Glossary of RPG Terms

One of the most exciting aspects of RPGs is the breadth of mechanics and systems used across different games. Most RPGs have some unique elements, while also borrowing from or building ontop of those already established within the genre. Due to this variance, there’s no way to create a single glossary that accurately defines all of the terminology used in every roleplaying game. That being said, it’s certainly possible to make some generalizations!

Here are some of the most common phrases, abbreviations, and acryonyms found in RPGs.


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1H
1-Hander. Refers to an item, most often a weapon, that can be wielded in one hand such as a hatchet or dagger.
2H
2-Hander. Refers to an item, most often a weapon, that requires both hands to wield such as a claymore or greataxe.

A

AC
Armor Class. In some games this represents the chance to be hit by an attack. In modern games it’s more often used to represent damage mitigated upon being hit by an attack.
AD&D
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. A more complex version of D&D that existed between the first and third editions of the game.
Agility
Often abbreviated AGI, Agility is a common stat used to measure a character’s nimbleness and is sometimes interchanged with Dexterity.
AH
Auction House. Many MMORPGs contain an area or vendor NPC which allows players to easily buy and sell items with each other.
AOE
Area of Effect. Describes a spell or ability that deals its damage or effects to everything within a certain area.
AP
Can refer to either Ability Points or Action Points.
Archer
A common ranged-based class in RPGs. Often interchanged with Ranger.
ARPG
Action RPG. This is a broad term that applies to any roleplaying game where combat occurs in real-time via direct input, rather than selecting an action from a menu and waiting for a character’s turn.

B

Backpack
Sometimes used in place of the term Inventory to describe the items in a character’s possession.
Blobber
A type of first-person dungeon crawler RPG, called so because a party of characters moves together as a singular unit or “blob.”
Buff
A buff is typically a temporary status effect that imparts positive attributes or bonuses on a character.

C

Campaign
Often used in tabletop gaming to refer to an adventure as a whole.
Character Sheet
A physical or digital sheet containing most or all important information about a character such as stats, status, etc.
Charisma
Often abbreviated CHA, Charisma is a common stat used to measure a character’s personality and likeability.
Clan
While a clan may refer to an in-world organization of NPCs, it is most often used to refer to an established group of allied players within an online game. Often interchanged with Guild.
Class
Often used to refer to a character’s profession or area of expertise. Class often determines what spells and/or abilities a character may learn. Examples of class may include Warrior, Mage, Thief, etc.
Constitution
Often abbreviated CON, Constitution is a common stat used to measure a character’s toughness or physical health.
Copper
A common currency in RPGs. Copper is often the lowest denomination available.
Crafting
The creation of an in-game object or item by the player character.
Critical
An especially effective attack or effect. This is usually achieved via RNG or a perfect dice roll.
CRPG
Computer Role-Playing Game.
CYOA
Choose Your Own Adventure. A gaming style where a player’s potential actions within a storyline are presented as multiple, finite options.

D

D&D
See Dungeons & Dragons.
Dexterity
Often abbreviated DEX, Dexterity is a common stat used to measure a character’s nimbleness or agility.
Dice
Many RPGs rely on physical or digital dice rolls to determine the outcome of actions or situations.
DKP
Dragon Kill Points. Having originated within the game Everquest, Dragon Kill Points are used by guilds in many MMORPGs as a way of marking a member’s participation in killing raid bosses. DKP can then be redeemed or used to bid on loot drops in future raids.
DND
Another acryonym sometimes used to refer to D&D, or Dungeons & Dragons. In online games, this can alternately mean Do Not Disturb.
DOT
Damage Over Time. Describes a spell or effect that deals damage over a period of time rather than all at once.
Druid
A class found in some RPGs, druids are often a hybrid class with a connection to nature. Sometimes interchanged with Shaman.
Dungeons & Dragons
The grand-daddy of tabletop RPGs. You’ve surely heard of this.

E

Encumbrance
A status effect used by many games when a player character is holding too much weight or too many items. Often imparts movement-based penalties.
Energy
A character stat that is sometimes used in place of Mana or MP.

F

F2P
Free To Play.
Fighter
A common melee, strength-based class in RPGs. Often interchanged with Warrior.

G

Gold
A common currency in RPGs. Worth more than Silver and Copper, but less than Platinum.
Gosu
A Korean word used to describe a highly-skilled player.
Guild
While a guild may refer to an in-world organization of NPCs, it is most often used to refer to an established group of allied players within an online game. Often interchanged with Clan.

H

High Fantasy
A fantasy setting that contains many supernatural elements such as elves and dragons.
HP
Hit Points or Health Points. A common measure of a character’s physical condition.

I

Immortal
Sometimes abbreviated as Imm, Immortal is a term used to describe a character that cannot be killed. In many MUDs and early online roleplaying games, immortal characters belong to members of the game’s staff.
Initiative
A stat found in some RPGs, often used to determine turn order in combat.
Intelligence
Often abbreviated INT, Intelligence is a common stat used to measure a character’s spellcasting power.
Inventory
A list of items and objects in a character’s possession.

J

JRPG
An RPG developed in Japan or made in the style of Japanese RPGs. JRPGs often focus on linear storytelling with pre-defined characters.

L

Level
A character’s progression or overall power is often measured in levels.
Level Cap
The maximum possible player level in a game.
LFG
Looking For Group. A term used in MMORPGs to indicate that a player is seeking teammates for co-operative play.
LFM
Looking For Member(s). A term used in MMORPGs to indicate that a group is seeking one or more additional members.
Loot
Loot refers to the currency and/or items found around a game world or obtained by defeating enemies.
Low Fantasy
A fantasy setting that is made to more closely resemble historical medieval or dark ages. Supernatural elements such as elves and dragons are rare or altogether absent.

M

Mage
A common spellcasting class in RPGs. Often interchanged with Wizard.
Melee
Up-close combat, such as with a sword, axe, or mace.
MMO
Massively Multiplayer Online. Typically describing a genre of CRPG with a persistent, shared world.
Mobile
Commonly called a mob, for short. An NPC in a computer roleplaying game.
MOO
MUD, Object-Oriented. MOO is both a specific MUD and a label for all derivitive MUDs.
MP
Mana Points or Magic Points. A common measure of a character’s capacity to cast spells or perform special actions.
MUCK
A type of game within the family of MUDs, derived from TinyMUCK.
MUD
Multi-User Dungeon. MUDs are text-based online roleplaying games, and were among the first online computer games.
MUSH
Multi-User Shared Hallucination. A type of game within the family of MUDs, often with a focus on social elements and roleplaying rather than combat mechanics.

N

NPC
Non-Playable Character. A character in a game world which can often interact with the player character.

P

P2W
Pay To Win. An online game that offers advantages to players that purchase them.
Party
A group of characters. A party is usually a player character and several NPCs, or several player characters.
PC
Can refer to either Personal Computer or Player Character (as opposed to NPC). Less commonly, this can also stand for Price Check in MMOs.
Pen & Paper
A type of game that involves a group of players sitting around a physical or digital table, as opposed to playing on a computer or video game console. Also referred to as tabletop.
Perception
A character stat used in some RPGs. Often abbreviated as PER, perception typically imparts bonuses to things such as noticing enemies and spotting traps.
PK
Player Killing or Player Killer. A term used mostly in older online games to refer to combat between two or more player characters. In most modern games the term PVP is used instead.
PKK
Player Killer Killer. A typically self-applied label referring to a player that specifically targets other player killers in an online game. Rarely seen in modern games.
Platinum
A common currency in RPGs. Platinum is often the highest denomination available.
Proc
Programmed Random Occurance. Describes the activation of a percentage-based effect, such as an enemy becoming poisoned from a dagger that has a 25% chance to inflict poison.
PUG
Pick-Up Group. A group of unacquainted or otherwise random players in an online game, as opposed to playing with friends or guildmates.
PVE
Player vs. Environment. Refers to content wherein players do combat with NPC enemies rather than other players.
PVP
Player vs. Player. Refers to combat between two or more player characters.

R

Race
A character’s race or species. Different races often come with different stats and attributes. Examples of race may include Human, Elf, Dwarf, etc.
Raid
A term popularized within MMOs, a raid is a PVE dungeon environment in which many players (10-40+) must work together to defeat extraordinarily difficult enemies.
Ranged
Often used in reference to distance-based combat and/or spellcasting.
Ranger
A common ranged-based class in RPGs. Often interchanged with Archer.
Real Time
Often refers to a game or system in which actions (particularly combat) happen simultaneously, rather than in turns.
RNG
Random Number Generator. Often used to refer to any element of randomness within a game.
Rogue
A common dexterity-based class in RPGs. Often interchanged with Thief. Alternately, a computer game circa 1980 which spawned the roguelike sub-genre.
Roguelike
An RPG sub-genre spawned from the ~1980 mainframe game Rogue. Common features of roguelikes include an overhead view of the area map, turn-based movement and combat, and permanent character death.
Roguelite
A roguelike game that isn’t really. Roguelites are often action-oriented rather than turn-based, and may have a first-person or over-the-shoulder perspective.
Roll
Rolling dice to determine the outcome of an action or situation.
Round
A round commonly refers to a span of time in which every character takes their turn once.
RP
Abbreviation for role-playing, or behaving as a character in order to express their words and actions.

S

Server
Online computer games often require servers to operate. A server can also effectively represent a unique instance of a game world.
Shaman
A class found in some RPGs, shamans are often a hybrid class with a connection to nature. Sometimes interchanged with Druid.
Silver
A common currency in RPGs. Worth more than Copper, but less than Gold and Platinum.
Sorcerer
A spellcasting class found in some RPGs. Often a subclass of or alternative to Mage and/or Wizard classes.
SP
Skill Points or Special Points. Often used to measure a character’s ability to cast spells or perform special actions. May be used in place of MP. Alternately, Skill Points may be used to assign a special ability to a character.
Speed
A stat found in some RPGs. This can refer to either Attack Speed or Turn Order.
SRPG
Strategy RPG. A game in which the player controls a team or squad of characters, typically in turn-based format with a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield. This term is largely deprecated and is now more often referred to as Tactics.
Status
Status is often used to describe either beneficial buffs affecting or afflictions suffered by a character.
Strength
Often abbreviated STR, Strength is a common stat used to measure a character’s physical power.
Survival
Game elements which relate to true-to-life aspects of a character’s health, such as fatigue, hunger, and thirst.

T

Tabletop
A type of game that involves a group of players sitting around a physical or digital table, as opposed to playing on a computer or video game console. Also referred to as pen-and-paper.
Tactics
A term that has become more popular than SRPG, but carries the same meaning. A game in which the player controls a team or squad of characters, typically in turn-based format with a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield.
Thief
A common dexterity-based class in RPGs. Often interchanged with Rogue.
Toon
Sometimes used to refer to a player character. This phrase seems to have originated within The Realm Online (Sierra On-Line; 1996).
TT
An acronym sometimes used to refer to tabletop, or pen-and-paper, style gaming.
Turn
Many RPGs have characters act one at a time depending on a speed or initiative stat. A character’s turn is their opportunity to perform an action.
Turn-Based
A game or system in which actions (particularly combat) happen one-by-one, rather than simultaneously.

V

Vitality
Often abbreviated VIT, Vitality is a common stat used to measure a character’s toughness and is sometimes interchanged with Constitution.

W

Warlock
A spellcasting class found in some RPGs. Often a subclass of or alternative to Mage and/or Wizard classes.
Warrior
A common melee, strength-based class in RPGs. Often interchanged with Fighter.
Weight
Many RPGs incorporate a weight system, often limiting how much a character can carry depending on their strength stat.
Wisdom
Often abbreviated WIS, Wisdom is a common stat used to measure a character’s worldly knowledge.
Witch
A spellcasting class found in some RPGs. Often a subclass of or alternative to Mage and/or Wizard classes.
Wizard
A common spellcasting class in RPGs. Often interchanged with Mage.
WRPG
A rarely-used acronym often interchangeable with CRPG and used to refer to Western-style RPGs, as opposed to Japanese or Asian RPGs.
WTB
Want To Buy. This is an acronym used in MMORPGs to indicate that a player is looking to buy a particular item.
WTS
Want To Sell. This is an acronym used in MMORPGs to indicate that a player is looking to sell a particular item.

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