Dictionary of Roleplay Terms

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This roleplay dictionary attempts to explain some basic terms of forum roleplaying, as they relate to forum roleplay. It is by no means comprehensive or intended to be an end-all, be-all guide — the precise specifics of each definition may vary from one game to the next. Always remember — roleplay terms can and will vary quite frequently. If your game community seems to use one of the terms listed here “strangely” — they’re not wrong. It’s not as if these roleplay definitions are in the dictionary!

Basic Roleplay Forum Terms

A single instance of roleplay, written by one player. Posts can be intial posts (sometimes called openers or starters, but not usually referred to as anything special), or they can be replies to other posts.
A single instance of roleplay, written by one player, in response to another player. All replies are posts, but not all posts are replies.
Thread or Topic
Several instances of interconnected roleplay, written by two or more players. A thread consists of an initial opening posts, and subsequent replies moving through a storyline. A thread may be short (spanning only a few hours IC time) or long (spanning months or years of IC time), depending on the game’s timing structure.
Forum or Subforum
Forums are organizational structures on the message board, grouping related sub-forums or related topics together. This is often used in roleplay to organize In Character threads by different IC areas.
Categories are generally organizational structures for forums — a given category will have several related forums.
Board or Forum
The board or forum is generally the term used to refer to the entirety of this structure.

Basic Roleplayer and Character Terms

If you’re very new to roleplaying, the Forum Roleplaying basics guide will help you understand how some of these terms are used in everyday forum roleplaying lingo.

Roleplayer, Player, Mun
The person at the keyboard playing the roleplay character.
OOC or Out of Character
Things that the roleplayer is saying. OOC often applies to entire forums — e.g., the chat and discussion forums on a given roleplay are almost always OOC forums.
PC or Player Character
The fictional character created by the roleplayer.
IC or In Character
Things that the character is saying. IC often applies to entire forums — e.g., the roleplaying forums are almost always entirely IC. However, roleplayers are often permitted to include an “OOC snippet” at the top of their IC posts. This OOC snippet is generally used to deliver messages to other roleplayers in the thread.
NPC or Non-Player Character
A fictional character created by the roleplayer, administrator, or other roleplayers. Non-player characters are, as their name suggests, not actively played by any one roleplayer.
Adoptable or Open Character
A fictional character created by a roleplayer, intended for another roleplayer to “adopt” and play as their own.

Types and Styles of RPGs

AU or Alternate Universe
These roleplaying games are set in a particular fandom universe, but do not adhere to the events that occurred within that universe precisely. An example of this is the Harry Potter game which has Harry, Ron, and Hermione attending Durmstrang instead of Hogwarts.
The “canon” is the original source material for a fandom game — as in the aforementioned AU Harry Potter game, the canon is still the Harry Potter book series (even though the roleplay universe severely differs).
Roleplay consisting of only a single line or a few short lines — often occurs within chatrooms, widely considered to be very amateur. Sometimes referred to as “action roleplay” wherein actions are interspersed with speech, like so:

*Azazel walks into the room, glowering.* I just got caught poaching from the boss’s private stash! *Azazel kicks over a trash can.*

Para, Paragraph, Multi-Para, or Multi-Paragraph
Roleplay that consists of many lines and, often, multiple paragraphs. Generally, roleplay of this flavor is over 100 words.

RPG Consent Level Terms

See Choosing an Online RPG for more information about how you can determine the right consent level for your desired style of roleplaying.

In this type of roleplaying game, In Character consequences are favored. Your agreement to consequences doesn’t matter in Non-Consent RPGs.
Limited Consent
Limited Consent attempts to strike an even balance between consent and consequence. Certain negative consequences can be enforced without player agreement. Character death, physical damage, and other severe consequences still require roleplayer agreement, though.
Players cannot control anyone’s characters but their own, and consequences or life changes of any sort must be agreed to by the player.

RPG Member Types

A person who is a non-staff (non-moderator or non-administrator) roleplayer in a given game.
The “manager(s)” of the roleplaying game, with minor staff powers over certain forums or only some forums (e.g., deleting and editing posts, locking threads, etc.).
The owner(s) of the roleplaying game, with power over the whole forum (e.g., deleting posts or entire forums, moving forums, closing the board, etc.).

Bad Roleplay Terms

The four major forms of bad roleplay.
The four major forms of bad roleplay.

The Bad Roleplay and Bad Roleplayer Behavior guides go more in-depth into these terms and how they are used in the forum roleplay world. These guides are highly suggested reading, especially for new roleplayers.

Godmoder, Godmoding
A roleplayer or roleplay character engaging in metagaming, powerplaying, or godmodding. See Bad Roleplay.
Godmodding, Godmod
Godmoding specific to character creation, skills, and certain situations (e.g., giving a character superpowered skills). See Bad Roleplay: Godmodding.
Powerplaying, Powerplay (Synonym: Bunnying)
Godmoding by controlling another roleplayer’s character without permission. See Bad Roleplay: Powerplay.
Metagaming, Metagame
The use of out of character knowledge in character. See Bad Roleplay: Metagaming.
Retcon, Retconning
The rescinding of a plot or In Character occurrence; roleplayers acting as if a plot never occurred. See Bad Roleplay: Metagaming.
Twinky, Twinking
Characters that act nonsensically from an IC perspective; a gross violation of realism and believability. See Bad Roleplay: Bad Roleplayer Behavior.
Cheesing, Cheesy
Forcing the plotted or expected outcome of roleplay by invoking an unmentioned fact. See Bad Roleplay: Bad Roleplayer Behavior.
Munchkin (derogatory)
A roleplayer who plays a non-competitive game in an aggressively competitive manner. See Bad Roleplay: Bad Roleplayer Behavior.

Roleplay Graphic and Template Terms

An example of an RPG post template you can create for your character.
An example of an RPG post template you can create for your character.

The Roleplay Images category and guides go more in-depth into these terms and how they are used in the forum roleplay world. You can learn how to create your own roleplaying graphical templates with the Roleplay Image Tutorials. Or you can create your own custom Roleplaying Code Templates.

The forum signature, which generally occurs beneath each post of a given forum account. The signature is usually the character’s name, current status, adoptable advertisements, etc.
The forum avatar, which generally occurs to the left of the post of a given forum account. The avatar is usually a physical representation of what the character looks like.
A “claim” on a particular face or representation on roleplaying characters. Generally only applies to roleplaying games where real humans are used for character images. The thought process is — no one wants two characters to use the same face-claim unless they’re identical twins. Having two characters who look exactly the same “breaks” the universe in a small way. Thus, many human RPGs opt to have face-claiming lists.
Post Template, Post Table, or Post Layout
A form of RPG graphic, usually coded in HTML and CSS, that emphasizes the mood of the roleplaying post or presents an alternative image for the character’s appearance. See RPG Post Templates for more information about how to create your own roleplay templates.

Types of Roleplay Helpers & Aids

An example of an RPG post log. You can use them to track your currently active threads for one or more characters. It helps you stay on top of your current roleplaying posts.
The Roleplay Code category and guides go more in-depth into these terms and how they are used in the forum roleplay world.

Post Log, Post Trackers, Thread Logs, Thread Trackers, and many other things
A form of RPG graphic where active roleplaying threads are listed. The Post Logs code template section has helpful tutorials, templates for your post logs, and more.
Archives (And many things post logs are called, too)
A form of RPG graphic where finished or inactive roleplaying threads are listed. The Simple Roleplay Thread Archive can help you get started with RPG thread archives.
Character Sheet or Character Profile
Can refer to either the actual character forum profile, or a separate informational listing. Character sheets and profiles are, essentially, tracking methods for different character traits and aspects. Forum Roleplay offers a multitude of RPG character sheet templates, as well as a whole character profile site.