Role-playing game terms

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Role-playing games (RPGs) have developed specialized terminology. This includes both terminology used within RPGs to describe in-game concepts and terminology used to describe RPGs. Role-playing games also have specialized slang and jargon associated with them.

Besides the terms listed here, there are numerous terms used in the context of specific, individual RPGs such as Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), Fate and Vampire: The Masquerade. For a list of RPGs, see List of role-playing games.

Terms used to play role-playing games[edit]

A[edit]

  • Adventure: A set of game sessions united by characters and by narrative sequence, setting or goal.[1][2]
  • Armor Class (or AC): The difficulty to hit a specified target, abstracted from its dodging capacity and armor.[3][4] "This term was inherited from a naval battle game".[3]:203 Many role-playing games that came after Dungeons & Dragons have "abandoned the notion of defining defense as armor class".[3]:54
  • Area of Effect (or AoE): An effect that affects a zone,[5] measured by a template, distance in hexagon or ordinary metrics.

C[edit]

D[edit]

  • Difficulty Class (or DC): A target number to save from an effect.[17][18]
  • Dungeon: An enclosed location that contains hostile NPCs, such as a cave or building.[19][20] A dungeon crawl is a type of scenario in which players navigate a labyrinth type of dungeon, battling various monsters, avoiding traps, solving puzzles, and looting any treasure they may find.[21]

F[edit]

  • Fumble: Critical failure. syn. Botch.[22]

G[edit]

I[edit]

  • Initiative : The determination of who goes first and in what order declared actions are carried out.[27][28]

M[edit]

  • Metagaming: A player's use of out-of-character knowledge concerning the state of the game to determine their character's actions, when said character has no relevant knowledge or awareness under the circumstances.[29][30]
  • Modifier: A number added to or subtracted from a die roll based on a specific skill or other attribute.[27][31]

N[edit]

  • Natural (roll): The number actually on a die, such as a natural 1 or a natural 20, indicating the die's face shows a 1 or a 20, as opposed to the number rolled plus modifiers.[citation needed]

S[edit]

T[edit]

  • THAC0 (which stands for "To hit armor class zero"): In D&D, the number needed on a dice roll for a character to hit an NPC if they have a zero armor class.[3][30]
  • Total party kill (TPK) or total party wipe(out) (TPW): The entire party of player characters dies.[38][39]
  • Troupe system: A style of play in which different characters are run by the same player in different sessions; in some cases, the duties of the game master may also be rotated amongst the players.[40]

Terms used to describe characters[edit]

A[edit]

  • Advantage: A positive or useful statistic or trait.[citation needed]
  • Attributes: Natural, in-born characteristics shared by all characters. Functional attributes, such as physical strength or wisdom, have a mechanical impact on gameplay while cosmetic attributes, such as visual appearance, allow a player to define their character within the game.[41]

D[edit]

P[edit]

R[edit]

  • Race: Any sapient species or beings that make up the setting. Players can often choose to be one of these creatures when creating their character and each possess different abilities and attributes that distinguish them from one another. Races can also possess their own ethnicities, types, or other description of their physical and cultural heredity. Role-playing games often include fantasy races, mutants, robots and other non-human character types.[41][3]

S[edit]

Terms used to describe types of games[edit]

F[edit]

  • Free-form role-playing game: A rules-light style of game that mostly uses social dynamics for its game system.[37]

G[edit]

L[edit]

  • Live-action (or LARP): A type of role-playing game physically enacted in a troupe acting style.[3][47]
  • Living campaigns (or shared campaigns): A gaming format within the table-top role-playing game community that provides the opportunity for play by an extended community within a shared universe.[48]

N[edit]

O[edit]

  • Online RPG: A type of computer game that uses RPG-style game mechanics and tropes.[49]

R[edit]

  • Rules-heavy: A game system with heavily codified mechanics, usually encompassing a wide variety of possible actions in a game. The opposite of rules-lite.[50][51][52][53]
  • Rules-lite: A game system that uses very general mechanics, usually more focused on narrative actions in a game. The opposite of rules-heavy.[50][51][52][53]

S[edit]

Terms used by gamers[edit]

B[edit]

  • Blue booking: One or a few of the players describing activities of their characters in written form, outside of the role-playing session, creating a sort of ongoing character history and resolving actions that do not involve the rest of the group.[37]

C[edit]

  • Crunch: The rules and mechanics of a game.[54]

F[edit]

  • Fluff: The setting and ambiance of a game, as distinct from the rules/mechanics, particularly in reference to written descriptive material.[54]

M[edit]

  • Monty haul: A pun on Monty Hall (the former host of Let's Make A Deal), when equipment, abilities, and other rewards are awarded more often than the system intends (or in some cases more often than the system is capable of handling.[55][56]
  • Munchkin: An immature player, especially one who is selfishly focused on dominating play, often by seeking to circumvent the normal limitations placed on characters.[57][55]

P[edit]

R[edit]

  • Rule as Intended (or RAI): The rules with the context of the designers' intent.[58]
  • Rule as Written (or RAW): The rules "without regard to the designers’ intent. The text is forced to stand on its own".[58] Game designer Jeremy Crawford wrote, "In a perfect world, RAW and RAI align perfectly, but sometimes the words on the page don’t succeed at communicating the designers’ intent. Or perhaps the words succeed with one group of players but fail with another".[58]
  • Roll-playing: A derisive term for rules-heavy games, occasionally to the point of requiring players to focus on game mechanics at the expense of role-playing.[59][60]
  • Rules lawyer: A player who strictly adheres to the rules as written, and enforces them among all other players.[61][62]

T[edit]

  • Twink: A player who engages in system mastery with an explicit focus of exploiting powerful abilities. Similar to powergamer.[63][64]

References[edit]

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