Questions tagged [terminology]

For questions about RPG-specific terminology and jargon. Use this tag for questions about terminology and jargon across RPGs in general, including the in-game meaning of game terms.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
7
votes
1answer
3k views

Is there a difference between a creature and a monster?

The MM states: A monster is defined as any creature that can be interacted with and potentially fought and killed. (MM 4). However, despite this apparent distinction, both the MM and DMG seem to ...
60
votes
6answers
7k views

What RPG concepts does "rules as written" encompass?

The term "rules as written" (or RAW) gets thrown about fairly often in RPG circles, especially around D&D. But what does it actually mean? Is RAW an analysis technique? A playstyle? An entire ...
30
votes
2answers
8k views

What does “badwrongfun” mean? Where does it come from?

I've often encountered the term 'badwrongfun' used in discussions about role-playing games, and I see that it was already in vogue in the early days of this site judging from answers like this one. ...
17
votes
6answers
15k views

What is Rule Zero? [closed]

What is "Rule Zero" as it related to D&D 5e? I read How has D&D changed over time in its guidance to DMs as to when to extrapolate from written rules and when to improvise?, but it only went ...
12
votes
6answers
808 views

Is there a term for OSR games which are not retro clones?

The Old School Renaissance / Revival boasts many retro clones, especially of various D&D editions: from Swords & Wizardry for OD&D, through Blueholme for Holmes Basic, to OSRIC for AD&...
8
votes
3answers
919 views

What does “spot” mean when casting a spell?

Only 4 spells in D&D 5e meaningfully use the word spot (thanks to techurbana for the list) as a place where something happens: Silent Image - The image appears at a spot within range Major Image ...
18
votes
3answers
5k views

What exactly is an NPC?

I think every DM-controlled creature is an NPC but is there a definition somewhere? Is an ooze an NPC? What about a dog or a golem? Does it need to be intelligent? Does it need to have class levels?
10
votes
5answers
1k views

How do RPG fans go about classifying titles? [closed]

In board gaming, there are fairly clear "families" of game which are broken down by a combination of mechanics, play style and audience. We might talk about "party games" for instance, and there are ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

Where did the term BBEG come from?

BBEG means "Big Bad Evil Guy" and refers to the villain of a campaign. My question is, where did it come from? How did it get made, and who popularized it?
11
votes
1answer
389 views

What's the term for the text in a published module intended to be read aloud to the PCs?

Is there a defined, standard, or "industry" term used by module publishers for the text in a module (or adventure) that is done in a shaded background and intended to be read aloud to the players? ...
16
votes
0answers
2k views

What reason have the designers said for why they spelled "Rötschreck" with an Umlaut? [closed]

In German language the word rot (meaning "Red") is spelled without an Umlaut, so would the word Rotschreck be if composed in German, meaning "red fear", composed of rot and der Schreck, "fear". Why ...
10
votes
2answers
857 views

What is the generic and collective name of each class' path, college, domain, etc.?

Barbarians have "Primal Paths", bards have "Bard Colleges", clerics have "Divine Domains", etc. Is there any generic name for those "feature-trees" as a group since we find them in each class? "...
7
votes
2answers
578 views

Purely storytelling/improvisational role play? Is it a specific genre?

I'm completely new to the concept of role playing games, and have sadly always perceived them as very board-game-oriented with a great emphasis on memorization of rules and lore. In other words, ...
26
votes
1answer
21k views

Origin of term 'Theater of the Mind'

What is the history and origin of the term 'Theater of the Mind', as used in 5e?
7
votes
2answers
2k views

What is a cantrip and what page are they on?

I'm making a bard and it says I have 2 cantrips and 4 spells, and I just have no idea where they are and how to establish them at all.
1
vote
0answers
127 views

Generic, catch-all word for a "power user"? [closed]

I'm stumped labeling a class of characters who use unconventional weapons and tactics for self-defense / combat. When I say "power user" I mean any kind of spell caster (be it magical or ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the collective noun for a group of ghouls?

I have several ghoul characters and I was wondering if a group of ghouls is called anything specifically. A group of Kindred is a coterie, a group of Sabbat is a pack, a group of mortals that are fed ...
28
votes
5answers
3k views

What's the name of style where GM assumes idiotic behaviour unless stated otherwise? [closed]

When I played my first two actual RPG sessions in 2013, the GM treated me in a bit... peculiar way. The first session was in Prehistoryk. (For context: it's an RPG system where all PCs are hunter-...
1
vote
5answers
2k views

Is a Ruling Automatically Also a Houserule?

While I've never had a problem discerning between rulings and houserules in previous editions, as most games don't rely on DM opinion so much, I find that 5th edition is problematic regarding this ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the term for a game where only the players roll the dice?

We've got questions about who should roll the dice and how or why a GM might give up rolling the dice. What is it called when that happens, though? Some people use semi-diceless to mean "only the ...
34
votes
9answers
11k views

What is a plot hook, exactly?

I hear the term "plot hook" a lot, but I've never understood exactly what it means. I thought it was a method for introducing the player characters to an adventure, but the term doesn't seem ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

What is "player fiat"?

I have seen this term appear on various gaming forums, but I cannot find a source for its origin, or a clear definition for it. What does it mean? Here is an example: the term appears as part of the ...
4
votes
2answers
904 views

What does "strike" mean in Robilar's Gambit?

Robilar's Gambit includes the following phrase: ... exposed defenses as they reach in to attack you. Anyone who strikes at you ... What does strike mean and what would count as an attack? Would ...
11
votes
5answers
4k views

Is there a name for putting OP enemies against OP characters?

Suppose that a DM realizes that the PCs became OP due to several reasons (optimization, lucky rolls, too many magic items) and battles that are supposed to be deadly became easy. Then, he decides to ...
16
votes
5answers
6k views

Is there a one-word replacement for resistance to magic?

Is there a one-word term that's understood by role-playing gamers to mean resistance to magical attacks, in the same way that many role-playing gamers would quickly recognize armor to mean resistance ...
29
votes
3answers
3k views

What does "Forgeite" mean? Where does it come from?

I have heard usage of the word "Forgeite" as a descriptive name for a certain kind of games - in most recent example it was Dogs in the Vineyard. It is implied that it has something to do with Forge ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

Where does the term "Elfgames" come from and what specifically did it refer to?

"Elfgames" seems to be occasionally used to refer to fantasy RPGs that are perceived as generic or escapist. Where does the term come from and what was it originally used for?
25
votes
3answers
5k views

What is "the ground"?

The spell Maximilian's Earthen Grasp describes compacted soil rising from the ground (Elemental Evil Player's Companion, p. 20): You choose a 5-foot-square unoccupied space on the ground that you can ...
2
votes
1answer
262 views

Are there names for the sections in a monster stat block?

The Monster Manual have tapered horizontal rules that separate sections of the monster stat block (after the monster type, before and after the ability scores, and after the challenge rating). Are ...
30
votes
4answers
10k views

What does "chaotic" as in "chaotic good" or "chaotic evil" mean?

I do not play D&D, but players in my roleplaying game have called stuff "chaotic," like "chaotic good" and "chaotic evil" and I would like to know what they mean. The game I play does not use this ...
21
votes
4answers
2k views

Friend Computer or The Computer?

I have listened to a recording of a session of Paranoia that keeps talking about "Friend Computer". And Google search confirms that this seems to be a common way to refer to the computer. But the ...
12
votes
2answers
2k 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.
18
votes
3answers
3k views

What is a "Living" campaign?

I have gone to many game conventions where I have seen a "Living" campaign referred to. I do not quite understand what a "Living" campaign is. Explain the overall concept of a "Living" campaign and ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

What is a “shared narrative” RPG?

I haven't done any tabletop rpgs for a very long time. I've just been invited to join in a post apoc game that is "shared narrative". What is a shared narrative RPG?
22
votes
2answers
5k views

What is the correct term for the die with multiples of ten written on it?

What is the correct term for this die? It is a standard die in any 7 dice set. It has multiples of ten from 10 to 00 written on it (10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, (1)00). I seem to think that ...
3
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
1k 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?
9
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
78
votes
3answers
45k 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 ...
30
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
87
votes
1answer
12k 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?
0
votes
2answers
689 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
21
votes
1answer
3k 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 (...
13
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
24
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
103
votes
1answer
17k 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 can’...
68
votes
12answers
89k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
121k 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 ...