Sunday 29 September 2019

Some Monsters From Esoteric Enterprises

Here's some stat-blocks I've been putting together. The final book is coming very soon, I'm finishing the layout but the text is 99% done save for indexing. Anyway, monsters:

A delver into forbidden science. A grafter of limbs and organs, sculptor of flesh, puppeteer of neurones. A transhumanist whose experiments have pushed them far beyond the limits of the fragile human frame. Multi-limbed, some arms ending in delicate fingers, some in scalpel-like claws, slithering forward on improved appendages that emerge from the bottom of a white lab-coat. 
Desires further materials for experimentation; either perfect, unharmed human specimens, or else the strangest beasts to be found within the undercity.
Fleshcrafter: 5 flesh (1 dice), 12 grit (4 dice). AC 10. Saves 14+. Syringe (+4, d4 damage, and poison) or 4 claws (+0, d4 damage) . +4 bonus to saves vs poison & sickness. Dexterity, Constitution, & Intelligence all 18. Medicine & Technology 6-in-6. 
When using a syringe attack, can choose one of the following poisons if the victim fails their save:

  • Complete paralysis 2d4 rounds.
  • Lethargy (skip every other round’s action to rest) for the next turn.
  • Begin Bleeding Out from the lungs.
  • D12 toxin damage to flesh.
  • Counteract the effects of all drugs and poisons affecting the victim.
  • D12 damage to Dexterity, Intelligence and Wisdom.

These are children, that commit murders. Utterly feral, lacking morals. They kill because it's fun, laughing and chattering as they do it. They don’t understand why what they do is wrong. They aren’t stupid, though; you can reason with them, so long as your reasoning doesn’t rely on appeals to their conscience.
Murder Child: 1 flesh (1 dice), 4 grit (2 dice). AC 13 (small and nimble). Saves 16+. Stealth 4/6. Stolen knives (+3, d6 damage). When attacks ignore grit, +3 damage and the victim starts bleeding out. Dexterity 16.

A feaster on human flesh, gaining strange power from it but sacrificing a sliver of their humanity with each meal. Wiry, crouched forward, feral, yet somehow compelling. When they’ve fed recently,  healthy looking, becoming progressively more gaunt the longer it’s been since they last ate human meat. Gluttonous. Love the hunt.
Capable of blending into normal society just fine so long as they eat regularly. When they hunt, they coordinate with other killers; vampires, murder children, slashers, death-cult assassins, lycanthropes, each other. Move in loose packs, utilise traps and ambushes.
Wendigo: 5 flesh (1 dice), 10 grit (2 dice). AC 13 (naturally tough). Saves 16+. Stealth 4/6. Butcher’s knife (+3, d6+1 damage) and Bite (+3, d4+1 damage). 

On a bite that does damage to flesh, heal that many lost HP. Can track by scent.  Charisma, Strength and Dexterity 13. Carries 5 bear-traps (Save vs Machines or d10 damage) and can set snares, pit-traps etc.

The winner of a genetic lottery, a whole host of recessive traits and divergent bloodlines coming together into an individual of  tremendous supernatural power. 
This is what humanity could be if they cast off the shackles of mundanity and mortality. A few such beings achieve great things, revolutionising entire fields of art or science, or pursuing temporal power so that they can bend the world to their will. Others descend into the occult underworld, burning the candle at both ends as they pursue supernatural power in all its forms, before dying in a storm of bullets or a flurry of unnatural claws. 
Most, though, are taken by the Men in Black. And, for the most part, they go willingly. Popular wisdom in the underground holds that this is the last that’s seen of them.  Sometimes, though, they resurface. Perhaps they’re highly placed in government, enacting the sorts of policies that keep the occult thoroughly underground. Or their name is connected to multinational organisations of staggering reach and influence.
Sometimes, they’re seen in neat black suits, with porcelain masks and insignia that makes your eyes hurt to look at.
Promethean: 7 flesh (1 dice), 25 grit (5 dice). AC 13 (agility). Saves 10+. Pistol(+9, d8 damage) or duelling sword (+9, d8+3). All stats 18. Have perhaps one to three powers from this list:

  • Create fireballs at will: all in the blast radius must Save vs Hazards or take d6 damage.
  • Total immunity to mind-control.
  • See through illusions, invisibility, disguises etc automatically.  
  • Mastery of how gravity affects them: they can levitate, walk up walls, over ceilings, fall without injury etc.
  • Flesh that can be re-shaped and altered at will. Appearance is whatever they want it to be, when they form natural weapons they attack 3 times at +9 for d4+3 damage each time (two bites and a claw), can re-create serious injuries.
  • Ability to read the surface thoughts, emotions, etc of everybody nearby.
  • Those they address by name must make a Save vs Stunning or obey any direct order made that names them.
  • Immunity to fire, electricity, acid, cold and other ‘energy’ attacks.
  • Tue ability to drain blood with a touch; +9 to hit, d4 damage to flesh and heals the Promethean that much.
  • The ability to dispel any magical effect they spend a minute interacting with or studying. 

Stubborn Foetus
An embryo, maybe four or five months old. Stubby limbs, current eyes, bulbous head. Wet, sticky, red. Crawls blindly. Dead, but doesn’t realise it. Craves warmth, life, vitality. 
Foetus: 1 flesh (1 dice), 0 grit (no dice). AC 12 Saves 16+. Gentle Bump (+0, 1 damage). Immune to all the stuff the undead are immune to. All stats are 3.

Plague Zombie
A corpse host to a horrible infection, bacterial engines stirring dead flesh into unwilling motion. Beginning putrification, infectious matter dribbling from its mouth, eye-sockets, orifices. Skin pocked and swollen with boils. Thinks only dimly, decaying neurones slaved to bacterial desires. Just being near it is a health-hazard.
Plague Zombie: 10 flesh (2 dice), 0 grit (0 dice). AC 10 Saves 14+. Claw (+2, d4+2 and infection) and Bite (+2, d4+2 and infection). Immune to poison, cold, sickness, and everything else the undead are immune to. Double damage from Holy things. 
On a successful claw or bite attack, victim must Save vs Poison or contract some disease (p. xx). 
Those killed by a Plague Zombie, or a disease contracted from it, reanimate immediately as more Plague Zombies.

Angry Fossil
A long dead monster of the primordial past. Its body skeletonized, its bones mineralized. Excavated, reconstructed, put on display. Reanimated. Acts like it did when it was a still-living dinosaur, prowling, hunting, giving rise to the deep rumbling calls of its kind from a throat long-rotted away. In its primitive saurian mind, it is alive and thrust into a strange cold world it cannot understand.
(Insert your own joke about ‘angry fossils' and OSR games here).
Angry Fossil: 10 flesh (2 dice), 15 grit (0 dice). AC 17 (made of stone, and agility). Saves 10+. 2 claws (+5, d8+1) and/or bite (+5, d12+1) and/or 1-3 horns (+0, d4+1) and/or stomp (+0, d8+1) and/or thagomizer (+0, d12+1). Immune to poison, cold, sickness, and everything else the undead are immune to. Double damage from Holy things. Which attacks it makes depends on what sort of dinosaur it was. 

Prismatic Child of Vor Glaurung
Life from the other side of the wave-particle duality. Stable self-reinforcing patterns of light, constructive interference producing a field of colour that interacts with itself. Perceive physical things only dimly. Fascinated by things that glow or give off radiation. Has a mastery of light and darkness, shadow and colour; can shift its form to produce holograms.  Enjoys petty deceptions.
Prismatic Child: 3 flesh (1 dice), 7 grit (2 dice). AC 12 (weird anatomy). Saves 12+. Dazzling Light (Blind 1 round & 1 damage, Save vs Stunning resists). Immune to physical damage, cannot be physically touched, totally immaterial. Covers an area roughly 20 ft across, in which it can produce any visual image it wants; not an illusion (no saves to ‘see through’ it), just a mass-less hologram. Bright light does 1 damage per round of exposure, spells such as Darkness do d4 per round. 

Ghost Train
The echo of a subway train, now cancelled following some horrible accident. Or maybe it was a bombing or a suicide or a hijacking that did it in, or it was just the victim of budget cuts. It hardly matters anymore, it was decades ago and even the elderly and nostalgic hardly remember riding that route. 
It appears like a subway train, but one from the past. Old and obsolete, crusted with graffiti and mildew and neglect. Belching diesel fumes, grinding endlessly into the night. Stopping at buried stations whose entrances are blocked from the surface. Taking on only the restless dead and the morbid explorers of the underworld. 
It’s almost alive and aware, sharing a gestalt of the frustrations and worries of those who rode it. Behaves like a squirming serpent of steel and glass. Those who get in its way it barrels into, grinding them down beneath its churning wheels. 
Riding the ghost train is easy. Find a station it stops at, pay two coins to the conductors (stats as Petty Spirits) and it will let you ride it. Its route winds across the subway tracks of the undercity, and beyond. Ride for too long and you might find yourself in other cities, or even other worlds; Stygia, Dis, and the Earth’s Veins all receive the ghost train at times.
Ghost Train: 18 flesh (6 dice), 6 grit (2 dice). AC 16 (metal). Saves 7+. Crash (+0, 3d10). Immune to Physical damage. Those boarding the train treat it as physical, those on the tracks treat it as immaterial. Crash attack affects the material world, but does as much damage to the train as well. Regenerates 5 hp a round.
This default ghost train has three carriages. For each extra carriage, add 2 flesh dice and 6 flesh points. Passengers on the train are mostly ghosts and undead, but all are equally tangible to each other while they ride it.

A huge snapping turtle, it’s shell covered in rough detritus that blends into the muck where it hides. From its jaw extends a long appendage with a fleshy bait on the end that the turtle wiggles hypnotically, drawing prey in range of its bite. In some cases, even otherwise intelligent prey can become mesmerised by the gently undulating lure. 
Angler turtle: 4 flesh (1 dice), 8 grit (2 dice). AC 16 (shell). Saves 16+. Stealth 5/6. Bite (+3, d8 damage). Animal intelligence (int 3).
Can cause the hypnotic waggling of its lure to resemble something desirable to its prey (easy food, a big pile of money); it has no conscious control over what, instead each victim sees whatever their mind thinks makes most sense as ‘something I want’ in their current situation. A save vs stunning sees through the illusion but can only be attempted after an interaction with the turtle or its bait.
Attacking its lure has AC 10, but gives the turtle a free bite attack immediately, at +4. 

Black Goat
A bestial avatar of the Black Goat Of The Woods With A Thousand Young. Shaggy body, weird octopoid eyes, head crowned with curling horns. Subtly deformed and asymmetric, off-putting to look at. It staggers and scrambles, voice rasping. It carries the blessings of a divinity that’s old and savage and inhuman, a force of dark fecundity.
Black Goat: 4 flesh (1 dice), 2 grit (1 dice). AC 12 (agile).  Athletics 4/6. Saves 17+. 2 horns (+1, d4). 3/6 chance to cast  one of the following spells if it spends its action twitching and confulsing: bleeding curse, darkness, spider climb, parasitic infestation. Animal Intelligence (int 3)

Cave Bear
Once, these creatures were apex predators in an ice-age world. Revered by some of the earliest cultures as semi-divine in their own right, existing at the heart of widespread bear-cults. Those times are long past. Humanity has prospered, spread across the globe in a position of total dominance. The once-revered bears have been driven underground, taking refuge in subterranean lairs.
The bears have not forgotten that they used to be worshipped. Like the cat and the crocodile and the serpent, every troglodytic bear knows, deep in its sinewy heart, that it was once a divinity, and it might be once more.
Cave Bear: 8 flesh (2 dice), 16 grit (4 dice). AC 13 (agility and thick hides). Athletics 3/6, Saves 13+. Bite (+6, d8) and two claws (+6, d6). If both claws hit, draws the victim in for a ‘hug’; next round, does d12 damage to that victim automatically instead of claw attacks. Unusual animal Intelligence (int 5). Memories of divinity give it a 7+ save against divine magic (such as from mystics). 

Collector of Eyeballs
A dweller in the undercity, a bizarre blend of human, bald flightless bird, and naked mole-rat. It’s body has the pink, saggy wrinkled skin of an elderly human, hanging loose over a gangly emaciated frame. Torso squat and drooping, its arms and legs extend out seven feet, have an additional joint that allows them to bend oddly. Each limb ends in a set of talons like chicken-claws. Its head is bald, almost featureless. A narrow slit of a mouth with rodent-incisors, and empty skin-lined eyesockets. Like looking at a horrible naked old man whose limbs unfold further than they should.
It hunts eyeballs. Not to eat them, just to treasure. Its kind trade notable eyeballs like children trade pokemon cards, and have all manner of cunning methods to keep them preserved.
Collector of Eyeballs: 4 flesh (2 dice), 6 grit (2 dice). AC 12 (nimble). Saves 15+. 2 Claws (+5, d6 and pluck eyes) Stealth & Sleight of Hand 4-in-6. Dexterity 16, Constitution 5. Can ‘see’ perfectly well in the dark despite lacking eyes. 
Claw attacks have 10 foot range. Any claw attack that deals damage to flesh also results in the Collector plucking out one of its victim’s eyes, unless protective goggles etc are worn. Once it’s plucked out a pair of eyeballs, it pops them in its eye-sockets and heals fully.

Radioactive Vampire
A creature of the deep lithosphere. Composed of dense meat and sinew, like layers of translucent leather over luminous blue-green uranium skeleton. 
Four long spider-limbs emerge from a squat flat central thorax. Between its shoulder-blades, a face. Vaguely human, but withered and desiccated, as if mummified by the dull alpha-particle radiation it exudes. Sunken eye-sockets, lips pulled back from shark-tooth studded gums. 
It skitters like a monkey-centipede hybrid. Squeezes through gaps no human could fit into. Glows in the dark. Out of the shadowy recesses of a crack in the wall, a ten foot, luminous arm gropes out to clutch at prey, dragging it back to the things ragged mouth.
Radioactive Vampire: 7 flesh (2 dice), 7 grit (2 dice). AC 16 (nimble and made of uranium). Saves 15+. 2 Claws (+5, d6) or Bite (+0, d10 and blood draining). Athletics 4-in-6.
If both Claw attacks hit the same target successfully, can make a free Bite attack that hits automatically. 
If a Bite deals damage to flesh, it drains vital fluids and heals as much as the damage dealt.
After a turn of proximity, or on a successful Bite attack, Save vs Poison to avoid contracting Radiation Sickness. Immune to radiation. Half damage from heat and electricity. 

Neural Slime
A mass of protoplasmic grey matter, an amorphous squirming conglomeration of neurones. Absorb and incorporate the neural data of its victims, engulfing their heads to draw out the electro-chemical data trapped in their brain matter. Dimly intelligent, a gestalt of all the minds already absorbed.
Neural Slime: ?? flesh (1-10 dice), 0 grit (0 dice). AC 11. Saves 14+. Extrusion (+0, d12 damage to intelligence and mind absorption). +7 to saves against mind-affecting stuff. Intelligence 15, Charisma 5, Wisdom 5. 5 HP per HD.
They sense vibrations and heat, allowing them to detect living beings even in total darkness and silence. 
Whenever it deals damage to Intelligence, heals that much damage that it’s suffered. If this would bring it above it’s starting HP value, it instead heals to full, and gains an additional HD with 5 HP.

Root Dryad
As dryads inhabit the trunks of huge trees above the ground, so these strange, pale spirits inhabit and embody the vast networks of tree roots beneath the earth. Take the form of pallid, misshapen women, stretched out to seven feet tall then hunched over, trailing little white-rootlet hairs from their heads. Their eyes are faintly luminous green. Their voices soft, like crumbling loam.
They love the wonderlands beneath the earth. Tend to roots and fungi and mulch like a responsible park ranger. Sing to the stone and seeping water. 
Despite their malformed bodies, their voices are achingly beautiful. 
Root Dryad: 4 flesh (1 dice), 5 grit (1 dice). AC 12. Saves 14+. Root Lash (+2, d6 damage). Charisma & Dexterity 16.
Double damage from fire, cannot drown. Can swim through soil like it was water, see in the dark perfectly. Recovers 1 HP per round while resting in her particular root-mass, dies if the root-mass is dug up and destroyed. 
Can cast Awaken Plants at will, and Suggestion once per turn, singing to do so.

Thursday 5 September 2019

Terminology - Diegetic vs Non Diegetic

In this post, I'm going to clarify and explain some terminology I use when discussing RPGs. It's going to be wordy and pedantic. It's also getting posted up because I made a quick post on twitter, people got the wrong end of the stick, and now I want to explain what I mean in more than 240 characters.


First, I'm going to give a definition of the term as it's used in film studies (which is where I'm stealing it from).
Diegetic (adjective): Actually taking place or existing in the fictional world depicted.

Non-diegetic (adjective): Not actually taking place or existing in the fictional world depicted, an external thing to the fictional world depicted that the audience percieves.
'Diegesis (noun)' has some accademic stuff attached to it, but I generally see it used to mean 'the concept of things being diegetic' or sometimes 'the fictional world that diegetic things take place in'.

So, for example. A scene's musical soundtrack is non-diegetic. John Williams wrote some music, an orchestra played it, and now that music is being played to the audience at the same time as we watch the scene. However: music coming from in the world is diagetic: a good example of this is when we see characters actually singing or playing instruments. Jessica Rabbit singing 'Why Don't You Do Right' in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is diagetic; in the fictional world she's literally singing that, whilst The Doors playing at the beginning of Apocalypse Now isn't: it's a soundtrack added for the audience.
Other stuff in films that's non-diegetic includes the credits, subtitles, voiceovers, slow-motion, all that stuff.

You can apply this to other mediums, too. In comics, the white boxes around panels are non-diegetic; the world doesn't exist enclosed in a little white square. In video games, your mini-map, control scheme, etc are all non-diegetic; they're contrivances to make the game work, not real things that exist in the fictional world depicted.
With me so far?

(As an aside, while this is technically academic language, I've seen it used plenty outside academia. I studied theoretical physics at university - until I ran out of money for tuition and got kicked out - so I never had any formal academic interaction with the terms. I picked them up from watching film & anime reviews on youtube. Anybody who pays much attention to film criticism and analysis has probably come across the terms.)

Anyway. This is an RPG blog, and I'm here to talk about RPGs. So, Diegesis in RPGs.

One thing I find attracts me to various games - notably Powered By The Apocalypse and OSR games - is that you first interact with things using the fictional actions of your PC to affect the fictional world. You treat the world as a real, consistent place, and the GM adjudicates what happens based off that. 

I find it useful to talk about 'things that exist in the fictional setting' versus 'things that only exist for the players'. So, it's useful to me to steal terminology from film studies and talk about diegetic and non-diegetic elements of games. Diegetic things are things which exist or happen or are observable in the fictional world, while non-diegetic things only exist to the players, on an out-of-character level.

Here's some things that are diegetic in RPGs:
  • A PC's equipment.
  • A character's height, weight, eye colour, etc.
  • Alignments, probably; if you can cast 'detect evil' to know that that monster over there is objectively evil, then alignments are concrete forces in the game world, and your paladin being Lawful Good is a diagetic fact.
  • A wizard's spell-slots in D&D; a wizard can meaningfully talk about 'I have two spells left today, and they are Sleep and Spider Climb' without breaking the fourth wall.
  • Blood Points in Vampire the Masquerade; it's an observable (and generally understood) fact of the setting that you need to drink about a pint of blood each night to make up for the blood used to wake up, and if you don't you'll start starving, likewise that using your powers probably needs about a pint of blood.
  • Getting Turned On in monsterhearts. While its expressed through a slightly simplified game mechanic, it is a fact of the setting that a PC has experienced a stirring of erotic or romantic desire. Their response to this varies, and might involve more game mechanics, but the state of being Turned On is a real thing in the fictional world.
  • That some PCs are stronger than other PCs. Gronk the Fighter can lift heavier weights, hit harder, break down doors better, arm-wrestle better etc than Elzebeth the Wizard.
  • Being injured: the victim has - in the fictional world - been hurt, and might be bleeding, have broken bones, etc. 

Here's some things that are non-diegetic in RPGs:
  • Dice rolls.
  • Numerical measures of things like HP, attributes, etc. Those are abstractions being used to quantify a more complex fictional thing for the purposes of game-play.
  • Experience points, inspiration, bennies, etc that give the player a resource to use on a meta-level that doesn't represent anything in-world.
  • Lines & veils over what content and themes will make it into the game.
  • Mechanics that allow a player to introduce content to the game, such as Stars Without Numbers's Connect skill, which gives a PC a chance to know an NPC they just met from before the game began, letting the player define what their relationship is like. There's a LOT of collaberative world building techniques and mechanics out there that do similar things.
  • Mechanics such as fate-points, 
  • References to other media. A lot of old Paranoia adventures had PCs whose names were puns, took the piss out of other RPGs, and so on: these jokes are on the meta-level, for the players: a paranoia called Hamburg-ELL-R was not named by Friend Computer to be a reference to old macdonalds adverts, and nobody in the setting will get the reference.
  • Metaphors and themes of the game. For example, I'm in a V5 game where we're explicitly exploring ideas around power, control, and moral judgement; these things are gonna come up and be relevant. Our PCs, however, aren't aware that they're being used to discuss these themes; they're just people.
  • Character 'theme songs' and other inspiration. 

To clarify: this is not the same as the distinction between 'fluff' and 'crunch' (also expressed as flavour vs mechanics, lore vs rules, etc). 

To repeat.
The distinction between diegetic content and nondiegetic content is not the same as the distinction between flavour and mechanics.

Why is this? Something can be a game mechanic and also diegetic. (See: blood points are a real thing in VtM, and so 'spend a point of blood to rise each night' is just... what happens in the fiction). Something could also be non-mechanical and not diegetic (for example "Changeling the Dreaming explores themes around loss of innocence, growing old, dementia, etc" is not a mechanic but not a diegetic fact, neither is "This game will not include rape or sexual assault, or any mention of those").

So why am I explaining this?
I think it's useful to be able to discuss if a game element is diegetic or not when discussing game design, and I've not really seen useful terminology for. 
Mostly, these discussions use the terminology for fluff vs crunch, which leads to active confusion. 

This area of gameplay/game design is one where even subtle distinctions in phrasing can dramatically alter meaning. I think it's useful to have a precise term that means 'this thing and only this thing' with no room for confusion or other common usages. 

If you start thinking about things in terms of diegesis, you get the tools to explain and explore stuff nicely that you wouldn't otherwise. For example:
  • Are the powers a D&D 4th edition PC has diegetic or not? Do the different weapon strikes, moves, spells and so on represent distinct techniques a PC has been taught? Can a 4e fighter talk about the different techniques they use? Or are they a non-diegetic abstraction that simplifies the chaos of combat into maneagable gameplay? Or is it somewhere between the two?
  • Similarly, D&D 4e uses its 'bloodied' mechanic to take a previously non-diegetic mechanic (losing HP) and make it somewhat more diegetic; it's an in-fiction fact that when half of a monster's HP are gone, it's got visible injuries, blood everywhere, etc. It allows you to discuss a non-diegetic thing (how many HP has the monster lost?) in diegetic terms (is the monster bloodied yet?).
  • Is the symbolism in a game diegetic or not? As a audience, we know that a vampire feeding is a bit rapey. Could a toreador poet draw on that symbolism in their poetry, describing feeding using rape as a metaphor? Etc.
  • Can lines and veils be made diegetic? For example, there's a difference between 'this is a game where you won't encounter sexism' and 'this setting is completely gender-blind and no society sees any differentiation between genders; sexism is a meaningless concept in this setting'.
  • Can game mechanics be made diegetic? What happens if you take the idea of a 'class' in D&D and make it an obvoious measurable thing; so that you can cast 'detect barbarian' to tell if a PC is a barbarian, just like if you cast 'detect evil' to tell if they're evil.
This is something that I deal with a lot because a lot of my design goals centre around the boundries and blurry areas between diegetic and non-diegetic mechanics, ways to make a mechanic more diegetic, and ways to make non-diegetic mechanics at least parallel diegetic things (for example, gold-for-xp is non-diegetic, but it parallels a PCs diegetic desire to get rich because being rich is nice. Likewise most systems which reward XP for specific achievements). Discussion and design around 'can we make this mechanic more diagetic' and 'can we represent this diegetic phenomenon with an elegant abstraction' are some of the areas I'm most interested in. 
(as an example: whenever a Wounded Daughter ressurects, she's left robbed of some of her potential, a little more withdrawn and a little more bitter and resentful. She's somehow lesser, and although she can grow past that, it's a serious and unpleasant thing: representing this by a debt of XP that she won't benefit from expresses it in a neat, simple way; the XP is an abstraction for the more diegetic idea of the PCs rich inner life being eroded.) 
These are all conversations we can be having already, but the use of the terminology allows us to be more precise and better understand what's being said.

Lastly: is using academic terminology to discuss RPGs gatekeeping? I'm pretty sure it isn't. 
As I've said earlier, I have no academic background in this sort of thing, and picked the term up from youtube. This isn't something I'm familiar with because I've got the privilege of a liberal-arts education. I'm not even particularly posh or anything, I just watch too many youtube videos. 
On top of this, I do think that tabletop RPGs are kind of lagging behind other media in terms of analysis. Even in terms of interactive media, there's far more discussion for videogames and larps than there is ttrpgs. We basically have the Forge and that's it. Treating the subject matter as something that you can discuss in depth with technical language isn't necessarily a bad thing. If I'm having a deep technical discussion with another RPG writer about this stuff, having the precise language to describe what I mean is useful.
Hell, if somebody uses a term I don't recognise I can just ask them to define it. 
The expectation that all discussion around a medium should be accessible to new players without much grounding in the discussion is unreasonable; it keeps the discussion at a shallow level. Some discussions are gonna be in-depth and require a good understanding of the subject matter, and they're not gonna be easy to grock until you've been in the field for a while. Expecting discussions to dumb-down and avoid academic language so everybody knows what's going on will - in practice - just stifle more in-depth discussion.

Anyway, there you go:
Diegetic & Non-diegetic as terms for RPGs. Now go forth and use them in conversation, it will make you sound clever and help explain your thoughts better.