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Fantasy Heartbreaker Language

 
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Red Archon
Journeyman


Joined: 03 Sep 2009
Posts: 159

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:19 am    Post subject: Fantasy Heartbreaker Language Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hi. I'm again working on a system, a project which will obviously evaporate sooner or later like my dozen other ones. That aside, I'm running into a linguistics problem to which every RPG system writer can relate: using the right words for concepts.

Because D&D 3.5 is the best comparison, what do you think of the iconic vocabulary and what are your thoughts on adapting or replacing it? Did some system actually manage to come up with terms that are actually satisfying and informative?

Words like Class, Ability score, Armor class, Saving throw and so on. Do you have pet peeves within the terminology? What are the exact words you'd choose over the ones D&D chose and wisely kept alive?

I'll later explain some of the language I'm planning on using, I could use some commentary on that as well, but I figured we could first talk a little about the fantasy heartbreaker lingo generally.
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phlapjackage
Knight


Joined: 24 May 2012
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Just my personal preference, but I really liked Earthdawn's approach to terminology. The terminology for "class" and "level" ("discipline" and "circle") and other out-of-game concepts were actually used in-game, so there was no weird disconnect for a character in-game asking another character about their class or level or whatever. "I'm a Scout of the 5th circle" was a normal part of the in-game world language, and it was so refreshing.

So..uh...I guess I don't have any specific suggestions about specific vocabulary words, but in general I'd suggest choosing vocabulary that makes sense in-game as well as out-of-game. All about that versimillitude...
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OgreBattle
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Joined: 03 Sep 2011
Posts: 5098

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Armor Class is an odd DnDism that I haven't seen any other fantasy RPG's use.

If you want 'widespread terms everyone knows' look ta how World of Warcraft describes things.
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Red Archon
Journeyman


Joined: 03 Sep 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Do we want 'widespread terms everyone knows' though?
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angelfromanotherpin
King


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 7455

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think Armor Class is particularly egregious, because it's been bad terminology for as long as there have been contributors to the number besides armor, which predates 1e. Defense is my usual replacement. Saving throw is a bit weird because of course the number is not the throw, but the abbreviated term Save works pretty well.

The one that bugs me the most is level. If I was doing a heartbreaker I might go the ironic route and use the version Gygax rejected.
Gary Gygax wrote:
It was initially contemplated to term character power as rank, spell complexity was to be termed power, and monster strength was to be termed as order. Thus, instead of a 9th level character encountering a 7th level monster on the 8th dungeon level and attacking it with a 4th level spell, the terminology would have been: A 9th rank character encountered a 7th order monster on the 8th (dungeon) level and attacked it with a 4th power spell. However, because of existing usage, level is retained throughout with all four meanings, and it is not as confusing as it may now seem.

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Voss
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 3814

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Those are pretty irregular uses of those terms as well. Linguistically, I can seem them provoking a lot of complaints outside some old timey science disciplines.

'4th power spell' just sounds like gibberish, or something completely different (i.e. A computer game where the spell is in your 4th power slot that unlocked at whatever level, or guild wars 2, where weapons have 5 powers in order).
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Blicero
Duke


Joined: 07 May 2009
Posts: 1013

PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Red Archon wrote:
Do we want 'widespread terms everyone knows' though?


Well, yes.

The caveats are if you're trying to introduce genuinely new concepts into your game, or you want to try to make as much of the terminology be usable by characters within the gameworld.
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Dogbert
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Joined: 21 Apr 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Fantasy Heartbreaker Language Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Red Archon wrote:
Words like Class, Ability score, Armor class, Saving throw and so on. Do you have pet peeves within the terminology?


I have no qualms on using them, but when using terms from other games, you must be sure they aren't copyrighted, what with WotC being lawsuit-happy as it is.

Other than that, I welcome standards. Standards gave us language, and computer, and the internet, and all other nice things.
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OgreBattle
King


Joined: 03 Sep 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

9th level spells not being useable by 9th level wizards was confusing for me when I first got into D&D so some alternate word would be handy.

"Tier 9 spell", "2nd circle spell" terms like that works for me.
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Kaelik
ArchDemon of Rage


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

And as a bonus, if you name a game term Tier, no one can make stupid Tier lists anymore.
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Last edited by Kaelik on Sat Apr 01, 2017 9:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Voss
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 3814

PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sadly not true. WM/Hordes had Tiers for their (2nd edition) theme forces, and didn't stop any amount of faction Tier List bullshit, neither in faction or comparisons between factions.

Last edited by Voss on Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Pixels
Knight


Joined: 14 Jun 2010
Posts: 399

PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
Armor Class is an odd DnDism that I haven't seen any other fantasy RPG's use.
That's because the term was originally from a naval warfare game that Dave Arneson made before Blackmoor*. The same goes for hit points, whose meaning is not at all intuitive were it not for cultural momentum.
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Voss
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 3814

PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It still isn't intuitive, just common.

The definition in any given D&D edition is a slightly different paragraph of incoherent, self-contradicting bullshit that is eventually summed up as 'character's capacity to take damage'

Reading it, most people would intuitively guess that it has something to do with accuracy (hitting) or the amount you hit for.


Armor Class is at least functional as a game term, as (at least in 3rd edition onwards) it mirrors Difficulty Class: a number your roll needs to equal or exceed. But that level of consistency was severely lacking originally.
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hogarth
Prince


Joined: 27 May 2009
Posts: 4478
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My only suggestion about technical terms is this: try not to use a common, general term for a specific technical use. I'm thinking of the Enchantment school of magic, for instance, which has made people reluctant to use the word "enchant" in D&D. Even worse is the word "weapon", which is sometimes used to mean several different rules-specific terms (e.g. an actual tool used for killing or just a generic term for a method of attack, depending on context) and sometimes is used with no rules-specific meaning at all.
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