The Top 18 RPG Terms Every Gamer Should Know
If you’re new to RPGs, the terms and jargon can seem confusing at first. However, you can get by at the start if you know a couple of basic terms you’ll encounter as you play the various games in this amazing genre.
Keep in mind that different RPGs use these terms a little differently, which is why we’ll only cover their basic meaning. With that said, here are 18 RPG terms you need to know.
1. Experience Points (XP or EXP)
Experience points are what your character earns in RPG video games for performing certain actions, such as defeating an enemy or completing a side quest. If the character accumulates enough XP, they’ll level up. After leveling up, the XP counter will reset and start counting towards the next level until it reaches the maximum.
2. Character Level
A character’s level is a number that represents how strong they are in the game. It applies to enemies as well. So if your character encounters an enemy with a higher level than them, you may find that foe harder to vanquish (the opposite is true for enemies with a lower level than your character).
3. Leveling Up
Leveling up is the act of making your character stronger by earning EXP. Usually, when you level up a character, their stats, such as health and strength, improve. The character can also gain new skills through the act of leveling up.
Leveling up comes in handy if you’re going up against tougher enemies. This can sometimes force you to grind in video games, especially if your foes can kill you with a few hits.
4. Main Quests and Side Quests
Main quests are missions that your character must complete to advance the main plot of the game. Side quests are optional missions and aren’t vital to the game’s progression. However, they grant you rewards that can make completing the main quest easier.
The inventory is a game feature that shows you all the items, such as weapons, armor, and potions, that your player character currently has in their possession.
6. Skill Point
A skill point is what you use to acquire new abilities for your character or increase the power of existing ones. Your character can earn skill points in many ways, including leveling up (the most common way), completing quests, or opening treasure chests. Other games refer to them as ability points instead.
You spend skill points in what’s known as a skill tree.
7. Skill Tree
A skill tree is a graph that shows the skills you can obtain for a particular character. It can be linear or have multiple branches. The latter type of skill tree allows for greater skill customization and specialization.
A class or job is the role assigned to a character, and it determines their abilities and combat style. Popular character classes include warrior, gunner, wizard, thief, assassin, archer, healer, hacker, and tank.
9. Crafting, Forging, and Cooking
Crafting means creating new items by combining two or more from your inventory. Forging means crafting new weapons, armor, accessories, and similar items to use in battle. And cooking is the art of crafting consumables, such as food and potions, for healing and gaining status effects.
10. Hit Point (HP)
Hit points are another term for your character’s health and represent how many hits they can take from enemies before they perish. For instance, if your character has 10 HP remaining and an enemy’s attack deals -11 HP, they won’t survive that hit since their HP will drop to -1 HP.
When other characters in an RPG join the main character on a quest, you have a party. Some RPGs allow you to switch between characters in your party, and even customize them, while others do not. And it’s usually game over when enemies wipe out your entire party.
12. Dungeons and Towns
A dungeon is a dangerous, closed-off area or level, such as a castle or cave, full of enemy encounters. Completing a dungeon usually provides rewards.
Towns, on the other hand, are places of respite. Here, your character can rest to regenerate health, stock up on items and gear, and find new quests, among other things.
13. Main Bosses and Mini-Bosses
Main bosses are powerful enemy types that you must defeat to progress in the game. Also, defeating them usually rewards you with a higher number of XP compared to standard enemies. Some main bosses even give you a special item or two upon defeat.
A mini-boss is another strong type of enemy you’ll run into in an RPG game, but defeating them is optional. You typically encounter mini-bosses at the end of dungeons when you venture off the beaten path, and they also give you special rewards when defeated.
14. Status Effects and Ailments
A status effect is a positive but short-lived effect on your character. For instance, your character can consume a potion and get a status effect that temporarily raises their max health or increases their strength.
A status ailment is the opposite of a status effect. A popular status ailment is “poison,” where an afflicted character slowly loses health over a short period of time.
15. Character Creator
A character creator is a UI feature that enables you to make and define a character from scratch. For example, it can allow you to choose what class the character will be and what gender, race, body type, hairstyle, and voice they’ll have.
16. Turned-Based RPG
In a turn-based RPG, your character and enemies take turns during a battle. When it’s your turn, a menu pops up, allowing you to choose an action, such as attacking, blocking, healing, or reviving a fallen party member. After all the characters in your party have made their move, it becomes the enemies’ turn.
17. Real-Time Combat RPG
In a real-time combat RPG, your character and enemies attack each other simultaneously instead of taking turns. It’s just like any other traditional action game but with deep RPG mechanics.
18. Massive Multiplayer Online RPG (MMORPG)
An MMORPG is an online game where your player character exists with hundreds of thousands of others in a persistent world. A persistent world is one where events in the game keep happening even after you’ve logged out. MMORPGs typically have social elements, such as voice and text chatting, that allow you to communicate with other players to, for example, organize a quest or trade in-game items.
Now You’re Ready to Explore More RPG Terms
There’s a long list of RPG terms that it’s impossible to cover all of them in a single article. But with what we’ve covered here, you’ll be proficient enough to confidently venture into this genre. As you play more RPG video games, you’ll learn more terms along the way.
45+ Common Video Gaming Terms, Words, and Lingo to Know
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Chifundo is a writer for MakeUseOf. He initially studied banking but discovered a passion for writing and became a freelance writer on Upwork in 2017. He has written articles, blogs, essays and web content for dozens of clients. Chifundo loves that writing allows him to learn and explore different topics and turn them into engaging and easy-to-understand content that helps people. In his spare time, he designs and codes websites and makes video games.
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May 13, 2022 at 11:08AM