Monday, September 29, 2014

AD&D Dungeon Master Guide's Glossary

While waiting (and waiting) for my roll20 fellow adventurers to open a door, any door. I perused a pristine print of the the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. Three things stood out.

1. I forget how neat this book is.
2. I don't think I've ever really read the glossary A-Z.
3. Reading the glossary from A-Z I'm reminded how much vocabulary and words I learned as a 14year kid reading DMG and other game books. E.g. what i.e., e.g., and et al mean. Many more lost to time. Although, I specifically remember looking up "knoll" in a paper dictionary...

On to the glossary entries that piqued my interest...

Ability Scores -- Numerical ratings ranging from 3-18 for a character's strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, and charisma.
First entry. Simple. Should be part of every newb's introduction to character.

Alignment -- A general description of a character's behavioral and ethical tendencies named by a combination of Law, Neutrality, or Chaos with Good, Neutrality, or Evil.
Take note of  words"general" and "tendencies". People put way too much stock and effort into AND ARGUMENTS over alignment. Was never a fan of five fold path. Less hateful of Law/Chaos with side of Neutrality OD&D style alignments.

Campaign -- General term referring to one DM's adventures as a whole rather than individually. An ongoing series of games based upon a created milieu. 
Milieu -- An unique game setting embodying numerous possible variables in its creation, i.e. the "world" in which adventures take place.
Rarely are these definitions used today. What we call campaign (settings) Gygax (at least in this glossary) named milieus. A word I much prefer.

Experience -- The reward (expressed in points or x.p.) for slaying monsters, winning treasure, and playing the character role. The more experience a character has, the better his or her fighting ability, saving throws, etc.
In some ways, for me, AD&D is Hack&Slash. "If it moves kill it", and "whoring for xp" are integral parts of D&D. Still missed opportunity to have said "overcoming monsters"

Henchman -- A low-level non-player character whose loyalty is to one member of the party rather than the party itself. 
Hireling -- A non-player character hired to accompany a party on an adventure, or employed for some other temporary purpose. 
Hip Points -- The number of points of damage a creature can sustain before death (or optionally, coma), reflecting the creature's physical endurance, fighting experience, skill, or luck.
Ah, meaning of hp. How much time has been wasted arguing over this? When definition has been right there all along.  Coma option is interesting, some threat of death (which is critical) but maybe not perma-death. Although, I've done something like this and options are to not let player play for a while (seriously unfun) or bring them back (really not much of a "threat")

Holy/Unholy Water -- Water which has been specially prepared by a cleric. Useful as a weapon against undead or to slow the effects of poison.
Wait, what!? Slow poison? When, how was that feature lost? Or, has it always been buried here, largely unnoticed and forgotten.

Magic -- Anything which cannot be explained b y the science of the milieu. Any weapon....
Yeah body! Magic is how my fucking red dragon got into into this room and it's also what he eats. Now quit stalling and roll your save vs magical fucking dragon breath.

Persona -- The role or identity of the character the player is portraying.
Hmmm, much better term than character.

Philter -- A magical draught or potion
Another word Gary taught me, draught too, probably potion for that matter.

Polymorph -- The physical alteration by magical means of the shape of a creature.
Is this a made up word, or just archaic, obscure? Various spell checkers don't like it. Same with Scrying?

Trap -- Any of several mechanical or magical devices which may be triggered by adventurers, usually causing damage to one or more of them. Examples are pits, pits with spikes, poison needle traps on treasure chests, etc.
Contrast with...
Trick -- Any device or machination which is more likely to be solved by wits rather than force. Tricks do not necessarily involve physical harm to the characters; examples are rooms which rotate or descend to confuse mappers, statues which perform random actions, slanting passageways which take the party unknowingly to a deeper level, etc
And also

Death Magic, Mezzodaemon!?, Nycadaemon!? Monty Haul and many others are also defined. So is Random Generation. Man was there a time when people didn't know what that meant?

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