RPG Lexica:PQR

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In the real world, a soldier assigned to palace duty, especially a trusted lieutenant or other officer (Paladin is derived from the word Palatinus, Latin for "Palace"). The prototypes of the original Paladins were found in King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table, the Twelve Peers of the Song of Roland and the Paladins of Charlemagne, from whom the modern word is received. In role-playing games (especially Dungeons & Dragons), a sacred knight with the skills of a fighter and some of the spellcasting ability of a cleric, said magical abilities gained by adherence to a strict moral code. Any character in any game or setting who represents great ability combined with a strong sense of righteousness (or self-righteousness, for the more cynically-minded) might be referred to obliquely as a Paladin.

A collection of characters, also known as PCs, who travel and adventure together. Parties may be made up of old friends, professionals, and various collections of PC material types. The usual dynamics of such a group may include: The Leader, The Face, Healer, Nuker, and any other combination of useful skill sets. Most parties are made of varied enough characters that they don’t overlap, but this is not a rule. Almost any RPG group forms a Party before heading out.

A style of GMing--specifically, a form of railroading--in which the players need to find one specific clue in order to advance on the one plot line determined by the GM, cannot proceed without it, and do not get any help from the GM in finding it. If said clue is particularly hard to find (or if the GM requires a very specific action to locate it), the GM may be said to be "pixelbitching".
Origin: Computer games, specifically point-and-click games in which you need to click a specific place--sometimes only a few pixels on the screen (hence the name)--in order to get some magic clue you need to advance in the programmed-in plot line. Coined by SteveD on RPG.net.

In addition to the standard meaning: a verb, meaning to attempt to defeat an enemy by frustrating them, typically by launching large numbers of low-damage attacks in quick succession and avoiding any retaliation. Also, as a noun, a character suited to this type of strategy.

Planning Problem
The difficulty arising in game situations where players first develop a detailed plan for their characters' actions and then enact it. The difficulty is that in an RPG, where actions are taken by describing them, the experience of enacting the plan will be identical to that of making the plan unless something goes wrong. However, if the GM responds by ensuring that something always does go wrong, the players will have no incentive to make plans at all.

Played by a..
A comment made jokily about a character in film, TV, or other media suggesting the type of person who would control the character in an RPG of the film. A classic usage is describing a female character as "obviously played by a guy"; characters to whom this term has been applied include Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (an attractive red-headed lesbian witch), Miho from Sin City (a ninja hooker) and Pris from Blade Runner (a gothic ninja sex droid). Often a confusing term for non-gamers since they assume that "played by" refers to the actor or actress, not to a notional RPG player controlling the character.

One of the two canonical methods of chargen, the other being random-roll. The advantage to point-buy is that it allows the player to (within the limitations of the setting) build exactly the character that he or she wants to play. Except for certain systems (such as D&D, retro-clones based on D&D, WFRP, or Palladium), point buy is the de facto standard in the RPG industry.

Power Creep
Where recently released character options in a game line are clearly more powerful (useful, superior) than previous options with the same theme, but the two are expected to coexist side-by-side.

A player behavior where the player in question makes unreasonable efforts to maximize their character's ability to mechanically affect the game. This usually refers to optimizing combat ability since that has traditionally been the focus of most RPG mechanics. Recently though, as more and more RPGs have more rules and powers applicable to out-of-combat action, variants like social powergamers (who build their characters so that they can persuade/seduce/dominate any NPC they meet) have appeared.
Symptoms include characters that overshadow the other PCs, unusual combinations of abilities and equipment that make little sense in-game, constant requests for "GM approval only" character options, and/or one-dimensional characters where every option adds to a specific ability.
See also: Min-Max and Munchkin

A suffix used to describe any genre which explores the low-level real-world consequences of a setting. Originally coined as Cyberpunk - the book, and later film and game, genre which dealt with street-level and underworld applications of high technology (and later developed its own conventions), and then expanded as a general term. Examples include Steampunk (adventures set in a world where Jules Verne-style steam-powered devices can create modern or even sci-fi effects), Cthulupunk (low street-level implications of powerful supernatural forces and magic really existing), and the semi-spoof Toonpunk (where all the patrons of a bar flee for their lives on seeing Yosemite Sam walk in, due to his penchant for firing his guns randomly whenever angered). (The comic book Knights of the Dinner Table coined the term Cattlepunk as the name of a fictional wild-west game.)


Quantum Bear/Quantum Bears
A monster or other opponent placed by the GM as the result of an action that should not logically have done so within the setting. For example, if using 'fail forward' a player may roll badly to pick a lock and be told they have picked the lock but they have alerted a guard behind the door; if the guard behind the door was not already a planned part of the adventure, he's a Quantum Bear, because he appeared as the result of someone having trouble picking a lock. Tolerance for this varies a great deal between groups. It should also be borne in mind that the original use of the term Quantum Bear, on the Gaming Den forums, did not refer to this as bad but referred to the possibly for a GM in a game with strong "action cost" or "fail forward" mechanics (the original example was Powered By The Apocalypse) running out of ideas and sending in bears for every marginal success action simply because they couldn't think of anything else.

Queen Bee
A woman who joins RPG groups in the belief that the alleged scarcity of women in the hobby, together with the perceived nerdiness of male RPG players, will enable her to easily manipulate the group by using her sexuality. A Queen Bee will typically seek out groups in which she can be the only female, continuously flirt with other players, make regular references to her own promiscuity (thus hinting that she may be available to the other players), and similar. Experiences with these kind of people are a primary cause of gamers angrily proclaiming that girls can't be real nerds. Generally are considered to be spoiling things for everyone.


A style of GMing in which the GM has only one specific plot line in mind, and forces the players to follow that plot regardless of whether they want to do so. From an analogy to a railroad, which constrains the train to one specific route. Sometimes referred to as The D&M Railroad (by reference to numerous real-world railroads, but especially the B&O Railroad referenced in the game Monopoly).

An expression meaning "awesome and fiercely beautiful". Usually used in a cynical or satirical way.
Origin: The term is taken from the game Chronicles of Ramlar , which describes an organization of knights tasked with protecting the human city of Aurod as "...Sky Knights-the awesome and fiercely beautiful protectors of Aurod." This unique phrasing, along with the game's designer's enthusiasm in proclaiming "Now that you have had a taste of the excitement, intrigue and thrilling possibilities that exist in our world, we are pleased to welcome you to the wondrous world of RAMLAR!!", led to it's use as a superlative. It was popularized by a post on RPG.net by Rob Muadib ([Schadenfreude] Chronicles of Ramlar [Benatar] You're a Heartbreaker![/Benatar]), which categorized it as a Fantasy Heartbreaker

Random roll
The other canonical chargen method. As it sounds, the random-roll method involves rolling dice to determine a character's characteristics. Originated by D&D and commonly used in first-generation RPGs, random-roll fell out of favor fairly quickly and is no longer used in its pure form, even in the game that originated it.

Redshirt, Red Shirt
A "disposable extra" in an RPG; an NPC that only has a small role, and is expected to die quickly. For instance, if the GM wants to demonstrate the deadliness of a trap without sacrificing one of the player-characters, it's best to have a convenient Redshirt wander into it.
Origin: From the original Star Trek, where the (often unnamed) ensign wearing a red shirt was almost guaranteed not to make it back to the ship. The Star Trek uniforms (and Star Trek itself) have changed, but the term remains eternal...

Resistive Armor Problem
(also called the Metallic Armor Problem or Damage Resistance Problem) A problem that can arise in games where armor reduces the amount of damage inflicted on a target. (This type of armor is called resistive armor, as opposed to ablative armor which protects its wearer by being blown off in lieu of anything important.) This type of armor has the difficulties that a) worn by an enemy, it can leave one or more players incapable of inflicting damage on the wearer, leaving them nothing to do in that situation in the game; and b) worn by a player character, it can mean that any enemy capable of wounding that character will be able to devastate any character not wearing similar armor in a single hit.

a) Establishing the game-world results of an action or event. Such, a "task resolution system" establishes if a particular task was accomplished in the game world and, if so, what results it had. b) An alternate term for graininess (q.v.), drawn from computing jargon.

Result Pool System
A variation on the dice pool system. The key difference is that in a result pool system, all of the dice in the pool are rolled at the time the pool is created, in advance of any game decisions made by the player. When a dice result is required, the player - rather than choosing a number of dice to roll - chooses rolled results from the pool to allocate as his or her result on the particular task. Result pool systems are a relatively new development and are currently only used in the more experimental independent games, such as Dogs in the Vineyard.

Reverse Armor Theorem
The convention, in certain genres of games and other media, where characters wearing less armor are less likely to be injured in combat. In other words, putting on armor actually increases the chance that a character will be wounded. In many cases it is suggested that this applies only to female characters. This originates from classic fantasy art, where female characters are routinely depicted as wearing little or no armor, even though they are supposed to be experienced and strong warriors: the only plausible explanation is that they have somehow learned that wearing this type of armor is a good idea for them. It is also borne out in cinematic convention, where (for example) the hero of a film will wear less armor in order to show off the actor's physique, while the mooks he is fighting are played by extras or stunt men wearing full plate.

Roads to Rome
A variant form of railroading in which, rather than constraining the PCs to following a single specific route, the GM permits the PCs to act freely but manipulates the game situation so that a particular event or situation arises no matter what actions the PC's take. Often considered worse than actual railroading because the players gain no benefit from their freedom of action (since the eventual result is always the same), but at the same time do not get even the dubious benefits of railroading (that the GM can ensure the ongoing story is engaging). Other play groups accept the "roads to Rome" phenomenon as a trade off for ensuring the game plot remains coherent. From the common saying that "All roads lead to Rome".

"Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies!"
A comment from the GM that basically means "Your actions have annoyed/disturbed me enough that I'm ending this game RIGHT NOW, and I don't particularly care what happens to your characters anymore!" Especially when a player springs a secret regarding their character(s) that wrecks the campaign and the GM should by rights have known about from the start. Usually followed by either the players making nice with the GM or the group going their separate ways.

Seen in this Something Positive strip.

Origin: The Tomb of Horrors, wherein it was entirely possible to trigger the collapse of the entrance to the tomb. The entrance. As in, you could easily die within minutes of the start of the module.

Role-Playing Game
An amazingly hard-to-describe activity, and the reason we're all here.
In a typical role-playing game, there is one Game Master (hereafter GM) and some players. The players are playing the roles of characters in an imaginary game-world which the GM describes and controls. The game goes through cycles where:
  1. The GM describes the situation the characters are in;
  2. The players describe how their characters react to the situation; and
  3. The GM and players decide what happened as a result of those actions.
Step 3 often is determined by rolling dice, especially in complex or stressful situations such as combat.

Often derogatory term used for games where the mechanics take front seat, as opposed to story and gameplay, or for games run by referees who do likewise. Often results in games where players are there mainly to make some decisions and roll the dice without a feel for story. There is a subset of players who believes that the term "Roll-Playing" is too frequently used to deride players who take more enjoyment from the game aspect of RPGs than from the role-playing aspect--see also Bad Wrong Fun.

Roll-Under System
A rules system which determines the success of actions via having the player roll dice, such that the action will succeed if the rolled value is lower than a particular target number. The effect is that higher target numbers generate a greater probability of success; typically in a roll-under system the target number will measure the competence of the character to perform the task. The use of a roll-under system can have a number of awkward consequences; most notably, negative modifiers to the dice roll are beneficial and positive ones are penal, which can be confusing and illogical for players.

Elitist alternate name for "Rock-Scissors-Paper", most frequently used in Vampire LARPs, but also a common random arbitration method among gamers outside the context of role-playing games (e.g., "I don't want anchovies on that pizza; let's roshambo for it").
Hint: Most people pick "rock" first, and most people go "up" after a tie, selecting the item that would have won the previous round. With this advice you may be a roshambo master. A surprising number of people believe this word was made up by the television show South Park, where one character insists the rules are "players take turns kicking each other in the nuts. Whoever quits first loses." Not quite. According to the Straight Dope, the term has a more sophisticated origin:
Mr. Walker (of the World Rock-Paper-Scissors Society--Kwd) goes on to suggest that the game migrated to Europe in or by the mid-1700s, where it for some reason came to be associated with one Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau. If this name brings back unsettling memories of high school history, it is because Jean Baptiste was none other than the French general who was sent to command an army in support of George Washington during the American Revolution. Why this game came to be associated with the "Count of Rochambeau" is a mystery, but it certainly calls into question the means by which Washington secured Cornwallis's surrender in Yorktown. In any case, it does explain the name often used for the game, namely "rochambeau," or, more commonly, "roshambo."

1. Common abbreviation for Role-Playing Game.
2. Not-as-common abbreviation for "Rocket-Propelled Grenade"
3. Even less common abbreviation for "Report Program Generator". (If you see a job ad for "RPG programmer wanted", don't get your hopes up--it's probably not Bioware placing the ad.)

Rule Zero
1. "Never give the GM ideas." Since most GMs can improvise on the fly and would love to mess with the players, it's generally recognized that giving him or her ideas in that regard is a very bad idea. Usually referenced in the phrase Rule Zero Violation, i.e., giving the GM ideas.
GM: "There's a shadow on the road ahead--it looks like a large group is heading your way, but you can't tell who it is."
Bob: "Just as long as it isn't Baron Rumbar, we'd be completely screwed if ...
Jan: "BOB! Sh! Rule Zero Violation!"
GM: (smiles enigmatically)
Bob: "Aw, @#$&%!!..."
2. Another name for the Golden Rule, "The GM may ignore or change any game rule".

In addition to the standard meaning: any strategy for defeating an enemy which is based on attacking so quickly that the enemy has no time to prepare a proper defense. As a verb, to use such a strategy. Rush tactics are often considered problematic in many tactical games, where all players start from the same position; in this situation, time is critical to any strategy and thus rush can become the only viable option if sufficient numbers of other players use it. Also, a popular and enduring progressive rock band.

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