Playing a MMORPG is not all fun and games, you better have the right vocabulary

This document defines some of the more common terms being used by players in any massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG).

For the uninitiated, I would like to let you in on a little-known or spoke of secret â€" gaming, like being the President of the United States, at least as current President George Bush has described it, is hard work. As the electronic gaming industry matures, the sophistication of the games, both in terms of content and technology, continues to increase. This means that gamers like me have to become more sophisticated in how we approach these games. We've come along way since Pong.

Perhaps no other game genre exhibits this increased sophistication as well as the massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). The combination of the traditional role playing rules first established on the tabletop, such as the elements that require players to track statistics, traits, armor values, and a myriad of other minute detail, along with an internationally diverse population of avid online gamers can make this genre intimidating for first-timers. Besides deciding whether to be good or evil, a troll or an orc, human or dwarf, you must also master the vocabulary. MMORPG jargon is a strange mix of programmer shorthand, game-inspired abbreviations, a dialect affectionately known as "leet speak," and game specific naming and game-play conventions. It is a mess of influences that even the most skilled linguist would have trouble mastering.

In the interest of camaraderie with the TechRepublic-based World of Warcraft guild dubbed Technologia, I have developed this glossary of common MMORPG terms. These are the words, phrases, and abbreviations you are likely to see in the chat box of any one of the current games on the market. These are not terms I created; they are the terms players have by consensus agreed upon to use to simplify communication within a game. A long run-on sentence typed out during a heated battle could cause the group to be completely wiped out, so brevity is essential.

The Internet is full of glossaries explaining the meanings of these words, so I have stuck to what I think are the most essential for our group in Technologia. For more extensive research, you'll have to do some Internet searching on your own. However, I will post this list on the Technologia Wiki page so the guild and other interested parties can add to it as necessary. Who knows, someday the Technologia Wiki may be the definitive source for these terms.

Common and general terms



Description and notes


massively multiplayer online role playing game

The game genre World of Warcraft exists in


mobile object block

A programming term that refers to all computer controlled entities in the game. These computer controlled characters may also be called monsters, bad guys, etc. Mob remains in use because it is easy to type.


New or inexperienced player

You can substitute newb and newbie.

Leet speak

A form of chat that mixes numbers and characters to substitute for English

Frowned upon in most quarters.


To kill be killed by another player in a surprise attack

In some circles ganking is considered bad form.


To kill other players with the intention of causing them frustration and grief

Being labeled a griefer could ruin your gaming experience.

Kill stealing

To kill a Mob another player was in the process of attacking

World of Warcraft and other contemporary games have made this practice practically obsolete, but it was a major problem in earlier MMORPG generations like EverQuest


Looking for group

Use this when you trying to find a pickup group to play with.


Pickup group

For those times when you can't find your guild mates.

LOC or loc


The exact coordinates of your current position or position you want to reach, usually expressed Vertical X Horizontal (64 X48).


The object you find on Mobs you defeat in battle

Most of the objects you find are good for either wearing, selling or questing; very little should be thrown away.

Bio break

Taking a break for a biological function

Usually precedes a BRB and/or AFK.


Be right back

Similar to AFK.


Be back later

Usually precedes a log out from the game.


Away from keyboard

It is good game etiquette to let your group know you are away.


To cast a spell that increases a beneficial attribute of another player

For example, increasing the intelligence or strength of a player.


To cast a spell that decreases a beneficial attribute of a Mob or another player

For example, decreasing the intelligence or strength of a player or mob.

Mana or Power

The element necessary for casting spells

A caster needs to have enough mana or power in order to cast their spells.


To reduce the capabilities or attributes of a specific class or type of character

When players feel their characters have be reduced in power in an attempt by the developers to balance the game play, they will often claim they have been nerfed.


Out of character

Chatting out of character, for example about last night's football game or episode of Survivor.


Power leveling

When a more advanced character helps a lower level character quest and hunt mobs for experience.


To stay in one area waiting for a specific mob to spawn

Sometimes more than one player or group will be trying to kill certain a specific mob, causing a conflict.


The sound effect of gaining a level

For some players, gaining a level is such a big deal that they will announce that they just "dinged"

Grats, or congrats


When someone announces they just dinged you type or say "congrats."


Weapon process

Some weapons have magic or poison or a special attack that has chance to activate during a battle. This is called a process and when it happens you say your weapon "proc'd."


Player versus player

Fighting against player controlled characters. This is the opposite of PVE.


Player versus environment

Fighting against Mobs and other game controlled enemies. This is the opposite of PVP.


Alternative character

Many players have at least two characters available to play in their MMORPG. One is the main character they play most often and one is the alternative character they play less frequently.


Main character

Many players have at least two characters available to play in their MMORPG. One is the main character they play most often and one is the alternative character they play less frequently.

Resisting, resist factors, resists

A measurement of your one's ability to resist spells and attacks

All mobs and players have some measurable ability to resist melee and magic attacks. Knowing this resist factor can determine the outcome of a battle.

Rez or res


If you die in battle, some players of certain classes can resurrect you. You would say, "I need a rez please."


"Roll" a random number between 1-100

During the course of a playing you will come across loot that more than one player needs or wants. To determine who gets that item you roll for it. In WoW, it is a slash command /random.

Slash commands

A set of in-game commands that start with the "/" character

For example, /random, /laugh, /dance


To run for you life trailing angry mobs behind you.

Training was a common occurrence in previous MMORPGs. In Everquest, for example, mobs would follow you for as long as your were in a zone. That meant that you could potentially drag nasty angry mobs to unsuspecting bystanders causing them grief. This is one of my favorite train stories.


An exceptionally skilled player

As in, "you are so uber!"



As you complete quests and kill mobs you earn experience points that eventually translates into leveling your character. Don't forget to say Ding!


To achieve the next level

One of the ultimate goals in an RPG is to improve the abilities of your character. Achieving a new level is one measurement of this improvement.

Corpse run

Running to your corpse after losing a battle with a mob

In EQ a corpse run was necessary to collect your equipment. WoW has eliminated much of the pain from dying for which I am eternally grateful.


To overwhelm the enemy with excessive numbers

Zerg is a reference to Starcraft a real time strategy game. The tactic is frowned upon by some because the victory is assured by sheer mass of numbers and not by superior tactical skill.


The boundary between areas in the game universe

As the technology of MMORPGs has improved, the number of zones has been reduced.

AH, Bazaar

A marketplace where players can sell items to other players

As the number of players increased, a system that allowed for efficient buying and selling between players became a necessity.


Link dead

MMO games are complex systems. Interruptions are inevitable which is generally designated as going link dead.



When you stop fighting to rest, eat, drink or take other steps to recover your health and mana you are "medding."


Popping or respawning mobs

In close quarters, mobs will respawn near your group, often while you are medding or in the middle of a fight. When that happens, you alert the group by typing "pop." As in "pop behind us," or "pop left."



An attribute is a trait associated with a specific character or mob. Common examples include: intelligence, stamina, strength, agility, and dexterity.


Bind on equip (BOE) and Bind of pickup (BOP)

The most desirable weapons and items in an MMORPG will usually become bound to you, which means that you cannot sell or give them away. Some will bind when you pick them, others will bind when you first wear them. When looting you should always be sure which method applies. You will incur wrath if an item you cannot use becomes bound to you because you inadvertently picked it up.


Playing the game for the specific purpose of acquiring desirable items.

The game developers frown upon players that farm the best items for the sole purpose of selling them to other players at inflated prices.


Game master

A game master is a representative of the game developer playing a character inside the game. GMs can help you with in-game problems like anti-social players and harassment.


A semi-permanent group of players with common interests.

Technologia is the guild formed by members and friends of TechRepublic members.


A specific area that exists in a state particular to a specific group of players.

Instanced areas are usually dungeons where there is a specific goal to achieve. As you progress toward that goal, the instance reflects it by not respawning mobs and other obstacles like locked doors.


An alternative character whose job is to carry items for your other characters.

Because storage space is limited, some enterprising players will create a low level character that operates as a bank for other high level characters.

Nija looting

Jumping in to loot a unique or hard to find item before anyone else in your group has a chance

This practice has been mitigated somewhat by game mechanics, but can still occur. Don't loot something special until it has been rolled on or other arrangements have been made to fairly distribute the item.


Player controlled character

A character controlled by a player and not by the game.


Playing without a group

Sometimes you just want to do things by yourself. Some classes are better suited for solo game play then others.


A PC with gear and weapons that would normally be found on a character of higher level

One way to make your character more powerful is to twink it with gear normally reserved for players who have achieved a higher level.


Casting magic spells quickly and in a certain sequence.

Some classes can chant buffs that will last a certain amount of time. By casting the spells at specific intervals you can effectively keep several chanted buffs active at the same time. A very advanced skill.


Stealing experience and/or items

Sometimes a player will follow closely behind a group or higher level player as they perform a specific quest. The group does all the work clearing a path to the quest and the leech can then complete the quest without doing all the work.


A companion for your character

Some classes can summon or tame a pet to fight along side them. Some players also like to by a non-combat pet to travel with them. Many consider non-combat pets to be status symbols.

Vendor trash

Loot that players won't buy

Only one of the computer controlled vendors is willing to pay you for some items. The majority of loot you receive from mobs will fall into this category.


A large group operation

Groups are generally limited to five or so members. However, special raid groups can be created for high-end encounters, usually involving 10 to 40 or more players.

Named mob

A mob with a name

Named mobs are generally tougher then their generic contemporaries. A wolf named Fang is going to be tougher to fight then the starving wolves that hang around him.


A mob with more hit points and better equipment

An elite mob is going to be considerably more difficult to defeat in battle. Elite mobs are usually found in instances and in boss battles that end a long quest string. Elites also grant considerably more experience if you are victorious.


Killing mobs for experience without regard to a quest or other goal.

Grinding may be necessary at the end of some levels as a means to reaching the next leveling plateau.

Tactical terms



Description and notes


Assuming the group position of taking the most agro from Mobs

A tank is usually a warrior or other melee specialized character. Because of their inherent high armor factor, they can take more damage than most characters. For healing classes, it is much more efficient to heal only one player in a group as opposed to all group members. Choosing a tank is a fundamental group tactical decision.



Aggro is a measure of a mob's interest in a specific character. In many groups you want the tank to hold aggro so other less hearty characters don't get any damage.

Spouse aggro

Spousal aggression

As a companion to aggro, spouse aggro is when a player's spouse interrupts play with real life. As in, "Stop playing that game and pay attention to me for a change." When this happens, all a player has to say is "spouse aggro" and the group will know all it needs to know.


Additional mobs

During a battle a mob not part of the original battle may join the fight. Group members should announce an add so everyone knows there are more to fight.


Bring a friend

If you pull one mob for a fight, it will bring at least one friend – so pulling one really means pulling at least two.


Kill on sight

Many mobs will try to kill you without provocation.



To consider the fighting ability of a mob before engaging it. In most games mobs are color coded to make it easier to identify a trivial encounter from an epic one.


Critical hit

Most damage dealt by a player will be within a range. When the maximum amount of damage for that attack is reached, it is called a critical hit.


Direct damage

An attack or spell that does direct damage to a specific target.


Damage over time

An attack or spell that does damage to a target over a specific span of time. For example, 10 points of damage every second for 10 seconds.


Area of effect

Doing damage to mobs standing within a certain range radiating out from the spot where the spell was targeted.


Point blank area of effect

Doing damage mobs standing within a certain range radiating out from the caster.


Heal over time

Healing a target a certain amount over a specific span of time. For example, healing for 10 points every second for 10 seconds.


Casting a spell that requires that you don't move

To get the full effect of a channeling spell, the caster must not move or be interrupted by a mob during a specific time.


A tactical technique that reduces the amount of melee damage taken

For some casting classes, an effect fighting technique is to cast a spell run for a bit cast another spell and run some more. Like flying a kite, the mob follows you until it is dead.

Mez or mes


A form of crowd control. The player casts a spell or initiates an attack that mesmerizes a mob for a certain amount of time. While "mezzed," the mob will not participate in a fight. Damage will often break a mez, so players should be careful not to break mez until the proper time.


Out of mana or out of power

As a caster it is your responsibility to inform your group when you are out of power and cannot cast until you create more.


The art of initiating a battle with a mob

Pulling is an art form. A good puller can make a grouping experience pleasant while a bad puller will likely lead to frustration. Some classes are better at pulling then others. Some players have an affinity for pulling, but many don't.


Casting a spell or an attack to hold a mob in place

A form of crowd control where a mob is held in place by some form of magic for a certain amount of time. Damage will often break a root, so players should be careful not to break root until the proper time.

Threat list

The ranking a mob uses to determine whom to fight next in a group encounter.

A tank tries to keep on top of the threat list, but healing or doing a large amount of damage can cause the mob to move a caster up on the threat list.


Crowd control

A tried and true technique where certain party members will take steps to limit the number of mobs actively fighting during an encounter. Taking a group of mobs on one at a time is preferential to taking them all on at once.


Casting a spell or an attack that will stop a mob from fighting

Part of the crowd control options. Stun usually doesn't last as long as other CC techniques.


The ability for one spell to co-exist with another spell

Some spells stack and compliment other spells, but some spells will cancel the effects of another spell. Every game has different rules about what can stack, but the general rule of thumb is that spells that have the exact same effect will not stack. In other words, you cannot get a stamina increasing buff from two casters and multiply the benefits.


Damage per second

A measurement of how much damage a player, weapon, or spell can do. DPS is used to compare one item with another or one spell with another.

Game specific



Description and notes


World of Warcraft

My current addiction


Dark Age of Camelot

My previous addition – a MMORPG set in medieval times (more or less)



The first addiction for many


EverQuest 2

An update to EQ


City of Heroes and City of Villains

An MMORPG for superhero or supervillain wannabes.


Need before greed

A looting regimen that says you should loot what you need before you loot what you want to satisfy your greed.


Please send tell or Please send whisper

Seen in chat conversations – a request for a personal conversation that others cannot see


Wailing caverns

An instance dungeon in WoW



A area in WoW



A capitol city in WoW


Thunder Bluff

A capitol city in WoW


Redridge Mountains

A area in WoW


Razorfen Downs

An instance dungeon in WoW


Iron Forge

A capitol city in WoW



A area in WoW


Lower Blackrock Spire

An instance dungeon in WoW


Upper Blackrock Spire

An instance dungeon in WoW

This list, as long as it may seem, only scratches the surface when it comes to the vocabulary of an MMORPG. This somewhat intimidating "insider knowledge" has discouraged many from trying this computer game genre. But much of the vocabulary is merely an abbreviation used out of necessity because most communication is done through chat. If you have been wary of jumping into a game like World of Warcraft because of a perceived learning curve, you should set your mind at ease. While the vocabulary can be rather extensive, it can all be learned as you play. This is where a guild like Technologia is very helpful – we are just some geeks having fun and helping a new player get their MMORPG game in order is just part of the mission.

By Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.