RPG Lexica:MNO

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Mary Sue
An RPG character obviously designed as a supremely competent version of the real person who made and plays that character. A Mary Sue need not be female, though sometimes a male equivalent term Gary or Marty Stu is used.
Origin: According to this site, from a 1970's Star Trek FanFic starring "Mary Sue, StarFleet's Youngest Lieutenant". Based on this story, the witticism arose that, "A Mary Sue is braver than Kirk, smarter than Spock, more skilled than McCoy and is sleeping with all three." Please note that the original Lieutenant Mary Sue was written in parody of a type of Star Trek fanfic common at the time.

Meat shield
Derogatory term for a fighter or NPC which is notionally used to protect the more vulnerable spellcasters in a party from harm, as a metal or wooden shield protects a fighter from harm. Compare "tank" or "brick," more neutral/affectionate terms.

In anime, a term for mechanical powersuits or robots (often humanoid). A popular feature of anime-styled role-playing games, such as Votoms or Bubblegum Crisis, which are based on their respective anime series. Usually large and powerful enough to wipe out most conventional combatants (even tanks) by themselves. Also, used specifically to refer to games where mecha play a major part, such as BattleTech.
It's worth noting that, in anime, where the term comes from, "mecha" is simply short for "mechanical" and the term is used for all mechanical devices. So, a bicycle is a "mecha" by that definition. However, the westernized version of the term is almost universally used to describe a futuristic or otherwise non-standard vehicle which usually has a semi-humanoid form, like a giant pilotable humanoid robot.

Generically, enough damage to kill a human being instantly, see also fine red mist and chunky salsa. Specifically, a (dubious) trademark of Palladium Books indicating vehicle-scaled damage; because of the lack of rigorous design rules in Palladium there are such things as mega-damage personal weapons and body armor. Most egregiously visible in Rifts.

This concept exists on two levels. On the smaller, local level, it refers to the greater narrative the GM is using to connect the group's individual adventures and make them relevant to the campaign world. On the larger, commercial level it describes the tendency of professional game companies to alter their published settings over time via events described in published supplements.
Commercial metaplots are generally perceived as a mixed blessing. Though they can offer gaming groups an easy source of narrative drive and adventure ideas, they also represent changes not under the control of the players or GM. A commercial metaplot may contradict earlier assumptions about the setting or, at worst, run roughshod over the character's initiative by introducing grand, sweeping events under the direction of powerful NPC's which the player characters have no hope of influencing, leaving them essentially spectators to someone else's story. Several World of Darkness games from White Wolf are in particular infamous for this latter transgression. It is arguable that such metaplots exist mainly to sell books, as fans try to keep abreast, rather than to in any way enhance play.

Min-max, min-maxing
To carefully tweak a character during chargen so as to optimize the character for one thing, usually combat, often at the expense of other aspects of the character; or, to tweak a character to take advantage of quirks in the rules to do the same thing.

To badly tweak a character during chargen so that they are incompetent and/or unplayable in the situations that arise in the course of an adventure. A parody of min-max. See also gimp (q.v.)

This is a derogatory comment towards a player character which is usually useless in a specific game because of a focus on an area of skill the game doesn't often involve. Ex: "Your Vagabond character was so useless in the Rifts game last night. You're such a Minmei."
The term comes from the Robotech TV series character of the same name. Minmei was a beauty queen and singer who, at one point, proved instrumental in defeating the Zentraedi armada in that series, but she was useless and irritating the remainder of the time.
"Minmei" and "Minmay" are two separate things. The former is the name of the irritating and untalented character from the Macross era of Robotech. The latter is the name of the significantly less irritating and more musically skilled character from the original, non-Robotech related, Macross anime. Using the wrong spelling can get you lynched in Macross fandom circles.

Mr. Johnson
Especially in a cyberpunk game: a mysterious and anonymous figure who gives the player characters their mission. Notable mostly because the players are meant to understand that the Mr. Johnson cannot be trusted, but are usually required to accept the mission anyway because it is mutually accepted that it will be the basis of future play. Taken from the RPG Shadowrun.

An NPC, in particular one who performs limited ranges of simplistic behaviour. Used in online RPGs to identify NPCs who are automatically controlled by the game program, rather than those who are played by human GMs.
Origin: Short form of mobile, the term coined by Richard Bartle for these characters in early computer RPGs. On reading the research paper which coined the term, one of the reviewers is said to have thought this a "beautiful analogy to those hanging toys used in baby's cribs, which move around seemingly as if alive, in spite of being constructed of mechanical parts". Bartle replied that this was indeed a beautiful analogy, and he would have been delighted if he had thought of it; he used the term "mobile" simply to indicate that they could move, which other computer-controlled objects couldn't.

Monty Haul
The term monty haul is a play on the name Monty Hall, a co-creator and emcee of television's Let's Make A Deal, where contestants bought, sold, and traded goods. The contestants could choose one of several doors, and get the random prize behind it, similar to a poorly designed dungeon crawl.
In gaming, monty haul refers to role-playing for the purpose of attaining rewards, particularly treasure. The term monty haul has been applied to campaigns, players (munchkin), and referees (candy man). Monty haul playing has been cited as a good way to introduce children to gaming, as it has a high excitement factor, large rewards and low risks for continued involvement - so long as the GM knows other styles to move on to when the kids get bored of Monty Hauling (which they will).

An adversary whose power is significantly beneath that of any single player character and has no real chance of inflicting serious harm. Not so much a full antagonist as an obstacle or dramatic device, whose only purpose is to make the heros look good by being easy to defeat. Often a faceless member of a horde. Two classic non-rpg examples of mooks can be found in cinema: the gangs of masked ninja rushing at the heroes of countless old kung-fu movies, and the stormtroopers of Star Wars. As a gaming term, the word originates in Feng Shui, which has rules for simulating the disposable nature of "mooks" as opposed to more competent "named characters". More and more games are making a distinction between mooks and more substantial opponents.

One of the most controversial terms in RPGs. A good argument could be made that it means "any player I don't like", but most people reserve the term for a specific type of bad player...
My own definition: a player who, through inexperience or immaturity, disrupts the game to the detriment of the other players, usually by any or all of the following:
  • Creating a character that's inappropriate to the setting (Classic definition: A munchkin is someone who, in a game of courtly politics and intrigue in 16th century France, wants to play a ninja.)
  • Insisting his character either is or has to be the absolute best at everything he does.
  • Roleplays poorly, seeing his character (and the other characters) as mere game pieces, without personality or motivations beyond advancing in the game.
  • Relating to the last one: approaching all problems, obstacles, and frustrations with violence as a first resort
  • Attempting to "win" the game, even at the expense of the other players, in situations where it would be inappropriate.

also Norm (short for "Normal"); specific games or settings may have their own term (such as "baseline" in the Aberrant world)
  1. In games, someone of merely human ability, in contrast to those with super abilities or enhancements (i.e., the PCs, usually).
  2. By extension, Outside of games, refers to some one outside the "fandom", i.e., one who does not game, and isn't interested in the things gamers are (such as sci-fi, anime, et cetera; see Geek)

Murphy's Law
"Anything that can go wrong, will." The premier law of the universe.
Notes: What most people call Murphy's Law (above) is actually Finagle's Law (or, in the UK, Sod's Law). Murphy's Law is more specific: "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways will result in disaster, someone will do it." It was originally "If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will"--referring to the technician who had just placed a series of sensors the wrong way around on the test subject of an accelleration experiment. Edward Murphy - then a Major in the United States Air Force - was the lead scientist.
Murphy's Law is in this lexicon because, since RPGs are simulations of important (fake) events in people's (fake) lives, it crops up a lot. In particular, when making an elaborate plan, it is often necessary to include contingency plans in case of a fumble at a critical moment. (See Whiff for further details)
See also: WikiPedia's entry on "Murphy's Law"

Murphy's Rule
(or just "Murphy"). A game rule which has bizarre or humourous consequences when applied to certain situations - typically those which would logically exist in the game world but are not those which the game was designed to model. A "murphy" can also be a description of the consequences of applying a rule to an outlandish situation, stated not as a criticism of the rules but purely for the comedy value. Originally coined as the name of a cartoon appearing in Pyramid Magazine. A few examples of the typical format:
  • In [[Dungeons