Gamer Jargon

Whether you're a veteran roleplayer or a total n00b, sometimes you need to make sure that cheese-building power-gamer in your group didn't just toss an insult your way. Or maybe you just need the new group to know you grok the lingo. Look up all your dobbers and procs here on Gamer Jargon.

E–K

E

escort mission

A common form of quest which involves moving with an NPC from one point to another, protecting them from all harm along the way. Typically preceded by the word 'fucking', as in "We're going to kill our GM if he gives us one more fucking escort mission."
(The NPC in an escort mission is usually dumb as a brick, has no appreciable skills to protect themselves, and the escorting characters have no control over their movements.)

ERP
  1. (acronym) "Erotic RolePlaying" a.k.a. 'cybersex'
  2. (onomatopoeia) The sound made when one forcibly stops oneself from vomiting after seeing other people engage in cybersex.
experience points
Points awarded at given times during a roleplaying game which the players may spend to increase their character's skills and abilities.
(Experience points, if they could be minted, would be more valuable than gold as the average gamer will do almost anything to get them.)

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F

fanboy, fangirl
  1. (noun) a fan of a very particular and specific part of nerd or geek culture who behaves in a obsessive, overexcited and/or obnoxious manner toward the target of their adoration to the point where objectivity is usually compromised. Ex. "Did you see Greg in his matching Sailor Moon t-shirt, hat, shoes, and backpack? What a fanboy!"
  2. (verb) to behave in an obsessive, overexcited and/or obnoxious manner toward the target of their adoration. Ex. "Greg was just arrested for fanboying all over some voice actor from that show he likes. Does anyone have bail money?"
fetch quest

The most basic and common task assigned to players in any form of roleplaying or adventure game, consisting solely of "go somewhere else, collect X number of a particular item, then return here for your reward."

filing off the serial numbers

To make something suitable for distribution (fan fiction of copyrighted material, the rules for a LARP based off a popular TV show, etc) by removing any specific references to canon.

fireball formation

A strategic mistake made when a group of characters is standing close enough together that they all may be targeted by one single attack (usually a fireball).

FLGS

Friendly Local Game Store. A locally-owned (as opposed to big-box or franchise) game store. Usually serves as the local hub for all manner of gamer-related activity.

fluff

Setting or background material that is separate from and has no effect on the rules of the game. Syn. Lore.

fluffy

Containing large amounts of, or primarily concerned with, fluff and lore. The opposite of crunchy.

free action

Any action that can be performed during a combat round in addition to any combat actions without taking any extra time or incurring any additional penalties to the combat action.

freeform roleplaying

Any system of roleplaying that determines outcomes either by consensus or a designated referee as opposed to having stats and dice rolls.

fumble

See: Critical Failure

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G

Game Master, gamemaster, G.M., GM,
  1. (noun) In a role-playing game, the player who controls events, determines outcomes, and referees the players, rather than controlling a player character. See also dungeon master, referee, storyteller.
  2. (verb) Synonymous with definition #2 under 'run', used most often with the acronym forms. (You wouldn't hear 'to gamemaster', but 'to GM' is quite common.)
gamer S.O.

(acronym) "gamer significant other"
The boyfriend or girlfriend of a gamer who shows up to games just to hang out with their significant other; usually pretends to be interested in playing the game, and ends up being a negative or distracting influence.

gamerese

The collected jargon and vocabulary specific to gamers used to describe game-related situations or re-applied from those situations to describe mundane situations so as to relate them to other gamers.

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (aka Gamers 2)

A fantasy movie in which a Powergamer, a Shell Script, and a Munchkin learn the real meaning of roleplaying after being exposed to a Token Female Gamer.

gank

To ambush someone in such a way as to take something from them or gain the advantages of having completed their chosen objective before they have an opportunity to.

gazebo
  1. In general usage, a freestanding roofed structure or belvedere, usually open on the sides; circa 1752.
  2. To gamers, a mundane, unimportant item that exists only to provide scene dressing; used to emphasize unimportance. Example: Player: "A giant fireplace, huh? I climb in to examine it." GM: "Forget it, it's just a gazebo." (Refers to the infamous Gazebo Story.)
Gazebo Story, The

The story "The Tale of Eric and the Dread Gazebo," widely known and retold often among gamers. Recounted in its entirety here: http://www.duke.edu/web/DRAGO/humor/gazebo.html

glass cannon

See: DPS.

GM Burnout

A particularly nasty affliction affecting gamemasters after weeks/months/years of ungrateful players coming into their home, eating their food, and playing their game whilst making the GM do the work of a part-time job without pay or the entertainment that comes from being a player. Symptoms include irritability, increased sadism, a desire to kill player characters, and general not-giving-a-fuck. The only known treatment for GM burnout is for the GM to participate in a game as entertaining or more entertaining than the game which caused the burnout.

GMPC

(acronym) "Game Master's Player Character," an oxymoron. An NPC that follows the characters around with whom the GM has developed a certain attachment. Such characters are invariably overpowered Mary Sue types that will show off their awesomeness at every opportunity.

GM stare

The blank and unfocused look that comes over your GM's face as he tries desperately to calculate out all the consequences your question or action will have upon his plot.

godmode, godmoding, godmoder
  1. (video games, noun) A cheat code or bug that causes the player to become invincible (or near enough), allowing easy completion.
  2. (roleplaying games, verb) In a roleplaying scenario lacking dice, moderation, or mature human beings, to completely ignore any negative consequences that could possibly happen to your character, usually with an excuse citing the character's superhuman qualities.
    Example:
    Player 1: "My character unloads his entire clip at yours at point blank range."
    Player 2: "My character dodges every single bullet because he was raised by a time-traveling lightning bolt."
    Player 1: "Fucking godmoder."
Golden Rule, The

A meta-rule often printed in the sidebar of roleplaying manuals which takes various forms but essentially boils down to "THE GM'S WORD IS LAW."

grognard
  1. A term for an old soldier, particularly one who complains.
  2. (gamerese) A wargamer, especially one who prefers older and often out-of-print games (usually published in the 1970s and 1980s).
  3. Someone who prefers playing previous editions of roleplaying games over newer editions of the same game and will complain vehemently about the perceived inferiority of newer editions to anyone who will listen (and usually anyone who tries not to!)
grudge monster

Any encounter or detriment that shows up spontaneously as an avatar of the GM's frustration or ire.

GURPSios

The mythical crunchiest breakfast cereal in the world, used to mock players who are more interested in point juggling than roleplaying. Example: "Go crunch your bowl of GURPSios somewhere else, poindexter. We're trying to roleplay here."

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H

hack-and-slash

A game that focuses almost entirely on combat, lacking even the token attempts at roleplaying and plot present in other adventure games.

half-breed, halfbreed
  1. The offspring of two different varieties, breeds, or races.
  2. A derogatory term for people of mixed race, especially half Native American and half White.
  3. A common form of munchkining in which a player will create a character with parents of two different races or species, expecting to gain the benefits and racial bonuses of both. Particularly audacious munchkins will carry this back an extra generation or two, naming grandparents of eight different species and claiming they got the best genes from each.

Addendum: In any fantasy setting where half-elves are not already a distinct race, expect to see plenty of characters with one human parent and one elven parent claiming to have all the archery/magic/sexiness bonuses of the elf with all the varied (and often random) bonuses from the human. In science fiction settings, expect to see the Proud Warrior Race paired off with the frail race with mental powers to produce psychic berserker characters.

Hawkeing

To fanboy about your own character.

Example:

  1. Bob: (IC) "Have you heard the tale of Shmingus the Bard who saved the kingdom and married the princess?"
  2. Alice: (OOC) "Dude, wasn't Shmingus your character in the last game?"
  3. Bob: (OOC) "Yeah, he was so awesome with his magic lute and sword of smiting."
  4. Alice: (OOC) "Stop Hawkeing all over my game, Bob."

Addendum: In Dragon Age: Origins, you can create your own character. In Dragon Age 2, you are forced to play the creator's stock character, Hawke. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, you are allowed to create your own character once again, but all of the background NPC's spend the entire game gushing about how great Hawke is. It gets to the point where as you are saving all the Grey Wardens, your entire army is cheering Hawke for rescuing people from the walls.

Addendum 2: Johnny fuckin' Gat, especially for anybody who started playing Saint's Row when it started getting good (i.e. having skipped 1 and 2). Even after his ninety seconds of screen time at the beginning of SR3 are over, characters constantly gush about how great Johnny Gat was and their deep emotional bonds with a character who had all the depth of a postcard. The Hawkeing reaches a breaking point in Saint's Row 4, where the sheer overpowering awesomeness of Johnny Gat is a major plot point despite the character having absolutely no effect on the story whatsoever.

headcanon

(oxymoron) Facts about a setting which exist only in a specific person's head. Sometimes directly contradictory to established canon, but most often involving parts of the canon that were never properly explored. Example: "Those two background characters who each got a minute of screen time obviously fell in love and had three children named Margaret, Donald, and Gort. This is now headcanon!"

health

See: hit points

hex mat

A plastic, rubber, or silicone sheet with a pre-printed hexagonal grid on one side and usually a square grid printed on the other, designed to be written on with erasable marker, used to draw maps and other reference material during RPGs. See also: battlemat.

high-functioning geek

A geek, nerd, or gamer who can still blend appropriately with non-gamer society through the understanding of fashion, hygiene, and normal social customs and practices. Antonym: basement-dweller

hit points, HP

A statistic representing how much damage a character can withstand before dying. Also: health, life points. The term 'HP' may be used as a genericised term regardless of how the system tracks damage and healing.

Hobbesian combat

A combat system which is "Nasty, Brutish, and Short." Favored by players more interested in roleplaying than spending three and a half hours figuring out attack of opportunity rolls or, gods forbid, grapple rules.
(From Thomas Hobbes' description of the state of man without government in The Leviathian.)

homebrew, home-brew

An original system and/or setting created by a GM for a specific game. Quality varies wildly depending on the creator, but the general reputation of homebrew games is for being rough, unpolished, and less fleshed out than established systems and settings.

house rule

Any rule created by the GM that applies within their domain or to any of the groups they run. Applies to both rules created to address shortcomings in the dice system being used (e.g. "I've house-ruled Perception into a stat instead of a skill for my games and updated all the careers accordingly.") and to general codes of behavior for being inside another person's home (e.g. "House rules are no smoking, no shoes on the carpet, and keep your feet off the table.")

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I

incarnate
  1. to embody or represent an idea, concept, spirit, or deity into concrete form.
  2. (gamerese) to take a character from a previous game or setting and import them into a new game or setting by taking the core elements of the character and updating them to the new environment as appropriate. (e.g. "I'm going to incarnate my mage from the fantasy campaign into Bill's new sci-fi game as the party's psychic.")
initiative
  1. A stat or system used to determine who acts first, or to set the initiative order. Usually the character with the highest initiative goes first.
initiative order

Also: turn order
The order, as determined by initiative, in which characters may take their actions during a single combat round.

It's what my character would do.
  1. A phrase used by roleplayers to remind adventure gamers that their characters have motivations beyond killing things and taking their stuff.
  2. A phrase used by adventure gamers as an excuse for doing something phenomenally stupid just because it's funny or gives their character extra screen time, usually directed as a dig toward any roleplayers in the group.
I have portals, I know things.

A phrase used and as a combination of an apology and an explanation for a player making a comment involving information the character wouldn't know, usually a real world reference.
(From the popular "Atkins Switcher" WoW video)

"I'll be in my bunk."

Phrase spoken (usually in a deep, gruff voice) when witnessing something incredibly sexy. Translates roughly as "[That] has given me a powerful and irresistible urge to masturbate."
(Spoken by Jayne Cobb in Firefly, War Stories)

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J

jettison
      to throw something overboard from a plane or ship
      The act of suddenly cutting off all contact with a person or group, usually due to embarrassment or being butthurt. Essentially an IRL ragequit. Also: ghosting, the Spokane Goodbye
jordanitis

A painful and out-of-control swelling of a series of novels characterized by high amounts of filler once the author is either no longer sure what to do with the story or realizes that more money can be made churning out books describing in great detail what the characters are wearing.

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K

killsteal, K.S., KS

(verb, noun: killstealer, KSer) To deal the final killing blow to an enemy or mob such that you are the sole recipient of any rewards, loot, or experience. Usually after someone else has done the majority of the work to kill the target, but may also be applied in situations where someone else has claimed the right to kill the target, usually through camping.

Kobayashi Maru
  1. In Star Trek, a no-win simulation scenario administered to cadets by Starfleet Academy to test how they react to the prospect of dying.
  2. (gamerese) Used in any context to refer to a situation with few acceptable outcomes.

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L–N

L

LARP

(acronym) "Live-Action Role-Playing." a role-playing game in which players dress in costume and represent their characters themselves, physically acting out their character interactions, often in a suitable setting or environment such as a building, park, or forested area.

Law of Character Personalities, The

All characters, regardless of backstory or current situation, will behave as a less-mature version of the person playing them.

Law of Conservation of Stupidity, The

Also: Allen's Rule

Within any gaming group, there will be a minimum of one player who unhinges from reality and acts in a chaotically destructive manner. If this person leaves or is removed from the group, another player will go crazy to take their place.

Addendum: This law demonstrates that gaming groups act as a closed system under the second law of thermodynamics, such that if a player has gone crazy to replace a previously crazy person and a new person is introduced who is more insane, the first player will revert to their previous sanity.

Law of Enemy Dice
  1. Any dice created for an "enemy" game (such as Werewolf dice in Vampire) will intentionally roll poorly.
  2. Any dice primarily used by a system hated by the current GM (such as rolling a d20 in a game where the GM is a vehement D&D-hater) will be cursed by the force of the GM's hatred.
  3. Any dice mistakenly left inside a GM's gaming room by players who have left the game under questionable circumstances will attempt to kill remaining players.

    Addendum to #3: This refers to the tale of the Sparkly Pink d10, which was discovered at least a year after any player who could have abandoned it left the game. When it was rolled for a player who happened to be absent for the day's task of driving a wagon over relatively normal terrain, it caused that character to careen wildly off into the forest and break its axles with the force of impacting multiple trees. The kicker? The player whose character was so afflicted was brought in as the replacement for the most likely person to have left the die.

Law of Inverse Character Friendship, The

The closer the relationship between two players out of game, the more abusive the relationship between their characters in-game.

Law of Player Alignment, The

All players, regardless of their characters, act under the Chaotic Neutral alignment, where every action is explained by "I just felt like it." or "It seemed like a good idea at the time." See Also: Path of Whatever-I-Was-Going-To-Do-Anyway.

Law of the Roleplayer Exception, The

Any player not adhering to the above laws may be a member of the Chosen Tribe (true roleplayers).

Law of Token Female Attraction, The

Upon entering the gaming group, the Token Female Gamer will select the "best" male of the group (using whatever standards the player would normally use to gauge such) and any characters of that player will be the sole focus of any romantic attentions from characters played by the Token Female Gamer. This will happen regardless of the relationship status of any of the players involved unless the Token Female Gamer's significant other is actively part of the group, in which case the relationship will be subject to the Law of Inverse Character Friendship.

Lawful Good Rules Lawyer

A rules lawyer who will bring up obscure rule points at any moment, regardless of whether they help or hurt the players.

Leeroy Jenkins
  1. (verb) To cause the death of your entire party due to extreme stupidity, usu. despite the party's attempts at strategy.
  2. (noun) A pejorative name for a character who refuses to listen to planning and acts without any of the knowledge he could have gained from listening to party members.
level up, level-up
  1. (verb) To accumulate enough experience points to increase in level, thus gaining any of the benefits thereof. Example: "Killing the goblin gives me the last 3 exp I need. Time to level up and get Furious Strike."
  2. (verb) To increase the rank of any stat, skill, or ability. Example: "I've got enough exp saved to level up my engineering to five."
loot, lewt, l00t
  1. (noun) In general usage, a collection of valued objects, often taken as plunder or spoils of war.
  2. (verb) The act of carrying or taking objects as loot.
  3. (gamerese, noun) Any objects which a character believes will be of some use to them at some point in time, thus deemed important enough to keep track of.
  4. (gamerese, verb) To search a room, a corpse, or a collection of either with an eye toward separating off anything valuable and then taking it.
loot whore, lewt whore

A player concerned with items and treasure above all else.

loot goggles

Refers to times when a player is so blinded by the promise of getting stuff that they cannot see anything else.
Ex: We were going to try and take the guard for questioning but Grey had his loot goggles on that day and so he ended up killing him, taking his sword and running screaming into the night.

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M

macguffin

An object which exists for the sole purpose of driving the plot, the major defining aspect of which is that the characters will do anything to obtain it. Its properties and powers may or may not be defined but are unimportant to the plot regardless. The quintessential example of a macguffin is The One Ring.

mage envy

The jealously felt by mundane or martial characters for their fellows possessed of special abilities once it becomes apparent the lengths to which those abilities may be abused.

Often found in game systems where a strictly martial character's combat prowess increases linearly while the combat prowess of a character with special abilities (such as magic, psionics, superpowers, etc.) increases exponentially.

Martinizing, martinized
  1. A dry-cleaning process developed by Henry Martin in 1949 that used a non-flammable solvent, thus allowing garments to be processed at the same location they were dropped off.
  2. (gamerese) A process whereby a public figure adopts a one-dimensional persona based on the public's perception of them. Essentially a form of self-induced Flanderization. Named after author George R. R. Martin, who went from being a successful fantasy author to the gleeful murderer of all your favorite characters.
Mary Sue

Also: male version, Gary Stu
A self-insert character created to represent the author for the purpose of wish fulfillment. Almost universally loathed due to a tendency toward being so perfect as to stretch credibility and otherwise being too poorly-developed to be interesting.

max-out
  1. (verb, adj: maxed-out) To raise an ability or score to its maximum possible rating.
meat shield

Any character, usually lacking in magical, divine, or otherwise supernatural skills, whose purpose in the party is to stand between the easier-to-kill characters and any impending danger, usually while said characters are slinging spells, shooting arrows, or otherwise dealing out the lion's share of the damage.

metagame

To use knowledge obtained out of game for benefit within the game. Such knowledge can be due to having previously played a module, extensive knowledge of the system (such as memorizing the entire monster manual), or even just being aware of the GM's/other players normal habits. As such, metagaming can be very hard to avoid but the better roleplayers are the ones who make a constant effort to do so.

A prominent example of metagaming can be found in the 2002 cult film The Gamers. Early in the game, Rogar reveals his character has a Sword of Ogre Slaying. The party's mage, Ambrose, is killed mid-session and his player is directed to roll up a new character: another mage named Magellan. During the climactic fight with The Shadow, Magellan uses a polymorph spell to turn the villain into an ogre, thus allowing Rogar to defeat him with his Sword of Ogre Slaying... which Magellan couldn't have known Rogar had since he was only with the party for a very short time.

metaplot

The over-arching (and usually canon) storyline of a setting.

min/max

Also: 'minmax'
(verb) A form of powergaming in which the player overspecializes by creating a character with the maximum allowable focus in a single area by minimizing all other skills and abilities.

module

Any pre-written and published roleplaying scenario.

Morlock
  1. A race of subterranean people described in the 1895 novel The Time Machine by H. G. Wells.
  2. A particular breed of gamer characterized by lack of hygiene and general immaturity. Most Morlocks are invariably D-tards. See also: Basement Dweller
muggle
  1. In the Harry Potter milieu, a non-magical person who is unaware of the existence of magic and the magical world.
  2. In general gamer usage, a "normal" person, i.e. a person who is not a gamer.
munchkin

A character created by abusing loopholes in a system during character creation, typically within a merit/flaw or ad/disad system. Usually created by powergamers, often also min/maxed, the defining characteristic of a munchkin is the abuse of the system to create a character that has more power than a starting level character should.

(In most roleplaying systems, there is a system of ads/disads or merits/flaws which allow you to make little tweaks to your character. Merits/ads are helpful things that cost points while flaws/disads are things that count against you and will typically give you extra points to spend. One common flaw/disad is "Short" which has little to no bearing on actual gameplay but allows a few extra points to spend. Characters which are shorter than normal have a good chance of being munchkins. Characters who have stacked this flaw so many times that they are technically dwarves but have ability scores far beyond what any dwarf would be capable of (such as jumping several times their own body height) are certainly munchkins.)

murderhobo
  1. a pejorative term for a player character who has no connections to any person, place, or thing and solves all problems with killing. Basically, the average Player Character.
  2. the punchline to the joke "What do you get when you cross the Law of Player Alignment with Widow/Orphan Syndrome?"

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N

natural

The value of a die roll, unmodified by bonuses or penalties.

natural 20, nat20

See: Critical Hit

nerf
  1. (verb) To reduce the effectiveness of a rule, item, ability, etc. usually in the name of game balance. Antonym: buff.
nextgen, to: Next Gen, to

(verb) To use up large amounts of game time discussing the problem at hand, usually in a committee of player characters, long past the point where Kirk would have just punched an alien in the face.

ninjaloot

(verb, noun: ninjalooter, ninja) To take an object of loot for one's self despite any rules or social conventions dictating the distribution of said loot, either by taking it before anyone else can or by exploiting a loophole in the loot mechanics (i.e. choosing to roll "need" after everyone else has chosen "greed").

NPC

(acronym) "Non Player Character"
A character in a story controlled by the GM as opposed to one of the players.

n-sider, n-sided die

(where n is always replaced by a number) A common way of referring to dice by their number of faces. Example: a cube die with 6 faces would be a 'six-sider' or a "d6". See also: d*, xdn, dice notation

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O–R

O

one-shot
  1. A roleplaying game intended to be concluded in a single session. One-shots are often used to playtest new systems or to introduce new players to the concept of roleplaying.
  2. Synonymous with definition #4 of drop
O.O.C., OOC

(acronym) "Out-Of-Character." actions and speech made by the player to other players, not by the player's character to other characters; any thing that occurs in the real world outside of the game, rather than in the game world.
Ex:
Player 1: "I disbelieve."
GM: [rolls] "Denied."
Player 2: "Oh my God, you are such a loser."
Player 1: "You dare profane the gods, and insult my honor? I shall slay you!"
Player 2: "Whoa! That was out-of-character!"

Also: above game.

OP, O.P.

(acronym) "Over-Powered." Used to describe anything in a game (spell, stat, ability, weapon, talent, etc.) with a far greater effectiveness-to-cost ratio compared to other things in the same category or system.

option X

A player response that was entirely unanticipated by the GM.
(When the party comes to a junction in which the obvious courses of action are A or B, the players inevitably choose option X instead; some bizarre and ridiculous thing that the GM could never have possibly dreamed up.)

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P

party
  1. (noun) A group of Player Characters.
  2. (verb) to form a group of Player Characters, usually for a specific purpose.
Path of Whatever-I-Was-Going-To-Do-Anyway, The

A reference to a Vampire: The Masquerade player who ignores his or her character's Path characteristic, or who abuses his or her Path.
(Instead of an alignment stat, Vampire: The Masquerade assigns characters to various "Paths," moral codes that the character can not deviate from without penalty.)

PC

(acronym) "Player Character," a character in a story controlled by one of the players.

physrep

Short for "physical representation" an object which exists out of game and is used to represent an in-game object. For example, a foam sword is a physrep for an actual sword. Physreps usually bear a resemblance to the objects they represent, but may deviate from this for reasons of practicality, safety, and reality, such as a bean bag representing a magic spell, fireball, or shot arrow. Term is almost wholly limited to items in a LARP; any similar item used in a tabletop game would be referred to as a 'prop.'

pop

Also: repop. See: spawn

power creep

The tendency for games to become imbalanced as more content is added. As new mechanics, skills, or abilities are added to a game, older content becomes less and less useful.

powergamer

An adventure gamer who is entirely concerned with "winning" the game, and willing to abuse any loophole in the games rules to do so. See also: Munchkin

powerlevel
  1. to rapidly gain experience (or something else that advances a character's effectiveness) due to a more advanced character's presence.
  2. to assist a less advanced character by doing things for them which they would otherwise find difficult so they may more quickly advance to your level.
pregen, pre-gen

"Pre-generated character" A character created by the GM rather than the PC playing him or her. Most often found in one-shot games and modules.

proc
  1. (noun) A special event such as a spell or buff that activates (usually randomly) in conjunction with some other action. The typical example would be a sword that has a small chance to cast a fire spell each time it hits something; in this case the fire spell would be the 'proc.'
  2. (verb) For a proc to be successfully triggered.
prologue
  1. A preface or introductory part of a story
  2. (gamerese) A short session or series of scenes, usually done one-on-one between player and GM, to establish a new PC within a game world, functioning both as a primer on the game world and a tutorial for the rules system. Used by GMs who are not so lazy as to fall back upon "You all meet in a tavern."
pull, to

To cause a mob to become aggressive and chase the pulling character to a desired location, usually away from the area where similar mobs spawn, and towards the waiting forces of the pulling character's party.

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Q

quarterback

A player in a roleplaying or adventure game that tends to drive the plot with their active approach to problems and willingness to lead.
(Origin obscure...may come from sports or something.)

quest
  1. A search or pursuit made in order to find or obtain something (from Middle English queste < Old French < Latin quaesīta, feminine past participle of quaerere to seek)
  2. (gamerese) Any task undertaken by the party with a clearly-outlined set of objectives, given to them by an NPC who promises a specific reward usually relative to the difficulty of the assigned task.

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R

race
  1. In common usage, a group of people related by common descent
  2. In a roleplaying setting (usually but not limited to fantasy settings) a group of persons constituting a single sentient species or a subdivision of a species with distinct characteristics. The common examples include Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Halflings, and Humans.
racial, racial trait
  1. A bonus or penalty assigned to all characters of a specific race. Example: "Since you started as a wood elf, your character has +5 to Climb as a racial."
  2. A character trait so ingrained or so outrageous that it must have been assigned at birth. Example: "Geez, you're claiming both weapons and the magic ring? You must have 'greedy' as a racial trait."
rage quit, rage-quit, ragequit

To stop playing a game due to being angry over an event that happened during the game.

railroad
  1. (noun) A plot that follows a strictly linear storyline where little deviation is possible.
  2. (verb) To punish players who attempt to deviate from a railroad plot in such a way that the plot returns to its predetermined course.
random encounter
  1. A hazardous situation or group of enemies encountered randomly in a roleplaying game, ostensibly to represent the difficulties in traversing unfriendly terrain, but more often used by the GM as a way to force the players to expend resources and use other consumables or just to wear them down.
  2. To encounter someone whom you are trying to avoid. Example: "I had to deal with a random Doug encounter the other day after successfully dodging him the whole week."
random roll

See: vanity roll

redshirt

A character, usually an NPC, whose one notable quality is their expandability.

referee
  1. A generic term for a gamemaster.
  2. A derogatory term for a gamemaster who adds nothing to the game, instead just reading from a module and calling for skill checks at the appropriate points.
rep up

To take an action to make another person or group of people like you.
(From WoW, increasing reputation.)

reroll, re-roll
  1. (noun, verb) To roll one or more dice already rolled during a check, with the second result being final. Some game systems will allow a limited number of rerolls per game session or with the expenditure of some resource. Example: "Ugh, I rolled a 97. I'm going to spend a fortune point for the reroll."
  2. To generate a new character to play in the same setting or campaign, usually after the current character has become unplayable. See: roll up. Example: "Your character has broken both legs and is now permanently blind. You may want to ask the GM for a reroll."

Addendum: Ironically, one definition is attempting to try again while the other definition is giving up.

respec, re-spec, respecialize

See: Spec. To re-allocate a character's set of skills or abilities in order to change proficiencies. Usually accomplished by returning all allocatable points to the player to then spend again as they please but can refer to any re-specialization.

retcon
  1. (noun) An alteration of previously established facts in a fictional work, usually in the name of having something make sense in light of new developments.
  2. (verb) To retroactively change the events during a roleplaying game in order to fix a mistake.

('retcon' is short for 'retroactive continuity')

RNG
  1. (abbreviation) Range, when used as a stat.
  2. (acronym) Random Number Generator. The system which generates quasi-random values within a game.
  3. The inherent randomness in a dice system used for an RPG. Ex: "Wow, three botches in a row? The RNG hates you tonight."
roleplaying XP
  1. (noun) Extra experience points awarded for good roleplaying.
  2. (verb) To go to the bathroom
    (The elimination of bodily waste being an act that is not necessarily dealt with in-character, players may sometimes use that as a way to seem more in-character with an eye toward earning extra experience. So a player taking a bathroom break may refer to it as an attempt to earn extra experience.)
roll-player

A derogatory term for an adventure gamer, d-tard, powergamer, minmaxer, or rules lawyer. Indicates that the person is more interested in numbers and dice rolling than story and character.
(Unfortunately, the insult really only works in writing.)

roll up, to
  1. To generate stats for a character using dice.
  2. To create a new character, whether or not dice are used.
round, combat round

The most basic unit of game time, lasting between three and ten seconds in-game, during which characters are allowed to take a limited number of actions. One round is the time it takes for each character present to complete their allowed action(s) in order of initiative.

rules lawyer

A player whose encyclopedic knowledge of the games rules and slavish adherence to a literal interpretation of the rules causes him to constantly interrupt gameplay to bring up an obscure point that just happens to benefit their character at that particular point in time.

run, to
  1. In general usage, to go quickly by moving the legs.
  2. (gamerese) To preside as gamemaster during some or all of a roleplaying game, adventure game, or module.

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S–Z

S

Sanderson's First Law

"An author's ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well the reader understands said magic."

Put forth in an essay by author Brandon Sanderson, this law basically states that the more coherent a system of magic and the better it is explained, the more it can be used to solve problems without seeming like a deus ex machina. This can apply to both writing fiction and playing roleplaying games. If a player has a working knowledge of the underlying principles of how the magic works the way it does, they can adapt those rules to suit their needs. Conversely, a poorly-developed and poorly-explained system of magic is better utilized in creating problems and forcing players to utilize normal and mundane means of solving problems.

Santa Claus
  1. (proper noun) A plump white-bearded and red-suited old man in modern folklore who delivers presents to good children at Christmas most likely based upon the legends of Saint Nicholas.
  2. (gamerese) A referee, usually inexperienced, who gives the players pretty much anything they want.
  3. (verb) The act of a GM (or possibly another player with enough resources) to provide at minimal or no cost something phenomenally powerful which has not be duly and appropriately earned in-game.
saving throw, save versus X
  1. In D&D, a die roll made by a character to attempt to avoid the negative effects of being attacked by something besides normal weaponry such as spells, traps, fire, etc.
  2. A generic term for any skill, spell, or maneuver that might help a character out of their current situation (Example: "What do you mean the fireball kills my character? Don't I get a saving throw or something?")
  3. An attempt to avoid something unpleasant outside of a game (Example: "Sorry I'm late, I failed my save versus traffic jam roll.")
scenario breaker

A gamer who abuses the system in order to disrupt, destroy, or bypass a linear scenario as either a form of protest for a railroad plot or just to stroke his e-peen.
Example: When Bob decided to use his maxed-out charm ability to seduce the queen instead of going on her fetch quest, the GM called him a scenario breaker and left.

screen, GM screen

(Gamerese) A folded cardboard piece stood up lengthwise, to prevent players from seeing the gamemaster's notes; either officially published by a game manufacturer or created with printouts and 3-ring binders, with illustrations on the player's side, and combat tables or other useful information on the gamemaster's side.

screen time

Time during a roleplaying session in which a character is the focus of any events currently happening.
(Whether Screen Time or Experience Points is the most sought-after reward by players in a roleplaying game is a subject of much debate.)

shared universe

When multiple writers all contribute to characters in the same world, or characters from one story have made enough cameo or crossover appearances in another, they are assumed to co-inhabit the same universe simultaneously.

sheet speak, sheetspeak

See: Stat talk

shell script

A player who contributes almost nothing to the roleplaying or characterization elements of a game, yet also does nothing to detract from either.

(Every roleplaying group has encountered this type of player at one time or another. Our most prominent example was a fellow named Doug. Given a list of options, Doug would invariably choose the most logical course of action given his character's skillset and another character's willingness to lead. His characters had no personality beyond the character sheet, but did nothing to interfere with the other players so he was essentially a player-run NPC. This led to the phrase "Doug is Doug," after a very long and detailed explanation of the player characters and their respective personalities finally came around to his character and ended abruptly with "...and Doug is Doug".)

shower scenario

A game or story whose entire purpose is to showcase the abilities of the GM and the GM's characters with little or no input from the players, so named because the GM spends the entire time playing with himself.

skank
  1. In general usage, a promiscuous woman lacking proper hygiene.
  2. (gamerese) A rules loophole that allows for the creation of unusually powerful characters; or for spells to be used in a unintended but nasty way
slugthrower

A weapon which accelerates a solid projectile or projectiles by means of chemical reaction, i.e. what most normal people would simply refer to as a 'gun'. Used in science fiction to differentiate such weapons from energy projectors (lasers, plasma guns, etc.) and other usually more advanced technology.

soak
  1. (verb) To absorb and become saturated with a liquid.
  2. (gamerese) Damage from attacks that is not applied due to being prevented by virtue of armor or natural constitution, rather than being avoided or dodged. Example: GM: "The laser causes 5 levels of damage." Player: "Okay, I soak three of those from my vitality and take the other two."
" So, anyway..."
  1. A phrase usually preceding an abrupt change in topic.
  2. (gamerese) A phrase spoken by the GM during a brief lull in table talk to indicate to the players that the game session is about to begin. See also: "Speaking of [segue]..." , "When we last left our heroes..."
Sparklypoo, House Sparklypoo
  1. The (non-canon) fifth house at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry into which all the Mary Sues, furries, and other annoying self-insert characters are sorted. House colors are pink and gray, and the house mascot is a white winged unicorn with a rainbow mane.
  2. Used to mock any character who ought to be sorted into said house. Example: "So the ex-military guy is playing a sergeant of the town guard? Sorting Hat says Sparklypoo!"
spawn

Also respawn, pop, repop
To be created within the game world, usually referring to characters. Spawn and Pop are used synonymously when referring to NPC's or objects; when referring to PC's, only 'spawn' is used.

"Speaking of [segue]..."

As per "So, anyway...", while referencing the last topic of table talk to connect it to the current happenings of the game.

spec, specialize
  1. (noun) A primary set of character traits that focus on one specific area. (Example: I want to do a mace spec for my fighter, so I'll need to buy Stunning Blow and Crushing Hammer and max out my strength.)
  2. (verb) To have or to be working toward a particular spec. (Example: Why did you pick up that sword if you're speccing mace?)
speedbump

In a dungeon crawl scenario, a monster that offers absolutely no challenge to the PC's and is there solely as filler or to force a combat scene to slow progression through the dungeon.

splat

A predefined subset of a larger list of things (such as abilities, equipment, spells, etc) usually but not always with a specific theme or use that is gained by a character all at once, as opposed to being earned or purchased separately.

For example, upon creating a character and choosing the Warrior class, you might gain a 'splat' of 5-6 warrior-specific abilities to start with, then pick and choose further abilities during the course of play.

squat
  1. (verb) In general parlance, to crouch with knees bent with the feet still on the floor.
  2. (adjective) short and wide.
  3. (noun, gamerese) A pejorative term for a dwarf.
  4. (verb, gamerese) To entirely and retroactively remove something from canon.

Addendum: When Games Workshop decided to take their popular Warhammer franchise into space, the various fantasy elements were translated over. Humans fighters became space marines, elves became eldar, and so forth. The dwarven race became the Squats, a dwarf-like species of human that made big guns and tanks and generally did dwarf things in space. Then, sometime after the 2nd edition of Warhammer 40K, the entire faction was dropped with the excuse their homeworld was eaten by bugs. From then on, whenever GW took too long to update any particular army, the players would claim "they'll be squatted!" to express their fear that GW had removed the faction entirely.

stack
  1. (noun) In general usage, a more-or-less orderly pile of things.
  2. (gamerese, verb) For an effect or condition to remain in place coincidentally with another (usually similar) effect. e.x. "The +5 bonus from the Elven Cloak will stack with the +5 from Black Boots, giving me a total of +10 agility." "The Blessing of Fortitude won't stack with itself; you can only cast it once on any target."
stat

In RPGs, the quantified variables which are chosen or randomized to represent the physical and mental characteristics of a character. Derived from the word 'statistic', but the two are not interchangeable. Also: Attribute, Characteristic, Score.

stat talk

Referring directly to a character's stats or abilities, especially when it would be inappropriate to do so such as any in-character speech.

status effect, status condition

Any ongoing condition that detracts from a character's abilities during combat, usually applied as the result of a debuff or damage over time spell.

stick jockey

A player in a LARP who only cares about hitting people with boffers instead of roleplaying. The LARP version of an adventure gamer.

Storyteller

Another term for a GM, usually used for GMs of White Wolf games.

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T

table talk

Discussion during a role-playing session unrelated to the game. Generally considered acceptable before or after the game session, but frowned upon during the actual game.

tabletop role-playing game

A roleplaying game played in-person in a sedentary social situation, usually around a table of some sort, that does not usually focus upon costuming and acting. The term was developed specifically to differentiate this style of play from LARPs and games played online.

tank
  1. (noun) A large receptacle, container, or structure for holding a liquid or gas
  2. (military) An armored, self-propelled combat vehicle, armed with cannon and machine guns and moving on a caterpillar tread.
  3. (gamerese) A character with a large amount of health and armor, designed specifically to withstand or absorb damage while keeping the enemy's attention off the other players.
  4. (gamerese, verb) To act as a tank under definition #3.
"Ten points for Gryffindor!" "Ten points for [housename]!"

Phrase used as an exclamation of approval for something done particularly well. Gryffindor is the most common, neutral expression, but often another of the Harry Potter houses is substituted in reference to either the person or the actions being praised. For example, if the person was the intelligent bookish sort, or the action involved heavy library research, someone might say "Ten points for Ravenclaw!" instead.

"that guy"

You know "that guy." Do not be "that guy."

token female gamer

The maximum number of female players that any adventure game can support is one. Said player will be the primary object of attention for the rest of the players and will guard her position jealously. Token female gamers can be either 'open' or 'closed'. Open token females will brazenly flirt, in- and out-of-character, with all the other male players in the group and often enter into short-lived relationships with various members in turn. Closed token females present an attitude of annoyance with any overt attempts by the group to flirt with her while still benefiting from the attention given to her by the group.

Roleplaying games may be able to support more female players in the group as the increased depth of story allows them to carve out niches for themselves to exist in, but they will be constantly at odds as they vie for attention except in rare cases where clear hierarchical relationships are laid out between certain characters.

torpedo

To knowingly take actions that will cause a game to fail with the possibility of breaking up the group, usually for out of game reasons. Contrast: scenario breaker.
Example: Joan was pissed at Kristy for hitting on her boyfriend so she torpedoed the game by having her character take a shit on the throne during the king's speech.

Total Party Kill

(noun/verb) An incidence of all the Player Characters dying in a single encounter which (rightfully or not) is blamed on the gamemaster.

Total Party Wipe

(noun/verb) An incidence of all the Player Characters dying in a single encounter which is blamed on the actions of the players themselves.

turn order

See: initiative order

twink
  1. (noun) A newly-created character who starts with items and abilities inherited from another character, usually of the same player. When used by anyone other than the owning player, the term is a pejorative denoting the character having an unfair advantage.
  2. (verb) To create a twink character and outfit them as such.

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U

Unholy Trinity

The PC combination of Tank, Healer, and DPS upon which most roleplaying games (and all computer roleplaying games) are built. The idea behind this strategy is the tank is heavily armored and can hold the opponents' attention, the healer keeps the tank from dying, and the DPS causes damage to the opponents.
(Good roleplaying games and GMs will set it up so this tactic is difficult if not impossible, forcing players to use strategy and creativity rather than falling back into this pattern.)

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V

vanilla RP

Also: Smile-Friendly RP
Roleplaying situations where no inter-player conflict is tolerated.

vanity roll

Also: random roll. A roll called for by the GM (or sometimes another player) with no real consequences on the game, used either for humor value or to determine something the GM or player doesn't want to decide on such as a character's current mood or whether a character notices something trivial.

Example:
GM: "Okay, give me a random Charisma roll."
Token Female Gamer: (rolls) "Uch, a 3."
GM: "So nothing happens. Anyway, you were just about to..."
TFG: "Wait, can I spend one of my re-rolls on it?"
GM: "Don't worry, it was just a vanity roll to see if that group of guys was checking you out."
TFG: (pause) "Can I spend all of my rerolls on that?"

vorpal
  1. (adjective) A weapon that always causes decapitations.
  2. Something ridiculously overpowered.

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W

Waking The Witch

To initiate something for which one is not prepared and should instead be avoided.
(From the behavior of the Witch in Left 4 Dead)

Wall of Fear and Ignorance, The

A gamemaster's screen. Also Screen
(From the name of the GM screen in the Paranoia RPG.)

wargaming
  1. In general usage, a simulated battle or campaign to test military concepts.
  2. (gamerese) A genre of gaming that (typically but not always) involves the use of miniatures to represent units and materiel on a playing surface usually modeled to represent the terrain in order to create battle scenarios between the two or more opposing forces.
Water Balloon Condom Solution
  1. A solution to a non-existent problem.
  2. A solution proposed by a player trying desperately to be clever and show off who ends up falling flat.

Addendum: Comes from an Aeon Trinity game where the principal PCs included a teenage shapeshifter, an electrokinetic scientist, and a British historian-slash-psychokinetic. Tasked with obtaining information from another electrokinetic individual, they track him to his hangout in a particular nightclub. Instead of entering, the historian tells the other two to lure the target into the back alley and disappears.

The remaining PCs enter the club and find the target maintaining a full-body hologram about his person, indicating that he was a photokinetic specialist (commanding lights, lasers, holograms, etc) rather than being an electricity specialist like the PC.

They do manage to lure the target into the alley, at which point the historian returns, having run to the corner store to purchase condoms and bottled water to make water balloons. He rains water balloons on the target then stands inches from his face taunting him about not being able to use his lightning powers anymore... at which point the GM informed the player that the person he was taunting was seconds from using his laser powers to blow a basketball-sized hole in the PC's torso. The game ended upon the following exchange.

PC (OOC): Okay then fine. How much damage can his laser do, anyway?

GM (OOC): About fifteen, give or take.

PC (OOC): How many hit points do I have?

GM (OOC): ... eight.

weekday friend

A particular type of fairweather friend that can only ever attend games on weekday nights because they want to save their weekends for their real friends. Often the same type of people that use phrases like "real life comes first," and "closet gamer."

"What do you do?" "What does your character do?"
  1. A phrase used, often after the GM has gone to great lengths to set the current scene, as an interrogative to elicit participation by possibly zombified gamers.
  2. Spoken slightly differently, a warning phrase that the player spoken to had better hurry up and make a decision on their current action before their hesitation results in unfortunate consequences.
"When we last left our heroes..."
  1. An introduction used by a gamemaster about to relate the events of the game just prior to the start of the current session and to announce to players it is time to shut the hell up and pay attention.
  2. A leading phrase used by a gamemaster to indicate to the players that the game session is starting and they should all stop picking their noses and playing with their experience points and remind him what their characters were doing at the end of the last session.
Widow/Orphan Syndrome

The propensity for characters in roleplaying games to conveniently lack emotional and familial attachments to other people, whether out of fear of sadistic GMs using said ties against their characters or simply out of sheer laziness in creating the character's backstory.

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X

XP, x.p., exp

(abbreviation) Experience Points

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Y

"You all meet in a tavern."

Refers to the most clichéd way to start an adventure, skipping over character history and even introducing them to the other players in lieu of just getting to the good parts of the adventure.

"You all get a phone call."

The non-fantasy version of "You all meet in a tavern."

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Z

zerg rush: zerg, to
  1. A tactic which trades out strategy for numbers; usually involving weak/cheap units attacking quickly in large amounts.
  2. To take any action with overwhelming numbers, especially in situations where it would be seen as cheap and/or lazy to do so.

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