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.



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.)


  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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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?"

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).

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."


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


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.


See: Critical Failure

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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.


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.


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


  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:

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.


(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.
    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."


  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.


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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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.


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.


(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!"

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


See: hit points

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.

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  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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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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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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