Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nerd Word of the Week: Crit

D&D uses polyhedral dice to resolve random eve...Image via Wikipedia

Crit (v.) - A shortened vernacular form of critical hit, critical attack, or critical success; to inflict a particularly devastating or unusually effective attack on an opponent or object, usually within the context of a tabletop roleplaying (RPG) or video game. Used as a verb, as in "I totally critted that orc," or a noun, as in "Was that a crit or just normal damage?" Like all such game-centered terms, it creeps into common usage for geeks, sometimes used to describe any particularly successful action. The accepted antonym is a critical failure, also known as a crit-fail, wherein the worst possible outcome of a situation or attempted action comes to pass. Geeks often use crit-fail to describe their attempts at socialization or romance which, given that we use terms like crit-fail in basic conversation, is a pretty good indication of why we crit-fail socialization and romance.

In a gaming context, crits and crit-fails are most often associated with rolls of a twenty-sided die, otherwise known as a D20. In a significant number of tabeltop roleplaying game systems, rolling a 20 on a D20 is an automatic critical success or critical hit, and a roll of one is an automatic crit-fail. Thus, the ubiquity of geek t-shirts that invoke D20s and their related terms (see here, here, here and here).

I bring it up because: Today is the first day of Gen Con 2009, one of the two largest tabletop gaming conventions in the United States, the other being the Origins Convention. For the next four days, 25,000 hardcore gamers will descend on Indianapolis and large sectors of the geek blogosphere will be overcome with news of the latest Dungeons & Dragons supplements, miniature wargaming models, and collectible card game (CCG) franchises. Pretty much any and every major non-electronic geek game will be on display, so brace yourself for an online tidal wave of nomenclature only slightly less obtuse than that employed by Internet daytraders. And if you get cornered by one of the us nerdspeakers, just tell us we crit-failed the explanation and we'll downshift to English. Maybe.
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