Common RPG Terms

For a newcomer to the world of gaming, the terminology used can sometimes be daunting. From the common terms with meanings that vary from the one used otherwise to strings of letters impossible to decipher unless you already know their meaning, this guide intends to familiarize yourself with the terms used commonly in RPGs, and more specifically in Final Fantasies.

Defining the Basics

To start with, there is the term RPG. This stands for Role-Playing Game. The exact definition of this term is heavily debated in some circles, although is generally understood to refer to games with emphasis on character building and story, with often somewhat un-interactive gameplay. There are two major sub-genres to RPGs, those of J-RPG and W-RPG. They refer to Japanese RPGs and western RPGs, respectively. While both belong to the greater category of RPG, the experience of playing the two types of them can be vastly different. W-RPGs tend to throw you into the world with hardly an idea what to do, letting you explore freely and maybe do some story on the side. Your character is nothing but an empty plate for you to fill out according to your own ideas. J-RPGs on the other hand, have a clearly defined story and vibrant characters that stand on their own, and often let you explore the world to a great degree as well.

Final Fantasies are J-RPGs for the most part, although some come in the strategy, fighter, shooter and other genres as well. Like RPG, all of the other genres have sub-genres, although we won't be going into those here.

Types of Gameplay

In general, gameplay in Final Fantasies can be divided into three major categories. The first of these you'll likely come across is exploration. During exploration-segments of the game you walk, fly or swim by yourself or with an aid through towns, dungeons and the overworld, talking to people and traveling. What is referred to as the overworld is the game world minus any towns and dungeons. The name comes from older games where you would enter a special map outside of towns and dungeons where your character sprite(s) would appear to be the size of towns or mountains, and you could freely roam where you wished as long as the monsters encountered allowed you to survive. In these games you would only appear to be the right size in relation to the world when you entered towns and dungeons. In modern games the concept of an overworld is often not used at all, with the closest thing to it being a map that you point and click on various locations to enter.

The second major category is battle. These can be called encounters, fights, duels and challenges among other things, but the basic concept behind them is the same. That is, you meet up with an enemy or three and your side fights their side until one of the sides is defeated. For most people, this is the actual gameplay of a game. In actual fact it is only one of the three major categories of it. If you only enjoy the battle portion of a game, most Final Fantasies are likely not for you.

The last and often ignored major category is menu play. Among other things menu play lets you make your characters stronger through various means, manage the items you have brought along, change various game settings and more. In games with a lot of situational equipment, for example, menu play can take up a significant portion of the game as you change your equipment to reflect the nature of your enemies and the tasks you are completing at the moment. While it is rarely acknowledged as a fully fledged portion of a game, menu play is actually often cited as the part of an RPG that makes it an RPG.

There are also other categories of gameplay, like minigames. These are games within a game, and most often not required to advance in the overall game. They can be for example the likes of Triple Triad which lets you play cards, the various amusement park games of Golden Saucer, or sports games like Blitzball.

List of Terms

An uncommonly strong enemy. They are often used to advance the story. There are also super bosses. These are often hidden and/or can only be accessed after defeating the final boss of the game, and are far more difficult than regular bosses.

Stands for CutScene. It is a non-interactive portion of games where you watch the story unfold. Final Fantasies often use pre-rendered cutscenes for the most important story bits. Pre-rendered cutscenes have better graphics compared to the game otherwise.

A non-field and non-town area. Can refer to caves, forests and buildings among other things. In online games they refer to a dungeon that can be entered by a certain group of people only and have a string of boss battles to fight, often within a time limit. Online dungeons are usually instanced, those that aren't are referred to as public dungeons. Anyone can enter them.

The act of repeatedly fighting enemies for the items they drop. More commonly used in online games.

The act of repeatedly fighting enemies for the exp they give. Can also be used to refer to the act of gaining levels being tedious. More commonly used in online games.

What are called jobs in Final Fantasies are often called classes in other RPGs. It describes what a character does in some detail, for example what type of a mage or warrior they are.

Non-Player Character. This refers to all the characters in a game that you don't play as. In online games, they're all the characters that aren't controlled by people.

As mentioned above, overworld is the map-like place where your character appears as big as towns or mountains. From the overworld, you can enter towns and dungeons, and generally your character is the only living thing you see. On the overworld, monsters are random encounters.

The group of characters you control in battle and otherwise. In online games this refers to the players you form a group with. In both cases, you're able to see the HP and MP of your party among other things.

Random Encounter
A game mechanic where monsters and other enemies appear out of thin air as you walk instead of being visible before they attack you.

A character's numeric values of Strength, Vitality, Intelligence, Mind, Attack, Defense, Evasion and other such things.

Also status effect. How well a character is feeling. Includes such things as Poison, Petrify, Stun, Blind, KO and others.

Online Terms

While most Final Fantasies are offline games (that is, they don't require online connectivity to play), some have online capabilities or are online entirely. These are terms that are used exclusively or almost exclusively in relation to online games.

The act of accidentally or on purpose gaining the attention of an aggressive monster. Aggressive monsters will attack when they notice you. In other games, this is also used to refer to the amount of hate you have.

If you're banned you cannot access the game you're banned from. Bans come in two sorts, temp bans and perma bans. Temp bans last a short time, while a perma ban means you can never access the game again from the same account.

While in other games this can refer to a player's own storage chara, in Final Fantasies it is used to refer to a character used by a group of players as storage, mainly for gil but also for items that sell for a lot.

A player character who isn't controlled by a human but instead by a script run by a computer. It is a ban-worthy offense.

In other online games often referred to as a toon. This is a player's character.

Stands for Damage Dealer. This is a position a player can take in a party, as opposed to a tank or a healer.

An expansion is basically a huge update. It adds new story, new enemies, new jobs, new items and other things. It can also change game mechanics in some cases for the existing game. Each expansion has a title of its own, for example Final Fantasy XI: Chains of Promathia.

Refers to Game Masters in online games. GMs among other things help with game bugs and can ban players that are acting badly or cheat. They are not regular players, but hired by the game company to enforce their rules for the game.

Closely related with enmity. Each action you take in battle will generate enmity, some actions more, some less. When you have generated the most enmity of the characters attacking a mob, that mob will attack you instead of other players. This means you've grabbed hate.

An area of the game where no players not in the same party with you can enter. Sometimes instances are personal, only for yourself. In an instance you cannot see any other player characters than your group. Any enemies in an instance you must defeat yourself or with your party, no outsider can help. There is also a variation of this, where the location isn't instanced but the monster is. In this case you can see the instanced monsters and all player characters in the vicinity, but other players not in your party cannot help with defeating the monster.

Micro Transaction
This refers to a small sum of money a player can play to unlock certain features within a game, for example new clothes for a character, new items or new enemies.

An MMO term for monsters that you fight against.

Refers to a player's character created solely to hold on to items, gil or for a certain activity like standing in place selling items from their inventory. Often referred to as a bank in other games.

Stands for Notorious Monster. They are basically boss fights in online games, although can be scattered all over the world and are not necessarily triggered by the story.

While this term commonly refers to peer-to-peer traffic, as an online game term it is used to mean pay-to-play instead. When a game is p2p, it requires a regular payment (often monthly) to let you play it. The term's counterpart F2P (free-to-play) refers to online-only games that are free to play, no payment is required.

In online games PC refers to a Player Character, as opposed to an NPC (non-player character).

A position in a party that isn't roaming but stationary. The puller brings in mobs from nearby for the party to fight.

Stands for player-versus-player. A form of gameplay where players fight against each other. Its counterpart is PVE, player-versus-environment, where players fight mobs instead.

A high-level dungeon. Often requires dozens of players and can last up to several hours.

A position a player can take in a party, as opposed to a DD or a healer. A tank must keep hate at all times to prevent the mob from attacking other players in the party.

Also called patch. This refers to when new content is added to the game. They can be one-time deals (in the case of games with less or no connectivity) or frequent ones. The frequency of a game's updates depends on its own update schedule. Some online games stop updating and become dead games.

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