Etymology of blorb and gloracle

edited May 2019 in Forum Discussion
I think most current posters already know this but for the purps of history & for the purps of new posters (welcome to Story Games)♥, here is the etymology of blorb.

I love the 1983 video game Enchanter. At least I think I love it, I haven't gotten very far and I haven't completed it.

There are many spells in the game but you start with four. Blorb (preserve/protect something), Nitfol (talk to animals), Gnusto (copy a spell), Frotz (shine a light on something).

When I was discussing RISS official, canonical theory, I at first used names developed in the tradition of the threefold and the GNS. But people got confused and kept wanting to redefine the words from right under my feet (uh, that analogy ran away). So I grabbed the nearest "alien words" at hand—I had a t-shirt on with the Enchanter spell names—and mapped them up.

Blorb, the preservation spell—"preserve the integrity" of objects, characters and places in the game
Nitfol, talk to animals—make players & GMs equal contributors to the narrative
Gnusto, copy a spell—pre-write narrative & then have play echo it, follow along with it
Frotz, shine a light—overcoming challenges is your time to shine

Uh, some of these are a bit far fetched ♥


  • That's really interesting etymology. I didn't realize before that it meant something. I'd kind of assumed it was just nonsense words you had made up, you know?
    That's really clever, tbh.
  • edited May 2019
    These words also had a computer science meaning before they were put into the Enchanter video game; they were metasyntactic variables used at the school where that video game was made. A metasyntactic variable is a little hard to explain but basically words you use for programming examples that A. don't mean anything, B. look weird enough so that they don't tread on the toes of real keywords in the programming language.

    It doesn't always have to be examples, it can also be code where you're not sure yet what the perfect name should be.

    For the purps of game design these spell names obv now do mean something, but the weirdness is still purposeful.
  • edited May 2019
    Before I had played (a little bit of) Enchanter myself, and thus before I had heard of Nitfol or Gnusto, I had heard the word blorb (a file format for these types of video games) and frotz (for many different nerd things, most famously an interpreter for these types of video games).

    Edit: It seems that "nitfol" is also used as a name for these interpreters. I don't mind. It's still better than "sandbox" and "narr" around here because of the overloaded namespace.
  • edited May 2019
    I had way different connotations for "blorb" before reading the RISS stuff, tbh. For some reason I've always associated it with depression. I'm not sure why?
    I think maybe it's something that my wife said once early in our relationship? Or maybe it was something someone else I knew before said? I have no idea.
    It's something we still say nowadays, but I'm not sure how it got started.
  • I've never heard that. What's the type of word? Noun, verb?

    My concern has been that people would feel that the word is vague, amorphous, like a gelatinous cube; that it isn't as crisp and sharp as the gloracle.
  • edited May 2019
    Neither really? It's just kind of an exclamation, but a very disheartened one. Usually it involves lying on your face, and is followed by asking someone to hug you (or sometimes by a dramatic and sad monologue about whatever is causing the depression).

    I'm fairly certain it's not any kind of universal and is just a personal thing. We have a lot of words like that. 'Vlorch' is one. It's the substance the brain turns into when the executive function machine is critically low on fuel. 'Dlorf' is another. It's an adjective that's kind of both sad and foolish at the same time. I don't know.
  • Oh! An interjection! ♥
  • Can you explain what "gloracle" means? I keep seeing it used in the narr vs blorb thread.
  • The glorious oracle of dice & prep!

    Is the mystical statuette in the desk drawer? Consult the gloracle: ok there is a text here on page 49 of the module that says that that's where it is.

    Is my skill with the thieves' tools good enough to pick this lock? Consult the gloracle: ok there is a rule here in the PHB that says you roll a d20 add your modifier vs a target number what did you get a 12? No this lock is too hard for you.
  • Yes! It’s a lovely Sandra term for the way prep, rules, and dice give us answers about the fictional space. :)
  • I agree; "gloracle" is a niftily evocative portmanteau coinage. Bravo, Sandra! "Blorb" for me is less successful: unlovely at best, opaque with a penumbra of condescension at worst.
  • Gloracle is great♥♥♥

    As for blorb, people kind of brought it upon themselves for being like "no I think sandbox can also mean this thing or that thing" which, well, they're not wrong. Maybe I should've synechdoched gloracular play and made the new word be "gloracular" instead of latching on to blorby. Which at this point is a word I've gotten used to otoh.
  • Yeah, "gloracle" makes immediate sense, whereas "blorb" I've struggled with endlessly and am just starting to get used to using, after using it a hundred times over the last week. :)
  • Well, you can get used to almost anything, I guess ;-)
  • Yeah, "gloracle" makes immediate sense, whereas "blorb" I've struggled with endlessly and am just starting to get used to using, after using it a hundred times over the last week. :)
    Kinda same here :bawling:

    I needed a wholly alien name for blorb though. Should've selected something with a higher cellar door factor I guess♥
  • (Now I'm just using this thread to ask what terms from other threads mean...I am googling first...but not having a lot of luck)

    Zilch play?
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