NOTE: This page has been merged into What is a Roleplaying Game? and About Me, so it is no longer maintained.

Roleplaying and Other Games

Like any activity that lasts as many decades as roleplaying games have, the hobby has some developed some standard terminology that may sound like a foreign language to those unfamiliar with it.

Gamemaster (GM) – The player who organizes and runs a campaign. The other players are simply “Players”. Many games have another name for the GM, but “Gamemaster” seems to be the most common one.

Player Character (PC) – Characters created by players at the table. They are generally the heroes of the story.

Non-Player Characters (NPC) – Characters that are most often controlled by the GM, and with whom the PCs interact.

XdY – Standard dice notation. X = the number of dice to roll. Y = the size of die to roll.

HP – Most commonly “Hit Points”, but called lots of other names as well. HP is basically a measure of how much damage your character can take. In most games, when you are reduced to 0 HP you are unconscious or dying. If you play a lot of video games, you are probably well-acquainted with HP.

Encounter, Session, Campaign – An encounter is like a single scene in a movie or book. A session is the time from when the group sits down to play until everyone goes home. You can think of it like an episode of a TV show or chapter of a book. A campaign is a series of sessions featuring the same PCs as they go on adventures, like a TV series or novel. Like GM, some games use different terms, but they all mean the same thing.


(af) – Indicates an affiliate link, meaning I get rewarded if you purchase something via that link (generally with store credit). Most of the ads you’ll see are placed there by, and are not associated with me in any way other than allowing the website to be free.

Planprovise – is a word I made up that refers to the ultimate GM skill: the ability to plan ahead but remain flexible enough to adapt to any surprises your players throw at you. I have played under GMs who lacked that ability and as a player it is more than a little frustrating constantly being told that you can’t do something simply because the GM didn’t think of it while planning the session.