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Role-Playing Instruction

Hands On
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Basic Role-Playing Terms

Here are a few terms that you need when discussing RPG's

bulletAbilities - Sometimes also called Skills, these define what the character has learned to accomplish, and has some number connected to it.
bulletAdventure - Either made up by the Game Master, or written by a Game company.  It has the information needed to play one or more sessions of the game until the Climax.
bulletAlignment - A definition of the Character's personality when it comes to morals.  Good, Neutral and Evil are the common ones.
bulletArmor Class - A term left over from the war-game days, a number expressing how difficult it is to hurt someone in the game.  (i.e. the more armor the less likely it was to hurt)
bulletCampaign - All the Adventures the Player Characters go on, are grouped together into a campaign.  Kind of like a collection of short-stories set in the same world.  Created by the Game Master or bought from a Game company.
bulletCharacteristic/Statistic - The numbers that give the Character his definition in game terms.  Statistics such as Strength, Intelligence and Dexterity are commonly defined.  (i.e. on a scale of 3-18, 3 is the weakest and 18 is the strongest)
bulletClass - A Career that the Character is in.  In fantasy games it could be Warrior, Wizard, Thief, Etc.
bulletd# - Dice used in the game come in different types with different amount sides. d4 is a 4 sided die, d6 is the typical 6 sided, d20 is a twenty sided, etc.
bulletD&D - Dungeons and Dragons, the first RPG to be made.
bulletDungeon Master - The person in the game who doesn't so much as play the game, but sets up, describes and referees the adventure.  In D&D he was called Dungeon Master, in most other games he is called the Game Master.
bulletEncounter - A scene in the adventure when something happens that needs the rules, players, and game master to resolve the situation (i.e. combat or traps).  Role-playing Encounters can sometimes ignore the rules.
bulletExperience - A number that increases as the Character accomplishes goals and when it reaches a certain amount the Character becomes better in his/her Abilities, Skills and/or Statistics.
bulletGame Master - The player who sets up, describes and referees the adventure.  He/She doesn't actually play as one of the Player Characters, but plays all the Non-Player Characters.
bulletHit Points - Another term left over from the war-game days, it is a number that represents the amount of damage the Character can take before he/she dies.  The number decreases as the Character is wounded.
bulletInitiative - A number that expresses who goes first during a conflict.
bulletLevel - A confusing term, which was used for many things in the beginning or RPG's with D&D.  First, your Character had levels of Class which showed how skilled they were, next you had Levels in the Dungeon which showed how difficult the Monsters were that you would meet, and finally the Monster had Levels, also showing how difficult they were.  I also use this term to show the different Levels of role playing styles. (Just to confuse the situation more...)
bulletMelee - A close combat conflict using hand weapons or bare hands.
bulletModules - Adventures pre-written by game companies were usually called modules.
bulletMonster - Characters that were not played by the Players were usually called Monsters even if they weren't evil.  (i.e. the first Monster Manual for D&D had unicorns, elves, humans, etc. as well as trolls, goblins and dragons.)
bulletNon-Playing Character (NPC) - All of the characters that the players interact with, that they don't control are called NPC's and are controlled by the Game Master.  He/She role-plays each of the NPC's to the best of his/her abilities.
bulletPlayer Character - the one character controlled by each individual player is called the Player Character, and is the players alter-ego in the game.  The player only has to role-play this Character during the game.
bulletRole-Play - The act of taking the role of someone else, and acting like that person for awhile.  The actors in a play or movie are role-playing their characters.  In the RPG a person doesn't have to go as far an actor in a play might, but he/she should find a balance that is fun.
bulletRPG - Role-Playing Game.
bulletSkills - Also called Abilities, the Character might have the skill of Tracking, which means he/she has learned how to follow tracks through the rural environment.
bulletSpell - In fantasy games the Character might have the Class of wizard and use Spells in conflicts, these aren't actual spells, just numbers that state how much of a chance the Character has accomplishing certain imaginary magical tasks in the game.  (i.e. the wizard knows the spell fireball, and after rolling some dice finds out his fireball hurt the Monsters for so-and-so many Hit Points.)



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Last updated: 02/25/04.