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.

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What is the difference between a DMPC and an NPC? [duplicate]

Most of the references to DMPCs I see in fora and stuff seem to be describing characters played by DMs who want to have their cake and eat it too—both to DM and to play. In these references it’s often ...
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Do abilities with the term "Greater Than Normal" stack with other abilities that also use the same term and refer to the same [duplicate]

I was looking into fun builds that would work with the bug bears "Long-Limbed" feature and thought of the Astral Self monk which increases the range of unarmed strikes made with the "...
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What is a community copy?

On my question Where did the concept of community copies originate in the indie scene? an up-voted comment asked the question: What is a community copy? So what is a community copy in the indie ttrpg ...
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What is the etymology of the term "drider"?

Gary Gygax took the word 'drow' from a Scots cognate of troll, with one of the meanings being 'dark elf'. David Sutherland III introduced the 'drider' in module Q1, as a drow that has been transformed ...
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Are RAW (the acronym) and similar terms singular or plural?

I was having a discussion (read: argument) with a friend, and we were throwing around the same terms about rule interpretations that a lot of people use — RAW for rules as written, RAI for rules as ...
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What are martial classes?

What are martial classes in the context of 5e? Is there a consensus on what the terminology means? Are martial classes something that you have to specify to make yourself understood?
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When was the first instance of "If you don't like the rules, change them." in a rulebook?

In the past, we determined that The GM is Always Right is stemming from the early heydays of Dungeons and Dragons and its origin in games like Chainmail, though the Braunstein games might also be a ...
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What does it mean for a spell component to be consumed?

When the body of spell's description explicitly says a component is 'consumed' or it is implied by the material components description, what exactly happens to that component? In essence what does '...
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Where in D&D published material did the nomenclature "ability check" first appear?

Looking through the Redbox and the Bluebox I noticed that there are abilities and there are checks. But there is no cohesive concept of an "ability check". Then I looked in Gygax' AD&D ...
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What is "fantastic melee", and "non-fantastic melee"?

I was reading about some original DnD editions today and came across an excerpt of combat that mentioned non-fantastic combat. The excerpt in question was Assume the following dice score by the Hero. ...
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What are the key features of Stars and Wishes?

Stars and Wishes are a system of positive critique that has been included in the TTRPG-Toolkit since around 2020 and got some references on the stack. It seems to be all about giving feedback to the ...
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Where does this “You think you're in a room...” D&D quote come from?

My players bought me a plaque for DM'ing for them that has this quote on it. Nat 1. You think you're in a room. But you've been wrong before. It seems like a quote that would have come from some RPG ...
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What is "caster level" referring to in the rules for activating a magic item?

The rules for Activating a Magic Item state: Some magic items allow the user to cast a spell from the item, often by expending charges from it. The spell is cast at the lowest possible spell and ...
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What is Fortitude?

I've been playing Low Magic Age, which appears to be a computer game based closely on the rules for D&D 3.5e. However, as I haven't played pen-and-paper RPGs I'm not familiar with the terminology, ...
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Is “Willingly” an actual game term? [duplicate]

Booming Blade says the following: If the target willingly moves 5 feet or more before (the start of your next turn), the target takes 1d8 thunder damage, and the spell ends. Is “willingly” an actual ...
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What does it mean for a word or phrase to be a "game term"?

These two questions use the phrase "game term": Is “a special melee attack” an actual game term? What does 'ally' mean, as a game term? Both answers seem to make a distinction between game ...
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Is "a special melee attack" an actual game term?

PHB page 195 mentions "special melee attack" when talking about Grapple and Shove: you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature you can use the Attack action to make a special ...
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What does "Ninemen" mean, in the name of the Nulathoe's Ninemen spell?

Every reference to Ed Greenwood's spell Nulathoe's ninemen makes sure to note that "ninemen" is pronounced "nin-em-en" rather than "nine men," making it a unique word of ...
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Is there an alternative word to be used in place of Humanoid?

I find the term Humanoid to be (obviously) human centric, and am looking for a more generic term to use in place of it to define all intelligent creatures that exist in standard society of these ...
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How do I pronounce numbers in game editions?

Most game systems use regular English words for their names. If you don't know how to pronounce "dungeon" or "dragon", or any other regular word, e.g. Cambridge dictionary is of ...
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Is there a name for simple, self-contained, shorter games?

Essentially I'm thinking of games which have an amount of difficulty/complexity (on every axis) that might be manageable for more casual players, but which still have some of the elements of bigger ...
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1answer
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Do Illithid tadpoles have a specific name?

So Illithids trigger ceremorphosis by inserting a tadpole into a subdued creature (lovely), but do the tadpoles have a name other than tadpoles? As far as I can see my 5th edition books only use the ...
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In 5e, do the terms "creature" and "character" refer to different concepts? [duplicate]

Creatures in 5e is a general term covering all living entities, from NPCs to PCs, wolves to level 20 gnome wizards. Monsters, characters, and NPCs are all creatures. Monsters are creatures with a stat ...
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Attack Range to Movement per Turn Ratio; Dunnigan's Ratio?

TL;DR What is the less-obscure replacement to the term 'Dunnigan's Ratio' - the range of ratios of weapon ranges to typical distances moved in a single combat turn that produce tactically interesting ...
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What are the 'foot wraps' called that many fantasy characters seem to wear [closed]

Essentially, what I am trying to find a term for a wrapping of the foot in cloth or leather, which protects the sole, yet leaves the heel, ball, and toe free.
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What is the origin of the term 'quantum ogre'?

As I understand it, a 'quantum ogre' is a piece of game content that the party will be unable to avoid encountering. It's a way of saving on prep time for the game master but that subtly removes ...
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Is there a name for a single saving throw with multiple DCs (i.e. whose effect is determined based on the highest DC met)?

Is there a name for a single saving throw with multiple DCs (i.e. whose effect is determined based on the highest DC met)? For example, say a character is placed in a supernaturally hot environment, ...
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Is there a term for creatures that are not spellcasters?

Fifth Edition has a number of items that require attunement by a spellcaster. If the prerequisite is to be a spellcaster, a creature qualifies if it can cast at least one spell using its traits or ...
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Origin of Illusionism?

Now and then, I've seen people use the term 'Illusionism', used for describing a kind of railroad, such as in this answer and elsewhere. I'd like to learn the origin of Illusionism, both in the sense ...
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159 views

What is the "gauntlet" start system for character creation?

A while back in a stat discussion, someone mentioned that they used something called a "gauntlet" start for character creation. It was a post on Reddit, either for Kingmaker or regular Pathfinder. I ...
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681 views

What does "CMV" in "CMV hypothesis" stand for?

While reading some of the archives of the Mimir.Net mailing list I encountered the "CMV Hypothesis". In short, it says: Under the CMV hypothesis, Eladrin, Guardinals, Asuras, and Aasimar are all ...
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Why is Armor Class called that way?

I want to teach the game to some new player, and while doing homemade character sheets, for simplicity, I wanted to use the term "Defense" instead of "Armor class" (which I found a bit unintuitive). ...
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What is homebrew? Should I use it in normal games? [closed]

I keep on hearing about homebrew in D&D and I was just wondering what it meant.
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What's the name of the role of characters who buff teammates?

In a RPG party, if Tank → Front line in case the party should be dealt damage Damage Dealer → Deals damage to enemies Healer → Heals teammates etc. … what's the name of the role for ...
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What is a Dad move in RPGs?

In this question the asker writes They are both roughly my age, so I can't pull a 'Dad move' on the murder hobo. A comment said You're never too old or young to pull a Dad move. As a DM you ...
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What definition of the noun "threat" do the rule books use when it affects gameplay mechanics?

I have recently asked a question about Surprise where the unclear interpretation of the word "threat" in the sentence "Any character or monster that doesn’t notice a threat is surprised ...
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What is the proper term for magic cast from material components [closed]

I am working on a setting for an RPG and I am trying to research proper terminology for different kinds of magic. I would like to know what the proper name is for magic cast explicitly from objects. ...
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758 views

What does "Rules As Interpreted" mean and how is it different to Rules as Written and Rules as Intended?

From Sage Advice: PHILOSOPHY BEHIND RULES AND RULINGS RAW. “Rules as written”—that’s what RAW stands for. When I dwell on the RAW interpretation of a rule, I’m studying what the text says in context, ...
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Origin of 'Air-Breathing Mermaid Charm'

The 'Air-Breathing Mermaid Charm' is a useful descriptor for a certain kind of negligence in the writing of RPG books, and particularly their rules. Usually it means approximately the following ...
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What is the origin of the term describing a game as a ‘Heartbreaker’?

I’ve often heard the term ‘fantasy heartbreaker’ used to describe a game. Where did this term originate and how was it used? Matt Colville used the phrase 'fantasy heartbreaker' in his YouTube video "...
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What is the difference between 1/3, 1/2, and full casters?

I saw in a recent answer a reference to 1/3 casters and 1/2 casters, and have never encountered this terminology before: Paladin's are known as 1/2 casters, so their spell progression isn't as big ...
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What exactly is a "murder hobo"?

I've been here reading Q&A for some month now, and I already saw some concerning murder-hobos (or sometimes called murderous cretins). As I'm French, I tried to directly translate it, but it gave ...
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634 views

What do the terms CO and TO mean in the context of characters and builds?

I have seen the terms CO and TO when reading about RPGs like in this Reddit post, this EN World forum thread, this Paizo messageboard thread, and this Giant in the Playground forum thread. Also, see ...
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What Does 'Pulp' or 'Pulpy' Mean in the Context of RPGs?

From time to time, I see people describe either campaigns or systems (not necessarily at the same time) as 'pulp' or 'pulpy'. At first I thought it referred to pulp fiction (the literature, not the ...
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Has there ever been a class that creates magic by drawing it?

In the long history of Dungeons & Dragons, has there been a character class that can only create magical effects by drawing on surface? For example, a class that needs to draw a circle on the ...
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What Is and What Isn't Borgstromancy?

After reading definitions and asking for clarifications elsewhere, I'm to this day having a hard time getting an unambiguous understanding of what things are covered by the term Borgstromancy, and ...
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Is there a difference between the meanings of the terms "module" and "adventure"?

Is there a difference between "module" and "adventure", and where and when did the terminology branch? My impression is that "module" is an older term, but I am unsure if this is correct and when the ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...

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