Gamer Jargon

As we roleplayers and gamers go about our hobby, we are naturally exposed to any number of terms that become second nature both in gaming and our daily life. We often forget that to an outside observer we sound as though we're spouting innane gibberish, or co-opting ordinary words and imbuing them with incomprehensible meaning. For the gamers among you, this is a hilarious take on why we say what we do. For the rest of you, a peek inside the experience of the gamer. This is Gamer Jargon.


A-D

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A

above game

See: OOC.

adventure gaming

Gaming that is primarily centered around killing monsters, getting loot and experience to become stronger to kill more monsters. People who play adventure games often mistake this for roleplaying and may describe the games they play as 'roleplaying games' despite the clear lack of depth, plot, and character development central to any actual roleplaying game.

alignment

  1. A stat which represents a description of a character's general moral, ethical, and social tendencies, usually described by one square on a 3x3 grid with Law/Chaos on one axis and Good/Evil on the other, with Neutral in between. Examples: Chaotic Good, Neutral Evil, etc.
  2. Any overly-simplified description of a character's moral, ethical, and social tendencies, usually as a derogatory comment aimed at another player. Example: "Geez, what's your alignment, Moronic Stupid?"

Allen's rule

See: Law of Conservation of Stupidity, The

alt

Short for "alternate character." A character other than the "primary" character played by the same player in the same game world, setting, or campaign.

antler comment

Something said Out of Character by a player indicated as such by holding a thumb to their temple with the other fingers spread.
(A reference to a Monty Python sketch where a boss puts on a moose-antler hat to indicate to his secretary that he is talking to her rather than dictating something to be transcribed.)

AOE, A.O.E.,

(acronym) "Area of Effect" The volume or space, usually a circle (on a map) or a sphere (in 3D), within which the effects of a spell, explosion, fire, or other attack or effect are applied.

armor class

A stat representing a character's ability to avoid or absorb damage, usually (but not always) modified by equipment rather than skills and abilities.

Assumption of Party, The

An assumption made by members of a gaming group that their PC's, by virtue of being PC's, must form a group (The Party) that stays together throughout the story.
(This assumption, found most often in adventure games and games which de-emphasize roleplaying, often leads to a situation of Tyranny of the Stupid, since the least-intelligent member of the party can do whatever they want and the rest of the characters just have to put up with it and suffer the consequences.)

AU

  1. Astronomical Unit. A distance roughly equal to 93 million miles based on the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.
  2. (gamerese, acronym) Alternate Universe.
  3. A game setting that diverges from the established canon, usually due to specific changes in the plot and the determined consequences thereof. Example: "We're going to play in my Mass Effect AU where that shit ending is replaced with something more sensible." See also: headcanon.

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B

babysitter

  1. In general use, a person responsible for taking care of one or more children while the parents are away temporarily.
  2. (gamerese) A member of the party, whether PC or NPC, who by virtue of a lawful alignment or normal human set of morals, becomes responsible for keeping the rest of the party from doing anything particularly heinous and/or illegal.

basement dweller

A nerd or gamer exhibiting several of the negative stereotypical traits of gamers. Syn. Morlock

battlemat

See: hex mat

beer and pretzels game

  1. Any game which is designed to be played with few rules, little to no setup, and in a relatively short time period. i.e. "You don't need to pre-gen a character for Dave's game; it's just a beer and pretzels thing."
  2. Any stripped-down version of a game designed for broader appeal with less investment. i.e. "Pathfinder is just the beer and pretzels version of D&D."

being mean to the GM's girlfriend

Any action that is so obviously stupid that it shouldn't even have been thought of in the first place. Example: "You're planning on attacking that dragon in only your loincloth and wielding a pointy stick? Why don't you be mean to the GM's girlfriend while you're at it?"

Bilbo thumper

  1. A person who takes the Middle Earth mythos much too seriously, even so far as to claim to worship Eru and/or the Ainur and ending every conversation with 'namárië'.
  2. (possibly pejorative) A synonym for 'Tolkien Fanboy'.
    (Bilbo Thumpers can cause problems in other fantasy games since they tend to believe that all fantasy is derived from Tolkein's works and thus should follow the same rules.)

boffer

Any foam-rubber or latex weapon used as a physrep in a LARP. Also: dobber

booth bunny

  1. An attractive, often buxom, young woman dressed in a sexy sci-fi, fantasy, or furry costume who stands in front of booths at conventions to attract the attention of the male gamers.
  2. A pejorative term for any woman who feigns interest in nerdy or geeky topics in order to get attention from actual nerds. Syn. Fake Geek Girl

bounce

  1. (verb) To strike and rebound from a surface
  2. (gamerese) An attack that causes no damage due to the effects of armor or soak rather than avoidance. Example: GM: "The guard hits you with his baton for *rolls* 6 points of damage." Player: "Well, I'm in full armor, so it bounces."

buff; buff, to

  1. (adjective) In general usage, having a physique enhanced by bodybuilding exercises
  2. Strong, powerful. Ex: "Is your elf buff enough to defeat my entire phalanx of spearmen? I don't think so!"
  3. (gamerese, noun) A type of spell or effect that enhances the abilities of the target, usually with a limited duration.
  4. (verb) To cast a buff. See debuff.
  5. To increase the effectiveness of a rule, item, ability, etc. usually in the name of game balance. Antonym: nerf.

bug hunt

A dungeon crawl through dark tunnels or catacombs, searching for a usually non-humanoid monster (or set of monsters); usu. but not always in a science-fiction setting.

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C

Cafe of Broken Dreams, The

The place where unused or unwanted characters live.
(From a special encounter in the videogame Fallout 2, where a player with high enough Luck can randomly encounter a building that has many characters from the first game that don't appear in the sequel. Analogous to "Mandyland" of The West Wing, where the wholly unlikeable character of Mandy disappeared without explanation after the first season, and thereafter any character who was removed was said to have "gone to Mandyland.")

camp, camp, to

  1. In general usage, to live temporarily outdoors, in a place usually away from urban areas where tents or simple buildings are erected for shelter or for temporary residence
  2. (gamerese) Used by players of first person shooters and MMO's to describe the act of finding an advantageous place to attack from and not moving from it while playing.

campaign

  1. In general usage, a connected series of military operations forming a distinct phase of a war; from French campagne, Italian campagna "level country,"
  2. (gamerese) In role-playing games, a connected series of game adventures or modules, involving the same set of characters, that form an overall story or plotline.
  3. A long-running RPG, involving many sessions of game play, usually conducted on a regular basis.

canon

A list of the works pertaining to a particular setting/world/milieu/etc. that are accepted as authentic and pertinent to a story or game, forming the entirety of the background information used as reference material.

character creation

Also: character generation. See also: roll up.
The process native to each dice system in which a character's stats and abilities are laid out and recorded upon a character sheet before the game begins.

character sheet

  1. In RPGs, a written record of a character's stats, attributes, history, background, etc. to provide a quick reference to the player when rolling dice.
  2. In computer games, a menu which lists a the character's attributes, much like its RPG equivalent.

Charlie

An NPC responsible for issuing orders to the party and detailing missions, especially one whom the characters never meet and only communicate with at his leisure.
(From the eponymous, never-seen character in Charlie's Angels.)

check, dice check

To roll the dice and compare them to a stat or target in order to determine success or failure. Synonymous with 'roll.'

class, character class

  1. In many adventure and computer games, a feature of a character which determines their role in the party and determines what skills and abilities the character has access to.
  2. In roleplaying games, an overly-simplified description of a character's profession, usually used to make the character's skills more easily understood. (i.e. "So, your character is a halfling Fieldwarden?" "Yeah, he's basically a Ranger class.")

combat monster

  1. A player primarily interested in killing things using the standard forms of attack allowed by the genre (i.e. swords and guns as opposed to magic, assassination, or randomly lighting people on fire)
  2. A character designed specifically to excel in combat, often at the expense of any other usable skill

con

  1. "Convention", specifically one related to general geekdom as opposed to professional meetings.
  2. "Consider", a measure of an opponent's strength and disposition relative to the player (e.g. "What's that dragon con to me?). Derived from computer RPG and MUD games in which the command /con would return this information.
  3. "Constitution", a statistic found in older RPGs, synonymous with Stamina or Vitality.

con funk

The particular combination of body odor, mildew, sweat, and filth that permeates the air wherever you pack hundreds of unwashed geeks, nerds, and gamers into hotel conference rooms for a long weekend.

crit

  1. (verb) To make a successful critical hit.
  2. (noun) A critical hit.

critical hit (noun)

  1. A successful hit that does additional, aggravated, or fatal damage; usually requiring an improbably good roll of the dice or spending additional resources.
  2. Any successful combat or skill resolution that produces unexpected benefits , synonymous with critical success.

critical mass

  1. In general usage, a size, number, or amount large enough to produce a particular result; for example, a sufficient mass of fissionable material required to produce a nuclear reaction.
  2. (gamerese) The point in a game session when everything has gotten way too silly and play ends because people are laughing too hard to do anything else.

critical failure

Any failed combat or skill resolution that produces catastrophic results beyond the mere failure of the attempt. Also fumble, critical miss.

crossover

  1. When two or more genres, milieux, worlds, etc. are mixed together for one story or game.
  2. When characters from one game story or milieu visit another story or milieu

crunchy

Describes any game which involves a great deal of number juggling, chart consulting, and calculator punching. Derived from the amount of number crunching involved in playing any such game.

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D

d*

A way of referring to polyhedral dice by the number of faces. A twenty-sided die would be a d20 [pronounced "dee twenty"]. A one hundred-sided die can be either d100 or d% [dee percent]. Note: in written form, the 'd' is almost always lower-case. See also: n-sider, xdn, dice notation

D-tard

Short form of "D&D retard". A breed of gamer who has learned everything about roleplaying from adventure gaming especially D&D. See also: basement dweller, morlock.

dakka

  1. (onomatopoeia) The sound of automatic weapons fire. i.e.: "I grab my assault rifle and unload the entire clip. Dakka dakka dakka!"
  2. (noun) The capability for automatic weapons fire, usually in great quantities. i.e.: "I'm bringing my Jaegermech dakka machine with the quad UAC/5's into the next match."

dead lead

Unpainted figurines (which may be either lead or plastic)

debuff

  1. (noun) Any spell or effect that reduces the abilities of the target, usually with a limited duration. See also: buff.
  2. (verb) To use a debuff spell or effect.

demi-human

A general name for non-human humanoid races such as elves and dwarves. Rarely, if ever, used outside of D&D.

derail

to interrupt a game in progress with something not game-related that catches the attention of the other players. A GM's spine can be measured in the minutes it takes to return attention to the game.

despie

Derived from the word 'desperate', this term refers to roleplayers (usually female) who are desperate for love or attention, and thus ignore general roleplaying etiquette to try and gain this love or attention. Most players of Mary Sue characters, godmoders, and powergamers fall under this category. Often describing their characters as perfect or near enough (especially physically), despies expect those qualities to get the attention they crave, and my become violent and vindictive if the people around them don't behave as desired.

diceless roleplaying

See: freeform roleplaying

dice notation

Standard gamer notation for representing dice rolls, taking the form of [xdn+a] where x is the number of dice to be rolled, n is the number of faces on each die, and a is any subsequent modifier. Normal mathematical orders of operation apply, with random numbers generated first. Example: 2d10+5 means the player should roll two ten-sided dice, add together the numbers shown, and then add five to the result. Some systems maintain the notation even though dice rolled are not added together. Instead, the number of dice are rolled with each one compared against a target number. See also: n-sider, xdn, d*

dice superstition

Any superstition, tradition, or other belief about how dice should be handled during the game. All gamers will exhibit at least one superstition regarding their dice. Common dice superstitions include:
  • Rolling all the dice in ones possession at the beginning of the game and choosing those which rolled best to use for that game session.
  • Retiring any dice which roll particularly poorly or a critical miss (since they're unlucky).
  • Retiring any dice which roll particularly well (since their luck is used up).
  • Never under any circumstances letting the GM touch your dice.
  • Never under any circumstances letting any other player touch your dice.
  • Keeping particular sets of dice for particular characters.
  • Blowing on dice or rubbing them on various other objects to "reset" their luck.

dim

  1. In general usage, not bright. May refer to either lighting conditions or a person's intellect.
  2. A purposeful mispronunciation of 'DM' meant as an insult to either the person in question or the D&D system in general.

dobber

See: boffer.

ding

See: level up.
Addendum: From EverQuest, and the noise accompanied by a flash of light that would happen upon gaining a level.

Dog-Bark Morality

  1. The common assumption that any skill, ability, or action granted to a particular character class, no matter how immoral such a thing would be in real life (including, but not limited to: stealing, murder, or torture) must not be criticized by any other member of the party. (i.e. "You can't get mad at the thief for stealing!")
  2. The common assumption that any skill, ability, or action described by the game system and assigned a series of rolls and/or checks to determine successful completion, no matter how immoral such a thing would be in real life (including, but not limited to: stealing, murder, or torture) must not be criticized by any other member of the party. (i.e. "The rules say on page 96 that to torture someone I just have to make a Fellowship roll resisted by Willpower and since it's in the rules you can't get mad at me for doing it.")
(derived from the phrase "You can't blame a dog for barking.")

Addendum: While nearly every roleplaying game system in existence lays out quite clearly how combat and killing works (indeed, this is usually the central feature of the system), what skills a person needs to steal and remain undetected, and what a character needs to roll to beat information out of a captive person, almost none of them ever explore the consequences of these actions. Even Warhammer Fantasy, a system that tracks how insane each character is due to mental and physical trauma, places ZERO penalties on characters for murder, theft, and torture.

When you combine this with The Law of Player Alignment, this often leads to situations like having to listen to one of your players go on for a half hour about how they can't eat the cake you made, because the frosting has gelatin in it, gelatin comes from pigs, and pigs are smart enough to pass the mirror test and should be treated like people; that is then followed immediately by the same player sitting down and laying out in graphic detail how his character will torture the prisoner to get the information he wants.

drop, to

  1. In general usage, to allow something to fall from being held.
  2. (gamerese) To have your character let go of the objects in one or both hands, usually done as a free action, in order to free up those hands for something else.
  3. For a mob or NPC to leave behind items that may be looted after their death.
  4. To kill something, usually at range and usually with a single blow.

DPS

  1. (acronym) "Damage Per Second", a statistic derived from the formula Damage/Time.
  2. (noun) A character who specializes in dealing damage at the expense of the ability to withstand any sort of harm. Syn. Glass Cannon.

dumbullshitsauce, dumb bullshit sauce

When a game forces you to fail during a cutscene or any other time when you are not in direct control of your character.
See: Railroading
Addendum: The New Gamer Dictionary Part 2 - Hey Ash Watcha Playin'?

dump stat

  1. During character creation, a stat which is assigned the lowest possible levels or ranking, in order to allocate more points or otherwise raise stats which are considered more important to the character.
    Example: "For my big warrior guy, I'm just going to make Intelligence his dump stat so I can get a few more points in Stamina."
  2. Any quality clearly lacking in a person, usually right after demonstrating such lack.
    Example: "Wow, I've never actually seen a woman pour a drink on someone before. That's why you don't make Charisma your dump stat."

Dungeon Crawl

Any game scenario confined to a series of connected rooms, populated by hostile monsters, traps, puzzles and other obstacles which the characters must overcome to gain treasure and experience.

Dungeon Master, D.M., DM

The gamemaster of a D&D game.

dust

  1. (noun) In general usage, any finely powdered substance and either the removal or application of such substance to any surface.
  2. (gamerese, verb) To kill something in such a way that the only thing remaining is a cloud of dust.

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