RPG Lexica:GHI

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Game Balance
A catch-all term for a range of different properties which are considered desirable in a game system, related to ensuring that the game exhibits fairness and scope for creativity. Typically, these will include ensuring that each player is able to contribute an equal amount to the game (the Decker problem is an example of a failure of this); ensuring that encounters are difficult enough to be challenging but not overwhelming; ensuring that no particular game ability is necessary for every character; and similar.

Game That Must Not Be Named, The
The role-playing game FATAL. The "...Not Be Named" label was possibly coined by Kyle Schuant, a/k/a "JimBob" on the RPG.net fora. The wordy phrase is often abbreviated to TGTMNBN. FATAL itself stood for "Fantasy Adventure To Adult Lechery" in the game's first edition, but was subsequently changed to "From Another Time, Another Land". FATAL "Must Not be Named" because of two inter-related reasons. First, because mentioning this game on certain web sites all but guarantees the start of a flame war about it, possibly including vigorous and verbally agressive defense from the game's authors. Second, because by most standards of basic game design and even social decency the game is truly, truly awful. It is not just poorly conceived and written, but outright offensive.
The most infamous and prevelant form of objectionable material is FATAL's bizarre and juvenile sexual content. For instance, character creation includes the calculation of statistics such as "Areola Size", "Vaginal Circumference Potential", and "Hymen Resistance". Worse, the game blithely condones rape as a character activity and contains many other instances of blatant misogyny, not to mention casual racism. Of secondary concern is the monsterously overcomplicated rules system, which requires unwieldy dice rolls, convoluted mathematical formula and tables for everything the designer could conceivably make one for, many of which are bizarre, such as the infamous Magical Fumbles Table and, again, sexually obsessive, such as a formula for increased penile penetration during a certain position of intercourse.
If such a thing is possible, FATAL generated further controversy via the infamous "S&M" review: the long, extensive, profanity-strewn (and, in its own way, screamingly funny) RPG.net review by Darren MacLennan and Jason Sartin in which they basically rip the game a new one. Two of the authors of FATAL--Byron Hall, the primary author and editor, and "Burnout"--wrote a rebuttal to the review, and posted it on the web; a copy of this "Childish Review and Author's Defense of F.A.T.A.L." is saved on this Wiki.

Abbreviation of "gang kill". a) To kill or defeat an enemy by ganging up on them. b) To kill or defeat an enemy trivially, with no real possibility of their being able to resist or escape, and where the killer gains no benefit from their death (not even XP). Usually used to imply that the player is having their character attack helpless enemies because of the player's need to take out stress or to somehow "punish" the GM; or vice versa, that the player characters entered a hopeless situation. Also used on online RPGs as a form of griefing.

In addition to the common meaning of a pagoda or turret built to offer an attractive view, also a reference to a famous gamer comedy story: Eric and the Gazebo, written (and copyrighted!) by Richard Arenson. In the story, the GM of a group tells them that they see a gazebo in a field they are approaching. One of the players - Eric - does not know what a gazebo is; he therefore assumes it to be a monster and attempts to engage it in combat (which ends with Eric fleeing after multiple magical arrows amazingly failed to wound the gazebo). Used as a jokey reference to an unknown creature, or to something which has been attacked by mistake.
By extension, may also be used to refer to a part of a description that does not have any in-game effect, to differentiate it from those that do (i.e., what the mention of the gazebo should have been). Usage: "Should we ask the priests if they can help us against those 'spooky shadows' we saw?" "Naah, I think it was just a gazebo."

Get Medieval
to be exceptionally violent toward something or someone. See "I'm going to get medieval on his ass"

An abbreviation for "game, drama, simulation". Describes the three important aspects of an RPG which are typically traded off against each other by game design: to be an enjoyable game for game's sake, to deliver a dramatic and exciting story, and to reasonable simulate what would "really" happen in particular game situations. For example, having the characters meet in a tavern and decide to work together trades simulation off for game benefit; having villains leave clues as to their activities trades simulation off for drama; fudging dice rolls so that a character who bravely charges into a fire zone to rescue an innocent is not cut to ribbons trades game off for drama.

Geek Anime theory
A theory presented in an essay by Michael Suileabhain-Wilson. It claims that a high proportion of the popularity of "high school drama" Anime series in countries outside Japan comes from the fact that the percieved dissocation of the Japanese and Western cultures prevents viewers from losing sympathy with characters based on their own high school experiences.

Geek social fallacies
A list of five fallacies, originally presented in an essay by Michael Suileabhain-Wilson, supposedly indicating classic social errors made by "geek" types. The five geek social fallacies are a) that nobody, friend or otherwise, must be excluded or ostracised from anything; b) that friends may never criticise friends; c) that friends must put their friendship above all else; d) that a friend of a friend is a friend; and e) that friends must involve friends in all activities they do.
A copy of the original article is here.

G.I. Joe Rule
A rule in Palladiumbooks' Rifts Ultimate Edition RPG which states the last bit of armor worn by a character can stop any amount of incoming damage. This means a character with 1 point of tatterred armor remaining can be struck by a nuclear bomb inflicting thousands of points of damage, yet the character will remain unharmed as the last bit of armor absorbs all of the attack.
This rule is called the "G.I. Joe Rule" after the 80's cartoon G.I. Joe where characters would always be seen ejecting unharmed from destroyed vehicles and characters remained completely unscathed amidst a hail of gunfire.
Any RPG rule concocted in such a way as to prevent character harm under any circumstance, especially by bending reality to allow average humans to sustain hits by weapons of mass destruction, can be said to be a "G.I. Joe Rule."
This term was coined by Gabriel (me!)

  1. A character who is incompetent to the point of near-unplayability in the early stages of a campaign, because they are loaded down with abilities which are initially weak but become highly powerful once the character has advanced. Typically, a gimp will count on advancing based on achievements made by other members of the party and becoming incredibly powerful; either gaining in power faster or becoming more powerful overall than a non-gimp character of similar design. An example is the "venerable druid gimp" in Dungeons & Dragons: a player can declare their druid character to be of venerable age, crippling their physical stats but improving their mental ones. Such a druid will be almost useless in the early stages of a game, due to their vulnerability in combat; but once the druid gains the ability to shape-shift, they can shape-shift to a form with more powerful physical stats while still retaining the bonuses to spellcasting given by the high mental stats they got for being venerable. Thus, such a character is a "gimp" up until they gain shape-shifting ability.
  2. As a verb: to create a gimp character, or to plan for a character to be a gimp for certain periods.
  3. When a character is being created at a level of advancement higher than the normal start point, choosing combinations of abilities or skills for that character that would have rendered the character unplayable at lower advancement levels had the player actually played through them. Gimping is one of the more common objections that some players and GMs have against the idea of characters starting the game having already advanced.
  4. To advance a skill which provides less benefit than an alternative choice would have provided. This usage comes primarily from MMORPGs; stats and skills are frequently analyzed in great detail and the optimum configuration at maximum level for a particular role is well-known. To deviate from this "min-maxed" template is to gimp your character, and the amount of deviance is the degree to which your character is said to be gimped.
Origin: From a medieval word for a stupid or incompetent person; may also be related to a term used to refer to a particular sado-masochistic practice.

Glass ninja problem
An issue with games where attack damage is based on degree of success and dodging is an all or nothing defense based on rolling over the attack's degree of success. This means that dodge-happy characters (ninjas) cannot suffer glancing blows or flesh wounds since any attack being good enough to beat their dodge score necessarily has a high enough degree of success that it cripples the ninja. Most modern games avoid this problem by having dodging reduce the attackers degree of success even if it doesn't allow them to avoid the attack completely.

  1. An NPC that's basically an avatar of the GM running the game. Can be acceptable and even helpful if his "divine favor" is toned down and/or used in moderation, but more often becomes something like #2:
  2. Derogatory term for an 'uber' NPC, one who's abilities and assistance overshadow the PCs, who is still supposedly on the PCs 'side', but manages to dominate the game because of his "divine favor".
Note: By "divine favor" I mean things like: die rolls being adjusted in his favor, access to the setting's "bigwigs", absolutely amazing equipment (say, artifacts in Dungeons & Dragons games), being able to break inconvenient rules (IC or OOC), et cetera. Any time the GM may be said to be cheating in favor of "his" character, it's a GMPC. Also known as a Pet NPC.

An abbreviation for "gamism, narrativism, simulationism". A system used at The Forge to categorise gamers and game systems and experiences; an advanced and more strongly defined version of GDS. See The Forge Glossary

Golden Rule, The
"Rules were made to be broken". Traditionally a paragraph in the beginning of a game master's section of a rulebook, the golden rule states that the game's enjoyment is paramount, and that rules are only to be enforced if it enhances the play experience. It is designed to counter rules arguments by the game master ruling that the game would be more fun if the players were not arguing over exactly how much an obscure ruling reference benefits another player over them. It is interesting to note that Dungeons & Dragons V3.5's version of the golden rule (under adjudicating) states that rules should be changed for more logical sounding ones.

Role-playing games almost universally use number scales to define characters. D&D, for example, uses the now classic 3-18 scale to rate six basic attributes, such that a character with a Strength of 14 is mightier than one with a rating of 8. From a design perspective, it can be advantageous to instead use a limited scale, such as 1-6, to help keep numbers managable. The drawback is that with a lesser range, the steps become more significant, and it can become difficult to model characters who are only slightly better or worse than each other. Designers refer to this problem as Graininess, in reference to old poor quality photographs in which large grains of pigmentation were individually visible, and thus blurred the detail of the larger image.

Greg, to
In use usually as Gregging or to have been Gregged. When a established aspect or detail of a setting is contradicted or outright rewritten by the setting's creator, usually with little explanation and for reasons stemming from a change in the creator's personal aesthetics. Specifically this term refers to writer Greg Stafford's tendency to treat the Glorantha setting as a work in progress, despite the fact that it was first published over twenty years ago.

To play a game while drawing one's main enjoyment from harassing, annoying, or hurting the game for other players. No amount of in-game penalty will discourage a griefer from harassing other players, because - as harassing other players is their main enjoyment - they do not care about anything in the game except in terms of what harassment potential it provides. In tabletop RPGs, griefers are usually quickly ejected from the group, but they can prove more of a problem in online RPGs and other public games.

Grudge monster
  1. As a noun: A monster or other dangerous opponent introduced into a game to fight or block the PCs because the GM is angry or frustrated at the players.
  2. As a verb: to put a grudge monster (in sense one) in a game, and/or to attack the PCs with one.

Gygax, Gygaxian
An adjective form of the name of one of the founders of the role-playing hobby, E. Gary Gygax. When used as an adjective, Gygax's name indicates that the item so modified breaks some commonly held assumption about the world (often pertaining to the logical construction of an area). Notable RPGnet member Steve Darlington once observed that a Gygaxian dungeon, for instance, often resembles a game of Let's Make a Deal as reimagined by a homicidal SCAdian on PCP. It can also be used to describe an extremely overblown writing style which seems to imply excessive use of a thesaurus. This "Gygaxian prose" is best exemplified by his work in the AD&D 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide.


Hack and Slash
A style of gameplay wherein the main focus is combat. Attempting to talk or reason with an NPC in such a game, rather than just kill them, is most likely to result in confusion or mockery from the other players. A close relative of the Dungeon Crawl, and likewise most common in fantasy games.

A RPG which was originally geared toward playing four-color supers (from comic books), then expanded to accommodate a variety of settings and character types. Currently in its Fifth Revised edition, it is published by Hero Games.

Hitpoint gain problem
A modelling difficulty arising from the use of hit points. In many game systems, as a character improves in skill, they also gain hit points. This is intended to represent the dramatic phenomenon, seen in many fantasy films and stories, whereby more heroic characters are capable of sustaining greater amounts of damage without being visibly affected. However, systems using hit points do not distinguish between types of damage where drama would not apply, leading to the situation of highly skilled characters being able to throw themselves off 100-foot cliffs without being hurt, because they will still have plenty of hit points spare after losing those that represent the damage from the fall.

Holding Tank
The notional part of an RPG club where new players wait to become involved in games. Because most RPG players tend to enjoy long-term campaigns with a fixed group of a particular size, new arrivals to a club or other RPG playing venue can find themselves with no game to play in because all other players are already involved in long-term campaigns that were established before the new player arrived. The existance of the holding tank for RPGs, compared to other gaming hobbies such as miniatures or board gaming where it is not needed, is one of the reasons commonly referred to for the difficulty in recruiting new RPG players.

Horse Bombing
Abusing a magical or supernatural ability that creates objects, and is not intended to be used as an attack, by exploiting the offensive value of generally being able to create objects from thin air. Examples include using a spell intended to provide food and water for allies, to create water or food inside an enemy's brain case; or the example that defines the term: using a spell that summons a horse for the caster to ride by casting it several hundred feet above a stationary or unaware enemy so that the horse falls on them at high velocity.


"I'm going to get medieval on his ass"
A quote from the movie Pulp Fiction that basically means the PCs are about to do something very violent, probably fatal, and definitely painful to whoever is referenced by 'his'. Often followed by another Pulp Fiction line: "Zed's dead, baby."

Impossible Thing Before Breakfast
For the GM to maintain complete authorial control of the story while the players at the same time retain complete protagonist control of their characters. That is, for both the players and GM to simultaneously run the game as exclusively "their" story. Although this paradox is often unintentionally presented as the ideal model for running RPGs, recent RPG theory states that it is impossible because it is contradictory, and attempts to achieve this unattainable situation have been responsible for a lot of failed role-playing. Originated in Alice in Wonderland, where the Queen tells Alice that "sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Intelligence problem
The difficulty encountered in enabling Intelligence stats to work correctly in games which have them. The problem arises from the fact that Intelligence will affect the character's ability to choose what to do next. Since making these choices for their characters is the key means by which players are involved in the RPG, these choices must be left to the player; but if they are left to the player, the choice will be made based on the player's level of intelligence, not the character's.

Inverse Ninja Law
A paradox in games (usually with strong martial art themes) where a sole ninja can often be a dangerous show-stopping foe, but a group of ninjas can be mowed through with ease by a group of players. Thus, the Inverse Ninja Law: Sum Ninja Effectiveness = 1/Ninjas.

Typically used in forum thread titles, an abbreviation for "I seek the x knowledge of", properly followed by the subject of inquiry. The variable x is the name of the forum, implying a request for the aid of the forum community as a whole. It seems to have originated on the RPGnet Tangency forum as "I seek the Tangency knowledge of" (later abbreviated "ISTTKO"), used by those seeking information on an obscure topic, often before even trying to google for it. Replacing "Tangency" with a variable forum name came later; widely used on the RPGnet Open forum is ISTOKO (where x = Open, obviously). While this terminology originated on RPGnet, it is unknown to this contributor if its use has spread to other fora.

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