RPG Lexica:PQR

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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 plotline 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 plotline. Coined by SteveD on RPG.net.

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 slur has been applied include Willow Rosenburg 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.

A player behaviour where the player in question makes unreasonable efforts to maximise their character's ability to mechanically affect the game. This usually refers to optimising 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


Queen Bee
A woman who joins RPG groups in the belief that the alleged scarcity of women in the hobby, together with the percieved 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.


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.

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...

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 independant games, such as Dogs in the Vineyard.

"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!" Usually followed by either the players making nice with the GM or the group going their separate ways.
Origin: A particular episode of the webcomic Something Positive.

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 a 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 role-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 become beneficial and positive ones become 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 suprising 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
"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, @#$&%!!..."
(Note: Removed the first definition--"The GM may ignore or change any game rule"--because it's covered by the Golden Rule)

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