steampunk Clockworkpunk And I'm sure there are others. What main streams are there, and what is so 'punk' as a common denominator?
37
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9answers
5k views

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

What is 'railroading', and when is it generally considered to be something negative?
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?
42
votes
6answers
11k 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?