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Ylanne’s Guide to Roleplay Terminology

Originally posted on RolePlayGateway.com as “Ylanne’s Guide to Roleplay Terminology”, by Ylanne:

Ylanne's Guide to Roleplay Terminology

Compiled by Ylanne Sorrows, with references

If you’re like me, when you first began to roleplay (or if you are a beginner), you were probably confused by the many acronyms, abbreviations, and other jargon sorts of terms that roleplayers casually toss around, even if you did roleplay a fair amount, and migrated here from another site or game, and suddenly were attacked and hushed into silent confusion at Roleplay Gateway’s seemingly innocuous but convulted use of certain terms.

Well, never fear, for I have decided to compile a list of many of the terms used in roleplay, especially those on this website. They are arranged alphabetically, so feel free to use CTRL+F to find the term you are looking for. If you think of additions to this page, send me a PM using that fancy button over there –> and I will add it and credit your username in the acknowledgements section.

Without further ado, I present to you my guide to roleplay terminology:

See Literate.

See Furrie.

Any roleplay with an apocalyptic theme, typically set in a modern or futuristic timeframe. Usually, such roleplays are also realistic, but on occasion may permit things such as biomodifications or magic.

Autohit, also Autohitting,
1.) During a roleplay fight, or text-based fighting, your post includes mention of actions that affect the other character with certainty. (For example, "Peter swung his fist in Jake’s direction" is NOT autohitting, but "Peter hit Jake in the face, breaking his nose", is autohitting. The first allows the other player to dodge, or to take the hit, whereas the latter does not.)
2.) The action of writing such posts.
3.) The habit of writing such posts.
Autohitting is also considered a form of godmodding.

See Godmode.

1.) The official or generally accepted storyline or turn of events, as in "According to the canon, Han Solo marries Leia Organa and they have three children".
2.) The original history or backstory of a character, as in "In my canon, Tahira Ali is arrested by the FBI and sentenced to death, but in this roleplay, she was sentenced to life imprisonment".
3.) A character originally created by a published author or which already exists in another fandom, as in "In this roleplay, no one may play canons, such as Harry, Ron, or Hermione".

Character, also Charrie, Char,
1.) A fictitious persona or entity, typically personified with human emotions and sentience, created by a writer or roleplayer. Typical examples may include: an anthropomorphic wolf named Appomattox, an FBI agent named Natalie Schultz, a vampire named Fletcher Godeaux, an android named Aiyanna-A, or a sorceress named Sylvire.

1.) A roleplay that is no longer accepting players or characters.
2.) A roleplay between two people.

Cybering, also Cyber
1.) A roleplay which contains explicit sexual or obscene material.
2.) Any post containing such material.
3.) The act of roleplaying sexual or obscene activities.
4.) Specific guidelines on what does and does not constitute cybering differ among GMs and roleplay sites. Ours specify that if sexual content is written tastefully, has literary value by itself and in context, and contributes to the storyline of a roleplay, it is permitted provided other players do not respond to the post in order to continue the activity. These stipulations have been expounded upon at this article: Regarding Sexualized Role-Plays by Robert M. Wright (Skallagrim).

1.) A roleplay characterized by characters that are "marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body". (Lawrence Person)
2.) A story characterized in the same manner.
3.) The genre consisting of all fictitious works characterized in such a manner.

1.) "Fiction inspired by mid-century pulp and set in a world similar to steampunk though specifically characterized by the rise of petroleum power and technocratic perception, incorporating neo-noir elements and sharing themes more with cyberpunk than steampunk." (Wikipedia)
2.) Roleplay in such a setting.
3.) The broad genre of all such works.

DM, also Dungeon Master
See GM.

An existing setting or ‘universe’ in which writers may create roleplays. For example, the Star Wars fandom, the Harry Potter fandom, the Lord of the Rings fandom, the Naruto fandom.

1.) Any roleplay in a fantasy setting.
2.) Sometimes also used as a catch all term for any non-realistic roleplay.

1.) A type of roleplay where there are no explicit guidelines on length or format of posts, usage of player characters, plot, or determining the success of various actions including combat.
2.) Another term for text based roleplay.

Furrie, also Furry
1.) An anthropomorphic character consisting of an animal with humanlike clothing, sentience, sapience, and behavior. Typically such a character walks upright, but furries may also be more animal-like in behavior, but possess humanlike emotion and sentience.
2.) An anthropomorphic character consisting of a non-human animal, especially horses, lions, wolves, foxes, and dogs, who possess sapience and sentience, as well as humanlike emotions and thought processes, but who otherwise behave and appear as their feral counterparts.
3.) A roleplayer who portrays such a character.

A roleplay.

Gary Stu
See Mary Sue.

GM, also Game Master,
1.) A person who writes roleplays.
2.) A person who runs roleplays.
3.) The player who controls the overarching plot and/or any NPCs.
4.) The player who directs the actions of the player characters and enforces the rules of the roleplay.

Godmodding, also God-mode, or Godmode, or Godmoding,
1.) Controlling another player character’s actions, dialogue, or thoughts without that player’s permission to do so, typically by writing a post in which you direct the actions, dialogue, or thoughts of that player’s character.
2.) May also refer to autohitting.
3.) Sometimes used as an umbrella term for any unfair tactics in a fight.

Handwaving, also Handwave or Hand wave,
Skipping a scene either because it violates site rules (such as on romantic or sexual content), an individual roleplay’s rules, or because the players involved agree not to write out the details of the scene (i.e. the uninteresting parts of a criminal trial, a speech, or a romantic scene with which one or both roleplayers are not comfortable). The content of the omitted scene is assumed to have happened, and the players whose characters are involved reach a mutual agreement before the handwave as to what occurs.

In Character (also In-Character, or IC)
1.) A post or piece of writing made from the point of view of one or more characters that adds to a storyline, or roleplay.
2.) Comments or remarks made in such a manner.
3.) Behavior consistent with that of a roleplay character, as opposed to a player’s own personality.

LARP, or Live Action Roleplay,
1.) A roleplay in which the participants (roleplayers) physically meet and act out their characters’ actions. Typically LARPers dress up in costumes, and may use foam weapons, die throwing, or rock paper scissors to determine the outcome of simulated comat. Most LARPs are in a fantasy setting.
2.) The general idea of such roleplays.
3.) The act of participating in such a roleplay.

Literate, also Literacy,
1.) An in-character post consisting of at least a few good-sized paragraphs, with good grammar and spelling.
2.) The ability on a roleplayer’s behalf to make good usage of the English language, with respect to common usage, stylistic choices, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization, while simultaneously adding coherent posts to an existing roleplay through careful development of character and plot.
3.) May also refer to the capability to write posts consisting of upwards of 500-700 words, although exact parameters differ between roleplayers.
4.) A roleplayer who is capable and willing to write such posts.

Mary Sue
1.) A character who is idealistic, lacking flaws, an overidealized self-insertion of the player, unrealistic, or characterized by several cliched and archetypical traits, including physical appearance, nomenclature, history, and personality. (For example, a half-demon half-vampire girl named Ebony Starblossom who was abandoned by her parents and raised in a society where halfbreeds are hated, in abject poverty, who was abused and raped, who has the power to control fire, who speaks twenty languages, who is stunningly beautiful with purple hair with silver streaks, who hates herself, etc. etc. etc. Don’t make me puke in my guide.)
2.) The act of playing such a character.

Metagaming, also Metagame, or just Meta
1.) Information or knowledge in an In Character post which does not reflect the character’s range of information or knowledge, but information or knowledge gained by the player in an Out of Character setting, discussion, or research.
2.) The act of writing a post with such content.
3.) The habit of writing posts with such content.

Minimum Posting Requirement
1.) A minimum word count for in character posts mandated by a GM for a specific roleplay. (Example: Minimum 2-3 good sized paragraphs, or minimum 75 words).
2.) A minimum posting frequency for in character posts mandated by a GM for a specific roleplay. (Example: Post once a day at least, or post once every other day).

1.) A ’setting’ for roleplay where all ‘universes’ and ‘fandoms’ and ‘characters’ simultaneously exist at once. (For example, Obi-Wan Kenobi can hang out with Harry Potter, Gil Grissom, and Napoleon Bonaparte all at once).
2.) The thread where such a setting exists.
3.) Posts made with such a setting in mind.
4.) Relating to such a setting.

Newbie, also Newb, Noob, N00b
1.) Any person with little to no experience with roleplay.
2.) Any person who is a newly registered member of the site.
3.) May also have derogatory connotations, referring to any person with immature behavior either OOC or IC.

Non-Player Characters, also NPC, NPCs, or Non Player Characters
1.) Any character which is not available for any player to play.
2.) Any character controlled by the GM, or whose posts are written exclusively or semi-exclusively by the GM. Typically, such characters play supporting roles, or background roles, or may be considered too powerful for players. For example, canon characters are often NPCs, as are minor characters.
3.) Any character with a minor role, who is shared between players, or who is played exclusively by one player in supporting roles, without access by other roleplayers. For example, the family members of a PC, or a clerk at a store, or a passerby on the street.

One-Line, also One line, one liners, or one-liners
1.) An IC post consisting of one sentence, or one line of text in a very literal sense.
2.) The act of writing such posts.
3.) The habit of writing such posts.
4.) A roleplayer who consistently writes such posts.

One on One, also 1×1, OnexOne
A roleplay exclusively between two players. They may choose to only play one character each, or to play multiple characters each, and write the plot together.

1.) A roleplay which is still accepting players and characters.
2.) A roleplay without a clearly defined plot, beginning, middle, and end.
3.) A roleplay allowing for freeform play.
4.) A roleplay permitting the players to collaborate to develop their own plotlines and subplots, without the burden of an existing overarching plot.
5.) A roleplay that is not forcing the story to go in one particular direction, or forcing the characters to work towards one specific goal or ‘end’, or conclusion.

Out of Character, also OOC, or Out-of-Character
1.) A post or piece of writing made from the point of view of the player, not related to a roleplay.
2.) A post of piece of writing made from the point of view of the player related to a roleplay, typically made to comment on one’s own or another player’s in character post(s), or to discuss furthering the plot or creating overlapping character backstories or future character interaction.
3.) Comments or remarks made in such a manner.
4.) Behavior consistent with that of the player’s own personality, as opposed to a roleplay character.

Player Character, also PC,
1.) Any character which may be created or controlled primarily by one roleplayer, and which is typically a major character in a roleplay.
2.) Sometimes may mean any character not created by the GM.

Any character with a special power. For example, a character who controls an element, who can read minds, summon demons, see the future, or defy death.

1.) A roleplay exclusively between two players. They may choose to only play one character each, or to play multiple characters each, and write the plot together.
2.) A roleplay with all spots already filled, or already collaborated by a specific group of roleplayers in advance of either the OOC or IC thread being posted publicly.
3.) A roleplay that has never been publicly open to signups.

Profile, also Character Profile
1.) A post containing a description of a character for roleplay.
2.) A brief biographical account of a character given for reference purposes.
3.) A list of attributes of a character, such as name, age, race (for fantasy), gender, appearance, personality, and history, which may be simplified or extended as the GM desires.
4.) Such a description.

1.) A roleplay set in the real world, whether historical, modern, or futuristic. This last one is very rarely associated with the term ‘realistic’, except in near future settings.
2.) Any roleplay where there is no form of magic nor of technology which does not exist in real life.
3.) Also sometimes used as a general term referring to any non-fantasy roleplay.

Roleplay, also RP, Roleplay, Roleplaying Game, RPG,
1.) Any collaborative writing project in which the participants typically control one or a few specific characters and work together to establish interaction and a coherent storyline.
2.) Any game where the players take on the role of one or more characters in a separate reality from their own lives.
3.) May refer to the concept in general, the community of people who participate in such games, a specific game, or a very specific collection of participants and the story they are creating.

Roleplayer, also RPer,
1.) Any person who participates in roleplaying games.
2.) Any participant in a roleplay.

Semi-Literate, also Semi-Lit
1.) An in-character post consisting of one to three good-sized paragraphs, with good grammar and spelling.
2.) An in character post of sizable length, but lacking perfection in terms of grammar and spelling.
3.) Any in-character post shorter than, or with worse mechanics than, a literate post.
4.) A roleplayer who is capable and willing to write such posts.

Sheet, also Character Sheet
See Profile.

Signups, also Sign Ups,
1.) A thread in which prospective players may submit profiles for the GM’s consideration.
2.) A thread containing Out of Character information for an open roleplay, where players may submit profiles for the GM’s consideration.

Skeleton, also Skelly
See Profile.

1.) A roleplay characterized by Neo-Victorianism, where characters exist in a Victorian era, and modern technological devices are modified to fit into such a time period.
2.) A story characterized in the same way.
3.) The genre consisting of such works.
4.) The subculture of fans of this genre.

See GM

A plot developed by players, typically without the inclusion of the GM, involving some of the characters in a roleplay, which takes place within the frame of the overarching plot.

See Mary Sue.

Tabletop Roleplay, also Pen and Paper roleplay
A roleplay where the participants physically meet together, where the scenario is guided by a GM, where the roleplay is focused around the use of character sheets (physical pieces of paper), spoken actions and dialogue, and where the success of actions is often determined by throwing of die. Example is Dungeons and Dragons.

Text Based Roleplay
Roleplays which are primarily constructed and continued through written pieces, each player controlling one or more player characters, posting in sequence such as on an internet forum.

Any roleplay containing references to vampires, or vampire characters.

Any rolepaly containing references to werewolves, or to werewolf characters.

A roleplay with sexualized themes, especially one including characters of deviant sexual preferences. (Warning: If you include this in the tags or title of any of your topics, moderators will take notice. See our Site Rules.) Also see Cybering.


Roleplay Gateway
Mary Sue by Wikipedia
Roleplaying Games by Wikipedia
LARP by Wikipedia
Character Profile Template by Ylanne Sorrows
Treali Storm: A Mary Sue Case Study by Ylanne Sorrows
The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test
Encyclopedia Dramatica: Mary Sue by Encyclopedia Dramatica
The Starter’s Guide to Forum Roleplay by Eric Martindale
What is Roleplaying? by Lord Saladin
The Purpose of a Roleplay Post by Lord Saladin
Building NPCs by Eric Martindale
Tipes for One Liners/Speed Posters by Vexar
The Roleplay Academy by Sonata


Thank you to Sonata, Rem (Eric Martindale), Marionette, Jehanne, Skall (Robert M. Wright), BBClock, Roleplay Gateway community members, and all newbies (both to the site and to roleplaying) who ask questions about what something means. Your inspiration means a lot.


2 comments for “Ylanne’s Guide to Roleplay Terminology”

  1. I notice that roleplayers almost exclusively use XD instead of lol. This can be seen outside of role playing circles, but almost everyone I’ve encountered that uses this shorthand roleplays.

    Posted by Cooper | November 20, 2010, 7:35 pm
  2. That’s interesting and not something I’d ever actually noticed, Cooper. I only recently began to use xD and even then, not particularly often. I also only began to use LOL fairly recently, and use that only with people I know fairly well.

    Posted by Ylanne S. | January 10, 2011, 3:12 am

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