Explanations of RPG-specific terminology and jargon.

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21
votes
2answers
429 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
votes
2answers
102 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
2answers
144 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
4answers
898 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
33
votes
9answers
2k views

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

What is 'railroading', and when is it generally considered to be something negative?
2
votes
2answers
155 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 ...
21
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
28
votes
2answers
621 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 ...
24
votes
4answers
896 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 ...
38
votes
6answers
5k 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?
11
votes
2answers
236 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
427 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. ...
9
votes
3answers
467 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
446 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
643 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
188 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?
19
votes
10answers
1k 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? ...
20
votes
1answer
2k 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?
8
votes
3answers
221 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
votes
2answers
263 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
511 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
1k 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
619 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
455 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
4k 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"?
7
votes
2answers
210 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
543 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?
13
votes
3answers
4k 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. I have read the core rulebook, but I am not strong with books in general. (I ...
12
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
836 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 ...
16
votes
10answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Where does the term “nova” come from?

I didn't know what "nova" meant at first, but I've seen it enough in context to infer that it means "doing a ton of damage in a short period of time." How was this term coined? How was it ...
11
votes
4answers
461 views

What does 'swingy' mean?

What does 'swingy' mean, in the context of tabletop roleplaying games?
16
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

What does RAW mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Glossary of Common RPG Terminology I have seen the abbr RAW several times now, what does it stand for?
18
votes
3answers
545 views

What is a 'Death Spiral'?

And what does it mean for combat in a game?
8
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
588 views

What is an “ashcan” release?

What are "ashcans"? What are their purpose? Where does the name come from?
6
votes
3answers
437 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
468 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
votes
1answer
170 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
264 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
595 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
votes
1answer
510 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?