Explanations of RPG-specific terminology and jargon.

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11
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2answers
471 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), ...
10
votes
3answers
976 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" ...
10
votes
4answers
974 views

What is an “ashcan” release?

What are "ashcans"? What are their purpose? Where does the name come from?
10
votes
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
834 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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
3answers
817 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. ...
8
votes
3answers
319 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. ...
8
votes
1answer
379 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?
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
680 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.
7
votes
2answers
338 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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
301 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
429 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
556 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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
528 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 ...
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, ...
5
votes
1answer
495 views

What is a “yardstick” character build?

What does it mean to create a "yardstick" build in an RPG, specifically in Neverwinter Nights?
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 ...
5
votes
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
324 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. ...
4
votes
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
330 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
215 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
330 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?
2
votes
2answers
451 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
228 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
515 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 ...
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, ...
1
vote
0answers
257 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 ...
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 ...
0
votes
2answers
247 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
304 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
votes
2answers
154 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 ...