Part 5


G1: What do those weird abbreviations mean?

Here is a guide to the most common abbreviations and acronyms found on The first list is those terms which are found almost exclusively in posts to dnd and/or the entire* hierarchy. The second list is those terms which are in general use on Usenet and the rest of the Internet. [Select for Preformatted table]
*D&D Any version of the D&D game
AD&D, ADnD Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
AD&D1 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st edition
AD&D2 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd edition
AD&D2R Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, revised 2nd edition
AD&D2.5 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, revised 2nd edition
ADnD-L AD&D discussion mailing list
AoE Area of Effect
AoO Attack of Opportunity
BAB Base Attack Bonus
BD&D, BDnD Basic Dungeons & Dragons, as opposed to Advanced D&D
BoA Book of Artifacts
BR Birthright
C*HB Complete [class] Handbook series; Fighter's, Priest's, Thief's, Wizard's, Psionics, Ranger's, Bard's, Druid's, Paladin's, Barbarian's, Necromancer's, Ninja's
CB* Complete Book of [race] series; Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes & Halflings, Humanoids
CT, C&T Player's Option: Combat & Tactics
D&D, DnD Dungeons & Dragons, any version except Advanced
D&D3 Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd edition (the successor of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons)
DDG Deities and Demigods
DL DragonLance
DMG Dungeon Masters Guide, any edition
DMG1 Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st edition
DMG2 Dungeon Masters Guide, 2nd edition
DMG2R Dungeon Masters Guide, Revised 2nd edition
DMG3 Dungeon Masters Guide, 3rd edition
DMO Dungeon Master's Option book(s)
DS Dark Sun
FR Forgotten Realms
GAMA GAme Manufacturers Association
GH Greyhawk
GM Game Master
HLC Dungeon Master's Option: High Level Campaigns
HW Hollow World
IC In Character
IMC In My Campaign
IYC In Your Campaign
L&L, LL Legends & Lore
LC Living Campaign (RPGA campaign usually found at cons)
LD, LDU Level-Drain, Level-Draining Undead
LK Lankhmar
MC Monstrous Compendium (usually followed by the appendix number)
MM Monster Manual/Monstrous Manual
MMII Monster Manual II
MoP Manual of the Planes
MPGN, the Multi-Player Gaming Network site
MUD Multiple-User Dungeon
OA Oriental Adventures
OD&D, ODnD Old/Original D&D, as opposed to the later Advanced D&D
OOC Out Of Character
PBeM Play By E-Mail
PBWWW Play By World Wide Web
PH Player's Handbook, any edition
PH1 Player's Handbook, 1st edition
PH2 Player's Handbook, 2nd edition
PH2R Player's handbook, Revised 2nd edition
PH3 Player's Handbook, 3rd edition
PO Player's Option books
PrC Prestige Class
PS Planescape
rgf.** hierarchy
RL Ravenloft
RPGA Role-Playing Gamers' Association
SP, S&P Player's Option: Skills & Powers
Sp&M, SPaM Player's Option: Spells & Magic
3e Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd edition
3R Dungeons & Dragons, revised 3rd edition
3.5e Dungeons & Dragons, revised 3rd edition
ToM Tome of Magic
ToVK Tome of Vast Knolwedge (computer program)
UA Unearthed Arcana
WoG, WG World of Greyhawk
WotC Wizards of the Coast
:-) Smiley (tilt your head 90 degrees); with endless variations
AFAIK As Far As I Know
BTW By The Way
CFV Call For Votes
F2F Face-to-Face
FTR For The Record
FWIW For What It's Worth
FYI For Your Information
HAND Have A Nice Day
HTH Hope That Helps
IDH(T)*IFOM I Don't Have (The) [product] In Front Of Me
IIRC If I Remember Correctly IME In My Experience
IMHO In My Humble/Honest Opinion (but rarely actually is)
IOW In Other Words
IRC Internet Relay Chat (realtime text-based conferencing system)
LOL Laughing Out Loud
Ob... Obligatory reference to... (e.g. ObD&D, ObCthulhu, in a post otherwise about something else)
REQ Request
RFC Request For Comments
RFD Request For Discussion
ROTFL Rolling On The Floor Laughing
RTFM Read The F***ing Manual!
RTFT Read The F***ing Thread!
SO Significant Other (i.e. date/fiancee/spouse)
TANSTAAFL There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch
TPTB The Powers That Be
WRT With Regard/Respect To
YHBT You Have Been Trolled
YMMV Your Mileage May Vary
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G2: How do you pronounce...?

Here are some commonly mispronounced words, with their dictionary pronunciations, where available, and common practice/TSR rulings where not. For more general pronunciation help, see the article "Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd" by Frank Menzer in Dragon #93 (Jan. 1985); for help pronouncing Forgotten Realms-specific words and names, see the Forgotten Realms box set; for help pronouncing the names of the various Tanar'ri and Baatzu types, see MC8 Outer Planes Appendix or the Planescape MC appendices.

Note: the "correct" pronunciation of Drow is taken from Page 9 of A Grand Tour of the Realms (2nd edition Forgotten Realms boxed set) where it states, "Dark elves, also called Drow (pronounced to rhyme with now or how)..."

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G3: How do you spell...?

Some tricky spellings from the world of fantasy roleplaying: [Select for Preformatted table]
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G4: What is a "newbie"?

A newbie is person who is new to the Internet, to Usenet, or just to the newsgroup in question, and makes all of the silly mistakes many people make when they first began using the Internet. Its use on the Internet originated in the MUDs, and has spread from there. One can avoid many of these mistakes by reading through the files listed in the Note to New Users at the beginning of this FAQ and taking their advice to heart, and by reading this group for several weeks before making your first post, in order to get a feel for the atmosphere of the group as well as for what is and is not allowed here. The opposite of newbie is dino (As in "dinosaur," not as in the Flintstone's pet).

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G5: What is a "Spoiler"?

When someone tells you how a movie you haven't seen before is going to end, he has "spoiled" it for you; your ability to enjoy a good surprise has been severely impaired. The same idea works in the gaming world. If you wish to post any details about any TSR products, please include the word SPOILER in the subject, and leave a full page of blank space, either by inserting a form feed character or by hitting Return about 20 times. This is especially appropriate for descriptions of modules ("We just finished S4; had a dickins of a time opening those pesky doors, but here's how we did it..."), because there will always be people on Usenet who have not played that module, or who are currently running through that module. Most DM's do not enjoy it when someone else gives their groups all the details of their next few adventures. So no matter how old a module is, always include spoiler warnings if you are divulging any vital details.

Including spoiler warnings is also appropriate when discussing novels, movies, some sourcebooks, and such. In general, use your best judgement; if there is a detail that could affect others' games ("Iuz gets killed by Rary in the brand new GH box set, Good Triumphs At Last!"), then be sure to include spoiler warning, whether or not you think that everyone must have already read the item you are discussing.

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G6: What is bandwidth? How does one waste it?

Bandwidth is the amount of information that can be moved over a cable. The transfer of information over the Internet is limited by the physical limitations of the cables the information is transmitted through; thus, a post to Usenet which, for example, merely quotes back the entire 300 lines of a previous post and adds "I agree" to the bottom takes up space in the cables which could better be used by other posts. If enough bandwidth is wasted, no other posts can get through, as the cables would already be transmitting their maximum amount of data. New technology in cable manufacture has made it a challenge to even come close to using up all the bandwidth in most areas, but that still doesn't mean that it's a good idea to take up lots of space with frivolous posts. In fact, the ever-increasing number of posts to Usenet has resulted in some systems reducing the expiration times on posts to only a couple days; thus it is not all that difficult for an increase of "worthless" posts to push "worthwhile" posts out the end of many servers before people on those sites have a chance to read the good posts.

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G7: What is "fluff?"

Fluff is a term used for stories written and distributed on the Internet. In the case of, it takes the form of stories based on the results of role-playing sessions. Some people like reading fluff, some don't mind it, and some rabidly detest it. If you feel you must post your fluff, please put STORY: at the beginning of the subject line so that is can be easily found or avoided, as the case may be. This is ok for one-shot short stories, but if you are writing longer works, such as stories based on entire campaigns, then please do not post the chapters to rgfd. Instead, if you feel you must post them to Usenet, post them in, wait for the moderator to post them, and then post a note in rgfd stating that anyone who wishes to read your story may find it in A much better solution these days is to get yourself a web page (Yahoo GeoCities is one place that provides free web space), put your chapters there, then add a line containing the URL of your web page to your Usenet signature file.

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G8: Who's this "Monty Haul" character I keep hearing about?

Monty Hall was the host of the 60's & 70's, and 90's American game show Let's Make a Deal. People would dress up in silly costumes, then get chosen out of the crowd to play the game. Monty would give the lucky contestant a handful of money, then talk them into trading the money for whatever was behind door number one, door number two, door number three, or what was in the box, or they could just keep the money. Each time they traded, he would give them another choice. After they decided to stick with a choice, Monty revealed what had been won. Prizes could be anything, good or bad, such as money, cars, jewelry, a years supply of auto wax, goats, inner tubes, exotic vacations, a pound of confetti, etc. Gary Gygax named the style of play where game masters hid treasures behind some doors, monsters behind others and then let the players choose their fate "Monty Haul" gaming, making a pun on the game show host's name.

The term has come to be used to refer to sessions where game masters encourage munchkin players; basically any game can be considered a Monty Haul game where the game master sets up unfathomable amounts of treasure and earth-shattering magic items guarded by weak and wimpy monsters, thus giving enormous amounts of power to beginning-level characters.

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G9: What is "munchkinism?" What does the Wizard of Oz have to do with *D&D?

Munchkinism is often confused with Monty Haul gaming in that both involve incredibly high power levels with a minimum of risk involved. However, where Monty Haul is usually the fault of the GM, munchkinism is usually the demesne of players, although one can encourage the other. Munchkin players often view the game as a contest which can be won, and done with a minimum of struggle and uncertainty. The player is winning when he defeats everything the DM throws at the character, and does it without breaking a sweat. Thus, having a character who can deal out large amounts of damage every round is more pleasurable, as it gives the player a better chance of "winning." Some DM's foster this "them vs. me" type of atmosphere (especially Monty Haul DM's), but it is usually not the DM's fault. Well, it somewhat is, as the DM has to allow the character in the first place, but it is the player who has the real problem here.

Munchkin characters are created by "min/maxing," or rather, "rules rape," wherein the player finds any and all advantages the rules (and especially any loopholes contained therein) allow the character, with few, if any drawbacks. They are also outfitted with the equivalent magic items of an entire party of many, many more levels of experience. Such characters tend to be ultra-powerful, and can destroy whole armies in one round. Any such character choices are made solely from a power-level standpoint, and not from a role-playing point of view.

This is not to say that all "power gaming" is munchkin and bad, as it is possible and common for a group to decide to run a campaign with incredibly high amounts of power, yet have it contain just as much challenge and roleplaying as any other campaign. The enemies are usually as well equipped as the players, and are played extremely intelligently, to boot. With this kind of game, there is actually some question as to whether or not any or all of the characters could survive a given encounter, but the point is not basic survival, but a balance of power and role-playing. Characters also tend to have character flaws of some sort which balance out the power level in some meaningful role-playing-based way. In addition, most of the characters in a "power game" environment actually have to work (and role-play) for each and every powerful item they gain, instead of turning into a walking magic shop when "my two rich uncles just willed all of their magic items to me," or some such. A stress is put on role-playing, so that the game isn't just all "power" and no "game." However, it is easy to fall into the trap of treating such a game like an arcade game--blast all the baddies into oblivion and you win! It is at that point, when the power, and not role-playing, is all that matters that a power game becomes munchikinish. Munchkin characters usually come to light when a player wishes to bring in a favorite character who was "allowed" in a previous GM's campaign, one with the maximum ability scores, proficiencies, abilities, and enough magic and special items to take out both Death Stars simultaneously from across the galaxy.

No one seems to know exactly how such characters have come to be identified with the tiny folk from L. Frank Baum's books, but it probably has something to do with the sheer annoyance factor such characters exude. Another theory is that, since it seems that most munchkin players are the younger set of players, say pre-teens and down, that someone's term for people younger than themselves morphed into a term for the type of players described above, and has since changed meaning to also include the characters created by such players.

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G10: What is "Spam"?

Spam is a meat-like product, rumored to contain a mixture of ham and pork (the word is an abbreviation of "SPiced hAM"), made popular when it was distributed to soldiers on the fronts during World War II. It was also the focus of a sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus involving a diner which featured meals such as "spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam" and "spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam, and spam". Also in the diner were several Vikings, who would break into "The Spam Song" whenever someone mentioned "Spam". Trying to find anything in that diner which was not Spam quickly became quite difficult.

This idea has been carried over onto Usenet, so that when someone posts the same thing in thousands of newsgroups, or when one person (or a group of people) fill up a newsgroup with off-topic posts or many copies of the same off-topic post, it is called "spamming the net"; the individual posts are called "spam".

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G11: When is a troll not green, rubbery, or regenerative?

When someone posts a message to a Usenet newsgroup with the sole intention of inciting anger. This comes from a fishing term; a a fishermen who pulls a hook through the water is said to be trolling for bites. Usenet trolls are usually messages which contain no content except for crass insults and flames of the topic of a particular newsgroup and the people who frequent that group or which intentionally raise touchy topics in insensitive ways.

Some trolls are more insidious, especially when the person behind them actually puts some thought into his actions. These trolls aren't as blatant, and tend to take the form of someone who appears on a group, posts a few on-topic messages, then begins posting things which the group has made known are not tolerated there. Eventually the person starts throwing in little jibes and insults at the people who try to inform him that such posts are inappropriate, trying to see if he can really make people mad, then leaving to do the same to other newsgroups just as the entire group explodes into a flamewar.

Trolls will not be tolerated in If you see a post which appears to be a troll, ignore it. If you see a poster who consistently seems to do little else but try to get on people's nerves, ignore him. Don't bother wasting your breath, sanity, and connect time on such drivel. These people are often just looking for attention, and will usually eventually move on to other groups if they don't get it.

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G12: Are there any other terms I should be aware of?

Here are a few quick looks at some other potentially mystifying terms:

kill file
A file usable in several popular newsreaders which allows one to filter out disliked topics or posters. Also, "to killfile"
someone who reads a newsgroup but does not post. Also, "to lurk"
Real Soon Now(TM)
Anytime between right now and a decade from now. Came into use because products which are running late are always mentioned as being ready to ship "real[ly] soon now"
This is the time of year when the net experiences a large influx of newbies due to college freshmen getting internet accounts. The term is also used whenever a large access provider, such as AOL, Compuserve, or Delphi, first allows Usenet access for its users.
signal-to-noise ratio
On Usenet, this is the proportion of useful articles to useless ones. In order that the most people might enjoy reading this group, please try to keep the signal as high as possible and the noise as low as possible.
Any RPG sourcebook, handbook, guidebook, class book, kit book, race book, and so forth. The term was apparently coined by players of White Wolf's RPGs, due to the glut of sourcebooks, clanbooks, kinbooks, and other similar materials. The original shorthand was "*books," because "*" means "any group of letters" in most computer systems. In hacker-speak, "*" is pronounced "splat," probably because it looks like a squashed bug or a splotch of ink.

If you've gotten this far and still haven't found an explanation for a particular word, phrase, or acronym that you just can't figure out, try the Jargon File (of hacker slang and net.speak), or see the NetLingo Internet dictionary; chances are good that one of those pages will lead to the answer you are looking for.

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Continue on to Part 6

Copyright © 2003 by Joel A. Hahn