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Game Master Glossary

JohnnFour

Game Master
Staff member
Demonplague Author
Wizard of Adventure
Beta-Tester
Adventure Builder
Gamer Lifestyle
Here is a living list of Roleplaying Tips acronyms and jargon.

You might come across these terms in one of my Musings, books, or courses.

Some additional glossaries to might find helpful:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role-playing_game_terms
https://rpggeek.com/wiki/page/RPG_Glossary
https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/5475/glossary-of-common-rpg-terminology

The Glossary
3LNPC
- 3 Line NPC. Line 1: Appearance. Line 2: Portrayal. Line 3: Hook. (More details here.)

3RP - 3 Round Plan for encounter planning, often with a combat context, but in RPT lingo often for general encounter GMing as well.

3 GM Pillars - Game/System, Plot/Story, and World/Setting.

5RD - 5 Room Dungeon, an outline for building adventures and framing campaigns. (More details here.)
  1. Entrance with Guardian
  2. Puzzle or Roleplaying
  3. Trick or Setback
  4. Big Climax
  5. Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist
ABW - Adventure Building Workshop course.

Arcs - A number of encounters and adventures with the same theme and goal in mind.

Agent (Active) - An NPC, force, or campaign element that can act of its own accord to respond to player actions. Often part of Loopy Planning.

Agent (Passive) - An NPC, force, or campaign element that waits and reacts to player actions. Often frozen in place until players enter a scene.

Buffs - Bonuses and power ups players can trigger their characters to use.

Campaign - A series adventures with some form of continuity or connective tissue, such as the same group of characters or a master villain.

(Character Sheets) Lore - Setting information as produced by the character sheet.

CL - Campaign Logger, a GM organization application created by @JochenL and @JohnnFour to help GMs stay on top of every campaign detail.

Crunch - Game details that are mechanics or that affect mechanics or dice rolls. The opposite of Fluff.

DPR - Damage Per Round. A useful metric for estimating challenge level of combat encounters.

Encounter - A standalone gameplay situation with beginning and end that should have conflict and stakes.

Fluff - Details that do not impact mechanics. The opposite of Crunch.

GM - Game Master (also called DM - Dungeon Master, StoryGuide, Referee, and other names).

GNS Theory - Gamism, Narrativism, Simulationism theory - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNS_theory. The original inspiration for the Wizard of Adventure GM Traingle.

Handwave - To skip over something not needed at the moment - refers to the Jedi Mind Trick from Star Wars where Obi-Wan Kenobi waves his hand as he convinces Storm Troopers to left them pass. The context often refers to ignoring the rules.

HP - Hit Points, usually used in D&D-esque games to determine the life force of game elements such as PCs, NPCs, structures, and objects.

IC - In-Character PC talk/mindset (also IG - In-Game mindset or "role playing")

Kiting - Foes that break away and try to lure the PCs to follow (divide and conquer tactic).

Logic Bombs - Plot holes that can disrupt a game session, sidetrack an adventure, and even derail a campaign. (The original RPT article.)

Loops - Adventure plotlines and decisions that feed back into the setting to spark new plotlines and gameplay. Can be open and closed. (The original RPT article.)

Metagaming - Using OOC (Out Of Character) information for IC (In-Character) decisions/talk.

Milieu - The region in which an adventure or campaign takes place. The "snowglobe" of a Story Crucible. Full of Active Agents.

MP - Mana Points are used in some games to determine the magic force of a game element.

Nerf action - Sometimes debuffing, like hold person spells, and sometimes mechanics that diminish a game element in an unfair or arbitrary way.

OOC - Out Of Character player talk/mindset (also OOG - Out Of Game mindset or "roll playing")

OODA - Observe - Orient - Decide - Act, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop.

Pacing - Usually the perceived speed of the game. Action scenes ought to feel higher-pacing, roleplaying scenes slower-pacing. A good pacing is a constant up and down / high-tone and low-tone between different encounters. Pacing is more important than the story.

PC - Imagined player characters played by the players.

PiXiE - Agile game mastering, meaning Prepare, eXecute, and Evaluate. We do not make brittle game plans that do not survive first contact with the characters. Instead, we prepare to improv, and keep our plays lean. (The original RPT article.)

RAW - Rules As written. The rules interpreted exactly, word for word, without nuance.

RPT - RolePlaying Tips https://www.roleplayingtips.com as site to help game masters have more fun at every game. established Nov 1999.

SLAY - The Story role, Lair, Actions framework for monster encounter design provided in the Adventure Building Master Game Plan.

Spikes of Danger - A way of mapping out a sandbox without an artificial feeling of game balance.

SR - Shadowrun roleplaying system.

Swingy - When dice rolls and chance push results to more extreme ends of a spectrum.

TPK - Total Party Kill. When the whole group of player characters perish, often resulting in the end of the adventure.

TTRPG - Tabletop Roleplaying Games (like D&D).

VTT / VTTRPG - Online RPG gaming facilitated by software such as Foundry and Roll20.

Wargaming - Tactical planning in combat based on the player's intellect and cooperation with the other players, not on the PC's point of view, scope of knowledge, or cooperation with the other PCs.

WoA - Wizard of Adventure, Johnn's reference to what he aspires to be as a game master and encourages other GMs to aspire to as well.

WoD - World of Darkness roleplaying system (including settings like VtM - Vampire the Masquerade).
 
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ExileInParadise

RPG Therapist
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Adventure Builder
Carts - WoA and ABW describe "Mining Carts" and "Background Carts" which are both synonymous with information buckets that you go to for more inspiration in designing encounters, adventures, and campaigns.

D&D - Dungeons & Dragons

AD&D - Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

BECMI - Dungeons & Dragons Basic, Expert, Companion, Master and Immortals game sets.

Fog of War - the uncertainty of future events due to the fortunes of war.

Murder Hoboes - if you think about it - homeless adventurers appear and kill things ... murderous hoboes indeed

MVP - Minimum Viable Product - the smallest amount of prep on a thing you can get away with and still have a usable thing.
 
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Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
And even more...

Fluff - Fancy descriptions and additional assets, that are not related to power (main focus of extreme roleplayers)

Crunch - Assets related to power, rules, and stats (main focus of extreme power-gamers)

(Character Sheets) Lore - Setting information as produced by the character sheet

3 Pillars - The WoA course uses the Game/System, Plot/Story, and World/Setting pillars to describe elements of TTRPGs

TTRPG - Tabletop Roleplaying Games (like D&D)

VTT - Virtual Table Top gaming

TPK - Total Players Kill, i.e. to intentionally or unintentionally wipe out the whole party of PCs with the GMs monsters/foes.

PC - imagined player characters played by the players

GM - Game Master (also called DM - Dungeon Master)

A combat is "swingier" - It can more easily swing in favor for one side to the other (usually by increasing the damage values)

Pacing - Usually the experienced speed of the game. Action scenes ought to feel higher-pacing, roleplaying scenes slower-pacing. A good pacing is a constant up and down / high-tone and low-tone between different encounters. Pacing is more important than the story.

Encounter - Any countable scene that makes up an adventure

Campaign - A number of arcs of adventures with the same theme and goal in mind

Arcs - A number of adventures with the same theme and goal in mind

Kiting - Foes that break away and try to lure the PCs to follow (divide and conquer tactic)

Nerf action - debuffing, like hold person spells

WoD - World of Darkness roleplaying system (including settings like VtM - Vampire the Masquerade)

SR - Shadowrun roleplaying system

(many other abbreviations for different roleplaying systems and its modules as mentioned in the introductions thread)
 

JohnnFour

Game Master
Staff member
Demonplague Author
Wizard of Adventure
Beta-Tester
Adventure Builder
Gamer Lifestyle
@Stephan Hornick I'm not sure about this one:

(Character Sheets) Lore - Setting information as produced by the character sheet

Where is it referenced so I can get more context?
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
@Stephan Hornick I'm not sure about this one:

(Character Sheets) Lore - Setting information as produced by the character sheet

Where is it referenced so I can get more context?
You mentioned this in the Character Story video. Context: to mine the character sheet for character sheets lore. Please correct if I am wrong here (or at another definition).
 

Stephan Hornick

Community Goblin
Staff member
Wizard of Adventure
Faster Combatant
Adventure Builder
Some more...

OOC - out-of-character player talk/mindset (also OOG - out of game mindset or "roll playing")

IC - in-character PC talk/mindset (also IG - in-game mindset or "role playing")

HP - hit points, usually used in roleplaying games to determine the life force of any PC. (Sometimes MP - mana points are used for magic force)

Wargaming - Tactical planning in combat based on the player's intellect and cooperation with the other players, not on the PC's point of view, scope of knowledge and cooperation with the other PCs.

Metagaming - Using OOC information for IC decisions/talk.
 
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