I’m going on an Adventure…and I need a Translation Guide!


I have a bit of wanderlust and I have traveled to a number of places in my life. My map says I’ve been to over 18% of the world (It sounds like more when I list the places out) and to far flung parts of the globe. Traveling is fun, but one of the first things I’ve discovered is you need to be able to ask for the things you need and expect that they are understood…. and that you can understand the responses in return.

Like other countries, hobbies and communities have their own words, phrases and dialects. Words that I thought I knew or understood have taken on new meaning and there are many times I still sit in on a conversation feeling like I should have a translation guide. Communication is key.

If I gave you all of the words I’m learning at one time this would turn into a very long post, so I’ve decided to make this a recurring topic. Once my list is long enough, we’ll make see about getting that turned into something you can download as a cheat sheet. Your own little translation guide.

Adventure: Typically, this is what a session of role playing is called; it’s part or all of a story that the characters are moving through.

Book: Well I DID actually know what books were, but there’s lots of books and they don’t all seem to be referenced the same way. A book, in this instance, is something that contains the adventure, setting, supplement, or the rules for the game that is being run. Like most books these days they may be electronic or physical.

Character: A character is going to be the “role” in RPG. Characters are what you play when role-playing. They have motivations, attitudes, and do actions that the player may not normally have, express or perform, just like a character in a movie vs the actor playing her and will be the persona you adopt while making your way through the adventure or campaign. (Oh look a word for my next list!)

Dice: I knew this one without studying! Well.. sort of. Dice are the random way of determining the results of the action that you say your character is doing. Dice for RPG’s tend to look a little different than regular 6 sided dice you may have encountered. Dice are referred to as polyhedral dice, literally meaning “many sided” A typical “full set” contains a 4-sided die, between one and three 6-sided (standard cube-shaped) dice, an 8-sided die, a 10-sided die with single digits on it, a 10-sided die with 10s on it, a 12-sided die, and a 20-sided die.

I’m sure there will be more about dice later.


Fun: What you should be having doing this!

Game: What you are playing with other people who are also acting through their characters.

Game Master: The person who is directing the adventure, also, the referee if needed. The Game Master has final say on all disputes. (May be referred to as the GM, or also the Dungeon Master, Story Teller, Narrator or other Keeper.)

Hit Points: Life measurement. This is how much damage your character can take. When you are out of hit points, your character may die or fall unconscious depending on the system.

Initiative: Who goes first, what order actions are taken in. Characters may have Modifiers (see below) which can change how fast or slow they are at any given time.


Kids: A subset of people. They will often have limited reservations, unlimited imaginations and outlandish ideas. They can be lots of fun to play with, and should be incorporated whenever possible, but until old enough to not eat the dice it is best to leave them with babysitters. (babysitter:rare treasure which will be defined on a future list)

Lawyer (Rules Lawyer): Rules Lawyers are people who know every rule in the game they are playing and will use that knowledge to strong arm the GM into situations that bend the rules for the best possible outcome of the character of the rules lawyer.

Modifier: A Modifier is a bonus or penalty that affects a dice roll. This bonus or penalty can be because of the situation or because of the skills and abilities of the character.

NPC: Non-Player Character – these are characters that the Game Master has your character interact with, characters that are not run by other players around the table.

Opponents: Opponents are the characters or monsters that the GM puts your characters up against. Sometimes other players can be opponents as well.

Player: You are a player. You are the one controlling your character. This is how you act out your character.

Quiet: What you should be while the GM is describing what is happening or when others are taking their turns. You wouldn’t talk through a scene at the movies, out of courtesy and respect for others, why miss any of the action now? It might be important.

Role playing game: This is a game that has several players that are going through a story created by the Game Master. The players are reacting to scenes and dictating the actions that their characters are doing.

System: A System is a set of rules for building characters, running the game, and resolving actions with dice. Most systems have some degree of commonality with other systems. Many gamers are extremely loyal to their favorite systems.

Tabletop: This is what games are usually played on. Everyone has a seat and a solid surface to roll dice on.

Undecided: If you can’t figure out what you’re doing for your turn the GM may declare you undecided and skip you for the turn.

Very late: when you are a minute past the time you are supposed to start, or what time it is when you are done for the night.

W, X and Y I will cover next time!

Zzzzzz…. How tired you are after staying up very late, either gaming or at Cons (see next list!)
So I hope that gets you started, and you feel like you could have a basic conversation with a gamer without being completely lost. They do like their jargon and slang though, so no promises yet. When I was asking for definitions you’d be amazed at how many contained DIFFERENT words I hadn’t even gotten to yet.

So far I haven’t discovered any odd ways of asking for snacks or how to get to the restroom, so I think you’re safe there.