RPG Lexica:ABC

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alien eyes
Slang for a roll of 3 (1-1-1) on three dice. So named because of the analogy to "snake eyes" (a roll of 2 on 2 dice), and the observation that Earth creatures generally don't have 3 eyes... Also known as mutant snake eyes.

all-out attack problem
A problem arising in dice pool systems, in situations where a player facing a foe (or a hazard or problem in general) is asked to choose a number of dice from the pool to roll for the success of their attack. The intent is usually that the player will ensure that some dice remain in the pool after their attack, so that if it happens that the attack fails, they will have dice left to roll in their defense. In fact, however, the best tactic is for the player to attack with all of the dice in their pool, because this gives the attack the best chance of succeeding and resolving the problem right there. If the dice roll badly, the player may lose out as a result of their lack of a defense - but, had the player left dice in the pool to defend with, the dice would still have rolled badly resulting in an ineffective defense. This dynamic can seriously damage the value of dice pool systems in some games.

argumentum ad fireballum
The argument that realism doesn't matter in a setting with supernatural elements; formally, "As a discussion about realism in a fantasy setting grows longer, the probability of someone claiming the irrelevance of realism in the presence of magic approaches one." (obviously derived from Godwin's Law) Named after its most common form: “There’s no point in arguing for realism when there are wizards lobbing fireballs.”
Coined by NiTessine, and possibly popularized by its inclusion in this thread.

ass staring defense
A response to anyone who objects to a player playing a character of the opposite sex to themselves (typically a male playing a female character) in a MMORPG. In these games, typically a large amount of play time is required to level up and the default camera viewpoint is from just behind the character; thus the defense is "If I'm going to have to spend hours staring at someone's ass, it's going to be a woman's". First coined by the webcomic PVP Online. The ass staring defense generally does not apply to races that would not ordinarily sexually appeal to human beings (like Tauren in World of Warcraft).
Addendum: Here's the original strip that spawned this term.


bad wrong fun
Illegitimate enjoyment. Saying that a game is "bad wrong fun" indicates that the game is somehow broken, unplayable, poor quality or weak - in ignorance of the fact that many groups are playing and enjoying it regularly. As such, this is not normally something that a person will say themselves, but something they will accuse other people of having said. For example, "John said that d20 is bad wrong fun" indicates that the speaker believes John's criticism of d20 to be foolish given the large number of groups playing and enjoying it. Rifts is often cited as a "bad wrong fun" game. Often written as a single word, badwrongfun.
"Bad wrong fun" is also often used in a more light-hearted sense to indicate the gamer equivalent of a guilty pleasure. "I know it's bad wrong fun, but I loved every minute of it!"

Bag of rats
A tactical maneuver which exploits a loophole in the rules of a tactical combat system, usually leading to ridiculous situations. Taken from a well-known loophole in the (unrevised) third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, in which a character could have the ability "whirlwind attack" enabling them to attack all foes within range in a single maneuver, and the ability "great cleave" enabling them to, having killed a foe with an attack, carry the attack forward to a second foe. A character could thus, technically, throw a bag of rats at a powerful opponent, then approach and execute a whirlwind attack. The whirlwind attack allows the character to attack all of the rats in one maneuver; each time the character attacks a rat, they almost certainly kill it, and then use great cleave to carry the attack forward to the actual powerful foe, thus gaining a huge number of hits on the foe in a single maneuver.

Bell curve
Term used in probability theory to describe a system where a middling result in most common; higher or lower values are rarer, and become rarer the higher or lower they are. Most commonly seem in role-playing games which generate random results by rolling 2 (or more) dice and adding them up: in a system based on rolling 2 d6's, for instance, there are 6 ways of rolling a 7, but only 4 ways of rolling a 9 and 1 way of rolling a 12, making these results rarer. Bell curve systems used for task resolution offer the player a more solid basis for play since they know what results their PC will commonly get, but can also cause a problem because a single point up or down the curve can make a major difference to the chance of success, thus discouraging players from trying more spectacular actions for which penalties may accrue.

Big Bad (or BBEG)
Short for Big Bad Evil Guy, slang for the "boss" bad guy, i.e., the person in charge of an evil plot or organization. Implies that he is much stronger, more powerful, and/or more evil than his minions, and that the PCs encounter with him will be part of the climax of the adventure or even campaign. May have originated (or been popularized) by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.

Big Lebowski Theory of Roleplayer Types
This theory holds that the movie The Big Lebowski has many characters who resemble strongly certain types of players. There is The Dude, the guy who just shows up to hang with his buddies, and doesn't really know the rules or anything. There's Walter, the guy who always plays the fighter, argues about stats for weapons and "realism", and loudly threatens anyone who disagrees with him, fails to show up to the game on time, etc. And there's Donny, a quiet but sociable guy who might talk more often, but Walter keeps saying, "STFU, Donny." For more evidence of how these characters are like roleplayers, see, quotes from the movie.

This is a term usually used in mecha games where a vehicle carries a large number of guided missiles. "Blossoming" represents launching a very large number of those missiles at once. It comes from the "Death Blossom" maneuver performed by Alex Rogan and his Gunstar in the 1983 movie The Last Starfighter. Also called a "Macross," after the anime series Super Dimension Fortress Macross. The visual style of animation design which involves huge numbers of guided missiles corkscrewing across the sky is known as the "Itano Circus."

Blue Bolt
A term used to refer to when a Gamemaster causes the death of a Player character for no apparent reason. Usually includes the words "from heaven" at the tail end of the term. The most common use is when a player leaves the game permanently and the Gamemaster can't come up with a suitable reason for the PCs' departure.

Bitter Non-Gamer. A facetious term describing some people who seem to dedicate large portions of their day to discussions of what is "wrong" with a roleplaying game or roleplaying games in general. The implication is that they're just griping because they can't get a game group.

1. To surprise or shock someone to the point where they're just standing or sitting there, not moving, just STARING at what you've done with a shocked expression. Also boggled, shocked to the point of not responding, just staring at the source of the shock.
2. To roll a ridiculously huge number of six-sided dice, or a game which requires ridiculously huge numbers of six-siders.
Origin: Possibly from the RPG Toon, a game where you play cartoon characters, to describe a similar state which results in the character in question losing turns. (Often shown in cartoons by having the character's eyes bulge out toward the boggling thing or pop out of the character's head completely.) Sense 2 derives from the game "Boggle," in which players roll a box full of six-sided dice stamped with letters and attempt to form words from the results.

Boobs bonus
The hypothetical bonus given to all social skill rolls made by a female character, especially when dealing with males. Derived from the assumption that a female character will automatically have better social skills than a male character, even if they behave in exactly the same way.

The ability to understand a complex, outlandish, or badly explained setting or system well enough to run a game based on it.
Origin: Taken, possibly unfairly, from the name of the RPG author Dr. Rebecca Borgstrom, Ph.D (computer science) (also known as R. Sean Borgstrom, author of "Nobilis", "Exalted: the Fair Folk", and other works) who is notorious for writing games with spectacularly original premises and intriguing supporting fiction that are, however, almost impossible to understand well enough to actually play.

The primary opponent in a setting or adventure; the most powerful villain, usually in charge of lesser minions, but still expected to be (eventually) encountered by the PCs, often at the climax of the adventure or campaign. Borrowed from CRPGs, where it is often used to refer to the last, most dangerous enemy to be encountered in the area, who must be defeated to "win" the area or game. See also Big Bad.

A character who can absorb impressive amounts of damage without dying. Often referred to as a Tank if the character can also dish out similar amounts of whoop-ass.
see also Superheroes, Types of

  1. When applied to a game: a game system with mechanics that fail to operate as they should or as the speaker feels they should. Especially, mechanics which fail to emulate the genre in which the game is set (or the property on which the game is based, in the case of licensed games).
  2. When applied to a character: a character whose deficiencies and flaws greatly outweigh their abilities or usefulness. Sometimes due to a player wishing to play an incompetent, but often implying that the player thinks that his role-playing is superior to the other players and is taking a useless character as a handicap. Alternately, a character who is such a pathetic figure that they are doomed (i.e. most Unknown Armies spellcasters) but entertaining to play in the short term. (See related term "Gimp")
  3. When applied to a scenario: when players side-step the GM's carefully structured plot by using an entirely unexpected approach and solving or avoiding the problem at the start of play.
  4. As a catch-all: "wrong," bad and simultaneously despised and disregarded for vague and ambiguous reasons. Compare with bad wrong fun, something "wrong" and "bad" but liked.
  5. Applied to a character who has used the system and/or its loopholes to such a degree to make said character more effective than their level/points would suggest. See Min-Max.

Buff, to
vt. To make stronger, tougher, or more capable, usually via magic.
Origin: from "buff" the adjective, meaning strong and/or attractive; may have come to tabletop RPGs via MMORPGs.


Calling Fate
An infamous rule from World of Synnibar, by Raven c.s. McCracken, one of the officially recognized "worst RPGs ever". The "Calling Fate" rule allowed players to demand that GMs undo any action which did not follow the letter of the rules and/or was not planned in advance in the GMs adventure notes. Any players who "caught" the GM not following the rules or plan was rewarded with double experience points for the remainder of the game session.

Four-sided dice, so named for their pyramidal shape which ensures that one point will face up no matter which side hits the floor. Especially noted for their tendency to get underfoot when one is heading to the bathroom, half-awake, at five in the morning after going to bed at three-thirty and suddenly remembering that one had drunk a full gallon of soda during the previous night's gaming run. In military use, caltrops are a device designed to land with a spike facing up regardless of their orientation, used to slow pursuit or flight. Police have replaced caltrops with a device called a spike strip, which improves on caltrops in that it can be activated when a fleeing vehicle crosses it and immediately deactivated to prevent damage to the tires of a civilian vehicle or pursuing cruisers. Only one game has ever been foolish enough to use caltrop dice as its main die mechanic. See also Walk of a Thousand Caltrops.

To remain stationary, or take no action, as a tactical choice. For example, waiting for enemies to attack you to ensure that the battle takes place on your choice of terrain would be considered camping. Camping in an RPG is usually an acceptable tactic, but in many competitive board or war games it is considered unfair, because if all players camp, then the game deadlocks (if everyone waits to be attacked, then nobody will ever attack), and any person who breaks the deadlock is penalized by not having the tactical advantage conveyed by camping. (Camping differs from Turtling (q.v.) in that a turtle avoids any proactive action at all, whereas a camper makes a proactive decision to wait.)

Candy Man
This term is borrowed slang from the street, where a candy man is a physician that prescribes medications as the patient's request without properly determining if the patient is in need of the prescription medication. In gaming, a candy man is a referee that awards gratuitous amounts of experience, treasure, equipment, and magic items to the characters, which are not commensurate with the difficulty of the adventure. See also Monty Haul.

Captain Teflon Psycho
this describes the stereotypical character everyone creates at least once: the character with no friends, no family, no backstory, one who cares for no-one. Typically they have no "positive" social "flaws" in a point-buy system, never choosing such as Honesty, Loyalty, Charitable, etc. Frequently they choose flaws such as Beserk and Bloodlust.

Cat-Piss Man
Sometimes CPM, or BDCPM (for Basement-Dwelling CPM). First referred to here: The Wrath of Cat Piss Man
The CPM is a legendary figure, whether he exists or not is unknown; like Bigfoot, many claim to have seen him, but there's little proof. CPM is usually depicted as a large, hairy, sweaty guy in a trenchcoat (on the hottest of days) who stinks of cat piss, and lurks about game stores, drooling over the anime magazines and leering suggestively at any unfortunate female gamers who come into the store. Will frequently distract the store clerk with hours-long tales of his 25th level Drow Lesbian Stripper Ninja. usually assumed to be living in his parents' basement amongst empty pizza boxes and porn mags when he's 35 years old and unemployed.

Chainmail Bikini
An utterly ridiculous and useless form of armor which is worn by female characters, even those who are supposedly experienced warriors, in a large proportion of classic fantasy art. Usually deemed to demonstrate that the inclusion of female characters is not to show the involvement of both sexes but simply to include cheesecake for male viewers and players. By extension, used as a metaphor for any stereotypical treatment of women in roleplayers or roleplaying products. This has declined substantially in recent years. This artwork trend was also the inspiration for the Reverse Armor Theorem.

Character Build System
Term for a chargen system in which the player starts with a "default" character (often a "blank slate", with no skills, advantages, or anything else) and a pool of points with which he or she can "buy" parts of the character until it approximates the character he or she wants to play. GURPS and Hero are the two most well known RPGs that work this way.

short for character generation, the process of creating a player character for use in a RPG. Usually one of two methods: character build or random-roll, depending on the RPG being used.

We game for the snacks. And also the dice. But mostly, just to hang out with friends and tell tall stories. Rpg books are just a bunch of guidelines for how to tell your tall stories, and give you a fair excuse to roll lots of dice and eat cheetos. To make your games more fun, talk to your group. In any game, it's part social, part game. For most gamers, it's social first, game second. Game first, social second - that's for people that get paid to do it. Mike Jordan never said to his coach, "but it's just a game, who cares about the rules." he took it seriously, because of money. Well, give me ten million bucks a year to roleplay, and I'll take it seriously, too.Until then, I am a Cheetoist. That's it.

Christmas Tree Effect
The typical result of a higher-level campaign in Dungeons & Dragons, where player characters are decked out in so much magical (and, notionally at least, glowing) equipment that they resemble a Christmas tree more than a character.

  1. (borrowed from hacker terminology) something beautiful but useless, such as a snazzy interface to a buggy program.
  2. One of the "defining elements" of cyberpunk milieus; exemplifies the style-over-substance ethos often found in such worlds.

Chunky Salsa
What is said to be left of a character that has taken a massive amount of damage, far more than is needed to kill them (though not quite as much as needed to turn them into a fine red mist). The implication is they've taken enough damage to turn them into small chunks in a red "sauce", like chunky salsa. Classically used to describe the results of (often multiple) grenades in small enclosed spaces; the blast tends to bounce off the walls and hit whoever's in there more than once. This rule explicitly appears in Shadowrun among other games.

Class and Level
A method of chargen and character definition in which characters are primarily defined as members of specific pre-defined professions or archetypes, their “class”, and their degree of advancement along a predetermined course of improvement determined by that profession, their “level”. Class and Level was used in the original RPG, Dungeons & Dragons.

Cleric problem
In D&D, a problem encountered during character generation where no-one wants to play a Cleric, but the Cleric is a crucially important role for the survivability and success of the party. This is because, while a Cleric usually plays a very important support role in an adventuring group, dispensing crucial healing and buffs, he is otherwise somewhat limited in his combat powers and abilities. More generally, the Cleric problem can be extended to any role or power which is important for the group but not particularly exciting for whichever player ends up having to take it on. The Cleric problem can be solved by providing these support roles with cool abilities of their own, or making their support natures less of a drain on their effectiveness other, more exciting spheres.

Any book containing information fundamental to a particular game system. Typically any person wishing to purchase books for a particular RPG will need to buy the corebooks first in order to establish the context needed to make sense of the other books. For example, the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual are the corebooks for Dungeons & Dragons; the World of Darkness book and the Vampire book are the corebooks for Vampire: The Requiem.

  1. Common abbreviation for Character Point, the most common term used to describe the 'points' used in games where the character creation system is freeform based on character points.
  2. Short for Cyberpunk.
  3. In Dungeons & Dragons, copper pieces, the setting equivalent of pennies.

A rare dice result indicating that an action has been spectacularly successful. Typically a critical will grant an additional bonus beyond simple success, or represent a major success, or indicate success no matter how difficult the task was.
Origin: Originally critical hit, used in tactical combat systems to model the remote possibility of any single hit taking an enemy down if it happens to hit a critical area. This system was then adopted by RPG combat systems and then further applied to resolution of all tasks rather than just combat, creating the term critical success, normally abbreviated to just critical, sometimes to crit hit or just crit.

Computer (or Console) Role Playing Game. A computer adventure game with storytelling aspects. Notably different from tabletop RPGs in that there tends to be minimal interactivity with the plot, even to the point where in some games (especially in console RPGs) the player has no control over the creation of even a single character. Some games, most notably Neverwinter Nights, have attempted to buck this trend, to varying degrees of success. Sometimes pronounced "crappage," a use some gamers claim is very appropriate.

  1. Slang term for the sections of a RPG's rulebook that deal with the actual rules, as opposed to Fluff (q.v.), which is everything else. Also called Crunchy bits.
  2. Slang for the relative complexity of a particular ruleset. A crunchy ruleset is more complex.
  3. "Crunchy" can also refer to a character who is very hard to hit, but with very low ability to resist damage. (Crunchy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside!)

Custom dice
Dice printed with symbols other than the traditional numbers. Used in certain games to simplify task resolution. For example, DC Universe uses dice printed with images of different DC characters; hero images indicate success and villain images indicate failure. Six-sided "FUDGE dice" have two plus signs (+), two minus signs (-), and two blank faces.

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