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About This Subforum
This subforum is where we'll post descriptions of TRPGs of our choice, as well as our personal opinions of them. Feel free to reply to the threads here and discuss the games in question.

Let us know if you're interested in writing a post of your own, we'll work with you to do so (for the sake of consistent formatting.) You can also request that an editorial of your own can be added to the Personal Opinions section. There are no special rules concerning these editorials, though we'd prefer you say something with substance, rather than "this game is cool" or "this game sucks."

Here's an explanation of some terms we use in the quick summary of the various game systems at the top of each thread.

Basic RPG Terminology

These are precise definitions of what we mean by the common RPG terminology you'll see on this forums. Much of it is subjective and reflects our personal preference. It is not guaranteed to line up with the fan translations many of the threads link to.

  • TRPG: Tabletop role-playing game. Also known as pencil and paper role-playing games. In Japan, the same abbreviation stands for "table talk role-playing game," thus the name of this forum.
  • Game Master (GM): A.K.A. Dungeon Master (DM.) The player in charge of the game. In charge of making sure the game goes smoothly, and second in authority only to the rules of the game itself in deciding what is and isn't allowed.
  • Character: Any entity that exists only within the imaginary game world, from a giant rat to the elven archer you're roleplaying to Armok, God of Blood.
  • Player Character (PC): A character roleplayed and usually also created by a player other than the GM.
  • Non-Player Character (PC): A character roleplayed and usually also created by the GM. While this term technically includes enemies, it's normally reserved for characters not intended to engage in combat with the PCs (at least not immediately.)

  • Check: When you roll the dice (or do something else in the handful of games that don't use dice) to find out whether an attempted action succeeds or fails.
  • 1d6: A six-sided die. 2d6 means two six-sided dice. 1d20 means one twenty-sided die, and so forth.
  • d66: Japanese shorthand for 'roll 2d6, take one number as the ones digit and the other as the tens, and consult a table with entries from 11-66.'

  • Attribute: A.K.A. statistic or ability score. A numerical rating that represents a broad and fundamental physical, mental, emotional, etc. capacity of a character. The archetypical examples from Dungeons & Dragons are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma.
  • Skill: A numerical rating representing a character's proficiency in a specific skill. Common examples include Athletics, Stealth, and Speech. In some systems any character can try to perform any skill; in others they need to possess some kind of training in the skill before they can even attempt it.
  • Ability: A.K.A. skill or power. A character aspect representing a single precise kind of action which that character is uniquely capable of. Archetypical examples from D&D (though classic D&D has no precise equivalent to the concept of 'abilities' found in many Japanese TRPGs) would be sneak attacks, a barbarian's rage, or a fireball spell.

Die Rolls

When the game system asks you to roll dice, what do you typically roll?
  • 2d6, 1d10, etc.: You roll these dice for a standard check.
  • + Attribute, + Skill, etc.: You add the numerical rating of the relevant attribute or skill to the die roll during a standard check.
  • Attacker wins ties: When you roll exactly the target number (or the same number as your opponent, if against active opposition), you succeed at the check.
  • Defender wins ties: When you roll exactly the target number (or the same number as your opponent, if against active opposition), you fail the check.
  • Against passive opposition: The forementioned applies when rolling against a target number specified by the GM.
  • Against active opposition: The forementioned is true when rolling against another entity within the game, like an enemy or another character.


Are there character classes or something similar to them? How many can each character choose?

Time System

How is the order in which characters can take actions (typically in combat or equally tense situations) determined?
  • Round-robin: Probably the most common timekeeping system in RPGs; used by D&D, among many other games. Each character takes a single turn during a combat round, with the order of turns commonly determined by an attribute known as "initiative" or "speed." While there may be ways for characters to take extra turns, or abilities that can be used when it is not a character's turn, they are the exception rather than the rule.
  • Back and forth: Also known as "turn-taking" and "Vegas style." Notably used in Sword World. All PCs act, then all enemies act, or vice versa. Which side acts first may be decided by a leader for each team rolling against each other, or merely the highest individual initiative roll.
  • Action Points: Characters have an resource, in Japanese TRPGs often known as "count" and in some other games known as "action points," that they spend in order to perform actions. The next turn goes to the character with the highest action points. After all characters have spent all of their action points, the next round begins and everyone's action points refilled. The act of taking a turn may or may not cost action points itself, depending on the system.

Distance System

Are there maps, a grid, or another method of keeping track of the physical distance between characters and other objects within the game world?
  • None: There is no concept of physical distance modeled within the game rules.
  • Concrete: Distance is tracked using meters rather than an abstract measurement such as 'ranges' or 'squares.'
  • Engagements: Characters can enter an 'engagement' with each other, which typically represents being in melee weapon range and often impairs their ability to move away from each other.
  • Grid-based: There is a map with a grid, and the characters have markers placed in the grid squares. Unless otherwise specified, this grid is square. (Hexagonal grids are common in wargames and older TRPGs, but very rare in Japanese TRPGs.)
    • Manhattan Distances: Characters can not move diagonally on the grid, only in cardinal directions. So named because it resembles going from intersection to intersection in a dense city with a grid of streets, like Manhattan.
  • Relative Distances: Rather than the game requiring a map, characters keep track of their relative distance from every other character and from important objects. Abstract "range bands," such as Close Range, Short Range, Long Range, etc. are often used for this.
  • Zone-based: The game takes place on a simple map with a specific number of zones, often arranged in a straight line. The characters have markers placed in these zones.


Are there points, or some other kind of currency, that exists outside the game setting (though it may be narratively tied into the setting somehow) and can be used by players to manipulate die rolls or otherwise grant themselves an advantage?

Non-Combat Options

How well does the game support situations other than violent conflict?
  • None: The game only has rules for combat, period.
  • Checks Only: Die rolls can be made to try and accomplish non-combat tasks, but the game contains few or no special rules or character options related to them.
  • Limited: There are special rules and abilities that allow characters to perform non-combat actions, but combat remains the clear focus of the rules.
  • Robust: There is good support for non-combat activities. An interesting campaign could be played in the system, making frequent use of the core game mechanics, with no combat at all.
  • N/A: The game either doesn't have combat as a consequence of the premise, or has no special rules for combat.

Miscellaneous RPG Terminology

These terms are less important than the stuff at the top, but have the potential to mystify those unfamiliar with them, so we'll cover them here.
  • Replay: In English, commonly known as an "actual play" or "example of play." A transcript of a group of players playing a TRPG. Sometimes short ones are included in rulebooks to demonstrate the game, while longer ones are frequently illustrated and published on their own (or in magazines) as a way of promoting the TRPG.

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