The Great Horror Story Terminology Index

full moon catThe Great Horror Story Terminology Index

from user: Braimos

Hello, everyone, it’s your secret sociopath and longtime lurker here to bring an index thread used to aid new members of this sub in understanding some of the jargon frequently thrown around here.

This thread is designed to be updated as much as possible as both new and old terms may be added. Anything I don’t have in here, feel free to comment a term commonly used I may have missed that will help newer members understand what the hell we are talking about. I sincerely hope this will be of great help to everyone.

It is best to view this on computer rather than mobile. It’s not like it’s unreadable on mobile, it’s just that everything is so close together it looks like a giant wall of text. More power to you if you read through it on mobile anyway.

For sake of clarity I have organized the index into sections rather than alphabet. I chose to do this because I’m too lazy to move everything around I noticed some terms can overlap into other terms; doing this has an easier flow so you don’t have to swap back and forth between terms that are on opposite ends of the thread. The sections are defined as follows:

  1. Table Top Terms: these are terms prevalent throughout most table top games. If you are part of any table top game community you probably have or at least will run into these terms. They are not specific to this sub.
  2. Community Terms: these are terms defined almost strictly by the community rather than official devs and used to easily reference situations, concepts, ideas, mechanics, etc.
  3. Player Terms: these are terms used to define types of player/DM personalities in table top games. You may encounter these terms throughout this sub as oftentimes they may be used in a negative light (some of the terms are certainly meant to be negative though).
  4. Misc. Terms: I just didn’t know where to put them, sue me.

One final note. If it isn’t explicitly stated otherwise, these terms can apply to GMs and Players alike. I oftentimes only say player when it can apply to GM. I’m sure you can put two and two together.

Let’s begin.

Table Top Terms

  • DM/GM/ST/K– Hey gotta start with the basics right? This is the Dungeon Master, Game Master, Storyteller, and Keeper. Dungeon Master is often associated with D&D or Pathfinder; more specifically, it is the intellectual property of Wizards of the Coast, in official scenarios DM will refer to D&D specifically. In non-official scenarios, you may find it used interchangeably with GM. Game Master can apply to any table top RPG. You may also see Storyteller which is used with the Storyteller roleplaying system created by White Wolf for Chronicles of Darkness. Also you will see Keeper referenced largely in Call of Cthulhu games. Effectively speaking, they mean the same thing; they control the setting, NPCs, and any other concepts, items, monsters, etc. that players interact with.
  • TTRPG– Table Top Role Playing Game. Can also be referred to as Pen and Paper games. It’s the game you’re probably playing that brought you to this sub in the first place (e.g. D&D, Pathfinder, GURPs, Shadowrun, MLP: Tales of Equestria, etc.).
  • RAW– Rules as Written. The literal interpretation of the rules based purely on what is written in official rulebooks. Every Rules Lawyer’s favorite word.
  • RAI– Rules as Intended. The interpretation of the rules based on how the developers of the game intended them to work. This is often decided through the devs themselves clarifying, community consensus, dumpster-fire internet arguments, or any elaboration done through official sources (official campaign rules).
  • PC– Player character. The character you or someone else created to play.
  • NPC– Non player character. Typically a sentient being created by a GM for whatever purposes necessary for the game.
  • BBEG– Big Bad Evil Guy/Girl. Typically is the main villain of a story arc. The person/thing that the players goal is to deal with using whatever means necessary (probably by killing). Yes, players can also be the BBEG. Yes, they will probably kill each other before the campaign ends.
  • IC – In character. The situation or behavior of the player is occurring within the context of the game itself.
  • OoC – Out of character. The situation or behavior of the player is occurring in real life (IRL) rather than within the game. Sometimes the abbreviations OC may be used to mean the same thing; however that specific abbreviation is often used for a different term (see OC)
  • PvP– Player vs. Player. Whenever two PCs wish to horrifically murder combat each other they are engaging in PvP.
  • PvE– Player vs. Environment. Whenever PCs aren’t busy trying to kill each other, they are facing the environment which is essentially everything else. Often used in reference to PCs fighting monsters or NPCs.
  • Alignment– Not to be confused with excuse to be an asshole. Think of it as a moral compass that provides a background to how your character behaves. There is a lot of objectivity, subjectivity, and a dash of philosophical nonsense that make up this definition. Rather than put in actual work to post potentially 9 different threads discussing this here’s this. Enjoy your DM trying to force your lawful good paladin to fall from grace.

Community Terms

  • DMPC– A player character a dungeon/game master creates. Not to be confused with NPC. Rarely do these work out and only really good GMs could potentially pull it off without bogging down the other players. Bad GMs will use it as their self insert hero and abuse GM powers to make them great and steal the spotlight from the players (in these particular situations you may refer to your GM as a special snowflake).
  • Homebrew– Unofficial, player made content. Video games have modding, TTRPGs have homebrewing.
  • OC– Original Content. Used when in discussion for Homebrew materials (see above). Plenty of OC is trash, but there are often gems out there so keep an eye out, your next homebrew may have Yu-Gi-Oh cards built in somehow.
  • TPK– Total Party Kill. Every PC in the party died altogether within a single encounter. Beware of the GM who is noticeably bored of the game.
  • Roll Fudging– The act of hiding/changing bad rolls and stating a good roll was made instead. Typically okay to do by GMs who are good at what they do (but can be abused). Frowned upon for players to do, almost always.
  • Nat 20– Shorthand for natural 20. Also referred to as a critical success. Anytime a D20 lands on a 20 without modifiers. Typically, means auto-success (within reasonable context) or amazing success. The level of effect from this depends on your GM. A natural 20 could mean simply succeeding something you typically aren’t very good at like picking a lock with a single hairpin. It could also mean you flawlessly performed a dance that was so great you gained audience with the King, himself. It does not mean you can jump to the damn moon with an athletics check. When attacking, a nat 20 is a crit allowing the opportunity to do double the damage or whatever other effects can occur within the game.
  • Nat 1– Shorthand for natural 1. The polar opposite of Nat 20. Also referred to as a critical failure. Typically means auto-fail or blumbering fail depending on the GM. Even skilled individuals can mess up on the rare occasion. That said, it can be abused by GMs who believe Nat 1 is always a blumbering failure no matter how skilled you are.
  • Broken– Refers to any mechanic, build, strategy, etc. that is either extremely difficult or impossible to counter by normal means.
  • Cheesing– Refers to any action that is used to purposefully and explicitly exploit a mechanic (or flaw within) to the players advantage. It’s not a big problem unless it is done overly so and detracts the fun from the game. Very situational on whether this is okay or not and should be determined in a case by case basis. Often times, it goes against the spirit of the game. Why it is coined from a dairy product is beyond me Nevermind, it makes sense now.
  • Player Agency– A principle embedded in all TTRPGs that states the player has control of their respective character and that all actions they take will have consequences whether good or bad. Additionally, these consequences should be reasonably discerned by the player if there is a direct consequence (e.g. killing a noble is sure to get your character arrested). This also extends to how individual characters behave and feel in a particular situation. Unless a specific mechanic is reasonably employed, only the player may determine how their character acts or feels in response to something. You will often hear of this term in the context of someone infringing on player agency. A GM who states your character feels like X and does Y is a red flag and infringes on this player right. “No, GM, my character is not turned on by this scene, he is uncomfortable. I wish to leave”.
  • McGuffin– Any item/person/concept required in order to do the thing. Oftentimes it’s an extremely convenient item that does whatever the GM of the game wants it to for the sake of the plot (e.g. you can only kill the BBEG by using the stone of absolute righteousness and nothing else will work because just go on the damn quest to get the McGuffin).
  • Min/Maxing– A character building strategy used to maximize a major benefit/mechanic by minimizing other stats/mechanics. It’s not inherently a bad thing. Some of the most fun things you can do involve min/maxing, especially if you have the whole party doing the same (simulacrum tarrasque to beat down tarrasque). However, it can be used to detract fun from other players who did not min/max. Context of the group is important in understanding when min/maxing can be a problem. Think of it as specialization to the extreme.

Player Terms

  • Powergamer1- Not to be confused with Munchkin. Refers to a player who optimizes or min/maxes their character without need of exploitation or abusing flaws within the game. They can make broken builds but do not necessarily feel a need to abuse these broken builds or detract fun from others.
  • Munchkin1- Not to be confused with Powergamer. Refers to any player who believes in winning TTRPGs. Munchkins take an aggressively competitive approach to this by partaking in min/maxing, abusing mechanics to their advantage, and looting everything possible to make themselves better all at the expense of their fellow players. As a note, all Munchkin paladins receive divine spells from Pun-Pun, clerics get nothing.
  • Edgelord– A player who is edgy. A player who behaves as a dark, brooding, badass trope of character to feel cool and mysterious. Instead they come off as cringey and annoying to listen to. They are most likely Reaper mains in Overwatch, think Dark Eldar are the superior race in the entire Warhammer 40K universe, and their OC Sonic character is best friends with Shadow the Hedgehog.
  • Rules Lawyer– Not to be confused with a Rules Advocate, who merely believes rules are important in the game. They are a player who pedantically reference rules for any minute mechanic, effectively bogging down the game. They follow RAW but conveniently will ignore the spirit of the rules. Oftentimes, they do this so they can gain some sort of advantage for themselves and may use misleading interpretation of the rules to do so.
  • Mary Sue– Any character that is just right for any situation despite any given weaknesses/flaws of their character. Imagine a character who is a “lone wolf” type but is also extremely cooperative and social when they need to be. This often leads to inconsistent yet flat characters. This is a basic definition. To find out more here’s a link that goes in full detail here.
  • MurderHobo– A PC that remains completely unattached from any and all communities. Their major (and sometimes only) interaction with the game world involves killing and looting everything. Players who do this are 200% likely to do the genocide route of Undertale.
  • That Guy– Not to EVER be confused with This Guy. A generic term used to refer to players who are, overall, a nuisance to deal with either IC or OC. This is the most common term you’ll probably see on this sub. These are the kind of players who will play Chaotic Neutral and backstab your PC because “it’s what my character would do”. They may also rage over dumb shit like the PC they stabbed killing them in revenge. For more info see this.
  • This Guy– If That Guy is a player you absolutely don’t want in your game, This Guy is someone you absolutely DO want in your game. Polar opposite of That Guy. Cool, chill player who wants everyone to have a good time and actively works to encourage fun in the game. Swell guy, bought pizza for my table once.
  • Kevin™– A Kevin refers to any players who are, for lack of better term, bumbling idiots. They make extremely poor decisions that often results in the rest of the group begrudgingly having to carry them through the game. These are the type of players to play a mage, proceed to run head first into a combat against a Beholder without discussing with the party, and then get mad that the party didn’t back them up. See this post for origin
  • Leeroy– Sigh, I doubt I need to define this but for sake of inclusion… A player who botches the plan of the group and ignores all forms of strategy opting instead to run in and fight, ALWAYS. The term spawned from the infamous Leeroy Jenkins. Sneaking around the castle to infiltration? Leeroy runs straight to the guards and attacks. Waiting to ambush a group of approaching enemies? Leeroy will run from the hiding place screaming to the heavens they will die by the party’s hands. Having a casual conversation with the barkeep for information on the corrupt nobles? Leeroy will bust down the tavern door, battleaxe in hand, and start a tavern fight. You owe 10 gold pieces for that door now.
  • Fishmalk– A lolsorandom character. Any player who tries to play their character as “wacky” or “random” in an attempt to be humorous like a 13-year-old tumblr user or Rip Van Winkle. The term originated from Vampire: The Dark Age’s Malkavians, a brood of deranged vampires. Many players would roleplay these characters as wacky chaotic neutral stupid types.
  • Forever GM– Typically the member of the playing group who is the best at GMing games. Sounds great right? Well imagine being the only person who can GM. That’s the Forever GM; always a GM never a player. All forever GMs deserve a hug so if you take anything away from this post, give those GMs some love, they could use it. All forever GMs have an entire folder (physical or digital) dedicated to all of the character builds they want to play. They’ll never play them.

Misc. Terms

  • CW– Content Warning. Used to warn readers of potential touchy subjects they may not want to view in explicit detail or at all. It’s a courtesy to include this with any of the more ahem extreme horror stories.
  • Magical Realms- Refers to a GM or player, usually the GM, inserting creepy fetishes or explicit material into the game without unanimous consent of the group. See also Player Agency. See this post for origin
  • The Henderson Scale of Plot Derailment– a handy scale used to define how much an action has derailed the game. Typically used by players who derail a bad GM’s game for fun. Term is coined from the Story of Old Man Henderson.

Feel free to comment whatever may be missing or needs elaboration and I’ll make the proper edits! If you can’t think of anything, head to comments and pass on some karma to the helpful input of your fellow Redditors. This index would be no good without them!


1 These terms appear to be subjective amongst the community and can sometimes be used interchangeably or interpreted differently. The terms will vary between communities as a result. Context is key in these situations. Be an intellectual.

Update: Hoo boy this got more popular than I anticipated. Lots of great suggestions and corrections made which is great because there is loads of terms and content added to this thread, thank you all! But now its the organizational equivalent of a party consisting of absolute polar alignments so gonna be getting that fixed.

Update 2: Made some organizational edits. Lemme know what can be improved upon. This thread has grown quite a bit, I’m quite happy with this community effort. Added the haha funny words to keep it engaging. Probably overdid it but whatever.

Update 3 (03/15/19): I was letting this simmer for a while before I updated (excuses). I made some quality of life edits and added the following: Henderson Scale, Forever GM, Nat 20, Nat 1, Fishmalk, and Leeroy. I also removed Bruce, the term just wasn’t used enough outside of the original story to warrant it’s inclusion. I’ll keep an eye on comments so I may continue to update the list appropriately.

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DM Patrick

DM Patrick is a 20-year-hardened veteran of the awesome world and hobby that is table-top gaming. His primary passions include DMing for new players and bringing people into the hobby. He considers himself a "RPG Game connoisseur" and a master of none due to the fact that he's tried so many (both table-top and video games). He's been a full-time DM now for nearly 5 years and intends to remain the "Forever DM" for as long as he can survive because he's so passionate about what he does. By day, DM Patrick removes his DM screen and is known to the world as Patrick Flynn. He's a 35-year-old former Navy Submarine veteran from Ocala, Florida. If you want to know more about Patrick, roll investigation.

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