MMO Glossary


Abbreviation for achievement. Basically, sometimes when you do something in a game, a little text box will pop up telling you that you’ve just done the thing you just did. This is disproportionately satisfying. And often they have amusing names.


The attention of monsters. Traditional MMO gameplay places a high importance on making sure enemies are attacking the right people and are not attacking the wrong people. See also: tank, threat.


Abbreviation for alternate or alternative character. A character you play who is not your main. Some people have far, far too many of these, an affliction known as altaholism. See also: main.


Abbreviation for area of effect. These are the cool spells that let you do a thing to lots of things all at the same time. This is disproportionately satisfying.


Something that makes a character better at something. See also: debuff.


After an ability is used, there is usually a period of time during which it cannot be used. This period of time is called the cooldown. It is always longer than you would wish. This is disproportionately frustrating. Somewhat confusingly, the word can also be used to describe the abilities themselves, especially powerful abilities that have long cooldowns. This can often lead to such interesting constructions as “all my cooldowns are on cooldown.”


Abbreviation for critical hit. This is a hit that does more damage than usual. For players of DPS character, these are basically the only reason to get out of bed in the morning. See also: DPS.


Something that makes a character worse at something. See also: buff.


Abbreviation for DPS. More specifically, DPS is quicker to type, being three characters, but deeps is quicker to say. See also: DPS.


Abbreviation for dragon kill points. This is a loot distribution system dating back to the first ever MMOs. Please note, the guild in this book does not actually use it. This does not, however, stop them joking about it.


Abbreviation for damage over time. Something that causes a small amount of damage repeatedly for a set period. The experience of watching your enemies slowly wither away from innumerable tiny injuries appeals to a certain sort of player. See also: HoT.


Abbreviation for damage per second. Confusingly, the term is used both to describe the actual damage done by characters and also characters whose primary role is to deal damage. For example, “The DPS need to do more DPS.” It can also be used as a verb. For example, “We need more DPS on the boss, so the DPS need to DPS the boss more.”


The laborious or oddly relaxing and Zen-like (depending on who you talk to) process of collecting resources within the gameworld in order to make cool stuff. Or, more commonly, pointless stuff that you need to make five hundred of before you’re allowed to make the cool stuff. See also: grinding.

 Gear Check

A fight that is mechanically simple but which can only be beaten if the players have good enough equipment to survive their enemies’ attacks and kill them quickly.


In loot distribution, wanting an item that you cannot use immediately, either because you wish to sell it, give it to an alt, or use it in a different spec. See also: alt, need, spec.


Playing the same content over and over again in order to acquire money, experience, or materials with which to make cool stuff. Distinct from farming in that it usually implies content that is actually challenging. See also: farming.


One who, well, heals. Tanks, healers, and DPS form the “holy trinity” of traditional MMO gameplay. See also: DPS, tank.


Abbreviation for heal over time. Something that causes a small amount of healing repeatedly for a set period. Common design is for one healing class to rely more on heal over time effects than other classes. It is traditional for players of this class to enquire whether their fellow players wish their girlfriends had HoTs like them. See also: DoT.


Abbreviation for imbalanced. Generally, and counterintuitively, used as a term of approbation. Essentially, since the purpose of the game is to excel in your chosen area, performing in an imbalanced way is desirable, hence imba is good. Confusingly, OP, which has similar connotations, can be either positive or negative. See also: OP.


A self-contained bit of the game of which a unique copy will be created for each group that enters.


Moving away from an enemy such that it cannot reach you. Ideally, either you or your allies should be killing the enemy while this happens, otherwise it is something of a short-term solution.

Line of Sight

Sometimes abbreviated to LoS. As a noun, the parts of the virtual space that a particular creature can see. As a verb, the practice of attacking a ranged weapon-wielding enemy and then moving out of that enemy’s line of sight so that it will approach you, allowing you to fight it in more favourable conditions.


A means by which a complex set of commands can be tied to a single key. This has practical uses such enabling rapid target switching or the casting of healing spells on characters you have not currently selected. It also has less practical applications such as being able to shout “I shed the blood of Saxon men” at a moment’s notice.


Your highest level and best-geared character. Strangely, people you meet in MMOs are hardly ever playing their mains, who are always much better geared than the character they are currently playing. Or than you. Or than anyone else on the server.


The spec you primarily play or that you play most often with your guild. See also: offspec, spec.


A resource used to cast spells. Traditionally blue. Traditionally in short supply.


Abbreviation for materials. Many MMOs contain elaborating crafting mechanics that allow players to manufacture a wide variety of strange and wonderful items, none of which anybody wants or has any use for. Crafting these items requires raw materials (“mats”).


Not an abbreviation for anything and actually quite hard to explain without using the word. Fighting things when you are close to those things using sharp things or heavy things.


Usually an enemy. For those who are interested in the very specific etymology of video games, the term is actually an abbreviation of mobile object.


Abbreviation for main tank. Usually your best-geared and most experienced tank, who will demonstrate this experience by letting the boss punch them in the face. See also: OT, tank.


In loot distribution, to have immediate use for an item. That is, to be able to use it on your current character in their current spec. See also: greed, spec.


To reduce in power or efficacy. Nerfs in MMOs offer a fine example of cultural relativism in microcosm. Nerfs directed at other people’s classes are fair, proportional, and justified. Nerfs directed at your class are nonsensical bullshit and evidence that the game developers have no idea how to do their jobs properly.


In games that allow switching between specialisations, your offspec is the specialisation with which you are less familiar and for which you have less gear. See also: mainspec, spec.


Abbreviation for out of mana. An unfortunate condition that afflicts healers everywhere, leads to wipes, and is caused primarily by DPS standing in fire. See also: DPS, mana, wipe.


Abbreviation for overpowered. Used with about equal frequency as admonition and approbation. For example, “lightning spear is flat-out OP. They should nerf it” (negative). “Omg, I am loving how OP lightning spear is right now” (positive). See also: imba.


Abbreviation for off-tank. Usually the second best-geared tank in a raid. The OT’s job is to get hit in the face by all the things that aren’t hitting the MT in the face. See also: MT, tank.

 Pb AoE

Abbreviation for point-blank area of effect. These are slightly less cool spells that let you do a thing to lots of things all at once but only if they’re standing right next to you. See also: AoE.


For those who care about video game etymology, proc is an abbreviation of spec proc, which is an abbreviation of special procedure. Basically a proc is a thing, usually a cool thing, that happens when something else happens. Sometimes it only sometimes happens when the other thing happens and sometimes it always happens when the other thing happens. For example, “when Unrelenting Darkness procs cast Shadow Weave” (this implies that Unrelenting Darkness only happens sometimes, and when it does happen, you should cast Shadow Weave) versus “cast Kidney Stab to proc Blood Frenzy” (this implies that casting Kidney Stab causes Blood Frenzy to happen).


Abbreviation for pickup group. Randomly assigned players put together by the computer to do group content. Sometimes executing tricky tactical encounters with a collection of strangers you will meet again, some of whom may not speak your language, and all of whom are restricted to communicating entirely in text, is more fun than it sounds. Sometimes it really, really isn’t.


To attract the attention of a group of enemies. For the initiated, a convention of the medium is that packs of monsters will obligingly stand around, minding their own business, until the players are ready to attack them.


A large group of players, often but not always drawn from within a guild, who work together to defeat difficult group content.


Abbreviation for specialisation. Most classes in MMOs can be played in more than one way. Each way of playing the class is a specialisation. Some classes can spec for multiple roles (DPS, tank, healing), others can spec to do damage of different sorts or in different ways. See also: mainspec, offspec.


To kill an enemy or group of enemies with no help from other players.

Stack (1)

A number of mechanics in this kind of game are proximity related and many of them require all of the players to move close to a single player forming a sort of giant pile of particle effects and ridiculous shoulderpads. This is called stacking.

Stack (2)

A number of buffs and debuffs can be applied multiple times, having a cumulative effect. This process is known as stacking and the number of iterations of the buff or debuff that have been applied is referred to as the number of stacks. Although this terminology with the first sense of stack (see above) it is still far more effective to say “wait until you get 10 stacks of pyroclasm” than “wait until the pyroclasm buff has been applied ten times without any the previous applications expiring, thus resulting in a cumulative effect ten times stronger than the original buff.” See also: debuff, buff.


Abbreviation for tactics.


In traditional MMO gameplay, enemies will ignore all sensible principles of warfare and strategy to focus their attentions on the least vulnerable and most heavily armoured character in the party. Players will ignore all sensible principles of warfare and strategy by arranging for damage to be concentrated on a single character rather than the burden being spread amongst the group. Somehow this works. The character, in both instances, is said to be the tank. See also: MT, OT.


The fictional entertainment company responsible for creating and maintaining the fictional MMO played by the characters in this book. Any similarity between Tempest and the real world organisation to which it is obviously a thinly veiled reference is purely coincidental.


A game mechanical measure of how much a monster wants to murder your face off. Tank characters are good at generating threat and also good at dealing with the resultant face murdering. DPS characters should be good at mitigating threat but often aren’t. They are very bad at the dealing with the resultant face murdering, which is why they should also be nicer to healers. See also: DPS, healer, tank.


The original version of a game before it was ruined by expansions and dumbed down for the noobs.


The tragic but ultimately unavoidable death of everybody in a group or raid.

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