The Dungeon Master's Dictionary Master List
Updated: Feb 21
Want to torment your players with some genuine medieval terminology? Here's a list of the coolest words we've encountered.
Adumbrated Arms: (noun, heraldry) a blackened or silhouetted shame on a coat-of-arms, indicating lost honor or pedigree. Perfect for a quest to restore honor and capture the Avatar, or whatever your D&D equivalent is.
Beot: (noun, Old English) a boast or brag. A beot was a proclamation given before battle or deed, telling one's audience (your troops and the enemy's) just exactly how you will kill them. Individuals may be named as targets, or specific feats, such as slaying 100 men, or only using a particular sword or none at all.
Benight: (verb, Early Modern English) to be surrounded in darkness; alternatively, to be in a woefully pitiful state due to lack of opportunity.
Cantred: (noun, Old Irish) originally meaning a plot of land, this word developed into a term for a group of men, like the Old Norse 'hundred.'
Cenél: (noun, Middle Irish) generally meaning family, kin, or tribe, this word can be used as a name, and may be a linguistic connection to the modern 'clan.'
Croft: (noun) any outdoor area; specifically, an enclosed field of a tenant farmer. See also garth.
Dinnseanchas: (noun, Old Irish) meaning 'place-wisdom' or 'place-lore,' this term refers to the story behind a location's place-name, such as a river, rock, homestead, or hill where a significant event occurred.
Draugr: (noun, Old Norse) a revenant; a member of the dead who comes back to life, usually to finish a mission, deliver a message, or let kin know they have died.
Fair assent: (phrase, Middle English) a consecrated, lawful common law marriage (a marriage established without the use of a priest).
Fir flatha: (noun, Old Irish) meaning 'king's wisdom,' this term refers to the supernatural knowledge a rightful king of Ireland was supposed to possess (and prove) upon his ascension of the throne.
Garth: (noun, Old Norse) another word meaning a yard or field. See also croft.
Geis: (noun, Old Irish) alternatively spelt geas, this term refers to an invocation which places an obligation onto an individual. Similar to a curse, a geis can be used to declare an intent toward someone or require something to pass in that individual's life.
Harrow: (noun) a farm tool used to help plow fields. Used as a makeshift shield in the Tournament of Tottenham. Could be used as an improvised weapon in a bandit raid!
Hundred, Long Hundred: (noun, Old Norse) originally referring to a plot of land, this term came to refer to a 100 people. A 'long' hundred is 120, counted between the fingers.
Kenning: (noun, Old Norse) a poetic metaphor used in Old English and Old Norse poetry; formed by creating increasingly complex and indirect ways for a simple word. Ex: word-hoard for mouth, or whale-road for ocean.
Powdering: (verb, heraldry) to powder something in heraldry was to display it all over the coat-of-arms. Finland's coat-of-arms (right) has white powdered flowers across it.
Reeve: (noun, title) a reeve was a local official of a town, or in some cases, a larger estate. A great individual to receive a low-level quest from!
Shaping: (noun, used in Old Icelandic) a magical animal skin which allows the wearer to shape-shift into the animal form from which the skin was made
Travail: (verb, Middle English) to work laboriously; alternatively, to be in labor, bearing a child
Wark: (noun, Old English) a wark is another word for an ache, such as a tooth-wark.
We do our best to accurately research, source, and cite the works we use, and make them available to you, too! Each episode has a corresponding blog post which includes further breakdowns of the big ideas in each text as well as cites our sources and references. We also have the Maniculum Library, which actively collects resources and recommendations for writers, scholars, and geeks alike! We update our collection of Master Lists after each new episode, so be sure subscribe and stay updated!
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