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The RPG Cliche List


Dark Dungeons Law. At a certain character level in Dungeons & Dragons games, Dungeon Masters begin teaching the players real magic. Unfortunately, no gamer has ever been able to determine which level this would be, and - strangely - the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide have absolutely no information on the matter. Of course, it has to be at some level, right? After all, the Christian fundamentalists who presented this information would never go against their religion by bearing false witness, would they?

Dark Dungeons Corollary. Every game that claims to have its magic based on "real occultism" is just a thinly veneered D&D-like system. (Nephilim, Authentic Thaumaturgy...)

Deck Of Many Things Law. In Dungeons & Dragons games, players will always screw around with a Deck Of Many Things if they find one. (Exception: most players in a new game right after a campaign that ended because of a Deck Of Many Things.)

Describer Goon. Pernicious and highly annoying player type in many LARPs. These players enjoy playing characters with quirks and, rather than acting them out, tell other players about these quirks. (ie "Hey, you notice that my character has a limp and speaks with a French accent," as opposed to actually miming a limp and adopting a French accent.)

Desert Gorge Maneuver. The damnably silly process of throwing one party of replacement characters after another against an enemy lair, in order to wear them down through attrition. (So named for the Desert Gorge strip in KODT, in which the Knights created and expended hundreds of characters before finally managing to exterminate the inhabitants of an old west town.)

Domain Of Satan Rule. Without exception, all RPGs based on Christian ideas suck horribly and/or quickly go out of print.

DP9 Fanboy Law. Beyond the occasional GM screen, no Dream Pod 9 product can ever receive a bad review. Even indifferent reviews are pretty rare.

Dravenclone. A young LARPer who has recently discovered The Crow films and comic series. They then have the startlingly original idea of painting their face in the fashion of said Crow, and/or playing Crow archetypes at Masquerade LARPs. Dravenclone makeup must be applied in less than twenty seconds, and never while actually looking into a mirror and paying attention. These individuals are often embryonic Gothlings.

Dwarven Beard Controversy. The much-debated (and very trite) question over whether or not female dwarves have beards. These arguments usually start when a gamemaster - right in the middle of a social encounter - surprises a player by assuming/insisting that his female dwarf character has a beard.

Facial Hair Law. The style and amount of facial hair on any character will indicate alignment and general tendencies: goatees are either evil or poseurs, full beards are lovable big guys, long beards indicate wisdom, and scraggly, unkempt beards mean insanity. This is never more true than in fantasy games.

Felton's Law. No party is so powerful that a clever trap can't defeat them. (So named for B.A. Felton from Knights of the Dinner Table, whom this saying is attributed to.)

First Edition Law. The first editions of most 90's era games suck, and will suck worse as the game industry grows older. Despite this, gamers can be counted on to ignore the track record and buy the (much better) second edition of the game, too. This is especially true of the World of Darkness games (except for Hunter: the Reckoning, which will probably suck in all editions).

Freeware Law. Free RPGs almost always suck. 85-90% of all free RPGs are created by gamers who have (at best) only a vague idea about how to actually design a game system. At least 5% more were created by gamers who simply took existing systems and altered them, usually by just changing the dice type(s). (Exception: FUDGE)

Freud's Cliche. Like Seagalism, except that the player is male and the character is always a beautiful, bitchy, idiotic woman.

Fringeworthlessness Law. All multiverse/parallel world games suck horribly and/or are out of print and/or are throwaway sourcebooks for universal RPGs. (Fringeworthy, Multiverser, GURPS Time Travel and Alternate Earths, etc. Continuum is an exception, but it's only barely in print now.)

FUDGE Law. Regardless of what other details are provided, most gamers (for some reason) require a game system's attributes to be clearly defined before they will count it as an actual game system.

Gamma World Law. It is acceptable for companies to put out one edition after another without bothering to put out sourcebooks or any other support.

GenCon Rush. The process of publishing a game prematurely in order to make it available during the ultra-all-important GenCon. Of course, doing this invariably prevents the editors from getting a good look at it, and results in a game that is even more pathetically edited than most RPGs already are.

Geriatric Gygax. An admittedly cynical and derogatory term for a very, very old gamer (almost always resembling the creator of AD&D, even down to the gray beard and ponytail) who joins a LARP troupe because their pending retirement depresses them. A disturbingly high percentage of these individuals are also mansluts.

Gothling. A young LARPer who has seen actual goths or pseudo-goths and decided they want to be just like them. Gothlinghood leads to repeated purchases at stores like Hot Topic, repeated experimentation with Type O Negative albums, and repeated confusion of cathartic notebook free-verse with actual poetry. While many goths are actually cool, gothlings tend not to get that far.

GothPunk Law. In 90's era games (particularly modern-day occult ones), the very mood and atmosphere of a game is so precociously special that it needs its own special (capitalized) name...especially if this name can use the word "punk" somehow.