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Role-playing game terms are words used in a specific sense (terms) in the context of role-playing games. This includes both terms used within RPGs to describe in-game concepts and terms used to describe RPGs. Role-playing games also have specialized slang jargon associated with them.
A role-playing game is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making regarding character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.
An adventure is either a published or otherwise written collection of plot, character, and location details used by a gamemaster to manage the plot or story in a role-playing game. Each adventure is based upon a particular gaming genre and is normally designed for use with a specific game or gaming system. However, skilled gamemasters can often convert an adventure to different game systems, and many adventures are designed with such conversions in mind.
In some role-playing games, armor class is a derived statistic that indicates how difficult it is to land a successful blow on a character with an attack. It represents either a character's protective equipment, ability to dodge attacks, or a combination of the two.
In role-playing games, a campaign is a continuing storyline or set of adventures, typically involving the same characters. The purpose of the continuing storyline is to introduce a further aspect into the game: that of development, improvement, and growth of the characters. In a campaign, a single session becomes a scene or an act within an overall story arc. At its inception, a campaign may or may not have a defined conclusion. A campaign by definition spans more than one session of play. Certain aspects of the game are nearly always constant throughout a campaign: the campaign setting, the players, and the gamemaster. The gamemaster for a campaign is said to run the campaign.
A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.
A non-player character (NPC), also known as a non-playable character, is any character in a game which is not controlled by a player. In video games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer via algorithmic, predetermined or responsive behavior, but not necessarily true artificial intelligence. In traditional tabletop role-playing games, the term applies to characters controlled by the gamemaster or referee, rather than another player.
Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997. It was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the 1971 game Chainmail serving as the initial rule system. D&D's publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.
A gamemaster's screen, also called a GM's screen, is a gaming accessory, usually made out of cardboard, used by the gamemaster to hide all the relevant data related to a tabletop role-playing game session, hiding them from the players in order to not spoil the plot of the story. It also hides any dice rolls made by the Gamemaster that he or she does not want players to see.
In most tabletop role-playing games an initiative system determines in which order player characters and non-player characters take their actions, to avoid confusion on when a character gets to act. These derive from RPGs roots in tabletop wargaming, where similar systems are used. Rules for initiative vary from game to game, but often follow one of a few common methods.
Metagaming is a term used in role-playing games, which describes a player's use of real-life knowledge concerning the state of the game to determine their character's actions, when said character has no relevant knowledge or awareness under the circumstances. This can refer to plot information in the game such as secrets or events occurring away from the character, as well as facets of the game's mechanics such as abstract statistics or the precise limits of abilities. Metagaming is an example of "breaking character", as the character is making decisions based on information they couldn't know and thus would not make in reality.
A storytelling game is a game where two or more persons collaborate on telling a spontaneous story. Usually, each player takes care of one or more characters in the developing story. Some games in the tradition of role-playing games require one participant to take the roles of the various supporting characters, as well as introducing non-character forces, but other systems dispense with this figure and distribute this function among all players.
GNS theory is an informal field of study developed by Ron Edwards which attempts to create a unified theory of how role-playing games work. Focused on player behavior, in GNS theory participants in role-playing games organize their interactions around three categories of engagement: gamism, narrativism and simulation.
A dungeon crawl is a type of scenario in fantasy role-playing games in which heroes navigate a labyrinthine environment, battling various monsters, and looting any treasure they may find. Because of its simplicity, a dungeon crawl can be easier for a gamemaster to run than more complex adventures, and the "hack and slash" style of play is appreciated by players who focus on action and combat. However dungeon crawls often lack meaningful plot or logical consistency.
Alternity is a science fiction role-playing game (RPG) published by TSR in 1998. Following the acquisition of TSR by Wizards of the Coast, the game was discontinued in 2000 as part of a broader rationalisation of TSR's business holdings, but it retains a small and devoted fanbase. Parts of Alternity as well as TSR's classic Star Frontiers game have been incorporated into the d20 Modern game, especially the d20 Future setting. The first campaign setting for the Alternity game, the Star*Drive setting, was introduced in 1998.
The D6 System is a role-playing game system published by West End Games (WEG) and licensees. While the system is primarily intended for pen-and-paper role-playing games, variations of the system have also been used in live action role-playing games and miniature battle games. The system is named after the 6-sided die, which is used in every roll required by the system.
In the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) role-playing game, the Dungeon Master is the game organizer and participant in charge of creating the details and challenges of a given adventure, while maintaining a realistic continuity of events. In effect, the Dungeon Master controls all aspects of the game, except for the actions of the player characters (PCs), and describes to the players what they see and hear.
A role-playing game system is a set of game mechanics used in a role-playing game (RPG) to determine the outcome of a character's in-game actions.
Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes (MSPE) is a tabletop role-playing game designed and written by Michael A. Stackpole and first published in April 1983 by Blade, a division of Flying Buffalo, Inc. A second edition was later published by Sleuth Publications, but Flying Buffalo continues to distribute the game. MSPE's mechanics are based on those of Tunnels and Trolls, with the addition of a skill system for characters. A few adventure modules were also released for MSPE. The ruleset of 1987 video game Wasteland, on which Michael A. Stackpole worked, is based on MSPE; as the upcoming 2013 sequel Wasteland 2 will use similar mechanics, so it too can be seen as based on MSPE.
The End All Be All game system, commonly known as EABA and pronounced "ee-buh", is a role-playing game system from Blacksburg Tactical Research Center (BTRC). It is a generic gaming systems designed to adapt to any imaginary gaming environment. It was created by Greg Porter in 2003. The game cites the Hero System, GURPS and Call of Cthulhu as influences in its development.
The Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set is a set of rulebooks for the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) fantasy role-playing game. First published in 1977, it saw a handful of revisions and reprintings. The first edition was written by J. Eric Holmes based on Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson's original work. Later editions were edited by Tom Moldvay, Frank Mentzer, Troy Denning, and Doug Stewart.
A tabletop role-playing game is a form of role-playing game (RPG) in which the participants describe their characters' actions through speech. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a set formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.