Common Terms

If you don’t even know what a game of Dungeons & Dragons is like, read about what D&D is.

Table-top role-playing games, such as Dungeons & Dragons, use a lot of lingo that’s confusing if you haven’t seen it before. The rule books do a great job of explaining the words that they use. If you’re starting here, these are the terms you might need to learn.

Role-playing game (RPG)

A game that helps you tell stories. A table-top RPG is like video game RPGs, but with people making all of the decisions and applying all of the rules. Removing the computer lets the story become anything you can imagine!

Dungeons & Dragons (D&D)

An RPG that lets you adventure in a fantasy world.


A real world person. The player controls the decisions of a character in the game.

Dungeon Master (DM)

A real world person. The DM reacts to the decisions of characters and helps determine what happens in the game.


An in-game persona, possibly a person, an animal, a monster, or something even more fantastic! The DM and players each control different characters.

  • Player-controlled characters are called Player Characters (PCs). In most games a player control only one PC.
  • DM-controlled characters are called Non-Player Characters (NPCs). In most games a DM controls many NPCs—all of the different inhabitants of the game world that aren’t PCs.

Common Terms

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