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90

It began with "Dungeon Crawl" during the development of the game Dungeons and Dragons. According to Gary Gygax (in an interview with Dungeon #112), the first dungeon crawl1 was part of a wargame in which the invading force entered the enemy's castle through a former escape tunnel dug from the fortress's dungeon. The group had so much fun with this ...


59

The Oberoni Fallacy is an informal fallacy, occasionally seen in discussions of role-playing and other games, in which an arguer puts forth that if a problematic rule can be fixed by the figure running the game, the problematic rule is not, in fact, problematic. The user Oberoni originally posted the idea in 2002 on the Wizards of the Coast forums: This ...


58

What is Agency? I personally define agency by three criteria: The player has control over their own character's decisions. Those decisions have consequences within the game world. The player has enough information to anticipate what those consequences might be before making them. What does that mean? To elaborate on those conditions, I'll give examples ...


43

Minimization and Maximization for Optimization Min-max (minmax) comes from using mathematics to solve optimization problems. An example is finding the maximum area for a given perimeter. As applied to RPG's (the example will be D&D) min-max addresses how to best assign ability points, equipment, and skills to get the most power or effectiveness ...


42

That would be the Dungeon Master's Screen. Sometimes referred to as a DM Shield, or Game Master's Screen (especially in non-D&D games), they are designed to give the Dungeon Master quick access to frequently referenced rules, and to obscure dice rolls the DM doesn't want to players to see. They are usually filled cheat sheets to status conditions, more ...


40

The two ten-sided dice used together to generate a number in the range 1-100 (or 0-99) are percentile dice (plural). The same term is applies to a pair of twenty-sided dice, each marked 0-9 twice, used for the same purpose. Back in the Before Time, dice sets didn't include a die marked with double-digits; you would just roll different-colored dice, having ...


34

First Person Shooters are the origin of Rocket Tag. John Romero and John Carmack, gaming developers, helped create Doom and Quake. Quake was the first widely popular "Deathmatch" concept in a first person shooter1 in the early 90's. Quake, specifically in the Player vs. Player gameplay, featured the often one-hit kill weapon: the rocket launcher. The ...


30

D&D has a concept called “alignment,” which is a kind of shorthand for one’s ethical, moral, and philosophical outlook on life. It has two axes, the good-evil axis and the lawful-chaotic axis, and you can either be at those extremes, or at neutral in the middle. Your alignment is a combination of these two axes, so your choices end up looking like this: ...


30

The term 'chaotic' is part of the alignment system in D&D. Within the alignment system, your personality and decision making is rated on two scales. One from good to evil, and the other from lawful to chaotic.From the D&D Player's Handbook (5e): Lawful good (LG) creatures can be counted on to do the right thing as expected by society. Gold ...


28

'Minmax' or 'minmaxing' is the process of optimizing a character for performance in a certain way - often this means to be as efficient in combat as possible. It is also called "powergaming" by some. This generally involves: minimizing disadvantages and handicaps of your character and/or the system (in the area you're optimizing) and maximizing the ...


27

They are interchangeable except in terms of nuance. This is like asking "Is Mao (Tse-tung) really called Mao or Comrade Mao?" Well, both are frequent appellations, but you generally use Comrade Mao when you're on board with the whole Communist program. Similarly, The Computer is The Computer. Alpha Complex propaganda insists "The Computer Is Your Friend."...


25

The official abbreviation is D&D; DnD is a fan invention. It has gained currency today with the help of the Internet, where it's both easier to type and less likely to be mangled by badly-designed website software. (In any case, the conventional rendition of the verbally-abbreviated and is ’n’, so an official spelling of the verbal "Dee uhn ...


24

"Forgeite" refers to users and game designers who frequented and followed design theories of a site known as "The Forge," found at http://www.indie-rpgs.com [Internet Archive link]. While the site is now defunct, it had a profound effect on game design and theory among independent game designers, with two of the the most notable being D. Vincent Baker (Dogs ...


23

TVTropes has an extensive definition of min-maxing. (There is always a hyphen or slash in it for the gaming term, Wikipedia has min-max and Urban Dictionay has min/max.) To quote from TVTropes' definition: The art, much beloved of munchkins, of optimizing a character's abilities during creation by maximizing the most important skills and attributes, ...


22

The term "shared narrative" indicates substantial player participation in shaping the game's narrative elements (e.g. setting, plot, NPCs). In some games, GMs establish and orchestrate the world, and players can only use their characters to interact with what the GM gives them. I'll call that style "GM-directed.” In games with a shared narrative, on the ...


20

Initiative is both, neither and either ordinal or numeric Is the term “initiative” in D&D 5e combat the number that you roll, or your order in the combat turn? Neither; initiative is the overarching term that encompasses the whole concept. Use in context will determine which of the sub-concepts you are using. This is similar to other terms used ...


20

The Judge's Shield (1977) predates the Dungeon Master's Screen by about two years, give or take some months. (That the Judge's Guild got to this first is not surprising, as Gygax infamously told them that nothing but rules would sell, and the Judge's Guild was fated to prove him wrong.) So the term “shield” was established before the term “screen”, and still ...


17

Alpha Complex is governed by an entity you can refer to as "Computer", "The Computer", "Friend Computer", "The Friend Computer" or [redacted for security reasons]. Different NPCs and organizations will have different preferences about which term to use. In the spirit of Paranoia some might have very strong (but still frequently changing) preferences and no ...


16

A natural 20 roll in D&D (which I think is the only set of games where this term is used) means that the die shows a 20 on its top face, as opposed to getting a result of 20 (or more) after adding modifiers to the result of the die.


16

The past tense is smote, as you've noted. You can also say someone's been smitten, but that just as often means "in love", so use with caution or to comedic effect. Yes, "smited" is just plain incorrect. Google Ngrams pegs its usage in books at 0%. It's just a colloquialism resulting from poor understanding of the word's tenses, not a gaming term. Gaming ...


16

A "Living" campaign is one of the old RPGA-run organized play campaigns designed for you to use and advance a character across multiple play opportunities at public events like RPG conventions and game days, in the same shared world and using officially sanctioned adventures. (For you kids nowadays, the RPGA was a RPG fan organization sponsored by TSR, ...


16

This is "alignment," which is a label for a character's moral or ethical leanings in relation to metaphysical forces. What exactly the labels means has actually varied considerably over time. D&D originally had an alignment system inspired by Michael Moorcock's fiction: Law, Chaos, and Neutrality in between. Law generally represents a drive to order ...


15

Shared narrative refers to some degree of narrative control being shared with the players, as opposed to the common approach of the GM being in charge of the narration. This can significantly increase a player's power over the game universe, as they're not confined to creating facts pertaining to their own characters only. Probably the most common form of ...


14

Definition Agency is a term that predates RPG's. From a dictionary definition, in its less often used sense than the meaning of "an organization" (like a detective agency) agency is the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power : operation From a game design perspective, Player Agency is the player’s ability to impact the ...


14

The first time I recall seeing the term applied to role-playing games was in the 2nd edition AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide: Sometimes players resort to “min/maxing” when selecting weapon proficiencies. Min/maxing occurs when a player calculates all the odds and numerical advantages and disadvantages of a particular weapon. The player’s decision ...


14

The Forge was an RPG discussion forum with an emphasis on developing theories and terminology to describe RPGs in ways that allowed for both academic criticism, and practical advice to gamers and especially indie game designers. Setting aside some contentious personalities and statements, their main contribution to the RPG landscape seems to have been ...


13

In a system where you spend a limited resource on features, you want to make the best use of your resource by spending it on the features that will be most useful to you. For example, if you plan to deal a lot of damage to enemies, then a feature that increases your average damage per hit will definitely be useful. A feature that lets you speak another ...


13

They're all species. The word "race" is not actually so specific as often thought, and can be used synonymously with "species" if sentient beings are involved, so it's still an appropriate word for giants, elves, and such. The ability to interbreed and produce fertile offspring is a red herring and doesn't indicate anything about species or subspecies ...


12

A Fence is someone who buys and sells stolen goods. A Fixer is primarily a middleman between the shadows and the corporate world. Some also act as fences.


11

Before computers co-opted "screen" for their monitors, it meant a folding separator made out of panels. . The DM's screen is a folding separator made out of panels—cardboard, not wood, but same purpose and general construction.



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