Key to Some of My Terminology.

OSR: Old School Rules, Old School Renaissance, or Old School Revival- a movement in Role Playing Games to go back to prior editions or out-of-print tabletop games. Sometimes by way of reprint, other times by way of new books/rules that strongly resemble those older editions.


I posted an article a while back that used a lot of community/industry jargon.

It’s time to explain what I mean. Here’s a short glossary in no particular order:

  • OSR: Old School Rules, Old School Renaissance, or Old School Revival- a movement in Role Playing Games to go back to prior editions or out-of-print tabletop games. Sometimes by way of reprint, other times by way of new books/rules that strongly resemble those older editions.
  • OSRIC: Old School Rules Index Compilation- intended to act as a sort of open gaming license for writers who wanted to create new content for older editions of D&D. Also refers to OSR games that aren’t necessarily D&D.
  • SRD: System Reference Document- the parts of the Open Gaming License useable by the public.
  • OGL: Open Game License- legal permission granted to use the intellectual property contained in the SRD for one’s own publication. Contains a lot of legalese and usually a copy accompanies whatever product it is used for.
  • RPG: Role Playing Game- I talk about these a lot. See also TTRPG: TableTop Role Playing Game. A cooperative game played around the table with dice, characters, usually with friends. Ex: Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, and FATE.
  • “Old Grognard:” Someone who has been around the RPG industry for many years. Sometimes labeled as a bigot, gatekeeper, bitter old man, crotchety old fart, opinionated, closed minded and ignorant. OR Someone who has been around the RPG industry for a long time and welcomes fresh talent and new ideas.
  • D&D or DnD: Short for Dungeons and Dragons. Commonly written as Dungeons & Dragons as shown on various books, boxes, etc.
  • TSR or T$R: Stands for Tactical Studies Rules. The company that originally created Dungeons & Dragons and many other renowned early RPGs. Some replace the letter “S” with a dollar sign because the company’s early logo had what appeared to be a dragon in the middle. Others used it because the company developed a reputation for being seen as greedy. I use T$R to distinguish the old company from this new TSR that sprouted up a few years ago.
  • “NuTSR:” The company that currently controls the rights to the name TSR.
  • WotC: Wizards of the Coast- the company that currently produces Magic: the Gathering, D&D, and other games. Bought the original TSR. The company that still controls many of the intellectual properties created by the original TSR such as Star Frontiers, Boot Hill, every edition of D&D, and Top Secret S.I. among others. Parent company is Hasbro.
  • IP: In this case, Intellectual Property. This comes up a lot in relation to various trademark and copyright issues within the tabletop game industry.
  • PC: (*I get how this one is confusing.) Player Character- A character at the table controlled by one of the players of the game. Pretty much a standard term throughout the industry and in some video games.
  • NPC: A Non-Player Character. This is a character run by the Game Master. There are hundreds, even thousands of NPCs in a given game world. They are every family member, shopkeeper, monster, and bad guy in an RPG. Literally anyone the PCs interact with outside of themselves.
  • GM: Game Master- the person in charge of the game. Usually the person who creates the game world for the Player Characters to interact with. See also: Dungeon Master (DM), Keeper, Judge, Storyteller, and Narrator. Different names, all the same job. It’s the person at the head of the table behind the big screen who describes the world the characters see, hear, touch, smell and even taste. They are also the voice of all of the NPCs the PCs run into.
  • PHB: Players HandBook- This is the core rulebook from which the entire game springs to life. There are rules contained therein for character generation, movement, travel, spells, combat, equipment and so on.
  • GM’s Guide or DMG: Game Master’s Guide or Dungeon Master’s Guide: a useful book for the person running the game that usually includes how the game is set up, how to run a game, plus magic items, loot, and tons of advice about the game.
  • MM or Monster Manual: A book containing a veritable encyclopedia of monsters for use with the D&D game. Often gets used to describe the bestiary or creature compendiums for other different games.
  • OG: For my purposes, it means “Old Gamer,” “Old GM,” or “Old Grognard.”

This is just a start. It may end up becoming a page unto itself on this site. It is by no means intended as legal terminology or even a technical set of definitions. If you see me referring to one of these terms in an article, this is what I am talking about.

Disclaimer: Statements expressed in this article are strictly my opinion. If you disagree or have a different opinion, that’s okay. I’m not an expert on everything. I’m not always right. I’m just writing from my experience as I know it. Your mileage may vary.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you. Have a good one!

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa always looking for more work. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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