samurai

Three honest-to-gosh samurai, 1870.pl. n. samurai (never “samurais”)
1. n. (“sam urr eye”), in medieval Japan, a member of the military nobility, a rough equivalent of European knight; followers of the martial philosophy of Bushido (Japanese 武士道 bushido “way of the warrior”), they wear the daisho 大小 daisho “big-little”), a pair of matched swords; often a member of a samurai clan; closely associated with aristocratic pastimes like calligraphy, poetry and music; from Japanese 侍 samurai “to wait upon nobility,” formerly pronounced saburau or saburai; c. 1720. See ronin.
2. in historical and fantasy gaming milieux, particularly those with an East Asian flavor, characters inspired by the samurai of Japanese history; characters based on, or actually referred to as samurai, are also popular in the cyberpunk science fiction genre.

Addendum: Wanna play as a samurai? It’s a character class in Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 ed. and Pathfinder; samurai are all up in Legend of the Five Rings; there’s a samurai creature type in Magic: The Gathering; samurai is a class in several Final Fantasy games; there’s the Reiner Knizia board game Samurai, and the classic game Samurai Swords, aka Ikusa.

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Kunochan

sandbox game

n., a role-playing game scenario that permits the players to choose whatever action or response to game events they wish; the game environment and story adjust to meet the players’ wishes, rather than the other way around. Opposite of linear game.

Addendum: Sandbox games often have no discernible winning condition or end-point, and the game often centers on world exploration rather than a specific plotline. So-called because players are given an area in which to play and express their creativity, much like children in a sandbox.

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Kunochan

sandworm

Sandworm diagram. Artist's website is linked.pl. sandworms; also Shai-Hulud, Shaitan; also sand worm
1. in the Dune series of classic science fiction novels by author Frank Herbert, and associated media, an enormous animal, a cylindrical worm-like creature as much as 1,300 feet long and 130 feet in diameter, that tunnels beneath the surface and consumes any creature that makes rhythmic motions on the surface; juvenile sandtrout produce excretions that become the powerful, psionics-inducing spice melange; c. 1965.
2. in science fiction and fantasy gaming milieux, monsters inspired by the sandworms of Herbert; examples include the purple wormDark SunSink Worm, and Dragonlance sand worm in Dungeons & Dragons and the death worm from Pathfinder; the thermopod in Magic: The Gathering; giant sand eels in the Talislanta RPG series; the trygon in the Warhammer 40,000 universe; dholes from the Cthulhu Mythos; the riftworm from Gears of War 2; sand worms inThe Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy series; Dirge in Shadow of the Colossus; Ouro and other sand worms in World of Warcraft; and of course, in such Dune-based games as the CCG Dune: Eye of the Storm, the Avalon Hill board game Dune, the classic RTS game Dune II; and many, many others.

Submitted by:

Kunochan

sanity check

A "failed sanity check" mini for Call of Cthulhu.pl. n., sanity checks
1. in Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu role-playing game, a die roll made to determine if a character suffers mental derangement penalties upon encountering supernatural creatures. See check; see also Cthulhu Mythos.
2. in gamerese, used to refer to any situation that may produce mental derangement in a player. Ex: John’s girlfriend dumped him right out of the blue, and lemme tell ya, he failed his sanity check big time.

Submitted by:

Mark Moore

Santa Claus

Ho ho ho.v. santa clausing
1. p.n., a plump white-bearded and red-suited old man in modern folklore who delivers presents to good Christian children at Christmas; also Santa; modification of Dutch Sinterklaas, alteration of Sint Nikolaas “Saint Nicholas.”
2. in gamerese, a gamemaster, usu. inexperienced, who gives the players pretty much anything they want. Ex: Christ… Gauntlets of Ogre Power AND the Girdle of Giant Strength? He’s really santa clausing us! See monty haul.

Submitted by:

Blake Beals

Satanism

All hail Satan!also n. Satanist; adj. Satanic, satanic
p.n., the organized worship of the Christian Satan, so as to gain arcane powers and to bring about Armageddon, as imagined to exist by Christians; from Hebrew ha-satan “the opposer,” the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible.

Addendum: Since role-playing games are so often associated with “Satanism,” it’s interesting to examine what Satanism really is. Satanism does not exist; even those who call themselves “Satanists,” such as the followers of the late Anton Szandor LaVey, are not “real” Satanists, in the Christian sense. Satanism is an imaginary conspiracy invented by certain Christian sects as a “logical” consequence of their belief in a supreme supernatural evil. If such an evil exists, it must exist to corrupt humanity; if humanity is corrupt, but the existence of Satan is not obvious, then there must be a secret conspiracy. Usually, this conspiracy is identified with non-Christian groups; Jews, Muslims, atheists, pagans, homosexuals, scientists, artists, musicians and progressives. It can also be attributed to rival Christian sects.

But to Christian believers, Satanists do not just worship Satan; they get powers through this worship, and this is what makes belief in Satanism a purely religious belief. Someone can buy every Anton LaVey book, but it won’t give them “magic powers.” It also won’t compel them to eat babies, rape virgins, burn down churches, or any of the other things Christians imagine Satanists would do.

Belief in Satanism has been very dangerous throughout the ages; the Inquisition and the witch trials are just the most famous examples. In the 1990’s, a movement spread throughout America’s conservative Christians resurrecting the Satanism conspiracies. The mania spread to psychiatry and law enforcement, with thousands of people compelled to invent “recovered” memories of Satanic ritual abuse. Countless people have been jailed based solely on these recovered memories. Only in the last few years has this hoax been thoroughly discredited; it has been pointed out that if every charge of Satanism were true, then half of the US population would be secret Satanists, and the other half would be their “recovered memory” victims.

On a final note, I’m reminded of a kid in high school who told us we should stop playing Dungeons & Dragons, because it was Satan worship. We replied that we did not spend any of our gaming time worshiping Satan. He said that every time we used words like “demon,” “devil,” “Beelzebub,” “Asmodeus,” “Tiamat,” etc., we were giving these creatures power. When we replied that we didn’t believe any of these creatures existed, I think he wrote us off as Hell-bound sinners. Oh well. Won’t he be disappointed when he dies, and discovers that he has ceased to exist? </ramble>

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Kunochan

satyr

The Gnarlhorn Satyr miniature from the Privateer Press game Hordes.pl. satyroi, satyrs; adj. satyric, satyrical; also f.n. satyress, pl. f.n. satyresses
1. n. (“say tur”), in Greek mythology, one of a group of minor male deities subordinate to nature & nymph god Pan and the wine & madness god Dionysus; they appear as goat-men, with caprine ears, tails, and phalluses; a male god with a goat’s unguligrade legs is called a faun (pl. faunes or fauns), and the two creatures have often been conflated, even in the ancient world; Middle English satyr, from Latin satyrus, Greek satyros; c. 14th century.
2. in Dungeons & Dragons, male fairy monsters based on the satyrs and fauns of myth, woodland-dwelling goat-men with goat legs and horns who cast bardic magic using pan pipes; they reproduce with dryads, or with the human females they incessantly try to seduce;  they are allowed as a player character race and class in the D&D 2nd, 3rd, and 4th eds.; also korred; c. 1976.
3. in fantasy (and sometimes occult) media and gaming milieux, creatures based on the fauns of myth (usu. the name “satyr” is preferred over “faun”); examples include Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe and the film adaptation; the faun in Pan’s Labyrinth; the satyrs in Shadowrun and GURPS Dungeon Fantasy; the satyrs (corrupted Night Elves) of the Warcraft universe; and the Beastmen of the Warhammer universe.

Addendum: In Scottish mythology, the glaistig water spirit is very much like a faun, but female.

Addendum #2: The Draenei player character race in World of Warcraft is faun-inspired.

Addendum #3: I watched Manos: The Hands of Fate about a dozen times before I read online that Torgo is supposed to be a satyr with goat legs, and that’s why his knees look like that.

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Kunochan

saving throw

What do you mean, "saving throw?"pl. n., saving throws; v. to save; n. save; D&D-ism
1. in D&D, a die roll to determine if a character can avoid the effects of a spell, poison, fire, or other adverse circumstances. See throw.
2. in gamer lingo, refers to any attempt (in game or in real life) to avoid harm. Ex: “Did you run into Greg at the con?” “Nah, I made my save versus assholes.”

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Kunochan

SCAer

You know how hard it was to GIS "sexy renaissance faire," and find a woman who was actually sexy?pl. n. SCAers
1. (“ess see ay ur”) a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
2. a Faire geek; someone with an inordinate fondness for dressing up in historically inaccurate Renaissance period clothing, and spending weekends shouting at tourists in jargon that is almost, but not completely, unlike Middle English. Also SCAdian.

Addendum: Apparently the correct term, the term SCAers use, is “SCAdian.”

Submitted by:

Kunochan, Francis Herman

scenario

pl. n. scenarios
1. n., in general usage, an imagined or projected sequence of events, esp. any of several detailed plans or possibilities; from Latin scēnārium; c. 1875.
2. in an RPG, a single encounter or story event, or a group of related encounters or storyline; often syn. with module or adventure.

Submitted by:

Kunochan

scenario breaker

pl. n. scenario breaker; v. to scenario break, scenario breaking
1. n., in RPGs, a power gamer who intentionally spoils the GM’s scenario by taking actions that, while legal in the game system, violate the story structure of the scenario. Ex: Rick avoided the entire ten-level maze by locating the exit and going in backwards — that’s when Rudy called him a scenario breaker, and threw his Diet Coke at him.

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Kunochan

science fiction

TSR's Gamma World, one of the earliest (if not the first) sci-fi RPGs.abbrev. SF, sci-fi (“sy fy”); adj. science fictional
1. in general usage, a genre of literary fiction exploring the effect of technological and scientific advancement (real or imagined) on humanity; c. 1851. Also speculative fiction, spec fic
2. fantasy literature in which fantastic or magical components are explained through science or technology.
3. a role-playing, wargaming, or other gaming milieu based upon or inspired by science fiction literature, or which explores similar themes.

Addendum: The first sci-fi role-playing game was Gamma World; other notable sci-fi games include Traveller, ParanoiaEclipse PhaseEclipseBattlestar GalacticaTwilight ImperiumRisk 2210 AD, PandemicGalaxy Trucker, and Alien Frontiers.

Submitted by:

Kunochan

scientific romance

And speaking of scientific romance...n., a genre of fiction written in the late 19th and early 20th century, featuring European adventurers in colonial or remote settings facing savage and/or supernatural threats; includes the works of H. Rider Haggard, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs, plus such early science fiction authors as HG Wells and Jules Verne; includes recent fiction and gaming milieu based on these early novels, such as the Indiana Jones franchise and RPGs like Forgotten Futures; closely related to steampunk. Also imperialist adventure. Ex: I’d like Castle Falkenstein better if it had more scientific romance and less of the fantasy and steampunk crap.

Addendum: Yeah, just found out that the picture for this entry is from a porn site — and that steampunk “gun” isn’t a gun. Bwa ha ha ha ha. I’m not changing it.

Submitted by:

Kunochan

scoop

v. to scoop, scooping, scooped
v., in Magic: The Gathering lingo, to concede a game; because the first thing one does after conceding is to scoop up one’s cards. Source.

Submitted by:

Kunochan

screen

Behind the DM's screen.pl. n. screens
n., in RPGs, a usu. three-part folded cardboard piece stood up lengthwise, to prevent players from seeing the gamemaster’s notes and private die-rolls; usu. published by a game manufacturer, with illustrations on the player’s side, and combat tables or other useful information on the gamemaster’s side. Also gamemaster’s screen, referee’s screen, DM’s screen, player’s screen, storyteller’s screen, Wall of Fear and Ignorance (in Paranoia).

Submitted by:

Kunochan

scrub

I'm a good player, I just get bad teams.pl. n. scrubs; v. to scrub, scrubbing, scrubbed
1. v., in general usage, to rub hard and fast with a brush or cloth, as when cleaning; from Middle English scrobben, poss. Old English *scrobbian or *scrybban “to scrub”; c. 14th century.
2. n., in gamerese, esp. video games, syn. of newbie; describes someone who is bad at video games, whether due to lack of experience or of talent; presumably c. 1991.

Addendum: From Urban Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary of the Internet: “The original definition is related to a person who makes a mistake in a video game, which is such a bad mistake that it is clearly wrong, yet they persist in making it. The term derives from Street Fighter II, to describe some players that were so bad that they would mash their hands across the control pad, an act known as ‘scrubbing,’ because it relates to scrubbing a car or other object with a sponge. Thus they were deemed ‘scrubbers,’ or ‘scrubs’ for short. Over time this term expanded throughout the gaming world, and then the real world, and lost its original meaning.”

Addendum #2: According to TVTropes.org, “a Scrub is a player of a competitive video game who adamantly believes that his or her ‘house rules’ should apply to everyone to promote his or her view of ‘fair play.’ If a scrub sees a move or strategy he doesn’t like (or can’t beat), he bans it (if only in his own mind), and complains that anyone who uses it is cheap.”

Submitted by:

Kunochan

secret unit deployment

Letters From Whitechapel. The black "Jack" figure is usually hidden.n., a game mechanic in which the location of certain player units is hidden from the other players. Examples: Letters from Whitechapel, SekigaharaNuns on the Run.

Submitted by:

Paul Ang

selkie

A selkie.pl. n. selkies; also silkie, silkies
n., in Scottish, Faroese, Icelandic, and Irish folklore, creatures who take the form of seals when in the ocean, but human form (usu. a beautiful woman) when on land; like many Northern shape-shifters, the selkie often needs a magical seal pelt to assume seal form, and the pelt can be stolen to prevent the change; selkies are said to be formed from the souls of drowned persons; from Scottish selich “seal”; c. 16th century.

Addendum: Games that feature selkies include Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Magic: The Gathering, Changeling: The Dreaming, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.

Submitted by:

Kunochan

Senet

A wood-and-ivory Senet set from the tomb of Tutankhamen, 14th c. BCE.p.n., a board game with its origins in predynastic Egypt; generally considered the oldest known board game; from Archaic Egyptian zn.t n.t ḥˁb “game of passing”; circa 32nd c. BCE.

Addendum: A Senet set usually consisted of a box to hold the (at least 10) pieces and die-like “throwing sticks,” with the board on top of the box. The real rules to Senet are unknown, but several rules sets have been suggested by researchers, and these are the rules used in modern recreations of the game.

Addendum #2: There is another Ancient Egyptian game, Mehen, although very little is known about it; it’s not as old as Senet. A Persian backgammon set has been dated to 3,000 BCE. Another very old board game is Nine Men’s Morris, which originated in Ancient Rome. Compare with chess, which in its current incarnation dates only to the 15th c. CE, although it predecessors go back as far as the 6th c. CE. Still, it’s the new kid on the block.

Submitted by:

Kunochan

set collection game

n., type of board game in which players acquire sets of components, such as chits or cards, to score points. Examples: Cargo Noir, PandemicTicket to Ride.

Submitted by:

Paul Ang