Words Every Fantasy Writer Should Know

19080ce3a9de8fa775c4798fcdf38f0bHubby and I started playing Pathfinder once a week shortly after we lost Eevee. I think it was the only thing our friends knew to do to keep us from completely retreating into ourselves and it worked well, all things considered. We’ve gotten to the point where there are four campaigns going and each one involves different members of our larger friend circle, and we play at least twice a week. Last weekend, we added a single module to that list…and I DM’d.

Despite having created several characters and grasping the basics from a player side, I knew going into DM’ing that I was really lacking the know-how to guide a party through the story. The only thing I had going for me was my ability to roleplay all the NPCs and make the material fairly animated and interesting. It helped that my three players are all long-time Pathfinder players and two of them are the DMs for all of our other in-progress campaigns. Anyway, I read through the first chapter of my module, loved the story, got started… and totally fell in love with being the dungeon master.

Since then I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to learn the finer points of playing god in a pre-constructed story, and I was surprised to realize that I don’t know a lot of the terms. Not just Pathfinder specific terms, either, but general, real world and fiction-writing-applicable words. So I’m going to start a list! These are words taken from the GameMastery Guide (page 55) that I didn’t know. Someone please tell me that at least a few of these words are new to you too.

Absternious – not self-indulgent, especially when eating and drinking. E.g. “We only had a bottle.” “Very abstemious of you.”

Nugatory – of no value or importance. E.g. “a nugatory and pointless observation”

Lapidary – (of language) engraved on or suitable for engraving on stone and therefore elegant and concise. E.g. “a lapidary statement”

Beshrew – make wicked; deprave, or invoke evil upon; curse; blame for a misfortune.

Alluvium – a deposit of clay, silt, sand, and gravel left by flowing streams in a river valley or delta, typically producing fertile soil.

Xanthous – having yellowish, red, auburn, or brown hair.

Convivial – (of an atmosphere or event) friendly, lively, and enjoyable. (of a person) cheerful and friendly; jovial.

Cyclopean – denoting a type of ancient masonry made with massive irregular blocks.

Hecatomb – (in ancient Greece or Rome) a great public sacrifice, originally of a hundred oxen or an extensive loss of life for some cause

Coxcomb – a vain and conceited man; a dandy.

Elan – energy, style, and enthusiasm. E.g. “a rousing march, played with great elan”

Duffer – an incompetent or stupid person, especially an elderly one. E.g. “he’s the most worthless old duffer”

Rigmarole – a lengthy and complicated procedure. E.g. “he went through the rigmarole of securing the front door”

Bilbo – a sword used in former times, noted for the temper and elasticity of its blade

Halidom – a holy place, as a church or sanctuary

Mordant – (especially of humor) having or showing a sharp or critical quality; biting. E.g. “a mordant sense of humor”

Hirsute – hairy. E.g. “their hirsute chests”

Lampoon – publicly criticize (someone or something) by using ridicule, irony, or sarcasm. E.g. “the senator made himself famous as a pinch-penny watchdog of public spending, lampooning dubious federal projects”

Fustigate – to criticize severely

Madrigal – a part-song for several voices, especially one of the Renaissance period, typically arranged in elaborate counterpoint and without instrumental accompaniment. Originally used of a genre of 14th-century Italian songs, the term now usually refers to English or Italian songs of the late 16th and early 17th c., in a free style strongly influenced by the text

Hagiography – the writing of the lives of saints

Foozle – a clumsy or botched attempt at something, especially a shot in golf

Jeremiad – a long, mournful complaint or lamentation; a list of woes

Truncate – shorten (something) by cutting off the top or the end

Dross – something regarded as worthless; rubbish. E.g. “there are bargains if you have the patience to sift through the dross”

Cuspidor – a spittoon

and because I had to then Google that one:
Spittoon – a metal or earthenware pot typically having a funnel-shaped top, used for spitting into.

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5 thoughts on “Words Every Fantasy Writer Should Know

    • If you weren’t so far away I would say you should join in on one of our campaigns! I’ve thought about trying to set up a virtual table top game though because there are a number of people I’d like to rope in who are not in close physical proximity to each other, but I’m not quiet sure how to go about it.

  1. Plenty of those words were new to me, although some of them I know by different definitions or spellings. Like “negatory” instead of “nugatory”. And I know mordant as a fixative for plant based dyes. Sounds like your RPG’s are a lot of fun. I’ve never gotten into video games of any sort but would like to start the fantasy/medieval festival route as a vendor one day so perhaps will get to live out my fantasies in that way, lol.

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