byzantinex
 member, 163 posts
Tue 14 Jan 2020
at 21:14
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
I wrote a blog post about this, but I really wanted to get some more words from you guys that you like to use. I don't use profanity, and I don't like reading it in fantasy, nor do I allow it in my game.

But I love to use "period correct" or "high fantasy" curses/exclamations like "son of an orc!" or "by the gods!"

Then instead of modern words like "cool", "awesome", etc. I like to use alternative phrases, many of them pulled from antiquity.

I think of the Forgotten Realms books, Wheel of Time, and almost any other fantasy literature. They don't use "modern" words like the above, but make up their own. Kind of like the way Battlestar avoided the FCC block on the F-word by using "frack."

Anyway! Hope this helps someone and hope you guys give me some more good ones!

73 104 (and counting - Thanks for your Submissions!) Great Old School Words for Fantasy Games & RPGs :

https://d20.pub/resources/grea...tasy-games-and-rpgs/

Another good link: Dwarven Curse Generator : http://www.anim5.com/wow/generator/dwarf/index.php

By the gods

Most Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, D20 and other RPG environments are polytheistic, so instead of saying “By God” like a modern day monotheist, I like to use “by the gods” as someone in a D&D game might exclaim, evoking all the pantheon.

Spire / By the Spire

In my Ptolus : City by the Spire Pathfinder Campaign, I use the word Spire in place of “cool” or similar phraseology. Example from a young man : “That’s so Spire!”

I also use “By the Spire” as an exclamation. Someone seeing a demon appear right in front of them might shout, “By the Spire! Look out!”

Sockdollager

boss, cool, awesome

Somebody who is particularly remarkable and special, or at least thinks they are. Like Kanye West, for instance. How many times have you said to your friends, “That Kanye West is such a sockdollager?” Probably never, right?

Zozzled : “drunk” and “inebriated”

Mutton shunter : 1883 slang term for a policeman

Pigeon-livered : Victorian-era slang for someone who behaves cowardly.

This message was last edited by the user at 20:17, Fri 24 Jan.

tibiotarsus
 member, 104 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 00:37
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
By the very Pit and its puppies, yeah! Replacements for OK...

- as in 'sure': verily
- as in 'that plan is all right': Right.
- as in 'that object is all right': fine/fair/sufficient
- as in 'I'm fine': I'm hale

For cool: impressive, striking, great, brave (the direct Elizabethan equivalent of 'cool'), most fine.

Sockdollaging is more astonishing-wow than big-wow, though, since it comes from Irish slang for hitting something really hard (another fighting Irish word I love is marmalise - 'to beat to the consistency of marmalade'). It's also 19th century, so one to stock your steampunk world with.

For insults/alternatives to boringly repetitive, Christianity-based or modern swearing, I 100% recommend giving your bard access to a Shakespearian Insult Generator: http://www.literarygenius.info...nsults-generator.htm

Also, punks, doxies, toadlickers and other specific kinds of late mediaeval/early modern beggar should get more attention in crowd scenes.

Random old-timey and/or Good Words from Scotland:
to thole - to toil stoically
dreich - that kind of cold wet-air weather: slow inevitably soaking drizzle
dhule - woe, anguish (I cannot find a modern/English spelling of this)
drookit - really, really wet. Sodden, soaking, dripping on the floor.
braw - strong, bold, brave, handsome
skelp - to slap, give a glancing blow to
numpty - a fool, idiot, complete and utter muppet
glaikit - foolish, idiotic, acts dazed and dazzled
scunner - annoyance, malicious person or thing
to kipe - to give something a non-serious little chomp, like an annoyed horse, ankle-biting dog or a cat stroked wrongly.
Gaffer
 member, 1594 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 05:16
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
Try Googling "Shakespeare insults."
V_V
 member, 892 posts
 Script like razors
 Absence like wire
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 13:08
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
I peronally LOVE profanity in my games, modern or fantasy. It's organic. VERY few people use zero profanity, especially in deeply stressful situations.

Speaking of Shakespeare
I do, however, love the effort in a phrase made by Loki in MCU's Avengers (the very first one). For those that need the reference, I can only say look up "Loki avengers mewlings scene" on Youtube. For context it's after he's talking about Barton's (intended) mind frack for Black Widow and immediately follows "This is my bargain you..."

Other bits of profanity I like...well...I don't have links to them, nor...could I if I wanted to....at least without getting modded.

Speaking of modern phrases..."cool" was back in mid segregation era America. So it's not THAT new. Groovy is over a decade newer. "Awesome"...um...it's literally in 1600's vernacular. "Awesome" context? eh, not really, but debatable...(Keanu Reeves) inflection? probably....but usage...no, it's more hyperbolic now...but that's a good thing for the word usage! Speaking of fracking. Shipping manure high in transit is far newer that Fruit used in yogurt cups.

Again, though, I LOVE profanity in games. This thread is both arguing for more friendly insults, and also period relevant vernacular. There's vin diagram with plenty of mutually exclusive space. If you want to creative insults for a kid friendly audience...ask a kid! Any grade school kid. Seriously, I remember some gems from when I was in 4th grade, some by D&D players. ;) "Go bite a mother gnoll!"  and variations, since hyena's are viciously matriarchal and often mark males that "deserve" it.
tibiotarsus
 member, 106 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 14:36
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
I don't consider this thread to be arguing for/against anything, just aiming to collect resources.

For those of us who get bored of standard earthlike Anglo-Saxon profanity/modern language that makes a secondary world seem that much shallower, or just like to collect weird words, that's a nice thing to have.

A thread to think about that also encourages considering in-culture insults, which are the Best, especially if you have a mixed party ("may you sleep on onions, you goatless wretch!").
byzantinex
 member, 164 posts
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 14:42
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
tibiotarsus:
A thread to think about that also encourages considering in-culture insults, which are the Best, especially if you have a mixed party ("may you sleep on onions, you goatless wretch!")


Exactly! haha

Some even say the Bible contains profanity. When Jesus called the Pharisees "Sons of Vipers" that's basically the same thing as saying son of a .... that we would use today :D

"You landless waif" is another insult.

I just added the following insults to the post! :D

1. Rakefire

You'd think this term would mean you were kind of cool, right? Wrong. The BBC defines it as: "someone so uncool that they would outstay their welcome in someone's house until long after the fire had burned down to just the last few embers."

In other words, a rakefire is a houseguest from hell. It has the added benefit of sounding good, so you can label your brother-in-law a rakefire without him ever being the wiser.

2. Pediculous
From the Latin pediculus (louse), it means lice-infested.

What you really don't want in your home is a pediculous rakefire.

3. Scobberlotcher
This one may come from scopperloit, an old English word for "a vacation or a break from work."

Whatever its origins, it's describes someone who avoids hard work at all costs. Everyone's got that one person on the team who always seems to be missing when the hard stuff comes up. That's your friendly office scobberlotcher.

4. Gobermouch
Every office has also got a gobermouch--an ancient Irish term for a busybody. There's something about gobermouch that captures the whole concept of the disgusting habit of gossip more vividly than "busybody" though, wouldn't you agree?

5. Fopdoodle
This is someone who doesn't really matter much. There tend to be a few of those at the office, too, but remember not to let them get under your skin. If you find that difficult, try calling them a fopdoodle under your breath. It'll do wonders.

6. Klazomaniac
The most annoying person on any message board, this is an individual who ONLY SPEAKS BY SHOUTING. (It was also every parent when they first learned how to text. "HI HONEY HOW ARE YOU.I AMHEREWITHYOURMOTHER LOVE DAD")

7. Bedswerver
Don't let its high-brown origins deceive you: Shakespeare made this one up, and it means exactly what it sounds like--a cheater. He may have been attempting to link "bed" with the Dutch words "zwerver," which means "wanderer."

8. Raggabrash
You know that one person who is so totally disorganized and/or unkempt that it drives you nuts? S/he is raggabrash.

9. Foozle
A modern term synonym is fuddy-duddy; this is "a conservative, out-of-date person, especially an old man." But it can also be used to describe screwing up. For example: "Boy, you really foozled that PowerPoint presentation! Could it have been more raggabrash?"

10. Furfuraceous
From the Latin furfur (bran, chaff), this means flaky or dandruff-covered.

11. Whiffle-Whaffle
A whiffle-whaffle is just what it sounds like: someone who wastes time.

12. Dorbel
That one person who annoyingly points out every little tiny mistake (it's like they can't help themselves). It comes from the surname of French scholar Nicolas d'Orbellis. Note that dorbels are often also fopdoodles.

13. Lubberwort
In the 1500s, there was a plant that, if consumed, was said to cause stupidity or sluggishness. Like something out of Harry Potter, it wasn't real, but that didn't mean much in terms of its linguistic properties. It eventually became known as a term that described a hazy, lethargic kind of person.
Gaffer
 member, 1595 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 20:20
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
I like the intention behind this thread. But the problem with archaic terms, especially in PbP perhaps, is that then you have to explain them. Unless your players are particularly erudite.
byzantinex
 member, 165 posts
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 20:27
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
In reply to Gaffer (msg # 7):

I don't see that as a problem. It just makes all of us more knowledgeable and sesquipedalian :D
bigbadron
 moderator, 15842 posts
 He's big, he's bad,
 but mostly he's Ron.
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 20:38
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
In reply to Gaffer (msg # 7):

I don't think you need to explain anything.  If an NPC yells at a PC, "Hey!  Scobberlotcher!" any player would, in all likelihood, guess that it's not a compliment.

And playing online they can always Google it to get more information before posting a response.
tibiotarsus
 member, 107 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 20:53
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
...or they can ctrl-T and google the word, if they notice rather than roll with it as a fantasy thing. Meanwhile, look at these glorious words! (Thanks byzantinex!)

Additionally, the way English is structured makes insults fairly obvious by context: I saw some linguist on the internet once point out that English can make anything sound like an insult by emphasising the totality of it, e.g. "you complete bowl of noodles!" and, incidentally, make anything sound like a euphemisim for drunkeness by totality + noun-ed, e.g. "they were all utterly trousered" (to give examples from objects I have to hand). Also also, an unexplained archaism can become an in-joke - see the memetic status of "egregrious" awhile back - that enhances the memorability and enjoyment of the game. People might not know/be bothered to look up what it means exactly, but context gives a general idea, enough to be run with.


Tangentally, I was thinking about paladin/polite religious sass today as a consequence of this thread:
"Go find yourself, my child."
"You have far to go, but I calculate you are already the most upright of your lineage."
"I cannot pray long enough to complete your request this century."
"May [god/ess] see fit to heal you of [horrible injury insultee doesn't have] soon."

@byzantinex they're perfectly cromulent words!
Gaffer
 member, 1596 posts
 Ocoee FL
 45 yrs of RPGs
Wed 15 Jan 2020
at 22:09
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
I recall reading years ago that a ready insult among Ivy Leaguers was: "Are you a Yale/Harvard/Princeton man, or did a horse step on your face?"
byzantinex
 member, 167 posts
Thu 16 Jan 2020
at 18:01
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
Gadabout

A habitual pleasure-seeker.
A woman/man who has many physical relationships.
A person who travels often or to many different places, especially for pleasure.

Gadfly

An annoying person, especially one who provokes others into action by criticism.
tibiotarsus
 member, 108 posts
 Hopepunk with a shovel
Thu 16 Jan 2020
at 18:59
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
Hmm...I'd say a gadabout is more innocent/a level down in rakery than a rastabout, there. Less of a picaresque picaroon, more of a feckless fop. [nod]

To go down the other leg of this thread a moment, I realised that modern/our-Earth-type phrases that break fantasy immersion for me are often measurements, and that I already use an easy fix for that (rather than try to teach poor players with ten thousand better things to pay attention to fantasy-world measurements): instead of metres or yards, paces; instead of small amounts of cm or inches, handspan or finger-lengths. In clockless places/amongst hunter-gatherers, for seconds take heatbeats; hours, sun/moon movements; a span of minutes, the time taken to do some task. For weight, the nearest animal or object of commonly-known heft - things can always be clarified to the decimal point OOC if necessary.

Pedants often get annoyed about "firing" arrows, which should technically be loosed to describe the act of shooting, but honestly I find that bit of modern phrasing a) hilarious and b) a great excuse to tie things just barely on fire (this is how you improvise a fire arrow - if the thing is already very on fire it'll 1. be hard to shoot and 2. get put out by the motion rather than ignite) to arrows. Then you can legitimately yell "fire!" and your enemies will, too. Most importantly your battle now has more fire. ^_^

Back to insults and the replacement of swearing, if you do have a character from somewhere else, why not directly translate foreign insults? In French it's pretty terrible to call someone a midden, some kind of pork, or a big tuna.

...and this may be personal, but having grown up on bandes dessinées as well as various Brit comics, my mind interprets cartoon "censor symbols" as stronger than actual profanity. The genuine Forbidden Words, if you will. Naturally it depends on context as to whether "you %£^&@#!" is appropriate to any particular game, but since this is a text-based medium, might as well bring it up. Definitely recommended for comedy, especially retro stuff.

edit: bonus points if the number of cartoon swearing symbols doesn't add up to the letters in a commonplace profanity.

This message was last edited by the user at 19:23, Thu 16 Jan.

NowhereMan
 member, 342 posts
Thu 16 Jan 2020
at 19:38
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
V_V:
VERY few people use zero profanity, especially in deeply stressful situations.


I'm aware of at one GM here on RPoL that bans swearing from their games outright, and all of their games are rated Mature. So there's at least one of them among us, apparently. ;)
byzantinex
 member, 168 posts
Thu 16 Jan 2020
at 19:51
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
NowhereMan:
V_V:
VERY few people use zero profanity, especially in deeply stressful situations.


I'm aware of at one GM here on RPoL that bans swearing from their games outright, and all of their games are rated Mature. So there's at least one of them among us, apparently. ;)


Now you're aware of two, b/c I do the same thing. And all my games are not mature. We do fade to black and all that jazz to keep it mostly G rated. Maybe PG sometimes.

I write in a style like R.A. Salvatore (my favorite author) which might have allusions to intimacy and more mature topics, but never modern profanity or the like.
byzantinex
 member, 169 posts
Thu 16 Jan 2020
at 19:57
Vocabulary Words to Avoid Modern Phrases in Fantasy Games
tibiotarsus:
I realised that modern/our-Earth-type phrases that break fantasy immersion for me are often measurements, and that I already use an easy fix for that (rather than try to teach poor players with ten thousand better things to pay attention to fantasy-world measurements): instead of metres or yards, paces; instead of small amounts of cm or inches, handspan or finger-lengths. In clockless places/amongst hunter-gatherers, for seconds take heatbeats; hours, sun/moon movements; a span of minutes, the time taken to do some task. For weight, the nearest animal or object of commonly-known heft - things can always be clarified to the decimal point OOC if necessary.

Pedants often get annoyed about "firing" arrows, which should technically be loosed to describe the act of shooting


I love all the above and do the same thing!

I'm going to add that to the blog post I did b/c a lot of people wont' think about that.

Modern Measurements vs Period Correct
  • Meters/Yards/Feet =  Paces
  • Centimeters/Inches = Hand-span or finger-lengths
  • Hours = Sun/Moon Movement Amounts.
    Ex: Less than a half day. Halfway between breakfast and lunch.
    Ex: When the sun is at at X degrees.
  • Minutes = time taken to do similar task
  • Seconds = heartbeats/moments
  • Weight/Pounds/Kilograms = the nearest animal or object of commonly-known heft

This message was last edited by the user at 19:57, Thu 16 Jan.