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.

I'll start...

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".

2.  Eldritch

3.  Cyclopean

4.  Cosmic

5.  Gargantuan or colossal

6.  Antediluvian technology

7.  Batracian

8.  Resplendent

9.  Dweomer

10.  Ruinous or ruined

11.  Ravenous

12.  Ethereal

13.  Bestial

14.  Searing (as in searing light, pain or heat)

15.  Gibbous

16.  Rugose

17.  Abhorrent

18.  Sanguine

19.  Lurid

20.  Esoteric

21.  Membranous

22.  Blasphemous

23.  Iridescent (I would also include viridescent and nigrescent)

24.  Irascible

25.  Incandescent

26. Transcend and transcendent

27.  Stagnant

28.  Dripping with slime

29.  Holocaust

30.  Nameless citadels

31.  Gluttonous

32.  Baleful

33.  Dread (also dreadful or dread-filled and filled with dread... how about dread-infused?)

34.  Grimoire

35.  Preternatural

36.  Abattoir

37.  Swarthy

39.  Catacombs

40.  Grotto

41.  Labyrinth and labyrinthine

42.  Sepulcher

43.  Decrepitude

44.  Inconceivably precious tablets of star-quarried stone

45.  Venereal

46.  Don't worry about it. (From the GM)

47.  Vomitous

48.  Foulness beyond the black leprosies of hell

49.  Spanless gulfs of time

50.  Miasmal vapors of the tomb

51.  Noxious

52.  Permeating

53.  Gygaxian  (sure, why not?)

54.  Dank

55.  Bilious

56.  Tenebrous

57.  Mucilaginous or muculent

58.  Corpulent

59.  Putrescence

60.  Hecatomb

61.  Gloom

62.  Unctuous

63.  Otherworldly atmosphere

64.  Vile or villainous

65.  Writhing

66.  Glistening

67.  Seething

68.  Tumorous

69.  Streaming ooze of charnel pollution

70.  Deliquescent

71.  Pulsating

72.  Malodorous

73.  Mephitic

74.  Noisome

75.  Seething

76.  Ichorous

77.  Viscid, viscous, or slick

78.  Visceral

79.  Tentacular or tentacled

80.  Moist

81.  Mellifluous

82.  Unspeakable

83.  Tumescent

84.  Susurration

85.  Bloated, blood-drenched fiends

86.  Swollen, alien, egg-sacs

87.  Witch-haunted

88.  Melange

89.  Cronenbergian or Cronenberg-esque

90.  Lovecraftian (this one probably gets overused a lot, but still worthy of placing here)

91.  Ultra-telluric

92.  Atlantean

93.  Decadent

94.  Degenerate

95.  Under the scarlet light of a bloated, dying sun (that's from AS&SH)

96.  Disharmonious or harmonious

97.  Unrelenting

98.  Incongruent or congruent

99.  Crystaline

100.  Kaleidoscopic

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.

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