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Game terminology

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Terminology used by the developers of Baldur's Gate and Dungeons and Dragons, and terminology from other games that is useful to be applied to the game



  • AC: Armor Class. Dungeons and Dragons armor defends solely by reducing the chance to hit altogether. It has the somewhat confusing quality of being better as the number decreases. It can be increased with equippable items, such as rings and necklaces, and spells such as 'Armor' and 'Shield'. For the effects of armor in other games, see 'Armor', below.
  • AI: Artificial Intelligence. The code that governs NPC behaviour, whether it be team members or enemy monsters.
  • Aggro or Aggression, the code that directs monsters to pursue and attack targets, and choose which particular players or characters to attack first.
  • AE: Area Effect. Also AoE, Area of Effect. An area, usually a circle of a given radius, usually centered on the target or user (except eg for Ground Targetted Area of Effect), in which effects or damage, usually of spells, takes place, or game variables are in effect, such as when the distance between a monster and player character is checked to determine whether the monster will attack the player (Aggro).
  • Area: Usually, a location in the game. Also see Area of Effect, above.
  • Armor in games can represent a wide variety of values. It can be a way to absorb a percentage of damage or reduce damage by a set amount. In games like Fallout, armor applies both types of reduction. In D&D, it is represented by Armor Class and Resistances. It was additional HP in the Quake first person shooter (the same effect as the Temporary hit points of spells such as 'Cloak of Warding' and 'Vampiric Touch').
  • Avatar: See Model.
  • Axe Weapon type. Slashing / edged damage.

B Edit

  • Beta: Phase of testing software, open to the public.
  • BG: Baldur's Gate.
  • BG: EE: Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition
  • BG: TotSC: Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast
  • BG II: SoA: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.
  • BG II: ToB: Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal.
  • Blades: Weapon type. Edged weapons were the mainstay of medieval warfare. Damage type is usually called Slashing.
  • Bottleneck; also Choke point: A narrowing of the path that can be used to tactical advantage. Small groups move into the narrow part of the bottleneck, in a line with its members to the left and right of each other, until they fill the entire width of the path. This forces the enemy to engage them along this narrow front with only a small part of its larger numbers. Larger groups can, with a similar rank, fill a larger portion, keeping the enemy in a relatively more confined position, and thus able to engage with relatively fewer units.

Tactical advantage: Asterisk (*) force. Tactical advantage: Plus sign (+) force.

     ____ _                                      ____ _
____/ *                                    _____/ *
__+_+ *                                     __+_* * 
    \_*__ _                                     \_____ _

This works even better in real life than in games, because of the space required to swing a weapon, and undefended blows being killing blows rather than a loss of HP. It does not work at all in games where units cannot attack diagonally on the screen.

  • Bug: Game construction, usually unintended by its developers, but intentional mechanics that are disadvantageous are often mistakenly called Bugs by players. Intentional or unintentional construction that game companies do not wish to change is routinely deemed "working as intended" in order to divert player dissent. If it leads to benefits for players, game company interests and player jealousy usually lead to it being called an Exploit. Strategy that capitalizes on benefits of game construction, usually ones not intended by the developers, or Bugs.


  • Camp: To remain in one strategic place and repeatedly kill people or mobs.
  • CC: Crowd Control: Damage reduction strategy, reducing damage by incapacitating attackers.
  • Choke point, see Bottleneck: A narrowing of the path that can be used to tactical advantage.
  • Chr: Charisma
  • Concentration of Fire: A tactic that aids Damage Reduction. A given amount of damage from multiple sources is set against a given amount of damage from another multiple sources. If damage is spread out between targets, then they survive longer to do more damage. If damage (fire) is concentrated on one target at a time, that target and successive targets die sooner, reducing damage. Known as Focus Fire in WoW.[1]
  • Club: Weapon type. usually Crushing damage.
  • Con: Constitution.
  • Cooldown: The short period of time before a skill can be used again.
  • Copper: Copper commons.
  • Critical Hits or critical strikes: Attacks which hit a vital spot and do more damage than normal, especially ones that are made from behind or while using Stealth.
  • Crushing and other names, including Bashing or Blunt: Damage type using blunt instruments and supposed to be better against skeletons, despite the fact that Slashing / Blade / Edged weapons are superior in all respects. Piercing weapons can get between plates of armor, but bashing weapons have always been used in medieval warfare against unarmored opponents, or to beat the opponent to the ground, where they would be finished off with stabbing weapons. Maces are the exception; they are actually piercing weapons which use the weight of the mace to apply force to a tiny area, and can actually puncture armor.

D Edit

  • D&D: Dungeons and Dragons
  • 'Damage over Time, DoT: effects, e.g. 'Swarm Curse', that deal increments of damage; damage at intervals, repeatedly, and usually for a set duration
  • Damage type: Slashing, Piercing and Crushing are physical damage types that distinguish weapon damage; the other types, other than Fire and Acid, usually represent magical damage. See any Enemy NPC article for the full list
  • Dex: Dexterity
  • DPS: Damage per Second, a formula for determining damage output in real time games. Baldur's Gate is pseudo-real time, with attacks that do damage a certain number of times per round, and thus weapon speed only affects killing blows or rounds in which character or monster break off combat for some reason. Every other round, everyone gets to attack, and so who attacked first is largely irrelevant.
  • Drop: synonym for Loot, or verb meaning the Spawning of Loot into the game environment.
  • Duration: A set period of time during which a game variable is true and active, e.g. the period during which the AC bonuses of Armor (spell) and Shield exist, and the amount of time that Stealth remains active after it is 'broken' by interacting with doors or containers (or by combat; see Baator).

E Edit

  • Exp, Experience: See XP
  • Exploit Strategy that capitalizes on benefits of game construction, usually ones not intended by the developers, or Bugs. The name reflects the judgement by 'legit' players that an advantage that 'exploiting' players choose to use is in some way a detriment to the legit players, which is an entirely subjective viewpoint within game experience, which is always subjective

F Edit

  • Fallout The Fallout post-nuclear roleplaying game series, like PS:T, by Black Isle.
  • FF Final Fantasy.
  • Fist Weapon type, varying damage; a weapon attached to the wrist and forearm to allow piercing damage with punches and swipes. In RL, a weapon of less finesse than others, because of the inability to employ the movement of the wrist, not more, as is implied by giving them to the skillful weapons expert Thief Annah. It has the advantage of allowing the full force of a blow to travel directly to the target from the arm, possibly punching through armor, but does not benefit from the additional force of the swing, which consideration lead to the development of longer and longer weapons, ie polearms.
  • Fog of War: Parts of the map not yet explored are blackened; those explored but not currently observed by characters with Line of Sight are darkened.
  • FPS: First person shooter; 3D game, looking through the character's eyes, with a gun.
    • Frames per second, the performance of image rendering.
  • Friendlies Other party members or friendly players. What not to hit with Area Effect spells or Splash damage.

G Edit

  • Gold, Common game currency. The currency in PS:T is Copper commons.
  • Grind, verb, Grinding, noun: Performing/performance of repetitive tasks to further game progress.


  • Hammer: Weapon type. usually Crushing damage.
  • Heal over Time or HoT: healing effects, e.g. Regeneration, that heal at intervals, repeatedly, and usually for a set duration.
  • Homebrew: Custom applications to run in conjunction with normal game files.
  • HP'. Hit points. The number of points of health; damage decreases these and when they reach zero, the game character or enemy is dead, or knocked out.
  • HUD: Heads-up display.

I Edit

  • Infravision Elves, Half-Elves, and those magically enhanced, can see the heat emanating from bodies as infrared radiation; enemies and friends alike are illuminated when the character is selected. The player can turn on 'group infravision' in the game Menu.

K Edit

L Edit

  • Lag: Time delay between sending a command to the game and your character actually performing the action. Frequently cursed when the time delay is longer than expected.
  • Line of Sight: Players may know the location of a target, but if it is obscured by Fog of War or obstructions, then they do not have line of sight to it. Required for the casting of spells and attacking with ranged weapons; in BG, the party AI will send characters forward to gain LoS even if that puts them in melee range of the enemy. The player can still see through the eyes of characters that have been charmed by Sirines and the like, and are no longer under control.
  • Loot: synonym for Drop, an item reward for killing a monster, or verb meaning to transfer Loot from the game environment into a character's inventory.

M Edit

  • Mage: A class of character which is focused primarily on the use of magic
  • Meat shield: Tank or Pet that soaks up damage that would otherwise accrue to squishy Mages and the like
  • Melee: From the word describing a chaotic or violent situation, the word that means, closeup combat with physical attacks. Non-ranged attacks.
  • Mez: Mezmerize. Form of Crowd Control that can be broken by attacks. Also, Sleep
  • MMO, MMORPG: Massively Multiplayer Online, – Role Playing Game. Games where many players log in to a persistent game world and play the game together.
  • Mob: NPC monsters. Probably originally meant a group of monsters, judging by the name, although it is said it stands for "mobile", when electronic games first became sophisticated enough to display character movement.
  • Mod Modifications to a game, unofficial, released by fans. Files created for a game to add functionality or change the trappings of a game, usually created by people not employed by the game developer.
  • Model The 3D frame upon which Textures or texture maps are applied.
  • Mule Character that the player is not currently 'using', whose inventory can be used to store items.

N Edit

  • Near Level Death Experience: When a player nears an objective, a code is activated that alters the difficulty of the game. There is no telling where this code was first implemented, but it is widespread, indeed. Changing the rules halfway through a game is never a good idea, but in BG, this can actually be beneficial, as creatures that give higher experience can be spawned (beneficial assumes that the party can handle such creatures; a perfect example is the spawning of a Vampiric Wolf that gives high XP but can only be hit by magical melee weapons or magical ammunition). In other games it usually takes the form of increased Aggro rates, increased miss rates, critical damage by enemies, higher level spawns, and lag.
  • NPC: Non Player Character. Sometimes, party members. Usually, AI-controlled people or creatures.

O Edit

  • Overkill In games with set HP values, Overkill is an amount of damage far exceeding what is necessary to kill the target. Can also be used to describe any other unnecessary measures, especially ones that are quantifiable, such as Overhealing.

P Edit

  • Patch: Modifications to a game, official, released by developer. Files created for a game to add functionality or change the trappings of a game.
  • PC: Player Character, as opposed to NPC. Also Personal Computer. Depends on the context.
  • Pet: Entity, often 'summoned' by a character, that that character controls. Pets are very powerful because they are a Meat shield between the character and death; if things are going badly, the character can run while the pet holds off the enemy. In games without an AI that handles it, the character can even Kite enemies while the pet is doing damage to the enemy.
  • Piercing: type of damage. Weapons such as rapiers and daggers can strike between plates of armor; the rise in their use, and the use of the piercing spike of polearms such as Halberds, and crossbows and early firearms, all of which could penetrate armor directly, led to the abandonment of full suits of heavy armor towards the end of the middle ages, although the use of helms and breastplates for protection of the head and torso continued.
  • Platform: Game type designation based on the hardware required to play the game. e.g. PC (Personal Computer), PS3, Wii, Xbox.
  • Platform game: Timing and spacial awareness are required to navigate these mazes of platforms, precipices, and moving obstacles.
  • Portal: In D&D, usually a spell that allows Mages to travel or escape. In PS:T, swirling vapour glowing blue and a shimmering fall of glowing white particles mark the disruption of matter by the highly energetic state of these interdimensional pathways that allow the party to Zone.
  • Power, Mana, MP, Magic Points: Spells outside of D&D often have an MP cost with higher spells costing more points. Commonly used in RPGs.
  • PS:T Planescape:Torment.
  • Pull A way to finesse Damage Control with movement control skill, rather than the skill of choosing when and on which targets to use Crowd Control (CC) abilities.

R Edit

  • Radius: Distance from the center of a circle to its edge, which in games determines the area of effect of damage spells, or other game variables such as the area within which characters can trade items to each other.
  • Range, ranged: Attacks that can be launched from a distance. The counterpart to Melee.
  • Regeneration, regenerate: Heal over Time; incremental healing.
  • Resistance: Values that absorb a percentage of incoming damage in D&D set for each Damage type. For Resistance in D&D, BG and other games, see Armor and Damage avoidance.
  • Rest: Resting in D&D regains spells as well as hit points, and always takes eight game hours. Resting in Inns can regain more HP.
  • RL: Real life.
  • Round: an unit of time. One round is six seconds in real-life time. Ten rounds are needed to make up one turn.
  • RPG: Role-playing game.
  • RTS: Real-time strategy, e.g. Starcraft.

S Edit

  • Save: Saving the game, obviously, but more usefully, saving cannot take place while within roughly a screen width's distance of enemies, whether they are visible on the screen or not.
  • Sim: Short for simulation.
  • Slashing: See Blades.
  • Sleep": Similar to Mez. A form of Crowd Control.
  • SoA: Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.
  • SoD: Baldur's Gate Enhanced: Siege of Dragonspear
  • Spawn: A game entity, usually NPC, being rendered into the game world, or PC being rendered and gaining their interface with the game world.
  • Splash damage: An AE type of damage, usually in addition to normal damage, which surrounds the point at which the normal damage originates, and can usually harm Friendly units.
  • Spawn point: position at which an entity spawns, sometimes fixed to a particular location.
  • Stealth or stealthing; ability which renders its user invisible or near invisible and unable to be attacked until the user attacks. Usually a prerequisite for special attacks that automatically do high amounts of damage and/or an increased chance of Critical Hits. Unlike stealth in other games, PS:T's stealth is not negated entirely after an attack, see the Baator article.
  • Strafe: Originally, in warfare, shooting while moving, then in First Person Shooters, moving sideways while shooting, has come to mean moving sideways in MMOs et al.


  • Tank: Character, usually, with more HP and/or armor than normal. Part of the damage control strategy, tank character classes are usually given Taunts to augment the Aggro their damage causes
  • Taunts Abilities that keep monsters attacking the user instead of characters with less damage protection.
  • Teleport: A transition between locations, see Zone. There is only one device used for teleportation in the game: the Modron Cube; for the blue dimensional transport effect, see Portal.
  • ToB: Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal.
  • ToSC: Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast
  • Transition: Similar to Zone, except that it can carry additional meaning, where a character might be e.g. changing from one state to another (from a flying form, perhaps, to walking form) rather than merely travelling. Thus it describes better the zoning in Baldur's Gate, where the characters walk on one type of map, and when they click on and get to its edges, they do not automatically go to an adjacent zone, but instead the screen changes to the world map, where they can choose the zone to go to next. In other games, transitioning may be effected by colored or highlighted zoning polygons, or interacting with objects or NPCs that teleport the player directly to a destination.
  • Turn: an unit of time. 1 turn is the same as 60 seconds in real-life. 1 turns consists of 10 rounds, which is 6 seconds each.

W Edit

X Edit

  • XP: Experience Points, a crucial way of quantifying progress within the game. Killing enemies and completing quests will usually provide XP. Once a certain amount of XP has been reached, the character will advance to a higher level, with more HP and often new abilities. See also Exp.

Z Edit

  • Zone, zoning: Game Area or sub-area, and a verb meaning, to travel between Zones, either with zone transition areas (over which the cursor will transform from the normal circle of inward-pointing 'arrowhead' sections into a wheel with an arrow on the top left corner. In some games, such as early Fallouts, the zone transition may be colored. A Zone Wall is the outside edge of a map; in some games, there is no transition zone on some of the edges of the area; in Baldur's Gate, this is true of the walls on the edge of the World Map or edges that do not have another map adjacent to them, e.g., the eastern and northern edges of the Spider Wood map

See also Edit

Encyclopedia Edit

Citations Edit

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