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Glossary of Terms

18+ / 21+ / 25+

Terms used in roleplay advertisements that define what age the poster desires their partner to be at or over. This does not refer to the age of the characters themselves.


Ad((vert)isement)

A blurb written by someone seeking roleplay and posted on a public platform. This typically includes a summary of what genre of roleplay they are looking for, info about their preferences and what they look for in a partner, as well as possible plot or character ideas.


Advanced

A term used to describe someone with significant roleplaying experience (usually several years), or another way to refer to advanced-literate (see: advanced-lit) writing skills.


Advanced-Lit(erate)

Going beyond just using correct language syntax (see: literate), these authors put extra effort into crafting their own author’s voice, style, complex plots, and compelling characters.


AU / Alternate Universe

A setting that differs in at least one substantial way from either reality or the established canon (see: canon). This is used to make use of established universes, but allows the authors freedom to edit it for their own purposes or originality.


Antagonist

A character who is typically the main negative force in a story or roleplay. Sometimes a textbook villain, other times just a character who the protagonist has a conflict with.


Anti-Sue

A main character, typically intended to be a protagonist, with so many (or such irritating) shallow flaws that they become completely unrelatable to your audience. Usually created in an attempt to avoid being a ‘Mary Sue’, but suffers from the same issue of having the plot bend around them in illogical ways.


App(lication)

Typically used for group roleplays, this is a sheet or a list of questions that you are expected to fill out about your character before the admins of that group will approve your character to participate in the RP.


Arc

This refers to the changes that happen to a character or the plot over the course of the story. Arcs are typically crafted in such a way as to set up cause and justifications for these changes.


AxA

Denotes that the author has no preference as to which gender dynamic is featured in the roleplay, and will play anyone (and any gender or orientation) against anyone (hence AxA).


Background

A summary of a character’s personal history. This is usually at least a couple of paragraphs covering significant events from the character’s life, childhood up until the present. It may also include information on secondary characters that have influenced your own such as family members, friends, mentors, rivals, etc.


Beige Prose

The opposite of purple prose (see: purple prose), beige prose is used to describe a writing style that is primarily functional and to-the-point, with little extra description or adjectives.


Brackets

Also known as OOC brackets, these are symbols used to differentiate IC actions/dialog and OOC comments, mainly utilized when roleplay has only one line or avenue of communication. The most common bracket stylings are (( text )) and [[ text ]].

e.g., (( This is an OOC statement. ))


Canon

Most often used in fandom roleplay. This refers to the ‘official’ version of the universe and characters, as established by the author of the works that the fandom is based on. Used to contrast against original characters or alternate universes.


Cast

A term to describe all of the characters that may appear in a roleplay, not just the ‘main’ ones.


Character

The fictional persons that you and your partner create for the roleplay.


Character Sheet

A separate document that is written about a character that you intend to use in a roleplay. This can be for your own reference or for the reference of your potential RP partner(s). Typically includes things like: name, physical description, a summary of their background, character traits, abilities, etc. Please see RPC’s character sheet template <here>.


Dialogue

Spoken word between two or more characters. Denoted in writing with the use of quotation marks. Example: “This is one character saying something to another.” Typically, there should never be more than one character’s dialogue in a single paragraph.


Doubling (& Tripling, etc.)

These terms refer to the act of taking on a second, third, and so on main character in a roleplay. Oftentimes this happens to allow one or both players to use a character of a different gender than their original main character.


DM / Direct Message

Used to refer to the messaging system of whichever platform you are using that sends a message directly to the private inbox of that user, as opposed to a public message on a chat room or a message board. Often referred to as a “whisper” in an MMO-RPG setting.

See also: PM.


DM / Dungeon Master

This is the narrator of the story, most often seen in tabletop RPG games. They create and control the story, plot, setting, and non-player characters (see: NPC). The players are then left to roam, interact with, and explore the world the DM has created.


Dynamic

1) The type of gender pairing (typically for romance) that an author prefers between the two main characters in a roleplay, E.g. MxM, MxF, AxA, etc.

2) The type of trope interaction and character types that an author prefers to be the focus of a roleplay, typically a contrast of two different types of people thrust together. E.g. mentor/mentee, enemies to lovers, old world/new world, etc.


Erotic Roleplay (ERP)

Roleplay where heavy sexual themes, including the actual detailing of intercourse, take place.

See also: smut.


Faceclaim

An image chosen by a writer that they feel accurately represents their character’s physical appearance. This can be in the form of a photograph or art (drawn/painted/etc).


FTB / Fade-to-Black

This term refers to the act of leaving out sexual scenes when they happen in a roleplay. Some writers prefer to write out the acts, while others prefer to fade to black, or trail off the scene and pick back up some time afterwards.


Fandom

This refers to roleplay that takes place in a universe or setting that’s already been invented by another author in a work of fiction. Examples of popular fandoms are Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Marvel universe, etc.


First (Person / Perspective)

This refers to the perspective which your story is told from. First person puts the reader in the author’s shoes, using ‘I’, ‘I’m’, ‘I’ll’ and other first-person pronouns to tell the story from the character’s internal point of view.


Freewriting

The act of simply writing what comes to mind, with no editing, as an exercise in creativity. Freewriting is sometimes used to help with writer’s block.


FxF (F//)

A character pairing between two females who are meant to be lesbian lovers of some variety. Sometimes called femslash.


Gary Stu

The male counterpart to a ‘Mary Sue’. This is used to say that a character lacks depth and originality, or is boring/uninteresting. Gary Stu is often the center of the story’s attention, the star of the show, despite there being little justification for it. Gary Stu might be either an idealistic or a tragic character, someone who is intended to be the object of a reader’s admiration or pity rather than as someone for them to relate to. Usually encountered by someone saying they don’t want to write with a Mary Sue or Gary Stu.


Genre

This refers to the category that this roleplay could be classified under, typically determined by a number of essential traits that other works in that category share. For instance, something in the ‘horror’ genre could be expected to have lots of nail-biting moments and scary violence/monsters. Something in the ‘sci-fi’ genre could be expected to take place in the future (or far past), include fictional technologies, and be speculative in nature.


Ghosting

When one participant in the roleplay stops responding entirely for a significant period of time with no explanation or parting words for their partner.


Godmoding

Manipulating the environment of the roleplay in such a way that a) overrides your partner’s consent, b) is overpowered, and/or c) removes your partner’s agency from the story.


Headcanon

This refers to one author’s own internalized version of something in the canon, usually slightly AU for their own enjoyment.


Historical

A genre or setting that takes place in a historical time period instead of our own modern time. Some examples of this would be the Victorian Era, WWII, the 1920s, the Roman times.


IC / In-Character

This refers to you, as the author, ‘acting’ as your character, much in the same way an actor might portray a character in a movie. This is used to differentiate from OOC, which is your actual persona as an author/actor and not the character. There’s a wide scope of use for this term.


Intro(duction)

The beginning post(s) of a roleplay. An intro(duction) is usually longer in length than subsequent posts, as it is often used to describe the universe in which the roleplay takes place and to introduce characters.

Synonymous with “opener” and “starter”.


LF / Looking For

A term/acronym utilized in the MMO-RPG RP communities. It is most often used when posting an ad of some sort. (e.g., “LF romance scene”) This is sometimes coupled with the acronym “PST” (please send tell), which is another way of requesting a private, one-on-one conversation about the ad.


Limit(ations)

These are things that the author does not wish to include in their roleplays, and expects that their partners will respect by not including them in their writing together. Common limits are around certain types of violence, sexual writing/acts, language, and potentially controversial social topics.


Literate

Refers to a writer who pays attention to using correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, and other linguistic details.


Lore

This refers to background information about the setting and characters that both partners will either understand going into the RP together (such as in fandom works), or build together as they go along (such as in original / AU works). This mostly focuses on past events and history of the universe, things that happened before the point at which the story is being picked up by the authors. It can also refer to political circumstances, cultures, etc. anything that would be defined by past in-universe history.


Mary Sue

The female counterpart to a 'Gary Stu’. This is used to say that a character lacks depth and originality, or is boring/uninteresting. Mary Sue is often the center of the story’s attention, the star of the show, despite there being little justification for it. Mary Sue might be either an idealistic or a tragic character, someone who is intended to be the object of a reader’s admiration or pity rather than as someone for them to relate to. Usually encountered by someone saying they don’t want to write with a Mary Sue or Gary Stu.


Metagaming

The improper use of IC information. Examples: Using information that your character does not have access to in order to inform their actions (such as another character’s thoughts, or something that happened while they weren’t present), using information that you as the author know in order to steer the plot in a way that it would not otherwise go -- anything that involves the use of information that you know OOCly in a way that doesn’t make IC sense or blurs the lines between your knowledge as an author and the knowledge of your character.

MMO-RPG

A massive-multiplayer-online-role-playing-game, where players interact within the game world. It is common place for MMO-RPG games to have roleplay servers, where roleplayers can congregate and interact.


Monologue

Spoken word or inner thoughts of a single character, directed to no one other than themselves.


Mun

You, the author. Mun is short for “mundane,” and is the owner of a character, or muse.


Muse

A source of inspiration for the author. This is often used to refer to either 1) the author’s general level of inspiration for the roleplay (e.g. I have mad muse for this), or b) a character in the roleplay that the author is deriving their inspiration from (e.g. my muse is speaking to me about his history).


MxF

Used to denote that the author prefers to write roleplays that focus on one male and one female as the main characters (typically for romance).


MxM (M//)

Used to denote that the author prefers to write roleplays that focus on two males as the main characters (typically for romance). Also called male slash.


Ninja-Logging

In the context of an online video game, ninja-logging is where one of the players intentionally disconnects from the game as a means of ending a roleplay, without warning or reason to the other player.

See also: ghosting.


NPC / Non-Player Character

This is a minor character that serves a limited purpose in the roleplay, usually to add to the setting or service the plot in some way. These characters are considered part of the setting rather than being assigned to a specific player, and can usually be manipulated by either player as a result.


NSFW / Not Safe For Work

Generally describes sexual content and is a way to differentiate such content from that which is suitable for the general public. This can include sexually explicit writing, discussion, pictures, videos, the like. Not all NSFW content is sexual. It can be violence, rough language, crude humor, or other suggestive content.


One-Liner

A post that consists of only one ‘line’ of text, typically one sentence, as opposed to several sentences or a paragraph.


One-Shot

A roleplay that is not meant to be long lasting or expansive in scope. Scenes of this nature tend to be short lived, with a defined ending point. Also known as a “one-off”.


OP / Overpowered

Typically used to describe a character or part of the setting that is so powerful that it takes away from the believability of the story.


Opener

The beginning post(s) of a roleplay. An opener is usually longer in length than subsequent posts, as it is often used to describe the universe in which the roleplay takes place and to introduce characters. Synonymous with “intro(duction)” and “starter”.


Original

This is used to refer to roleplays that are not based off of any previous works of fiction or existing authors, but is created to be entirely original between the two partners of the roleplay. Contrast against fandom or historical.


OC / Original Character

This refers to a character that is the author’s own original creation, specifically not a canon or historical character that has been invented by a previous author, or a person that exists (or existed) in real-life. Original characters can be used in fandom, historical, and/or original universes.


OOC / Out-of-Character

This refers to the real-life you, your authorial self, to distinguish from your character (see: IC). It typically means that you are having a conversation outside of the roleplay.


Past

Past tense is the use of words such as ‘did’, ‘was’, ‘were’ and other actions that take place in the past. This is the most common tense used in roleplay narrative.


PC / Player Character

This is used to refer to a character that is always controlled by one author, rather than being shared between authors. Most main and side characters fall into the PC category.


Person

Refers to the perspective that the narrative is written from.

See also: first person, second person, third person.


Play-By

Refers to the image used to describe a character. This could refer to a photograph or artwork given as the character depiction.

See also: faceclaim.


Plot

This refers to the events that take place within the roleplay, and the chain of causality behind them. ‘Plotting’ is the act of brainstorming ideas for events and causality that may take place in the story.


PM / Private Message

Used to refer to the messaging system of whichever platform you are using that sends a message directly to the private inbox of that user, as opposed to a public message on a chat room or a message board. Often referred to as a “whisper” in an MMO-RPG setting.

See also: DM.


Post

Roleplay being a turn-based form of writing, ‘post’ is used to refer to the sentences or paragraphs that one partner writes during their ‘turn’. Includes an individual author’s writing of action, dialogue, description, and plot progression, which is typically presented in a way that allows for a response (post) by their partner(s).


Post Frequency

The length of time between postings by each writer in a roleplay, usually defined in number of days or weeks. Fast paced roleplay with limited time between posts is referred to as “rapidfire.” (see: rapidfire) Post frequencies are often discussed and agreed upon prior to the roleplay starting, though it can also be established over the course of the scene.


Post Length

The average length of a writer’s individual posts, usually defined in number of sentences (see: one-liner), paragraphs, pages, or by a word count.


Powerplaying

Controlling your partner’s character in your own post, or writing out outcomes that happen to your partner’s character without giving them ample opportunity to react or decide that outcome for themselves.


Present

Present tense makes use of ‘is’, ‘does’, ‘can’ and actions referring to the present moment.

See also: tense.


Primary

The main character you are writing. Each writer in a roleplay will have their “primary” character, or the character they write the most often / is most integral to the story.


Protagonist

The lead or main character in a story or roleplay. Sometimes the ‘hero’, sometimes just a normal person trying to get by. Typically the character readers are meant to root for in a story, movie, or any other form a narrative.


Prose

Prose is written language without an imposed metrical structure, usually used to contrast against ‘poetry’. In roleplay, it’s often used to describe a style of writing that’s more novel-like and stylistic.


Purple Prose

Unnecessarily flowery, descriptive, or verbose form of writing that doesn’t add any actual value to the story. It is often used as filler text or padding to make a post appear longer or more "literate."


Rapidfire

Roleplay in which writers rapidly exchange posts, with little break in between each writer’s “turn”. This is typically done via shorter posts, written in quick succession over the course of a few hours.


Railroading

The act of steering the plot or a character in such a way that it removes your partner’s agency from the story. This might include setting things up such that there can only be one outcome (your outcome), telling your partner how their character has to act or respond, or any other number of things that don’t give your partner full choice in how they play their own character or interact with the plot.


Realism

Attempting to make the setting or characters of a roleplay feel as though it could really have happened. Usually used to contrast against extreme fantasy, realism attempts to connect readers to their own experiences rather than take them out of them or provide escapism.


Retcon(ning)

The act of amending, removing, or adding onto previously established story or lore. Often used as a way of explaining later developments in a storyline that might require a change to past events.


Roleplay

Roleplay is the act of collaborative, improv writing done by more than one author (this can be as few as two and as many as you can imagine). Typically, each author takes on the ‘role’ of one or more specific characters in that story, and their part in the story (see: post) controls the actions and words of the characters they have assumed, while their partner’s part in the story controls different characters. Interaction between these characters is generally the focus of the story. The name comes from stepping into the “role” of a character, and then “playing” them throughout the course of the story.


Roleplay Profile

A term utilized in the MMO-RPG RP communities. It refers to any sort of physical description, character background, or character sheet that is available within the game world for public viewing by other players. Such profiles are sometimes utilized as a means of advertising for specific scenes and they will often include faceclaims, character art, and/or links to outside content (blogs, roleplay sites, etc.).


Scene

A ‘scene’ is used to describe a collection of posts that comes to a natural conclusion, but is still just one part of the story of the RP as a whole -- just like a chapter in a book, or a scene in a movie. Usually the scene begins with some sort of set up to get you and your partner’s characters together, and then comes to a conclusion as they part ways.


SFW / Safe for Work

Content that is generally suitable for all ages and the general public. This content won’t be sexual, violent, crude, or overly suggestive.


Second (Person / Perspective)

Rarely used in roleplay, this is a narrative told from the perspective of a character outside the one being featured, using the pronoun ‘you’ to indicate the character in question. Mostly used when one player is serving as a ‘dungeon master’ and describing the settings and happenings to characters that are reacting to them. E.g. ‘you enter a dark room full of orcs’.


Secondary

A character that is important to the story and may appear frequently, but is not the main character. As a writer, you may have several secondary characters that only you control, used to bring depth to your main character or the world your roleplay is set within.

See also: side character.


Self-insert(ing)

Self-inserting is the act of blurring the lines between the character you play in the story, and you yourself as the author of that character. Authors that are self-inserting will often feel as if what is happening to their character is happening to them, and react accordingly. E.g. Someone insults their character and they feel insulted, their character wins an award and they feel accomplished, their character makes decisions based on what the author likes rather than what the character would. Usually self-inserting is frowned upon, since this means that what happens in the story can be emotionally perilous for the author and their partner.


Ship(ping)

Short for ‘relationship’, used to refer to a (typically romantic) relationship between two characters. It can be used to refer to a) the act of the authors intentionally steering these characters together (e.g. “Let’s ship Mark and Tom!”), or b) the authors taking OOC delight/investment in a relationship between two characters, who may or may not already be together in the story (e.g. “I totally ship Mark and Tom <33”). The latter is most common in fandoms.


Side Character

A character that you might write as part of a supporting ‘cast’ for the roleplay. Usually not as much time and focus is given to this character, but they may be necessary to help move the plot along, develop a relationship with one of the main characters, or be used to serve the story in any other number of ways.

See also: secondary.


Smut

Roleplay where heavy sexual themes, including the actual detailing of intercourse, take place. Also referred to as “ERP” (erotic roleplay).


Starter

The beginning post(s) of a roleplay. A starter is usually longer in length than subsequent posts, as it is often used to describe the universe in which the roleplay takes place and to introduce characters. Synonymous with “intro(duction)” and “opener”.


Story

This refers to the overall tale that you and your partner are trying to tell through the roleplay. It’s inclusive of characters, settings, arcs, events, and plot: the whole package. The story is often characterized by what sort of message or realization readers are likely to come away with at the end of it all.


Story Arc

A chain of events or set of circumstances contained within a larger story. Sometimes this is the main thrust of a roleplay or story, sometimes it is only one piece. The best way to describe this is to think of a story arc like a season of a TV show. Events that take place within a longer, larger story.


Tense

Past, present, future. Refers to the way actions are written within roleplay or stories. Past tense is the use of words such as ‘did’, ‘was’, ‘were’ and other actions that take place in the past. Present tense makes use of ‘is’, ‘does’, ‘can’ and actions referring to the present moment. Finally, future tense refers to actions as if they haven’t happened yet. The word ‘will’ often accompanies other adverbs to denote this, as well as others.


Third (Person / Perspective)

This is the most common perspective used for role playing and story telling in which the voice of the character or narrator refers to themselves and others in the third person. Proper nouns such as names, pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘him’, ‘her’, the like.


Universe

The fictional setting in which your roleplay takes place.


Voiceclaim

The use of a real individual’s voice as a reference point for how a character might sound if they were able to actually speak. Writers that utilize voiceclaims may reference a famous individual, actor, or a fictional character from a show/movie/video game. Some writers will have a sample of audio that acts as a representation of their character. Voiceclaims are seldom used, unlike their faceclaim counterpart.


Walk-Up

A term utilized in the MMO-RPG RP communities. It refers to roleplay that is initiated when one character “walks up” to another in the game world and engages them in-character through dialog or action.

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