Gaming Code Phrases

I don’t know about you folks, but my gaming groups have developed their own little lexicon of phraseology that gets used across most of the games we play. These are little things that started either as passing comments or jokes, and evolved firstly into in-jokes, and later into phrases that are shorthand for some pretty complex ideas. We use them now, often without thinking, in place of discussions of these ideas, because they relate to events and situations that have become part of our collected gaming history.

And some of them are kinda funny, so I thought I’d share them, and what they mean to us, and even what I remember about their origins.

Here goes.

“Arrangements are made.”

This is actually paraphrased from a Terry Pratchett novel. The orginal quote is, “Arrangements, presumably, are made.” It’s used as a wonderful dodge to avoid answering the question of how all the water that flows over the Rim of the Discworld gets back into the Discworld’s water cycle.

It came into our gaming vernacular during the year-long Amber campaign that almost killed me. I fell back on using it to deal with the issue of time distortion and conservation of momentum in Trump communication and transport, and soon found I was using it to gloss over holes in the ideas of n-dimensional physics that having infinite shadows to play in gives rise to. Really, I think the only phrase I uttered more often during the Amber game was, “You bastards.”

Now, it’s used by all of us as a code phrase that roughly means both “I’m being fantastical and creative, so stop asking questions” and “You’re paying attention to the wrong things; you can safely ignore this.”

“You’re an elf that uses magic.”

During one long-running campaign, one of my players got into a phase where he kept asking me questions about the physics of my D&D world, and getting frustrated by the fact that the rules and my world didn’t accurately reflect some real-world physics. I think, but cannot recall for sure, that both combustion and falling were involved, and he was looking to apply a little real-world logic to some of his abilities to get a boost out of them. When I told him that it wouldn’t work in the game, and he countered with a real-world argument, I used the above phrase. In fact, I had to do it a couple of times before the point was made.

Now, as then, it means, “So, you accept that your character is a magical being/superhero/creature of the night with strange and mystical abilities, but you can’t choke down the idea that unicorns are real/villains keep escaping from prison/priests can hold you at bay with a cross?” We use it to warn each other when our debates and ideas are straying too far from the accepted tropes of the game world.

“Get ’em!”

Not just a battle cry, though that’s how it started out in the game. Over the course of the game, it became the primary tactic of the group upon encountering anything even vaguely threatening or unexpected.

As it spread out of the game, though, it sort of evolved into the signal that people were overthinking something, or wasting time, or just that people were starting to get bored with things. Now, the cry of “Get ’em!” serves to tell everyone that enough dithering has gone on, and something exciting should ensue.

“I catch her and throw her back.”

There’s an entire gaming war story behind this one. Suffice it to say that it occurred in our Amber game, completely derailed my plot, left me speechless for several minutes, almost killed the character being thrown, and stands as a shining moment in play.

Now, it’s the signal that something is both completely unexpected and devilishly successful.

Thank you, Weyland.

“Two hundred feet tall with an army.”

This is something that existed among some of my players before I began gaming with them, as a holdover from a previous game they had played. In that long-ago game, so the sages relate, there was a villain that the party did not kill all the way somehow. And later he came back to get them. And he was bigger and badder. And so they killed him again, and this time they went out of the way to make sure they destroyed every last bit of him, because they were afraid he’d come back (all together now) “two hundred feet tall with an army.”

This phrase is our warning that we’re leaving something undone, or a loose thread hasn’t been resolved.


So, that’s my list, off the top of my head. If any of my gaming group has any to add, please feel free. Also, if anyone else wants to share similar stuff from their groups, I’d be very interested to read it.

In other words, comment below.

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3 Responses to Gaming Code Phrases

  1. Sandy says:

    “I having Gaming”

    Dave, now a Mexican Fusion Chef in Switzerland (yes, well…) was playing in his first D&D campaign. Unfamiliar with skill sets, he was asked what he was going to use in a situation. He replied “I have Gaming”. This became a catch phrase over time to indicate you have no useful skills for the current situation.

  2. matt says:

    you’re going home in a fuching ambulance
    Chanted by the group during a particularly fiendish superhero game. It signified that all bets were now off, kid gloves were being removed and the heroes didn’t care if the media was watching.

    He scanned the planet
    During a military Star Trek game, our comms chief scanned the planet after being told it was a stealth mission and not to scan anything. It resulted in the deaths of thousands of Starfleet marines. The phrase now means doing anything utterly stupid after being warned not to, the effects of which have usually not yet been realized though we know we’re in trouble.

    Its a bloody bookcase
    One try through of the Trollshaws adventure in the back of the MERP book resulted in a TPK due to a fumble opening a secret door in the tower. The bookcase killed or incapacitated every party member. Now used to signify any stupid game -destroying element that the GM should have reigned in.

  3. Karla says:


    Back in the halcyon days of yore, when Shawn was running his first premade adventure module, he decided to get creative with the random encounters and make most of them owlbears. I might be recollecting this wrong. Anyway, we began to reply to his every request to roll initiative with “owlbear?” And now it’s shorthand for the kind of random encounter that has nothing to do with the main plot and is fundamentally unlikely.

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