Tuesday, April 18, 2017

D&D Abbreviations: A Guide

I'm new to D&D or other roleplaying systems, what do all these abbreviations/words mean?

Hi there, and welcome to my little corner of the interwebs. Despite the look of things, D&D isn't that complicated, just wordy. We use abbreviations so we don't have to type/write/say the same long words over and over again. Here's a basic list that will probably get longer and longer as time goes on. I apologize for my instinctive 5e bias. And I'll alphabetize this eventually. Just hit ctrl + f for now and search for your term.

AC: Armor Class. Measures how hard a creature is to hit. 
Con: Short for Constitution. Determines general endurance, grit, and hit points.
HP: Hit points.
Dex: Dexterity. Used for manual tasks that require deftness and slick fingers.
Int: Intelligence. Knowing what to say or what this is. Used by wizards, mostly, but not by players.
Wis: Wisdom. Knowing what not to say or what this means. Used by clerics, shamans, druids, monks and rangers, but not by players.
Cha: Charisma. How you say it. Used by warlocks, sorcerers, and bards. Abused by players.
Str: Strength. Breaking shit, throwing shit. Curbstomping noobs. Used by fighters, barbarians, and paladins.
PC: Player character. Your face in the world you play in. Frequently an incurable chucklefuck.
NPC: Non-player character. Run by the DM. Covers almost all sentient creatures in the game world.
DM: Dungeon Master. Runs and referees the game. Frequently an incurable sadist. 
GM: Game Master. See above.
Monster: Catchall term for anything you're currently trying to kill. May or may not be sentient. NPC's are usually sentient (in the sense that you can probably hold a conversation with them). Monsters range from angels to plants to elementals to aberrations to fiends to monstrosities, and back again.
DMPC: Essentially the DM's player character. Usually OP, an asshole, and a Mary Sue.
OP: Overpowered. Too powerful to fit within the system of the game/gamebreaking.
Mary Sue: Godlike NPC or PC or DMPC. Always OP, always a minmaxer, and always a pain in the ass.
Minmaxer: Someone who manipulates the system of the game to get the most powerful characters. Usually the characters are specialized to be really good at one thing and are rather mediocre at everything else. 
Munchkin: See above, also an immature troll. Essentially, a minmaxing dick who boasts about his character's capabilities and bullies/threatens others to get his way.  
Dick: Dirty Incurable Cocksucking Kekmonger.
BBEG: Big bad evil guy. Usually the final boss of any given campaign.
Campaign: In the sense of D&D, the entire set of adventures, from start to finish.
Adventure: In the sense of D&D, a mostly self-contained sequence of events that have a coherent plot, start, and end. A well-balanced adventure contains battles, dungeon crawling, intrigue, puzzles, downtime, and more. A series of adventures can have an overarching plot (think episodes of a TV show as compared to the entire series) and can form a campaign.
Dungeon crawling: Gamer slang for exploring a dungeon.
Dungeon: A usually remote location that typically contains treasure, monsters, and traps. It is its own standalone, probably self-contained structure, and may or may not be underground. 
Downtime: What your PC does when you're between adventures. 
Crit: Rolling a 20 on a 20-sided dice. Delineates automatic success and occasionally special bonuses.
Crit fail: Rolling a 1 on a 20-sided dice. Delineates automatic failure and occasionally extra bad stuff.
Dice: There are 6 main categories. They add randomness to the game and keep us all guessing.
d4: 4-sided dice. Used for dagger damage and is the number 1 cause of pain when stepped on barefoot. Looks like a 3-sided pyramid. Platonic solid.
d6: 6-sided dice. Same shape you know and love. Used for lots of things, mainly damage. Also a platonic solid.
d8: 8-sided dice. Looks like 2 4-sided pyramids stuck together, bottom to bottom. Used for one handed longsword and warhammer damage. Yet another platonic solid.
d10: 10-sided dice. Frequently used as percentile dice, where one d10 is the ones place and the other d10 is the tens place. Roll both, add together to find a total from 1 to 100. Not a platonic solid.
d12: 12-sided dice. Only used for greataxe damage and the claw attacks of really big things. The loneliest dice unless you're a barbarian. Another platonic solid.
d20: 20-sided dice. Used to determine how well you do things, where a higher number is typically a better number. You will roll a d20 for attack rolls, skill checks, and saving throws.
Attack roll: Where you roll a d20, add the relevant modifiers, and report the total. If the total is equal to or greater than the AC of the creature you're attacking, you hit and can deal damage.
Skill check: Where you roll a d20, add the relevant modifiers, and report the total. If the total is equal to or greater than the DC of a task, you succeed. 
DC: Difficulty class. A measure of how hard something is. To give you a sense of perspective, a DC of 10 is considered anything a commoner can do with an amount of effort. 15 is medium, 20 is hard, and anything above 20 is not something an ordinary human can accomplish.
Saving throw: An instantaneous reaction brought about by trying to evade/escape/resist something. Where you roll a d20, add the relevant modifiers, and report the total. If the total is equal to or greater than the DC of a saving throw, you succeed and are not affected as badly by whatever you rolled the saving throw to combat.
Modifiers: Number bonuses given by stats, equipment, and prof. bonuses, most commonly. 
Stats: Also called ability scores. The ability score range for a PC can go from 1 to 20, the higher the better. To give you a sense of perspective. 10 is the baseline stat for an ordinary human. Ability scores, in 5th edition, give numerical bonuses as follows:
1: -5
2-3: -4
4-5: -3
6-7: -2
8-9: -1
10-11: +0
12-13: +1
14-15: +2
16-17: +3
18-19: +4
20: +5
Prof. bonus: Proficiency bonus. A mark of how good you are at using a thing, whether that thing be a skill or a weapon. Goes up after 4 levels have passed in 5th edition.
Level: A measure of how powerful your character is. The higher a character's level, the more HP they have, the higher their proficiency bonus, and the better they are at what they can do. Measured in terms of XP.
XP: Experience points. The more XP you have, the higher level you are. Moar XP = better, but don't let XP and treasure be your sole motivations. 
Murderhoboes: A catch-all term for stereotypical adventurers, those who don't have a fixed home and wander around murdering monsters for money, (and XP, and nothing else). 
Broken: Stuff that breaks the game by being too powerful. Always OP or cheesy, and frequently used by munchkins, minmaxers, and Mary Sues.
Cheese: See above. Stinks to high heaven.
Powergamer: Always a minmaxer, sometimes a munchkin.
Optimized: A character build that is minmaxed as thoroughly as possible. Frequently OP, broken, or cheesy.
Character build: A specific character whose development is designed to reach an ideal, whether that ideal be massive damage, great regeneration, or trolling.
Editions: The various incarnations of D&D. Ranges from AD&D in 1977 to 5th edition D&D in 2014. All the editions are laid out below.
1e: Also called AD&D, 1st edition, 1st ed. Known for attracting young nerds that are old grognards, neckbeards, and greybeards today. Used realism, very unforgiving rules, and a lot of tables. 
2e: Also called 2nd edition, AD&D 2e, 2nd. Essentially a development of 1e and slightly easier to decipher. 
3.x: This tab covers 3rd edition (3e, 3rd) 3.5, and Pathfinder. Of note is the OGL.
3e: The quintessentially millennial release. Loved and beloved the world over, and the most played edition along with 3.5 and 5th edition. Features a veritable shitton of rules as dense as plutonium bricks. Rules for everything. Lots of cheese and powerful casters.
3.5: An "improvement" on 3rd edition. Features even more cheese.
Pathfinder: Under the OGL, a separate game that began to steal players away from D&D with the coming of the rough beast: 4th edition.
4th edition: The most polarized D&D edition of all time. Rules heavy, broken before it came out, and disliked by the great multitudes of players. Combats here were known for taking hours. 
OGL: Open Gaming License. Essentially lets people make stuff based off of the d20 system D&D uses and sell it. The biggest revolutionary move in tabletop gaming since the release of D&D itself.
RPG: Role-playing game. 
5th edition: In my opinion, a breath of fresh air. Vastly simpler than anything from 3.x or 4th, and arguably 1st and 2nd eodaydition. Released in 2014 and becoming very popular. Current flagship edition of WOTC.
WOTC: Wizards of the Coast. A bunch of geeks, nerds, and neckbeards that make games for us all to play, expend massive amounts of money and time on, and enjoy. Also make Magic: The Gathering if you're that kind of person.
Neckbeard: A usually derogatory term intended to evoke the image of a white male in his 20's who literally has a beard on his neck. Can be used as a term of endearment. Refers to a gamer. 
Grognard: Someone who enjoys the older editions of an RPG that has had several more modern iterations released (e.g., someone who extols the benefits of 1e and 2e). 
Greybeard: A venerable old player who has been around since before AD&D, potentially in the days of Chainmail. They've seen it all. To be accorded respect.
Noob: Traditionally spelled n00b. Slang for newbie, e.g., you. (But not for long!) Noob is also another typically derogatory term. 
Chainmail: What Gary Gygax made before ascending to godhood and birthing D&D.
Gary Gygax: The original developer of D&D (as in: made AD&D) along with Dave Arneson. Regarded as the founder of D&D, and the reason millions of us enjoy the hobby today. Also a contender for coolest last name ever.
Tank: The party member who fights in melee and soaks up attacks and damage like a sponge.
Party: A group of dysfunctional metagamers. I mean, a group of players. Ostensibly cooperating.
Healbot: Derogatory term for a PC who does nothing but heal. Every party needs a healer, but no party should force anyone to be a healbot.
Caster: Typically a master of arcane magic. 
Magic: Comes in two types: arcane and divine. Arcane usually has a more elemental, damage oriented, and utility-based bent. Divine focuses on healing, protecting, bolstering, occasionally really nasty curses, and keeping intact.
Classes: What your PC trains to become/advance in. There are 12 core classes in 5th edition. See below.
Bard: Charisma based spellcaster, general all-arounder. Heals, fights, sings, does whatever a spider does. (Not really)
Barbarian: Often shortened to barb. Goes into rages and kills shit. Usually likes high Str.
Cleric: Prays to the gods, gets divine magic, heals. Wis based spellcaster.
Druid: Innate connection to nature, can shapeshift, gets divine magic. Wisdom based spellcaster.
Fighter: Fights, and becomes really good at fighting. A quintessential D&D class along with cleric, rogue/thief, and wizard. Depends on no particular stat. My favorite class.
Monk: Meditates and beats the crap out of everything with its bare hands. High Wis is good for this.
Paladin: Often shortened to pally. Renowned for healing, tanking, and smiting, and for being a LG pain in the ass. Uses Cha as a casting stat
LG: Lawful Good. Will be covered under alignments.
Ranger: Essentially a druid who loses half the spells and gets better at fighting and tracking. If you must, think Aragorn, but rangers existed before Aragorn. Uses Wis as a casting stat. If you're playing a 5e ranger, use the Unearthed Arcana version. (Google Unearthed Arcana + ranger, I promise it's better than the core 5e ranger)
Rogue: Think thief. Good at sneak attacks, killing things, and stealing stuff. Notorious for trolling party members along with the bard. Also good skill monkey.
Skill monkey: A PC who is good at many things. Many, many things. So many. 
Sorcerer: Occasionally shortened to sorc. Cha based caster who focuses on channeling innate power. Think of it as the naturally gifted kid who has to cast magic or explode. In 5th edition, doesn't get a lot of spells but has great flexibility using them.
Warlock: Cha based caster who makes a pact with an otherworldly entity to gain POWER! Funky in 5e, but don't let that stop you.
Wizard: Ah, the wizard. Memorizes spells and casts them. Famous for being able to know a lot of spells and being the only main spellcaster to use Int. Can learn lots and lots of different spells, and can be the center of many builds like the fighter. 
Party face: The face of every adventuring party. Frequently has high Cha. 
Alignment: A system that delineates the moral codes your PC and all other monsters subscribe to. 
Two main axes: law and chaos on one, good and evil on the other. There are 9 classical 5e alignments.
LG: Lawful Good. Can be counted upon to do the right thing while following the law. Paladins are stereotyped as this. 
CE: Chaotic Evil. The alignment of the majority of monsters follow this alignment. Defined by overwhelming greed, bloodlust, and generally being destructive and evil for the sake of destructive and evil. The natural opposite of LG.
CG: Chaotic Good. Prizes personal freedom and tries to do what they think is the right thing, regardless of laws. 
LE: Lawful Evil. Defined as despotism and tyranny, but with a moral code. The natural opposite of CG.
NG: Neutral Good. Tries to do the right thing, hard stop.
NE: Neutral Evil. Does whatever they can get away with, without compassion or qualms. Still holds themselves to some restraint. (ish) The natural opposite of NG.
LN: Lawful Neutral. Follows the law, hard stop. 
CN: Chaotic Neutral: Follows their own whims, hard stop. Frequently an abused alignment. You can see why.
N: Neutral. What it says on the tin.
Player race: What race (of humanoid) your PC can be. There are 9 core races in 5th edition.
Human: General all-rounder. Jack of all trades, master of none, etc.
Elves: We used to spell it elfs. Anyway, you know elves. Ethereal, long-lived, mysterious.
Dwarves: We used to spell it dwarfs. Live underground, mine, stout, short, and stubborn. Also long-lived.
Halflings: If you must, hobbits. Short, affable people. Live long lives.
Dragonborn: Think humans with scales and traits of dragons. Pretty much reptiles, have breath weapon.
Gnomes: Short, fun-loving, comical tinkerers. Curious, and the source of much innovation along with humans and dwarves.
Half-elves: Half elf and half human. Charismatic and torn between two cultures.
Half-orcs: Half orc and half human. Big, strong, and scary.
Tieflings: Think humans crossed with classical Christian devils. Red skin, horns, and a tail. Devilishly charismatic with demonic powers.
Subrace: One ethnicity of a classical D&D race. (Think about the different ethnicities of humans.) The races that are composed of subraces: elf, dwarf, halfling, and gnome. 
Core books: Define their respective edition - its main rules, races, classes, and monsters. Always consist of the PH, the MM, and the DMG. 
PH: Player's Handbook. Contains all the classes, races, character customization options, basic rules, and spells. Virtually the only thing you really need as a player.
MM: Monster Manual. Contains the stats of a bunch of monsters. DM's could use this, but it's not required, just very helpful. 
DMG: Dungeon Master's Guide. Contains magic items, lore, and a bunch of rules to help you flesh out your game. Extremely useful for DM's wanting to craft their own stuff with 5e rules.
Splatbook: Supplemental material that is not necessary but adds cool stuff to the game. In 3.x and 4th, these contributed to system bloat, cheese, and ultimately broke the game. Fun, but watch out. 
System bloat: Synonymous with system creep. Refers to material that strains the logical, balanced functioning of the game system until there are so many exploits that cheese is commonplace and the game edition sucks ass. 3.x/4e are notorious for falling prey to this. 
Game balance: Keeps all the PC's, classes, races, and monsters on a fair foot. Necessary for a game system to continue and not be derided.
OOC: Out of character.
Advantage: Rolling two d20's and using the higher result.
Disadvantage: Rolling two d20's and taking the lower result.
Important note about the above two: No matter how many counts of advantage and disadvantage you have from any one source, they all cancel out. If you have only one advantage and ten disadvantage, you roll as if there was no advantage or disadvantage.

And now, having digested that massive compendium of material, you should be able to converse in D&D terms! I hereby dub you an honorary neckbeard! 

If I've missed stuff (and I know I have) please let me know in the comments below. Use ctrl + f to make sure it's not already in there.