Sunday, November 3, 2013
Best RPG Descriptive Words & Phrases!
Roleplaying is essentially storytelling. We imagine what's going on based upon verbal and non-verbal communication; the most important being verbal (feel free to argue that point, if you must).
Certain words have more impact than others. A few are so impactful they can affect the potency of an encounter, if not the entire session. These are the most stimulating and immersive. They not only get the point across but add another layer or two of reality [no, not reality exactly, but some kind of hyper-stylized aesthetic which artfully replaces reality], expanding and deepening the story in a satisfactory way. Those are the best descriptive words in a roleplaying context.
My point is that they should be used with greater frequency. Of course, first they have to be identified.
Short words, long words, seldom-used words, compound words, and phrases. They are the little bytes, puzzle pieces, moments which hold the entire story together, driving points home, building atmosphere, creating worlds! Some have resonance because they are fresh or innovative or strange or classic with nostalgia or some combination of these.
Ideally, this blog post will be a list of 100 best RPG descriptive words and phrases. However, I don't want to build it alone. Suggest one and I'll put it down below. Feel free to include your reasoning for why you think it's awesome... did you use it in one of your games, did you hear someone else use it, etc.? Or simply comment on words/phrases mentioned that you either love or hate. Any feedback is cool.
1. Sickly as in "sickly purple death ray". Sickly alone is cool, and can be used in various ways. Incidentally, "sickly purple death ray" is the name of an OSR blog, but it probably came from somewhere (anyone know the source?). In fact, I like the whole phrase so much that I used it verbatim in tonight's LotDS game at the Game Hole convention. I thought it had more pulp pizzazz than "lightning bolt".
5. Gargantuan or colossal
6. Antediluvian technology
10. Ruinous or ruined
14. Searing (as in searing light, pain or heat)
23. Iridescent (I would also include viridescent and nigrescent)
26. Transcend and transcendent
28. Dripping with slime
30. Nameless citadels
33. Dread (also dreadful or dread-filled and filled with dread... how about dread-infused?)
41. Labyrinth and labyrinthine
44. Inconceivably precious tablets of star-quarried stone
46. Don't worry about it. (From the GM)
48. Foulness beyond the black leprosies of hell
49. Spanless gulfs of time
50. Miasmal vapors of the tomb
53. Gygaxian (sure, why not?)
57. Mucilaginous or muculent
63. Otherworldly atmosphere
64. Vile or villainous
69. Streaming ooze of charnel pollution
77. Viscid, viscous, or slick
79. Tentacular or tentacled
85. Bloated, blood-drenched fiends
86. Swollen, alien, egg-sacs
89. Cronenbergian or Cronenberg-esque
90. Lovecraftian (this one probably gets overused a lot, but still worthy of placing here)
95. Under the scarlet light of a bloated, dying sun (that's from AS&SH)
96. Disharmonious or harmonious
98. Incongruent or congruent
I think we (as GMs) should consider tailoring our adventures to fit these transcendent words. What if those gaming sessions suddenly became more to our liking and individual aesthetic because we used blasphemous, lurid, and batracian? Let those Lovecraftian words be our damnable guide!
p.s. Thanks for the help, everyone! Feel free to use this as your d100 random descriptive table.