You gragdok! The evolution of setting-based swear words in RPGs


While reorganizing Athenaeum content into a forthcoming post index, this writer happened upon this post, which dealt with creating a unique flavor in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign by developing slang words for the common tongue.

One area of language that post didn’t explore, though, was the evolution of campaign-specific curse or “swear” words to express increased emotional intensity, anger or severity of insult. While most heroes would jump at the chance never resort to using such language during a game, this post discusses how such words may develop in a campaign setting, so that villains may use them to reveal their dastardly, irreverent personalities.

After some research – which was not verified for historical accuracy, since the only intended fruit of this labor was to add color to a fictional game setting, making reality moot for the moment – it appears that words tended to travel four different routes to “cursehood,” routes that could be easily exploited by a Dungeon Master (DM) to set a campaign apart.

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