Explanations of RPG-specific terminology and jargon.

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125
votes
4answers
25k 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the origin of the game terminology “Rocket Tag”?

I've seen a lot of people referring to 3.5 recently using the term "Rocket Tag". Specifically, where does this terminology come from, where was this specific terminology named or created, and what ...
3
votes
2answers
310 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
464 views

What is a “yardstick” character build?

What does it mean to create a "yardstick" build in an RPG, specifically in Neverwinter Nights?
8
votes
1answer
315 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?
10
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
499 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 ...
41
votes
2answers
2k views

What is Player Agency and what is it good for?

Agency, specifically player agency, is a term that frequently comes up as a reason for why a particular rule or GM decision is better than another. How is agency defined in this context and why is it ...
6
votes
4answers
297 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 ...
49
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the Oberoni Fallacy?

In my travels across the internet, I've occasionally seen mention of a logical fallacy relating to roleplaying games called the Oberoni Fallacy. What is this fallacy, and where does it come from?
-1
votes
2answers
148 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 ...
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 ...
21
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the name of cardboard wall DMs use to hide their part of table?

What's the name of this thing? Inside part looks like a cheat sheet, but I have seen images with different content inside these "walls". Photo by Sargoth is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
306 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
994 views

Is initiative ordinal or numerical?

Is the term “initiative” in D&D 5e combat the number that you roll, or your order in the combat turn?
0
votes
2answers
216 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
566 views

Where is the origin of the “Duck in a Dungeon” trope?

Let's say your party is in the second floor of a dungeon, and you just arbitrarily see a duck, in the dungeon. The act of there being a duck in a dungeon should provoke a fight or flight response ...
56
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does “dungeon” mean the places adventurers go to kill stuff?

Why does ‘dungeon’, in the context of roleplaying games and D&D in particular, mean the places adventurers go to kill stuff? I’m asking because ‘dungeon’ usually means a kind of prison, and I ...
38
votes
12answers
8k 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 ...
33
votes
1answer
11k 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?
0
votes
1answer
285 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 ...
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
458 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
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 ...
0
votes
1answer
125 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, ...
24
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
46
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. ...
5
votes
1answer
289 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, ...
33
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?
1
vote
0answers
244 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
1k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
315 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. ...
15
votes
2answers
2k 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
780 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
217 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
848 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: ...
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 ...
28
votes
1answer
3k views

What does RAW mean?

I have seen the abbreviation RAW several times now, what does it stand for?
1
vote
0answers
50 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 ...
40
votes
2answers
3k 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
195 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
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 ...
25
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
37
votes
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?
2
votes
2answers
432 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
votes
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 ...
35
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
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?
11
votes
2answers
509 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 ...