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Questions tagged [terminology]

Explanations of RPG-specific terminology and jargon.

24
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2answers
3k views

Where does the term Rules as Tweeted (RAT) come from?

Rule As Tweeted (RAT) is ironically used when a tweet from a the game designers contradicts RAW (rules as written) or (perceived) RAI (rules as intended). Who used it first? Did it originate here on ...
29
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6answers
3k views

What's the difference between an NPC and a GMPC?

I was reading this question, and while I do agree on the answers stating a GM should avoid having a character of his own as it's hard to properly play it, I don't really see what the line between that ...
5
votes
1answer
118 views

What less-loaded, less-ambiguous terms exist that are equivalent to 'associative and dissociative mechanics', 'immersion' etc.? [closed]

This question has arisen due to repeatedly facing misunderstandings when trying to discuss certain differences in the handling of mechanics, decision making etc. between RPGs or between different ...
69
votes
4answers
7k views

What is the origin of the phrase ‘orc and pie’?

I'd like to know where this unique phrase came from. “Orc and pie” has become shorthand for a style of simple dungeon design, but where did it originate?
49
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3answers
12k views

What does “DMG” mean?

I'm new to D&D 5e and it's the first time I've played. People keep referring to the "DMG". What is it? It is a game mechanic or something else? If it is a game mechanic, what does it do?
11
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2answers
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How is a free hand defined?

Some actions require a free hand such as grappling and casting: Using at least one free hand p. 195 PHB Simply how is a free hand defined? For example is a hand with a gauntlet on able to cast ...
31
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1answer
2k views

What is the source for 5e defaulting to plain English readings of non-game terms?

In many discussions involving rules interpretations the meaning of words is often called into question. Often, people will claim that if the game doesn't define the term that it defaults to the plain ...
2
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1answer
128 views

What type of rule is the Red Rule, and where does it come from?

Exalted has, in its third iteration, "the Red Rule". The Red Rule In almost all aspects, Exalted doesn’t mechanically distinguish between Storyteller characters and those the players ...
15
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3answers
2k views

Why is Bounded Accuracy called Bounded Accuracy?

I find the name "Bounded Accuracy" confusing. Bounded - Ok limitations, sure, but Accuracy - maybe because it limits how often a give roll is successful for higher vs lower level PCs, but not every ...
17
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3answers
2k views

What is a “build” in the D&D/Pathfinder family of games?

Over in another question, I ran into some communication breakdown with another person because we didn't have a shared understanding of what the term "build" meant. Basically, the asker understood a ...
7
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1answer
302 views

What does HC mean in AL?

In Adventurers League (AL) questions and answers, the term "HC" is quite common when talking about a specific adventure. In RPGs, HC easily means heroic, heroic campaign and many other different ...
31
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5answers
9k views

What do MAD and SAD mean?

Straight-forward question. I've seen the terms used a lot, mostly in optimization questions and guides, but they aren't usually explained. From googling, it's easy to find that they are abbreviations ...
15
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1answer
587 views

What does 'ally' mean, as a game term?

Most of the time, it should be really easy to determine who is my ally and who is not. The people who try to kill me are most likely my foes, whereas the people who entered the dungeon with me are ...
6
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2answers
368 views

What do the different “schools of magic” refer to?

The magic schools in D&D confuse me. If I were creating a wizard character and I wanted to make a backstory, would I have to put multiple schools where I learned magic, or could I make a school ...
31
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4answers
7k views

Is there a name for this 20 sided die with two 1s, two 2s, etc?

Purchased this die from a hobby/tabletop store yesterday, mainly because I thought it looked cool, and that it was funny that it was so hard to read the faces: I was passively rolling the die, and ...
18
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4answers
4k views

What is the name of a player playing predominantly (or only) for combat?

I just read How should I punish my player for getting himself killed? and a part stood out to me: He certainly gives off the vibe that he's only playing along in the story so he can get to the next ...
14
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6answers
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What is the general term for a tabletop RPG with no conventional game mechanics?

Playing a tabletop RPG usually assumes using specific game system — character sheet and statistics, conflict resolution mechanics, particular dice rolls and other conventional rules like "in order to ...
59
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2answers
7k views

What is a “bag of rats”?

I have seen the term "bag of rats" being used quite frequently (RPG.se search for bag of rats, for example), mainly, but not exclusively, in D&D. It seems to be considered a problem or exploit. ...
10
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3answers
797 views

What is the name of a player's “subparty”?

Is there a name for the "subparty" controlled by a single player that includes: Player character Familiar, animal companion Pet Summoned monsters/nature's allies Mount Cohort/Followers (from the ...
22
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1answer
2k views

Why does D&D Beyond use 'GM' in magic item descriptions but the print DMG uses 'DM'?

I was making a printout from dndbeyond.com for a magic item that I'm hoping to give out in the next session, and noticed something that I found a little odd. For the item Wand of Wonder (dndbeyond ...
27
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7answers
8k views

Is there a word for a non-DM who calls out everyone for lorebreaking/rulebreaking?

I have a member of my D&D group who (for much of the time we play) constantly calls out people for not following the rules in the manual to the letter and (much worse) calls out people on not ...
7
votes
1answer
125 views

What is a LARP association?

In one of my recent LARP questions @Ifusaso asked me in the comments: It may help to know what group/association/system this is in (Black Company? Nordic LARP?) However, I would like to know what ...
8
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3answers
462 views

What is the general term for a persistent/ongoing magical effect in D&D?

I'm trying to figure out an appropriate word to describe a magical effect of unknown origin in a D&D game. I can't call it a spell or spell effect since it's not known whether the effect is caused ...
20
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7answers
2k views

Is there a term used to define all “sentient races”? [closed]

I don't know if "sentient races" describes what I'm wanting to say, it probably doesn't. Let me explain, sometimes during my sessions I'm like: "And then, all humanity united to fight against the old ...
39
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2answers
14k views

What defines a “West Marches” campaign?

There are a few questions on this site that mention "West Marches", but they all seem to assume that a reader already knows exactly what a "West Marches" game is. Some questions link to multiple blog ...
10
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1answer
927 views

What's an E class?

I'm familiar with the 4e guide terminology for A and V classes: A classes have one primary stat and two secondaries you can choose between, with the choice determining the way the class plays; V ...
14
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1answer
3k views

Defining Realms, Worlds, Kingdoms, Planes, Dimensions and the Multiverse

I have always been confused when trying to think in terms of worlds, realms, and kingdoms. Additionally, I am confused at the difference between planes and dimension. So, what is the difference ...
4
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2answers
214 views

Better name for “vendor trash”? [closed]

In many games, "vendor trash" is a term used for items that have no purpose other than to be sold to a vendor for money. What would be a better name for a class of items a GM might give to a player ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What is an “edgelord”? [closed]

In this question I came across a term I haven't seen before: "edgelord". What does it mean? I can guess from the context in that question but I am hoping for an explicit explanation.
6
votes
3answers
447 views

What's the term for a character who doesn't worship or pledge allegiance with any gods?

My character believes and accepts the fact that there are multiple deities responsible for creating and influencing the world. She acknowledges their existence, powers, capabilities, and the like, but ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How do I refer to non-spell attacks?

What is the proper way to refer to non-spell attacks in D&D 5e? "Non-spell" attacks doesn't seem right. I'm looking for a term that includes attacks made with a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, an ...
32
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4answers
4k views

What is the origin of the term fizzled?

When a spell like raise dead fails due to something such as a soul not being willing to return to its body, it will cause the spell to fizzle. It's a term I'm used to and not surprised to see describe ...
2
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0answers
58 views

What is recharge in 4e? [duplicate]

I am a new dungeon master that is DMing for some of my friends that want to play but are beginners. I am turning an adventure called Khyber’s Quest, 4th edition, into a 5th edition game to play. Can ...
1
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0answers
153 views

What is a Speaking Campaign in D&D? [closed]

I just recently learned a bit about it, but not much. I actually read a Tumblr post that referred to a speaking campaign, and so I was wondering if any of you people knew what it was, as I do not. ...
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3answers
1k views

What does 1d20 mean in dnd? [closed]

I’m new to dnd and I’m having a hard time getting what all the stats mean, one of the things I’m having the most trouble with is things like, for example, 1d20. What does this mean and how does it ...
23
votes
2answers
8k views

Difference between a GM and a DM?

Terminology question for you; what's the difference between calling yourself a DM (Dungeon Master) or a GM (Game Master)? I've seen both terms on this site and I can't figure out if there's an actual ...
3
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2answers
105 views

Is an item under a spell's effect magical or nonmagical?

Some things affect only 'mundane' or 'nonmagical' items. For example, the spell Quench automatically puts out nonmagical fires, but it requires a dedicated casting to put out a magical fire that isn'...
1
vote
2answers
194 views

What is a “House” in politics? [closed]

I'm making the politics of my world and I've seen the word “House” being use in politics (like the House of Representatives) and in other fantasy media (Harry Potter and its four houses). I wanted to ...
27
votes
1answer
9k views

What is the “+1 rule” for Adventurers League?

In many places I see referenced a "+1 rule" for characters legal in Adventurer's League play. What does this mean?
11
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1answer
324 views

How does one pronounce THAC0?

AD&D 2nd edition had a key number for each character called “To Hit Armor Class Zero”, abbreviated “THAC0”. Back when this was the current edition, my friends and I argued over whether it should ...
29
votes
2answers
2k views

Where and when did “the GM is always right” get codified first?

In a recent answer about GM-ming in D&D, I had to resort to a certain "universal" rule I'm familiar with: “the GM is always right”. Upon this doppelgreener correctly pointed out that it is not ...
22
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1answer
3k views

What does 'Powered by the Apocalypse' mean?

I have heard of games (e.g. Dungeon World or Monsterhearts) being called "Powered by the Apocalypse", or "PbtA". What does this mean?
14
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3answers
3k views

In what paradigm is +1 to hit the same as improving your chance to hit by 5%?

People all the time are saying that +1 to hit is a 5% better chance of hitting. I assume this is because when you roll to hit you roll a d20 and 1 is 5% of 20, but that doesn't really make a whole ...
8
votes
4answers
8k views

What does PHB stand for?

I just started playing D&D 5e and it's the first time I've played D&D or anything like it. I've seen people referencing "PHB" but I don't know what that is.
9
votes
1answer
236 views

What is jeepform / vi åker jeep?

Some games are occasionally termed jeepform. I have also encountered the Swedish phrase "Vi åker jeep" (We travel with/by jeep), which seems to refer to the same thing. There is even a website, which ...
7
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2answers
265 views

What are GNS, GDS, AGE model, Big model etc. called in academic publications?

Academic theory on play, games, and even roleplaying games exists. But there also exists much non-academic work on roleplaying games, including the named theories mentioned in the title, but also (...
6
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5answers
1k views

What do strategy vs tactics mean in tabletop RPG combat? [closed]

What's the difference between "strategy" and "tactics" in the context of tabletop roleplaying game combat? I have some idea of how these terms differ in English and I've read the SE tag descriptions ...
61
votes
3answers
7k views

What does upper-case-A-Attack action vs. lower-case-a-attack mean?

What exactly is the difference between Attack action and attack? It seems each time a question regarding this pops up, there's always somebody arguing they are not different. I feel there should be a ...
72
votes
6answers
21k views

What is a session 0?

What is a "Session 0"? When is it done? What does it contain? Is it recommended, if not mandatory? What is each person's role (DM/GM, players, etc.)? What topics are best discussed there? Usually ...
20
votes
2answers
409 views

Etymology of 'crawl' in 'dungeon crawl'

Does someone have a pointer to the origin of 'crawl' in 'dungeon crawl'? I always suspected it has to do with the cautious pace, but I wanted to know if there was a definitive answer on this.