Roleplaying – RP Terms and why they are important to understand

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RP (Roleplay) – See definition and types of RP here.

Severs – A server is where online roleplay takes place.

  • Module – A module is the overall server database. It’s the content of the server itself, without the added players.
  • Open Server – People can log into a server from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
  • Private Server – People can log into a server from anywhere in the world with an internet connection AND a password for the server.
  • LAN (Local Area Network) Server – Only people on your internet connection (usually limited to one building) can join the server.

Player – The physical person who is playing the character(s)

DM/GM (Dungeon Master/Game Master) – In Table Top, the person leading the story is called a DM or GM (they are both the same thing). They are the ones in charge of playing NPCs (see below) and creatures that the playable characters run into. Some GMs read from a book that tells them everything they need to know to control the game, while other GMs come up with everything on their own (see Homebrew). GMs are also the ones that make the rules of the game and ultimately have full control over all decisions.

Host/Admin/Moderators – On forums and online servers, the person who owns the server/forum is the host. People who help run the server/forums are called admins or moderators. Note that every server and forum is different, so these definitions may not always be the case. This is just generalized.

  • Hosts – The host is typically the one that oversees everything. They own the server/forum, and they may be the person behind the entire story and scripting. They oversee keeping rules in order, and they are the ones who ban unruly people from the server/forum.
  • Admins – Admins are one step below hosts. They, as well as the host, may run events on the server/forum. They may act as GMs and make high-level and low-level decisions. Some very high-level decisions may still need to be passed by the host.
  • Moderators – Moderators are people who are able to make low-level decisions only. They may be GMs to an extent, but they don’t hold as much power as admins. Moderators may be the ones in charge of making sure that rules are not being broken.

RT RP (Real Time Roleplay) – This is usually the kind of roleplay that happens on MMO RPG servers. You only roleplay with those people who are currently logged into the server with you, and the characters logged in will interact with your character in real time. RT RP requires you to be completely focused on the roleplay at that time and you will have to let the other players know if you need to leave (even for just a few minutes) for any reason. ***It’s considered very rude to leave a real time roleplay without first telling the other players that you’re doing so. It’s also considered very rude to be distracted by other things enough that it takes you a long time to reply.***

Multi para/paragraph – This usually refers to forum/group or one-on-one roleplay. This simply states that every roleplay post written is typically over three paragraphs long. This gives players a chance to be descriptive about what their characters are doing or thinking. Multi para RP is usually not in real time, and players take much longer to reply.

Closed vs Open – In forums, groups, and one-on-one, you may here the term “open” or “closed.” There can be different definitions to both, but in general, this shows if the players are looking for more players to RP with (open), or if they have found enough players and have begun roleplaying (closed).

Homebrew – With Table Top RPGs, you may here the term “Homebrew.” This means that the DM in charge of the game has made the plot (and perhaps the whole world the characters are in) themselves as opposed to reading everything step-by-step.

PCs (Personal/Playable Characters) – There are two kinds of Characters: playable and non-playable. A playable character is someone that a player controls.

  • Muse/MC (Main Character) – In terms of video games, the main character is the person you are in control of. In terms of forum/sever/one-on-one/writing RP, this is the character you control the most and play the most often. They are also the most important character(s) to the story. Typically, you’ll only have one main character, but it’s not unheard of to have more. In my case, I have two main characters.
  • Sub main – The character(s) that you play very often, but not as much as your main character. You may have put in a lot of thought into their background and personality, so much so that they practically feel like a main character to you. They may also be very important to the story.
  • Secondary – The character(s) that is not quite as important to the story but may be important for story progression as a whole. In the case of one-on-one RP and writing, you may have several secondary characters. As time progresses, secondary characters may be promoted to main/sub main characters through character development and story progression.
  • Background – The characters that you rarely play and may not have any importance to story progression at all. They may only be there just to add some flair to your story to make it feel more realistic. It is certainly possible for background characters (a shop owner, for instance) to become a more prominent part of the story if your main characters continue to interact with them.

NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) – These characters are not under player control. In video games, NPCs have been scripted to do certain actions beforehand. They may be an AI (Artificial Intelligence) that appears to make its own decisions (the computer does that for them), or they may be a character that only says one thing and nothing else. In other forms of roleplay like Table Top, NPCs may be controlled by a DM/GM. They may be shopkeepers, town guards, townspeople, monsters, animals, you name it. In one-on-one and writing RP, NPCs don’t exist, seeing as you (and your partner) are in control of everything.

Troll – A troll is a person who may enter a roleplay area simply to get attention for themselves or cause general disruption. They may be tame and just make overpowered characters or metagame (see below), or they may even hack into the server to cause the server to go offline. Don’t be a troll. No one likes trolls.

Banning – When a person is banned, they are not allowed to join the forum/server. Bans may be temporary or permanent.

IC (In-Character) – Basically everything that relates to your character and the world they are in.

  • ***It is EXTREMELY important to understand the phrase “what happens IC stays IC.” I’m going to be going over this again in a future lesson, because I have witnessed awful things happening due to people not understanding this. In summary, whatever your character does does not reflect you as a player/person. Your character may be evil and sadistic, but that does NOT mean that you are.
  • This is also very, very important to understand when in-character relationships happen. Just because your character is in a relationship with another player’s character does NOT mean that you are in a relationship with the player. Two players can roleplay an intimate relationship between their characters without ever, ever, ever having any sort of feelings for each other.
  • This also goes the opposite way. If you have a significant other(s) that roleplay with you, your characters are not required to be in a relationship with your significant other’s character. It is acceptable for your characters to hate each other, even if you as players love each other.
  • If another character is mean to your character, it DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE PLAYER DOESN’T LIKE YOU. It simply means that the CHARACTER doesn’t like your character. Please, please, please be civil with each other as players when roleplaying.

OOC (Out-of-Character), IRL/RL (In Real Life/Real Life) – On the flip side, OOC/RL/IRL refers to players and anything set in real life. Every good roleplayer understands that out-of-character is much more important that in-character. Take care of yourself as a player, first and foremost.

Metagaming – When a player makes their character know information that their character would otherwise not know.

  • Metagaming happens when a player knows information about in-character topics, but their character does not. A metagaming player will use that information in-character to their advantage. It would be like you walking up to your friend and asking for the candy they have in their pocket, even though you never saw or heard about the candy. It wouldn’t make any sense for you to know about it. If your character doesn’t know about something in-character, don’t make them know about it, even if you are fully aware as a player.
  • In forum roleplay, players may write out a TON of information about what their characters’ thoughts are and what happened in their pasts. Just because the player is writing it does not mean that your character has in-character information about it. Anything not SPOKEN about in-character is considered out-of-character knowledge. Your character must physically be told about or shown information to know about it in-character.
  • Metagaming is EXTREMELY looked down upon. It’s the mark of a novice roleplayer or a Troll. Some servers may even ban you for metagaming. This is another reason why understanding the difference between in-character and out-of-character is so important.
  • Metagaming doesn’t just happen in roleplay, however. You can see it in writing, or even movies and TV shows too. Ever wonder why your favorite character suddenly knows a valuable piece of information, even though they were never told about it? That’s metagaming. It causes major loopholes in writing, so if you are a writer, make sure you keep your information straight. This is why drafting and editing are so important when writing. Fix your out-of-character mistakes and keep out-of-character knowledge out-of-character!

Forcing a Character – Forcing a character is almost as bad as metagaming. In summary, forcing a character is making your character do something that they would otherwise not do. This may happen to make sure that there is a certain outcome to the story or event.

  • A general example: You are playing a super evil necromancer. He has hated everyone since he was a child. While roleplaying, a woman is in need of help, and she asks your necromancer character to help her without the promise of a reward. You, out-of-character, know that this woman has an item that your character needs, and the only way for her to give it to your character is to be nice to her. In-character, your character has no idea the woman has the item, but you make him act a specific way (be nice) so that you can get the needed item. I can almost guarantee that your evil character would simply walk away from the woman (unless perhaps she offered him a reward).
  • This also happens a LOT when roleplaying relationships. You may force your character to like another character as an intimate partner the moment they meet, when IC, there is absolutely no way they would like each other in that way (at least at first). Trust me, it’s a lot more fun when you leave it up to the characters, allow them to get to know each other, and “slow burn” (see below). It’s much more rewarding to see a character slowly fall in love with someone they once despised due to character development rather than instantly falling head over heels for no reason.

FOIC (Find Out In-Character) and BIC (Back In-Character) – In hope of keeping metagaming or forcing to a minimum (or just for the element of surprise!), you may hear players and DMs say “FOIC.” This means that you, as a player and a character, must wait to realize information once it comes up naturally in-character. This is fun because you may assume certain things about another player’s character, and then be completely wrong or right about it. It also helps your character to act and react more naturally, without you unintentionally forcing your character to have opinions or information they otherwise would not have. People may just say “Back in-character” to tell you that they don’t want to talk about things out-of-character and want you to learn about in-character information in roleplay.

Character Sheets (I’ll be covering DND sheets more in depth in a future post) – In many roleplay games in general, you’ll be charged with making a character sheet. This is where you can see what skills and traits your character must make for better and more consistent roleplay. Usually, you can only see the character sheet for characters that you control.

Stats (Statistics) – Your character’s character sheet will be filled with what are called “stats.” Stats show how strong your character is, how nimble they are, how smart they are, etc.

Character Biographies (Character Bios) – Like character sheets, a character bio is information about your character. Unlike a sheet, however, a bio is where you can show a picture of your character for other players to see, an in-depth description of what they look like, what they wear, any weapons or accessories they may have on their person, and pretty much anything else you want other players to know about your character. Some players choose to publicly display their character’s entire backstory, while other players may be very secretive and make you “FOIC.” ***Just remember your character must be told about something in-character for them to know about it.***

OP (Overpowered), Mary Sue, God-modding

  • An OP character, a Mary Sue, and a God-modded character are all the same thing. It means that a character is way too powerful than they should be and may come without any flaws at all. Most experienced roleplayers know that making an OP character is much less fun than making a realistic character. Once again, an OP character is the mark of a novice roleplayer or a troll.
  • Items and monsters can also be overpowered.
  • Note that DMs may control overpowered items, monsters, and characters. If you encounter an OP monster that your DM is in control of, it’s possible that you have come across the monster too soon and your character is not experienced enough to fight it. As a player in a Table Top game, it’s not your place to call a DM’d item or character overpowered because it’s the DM’s decision anyway.

Time Skip/Time Bubble

  • When roleplaying one-on-one, you may want to “time skip.” This means that in-character, a certain amount of time has passed. This may be a few hours up to decades or centuries. It depends on what the roleplay calls for.
  • On Real Time RP servers, and perhaps forums, you may wish to “time bubble.” Unlike “time skipping,” a time bubble is where you may in-character-ly go back in time (or even pause time) to roleplay something you weren’t able to prior. Typically, time bubbling only works for very small groups of players and is not an extremely common practice (but I have done it several times!)

Assuming – Assuming is just that: you and other players may assume what happens in-character without roleplaying it out. On a Real Time RP server, this may come in handy from time to time. If you were to have to leave quickly, but the roleplay scene was ending soon anyway, you may say “let’s assume” and the players will quickly explain what their characters would do to close the scene.

Fade to black – I don’t like focusing on sexual roleplay, but for those of you who are minors, it’s very important for you to understand what fading to black is. In the case of your character becoming intimate with another character, it is a very common practice to “fade to black.” This means that any R-rated (or even PG-13 rated) acts are assumed. In this case, explaining what characters would do may or may not happen. If the player is a minor, a full assumption without any explanation would be most recommended. If the players are not minors, they may briefly explain what happens without roleplaying through the act. This is very beneficial to players who don’t like to roleplay anything sexual at all. Some roleplay servers, forums, etc. may even require fading to black.

  • ***NOTE THAT ROLEPLAYING SEXUAL ACTS WITH A MINOR IS ILLEGAL. IT IS AN OFFENSE THAT CAN LEAD TO YOUR ARREST. DO NOT ROLEPLAY SEXUAL ACTS WITH MINORS.***

Fanfic RP & Terms – A Fanfic RP is a roleplay based on a TV show/movie/book. You may roleplay as characters from that show/movie/book and/or characters of your own making.

  • Ships – Shipping is the hoping that two (or more) characters become romantically or intimately involved with one another.
  • Canon – This is something that has officially happened in the show/movie/book.
  • Head canon – Something that has not officially happened in the show/movie/book, but it makes complete in-character sense to have happened.
  • Doubling – When both one-on-one players roleplay a male and female at the same time. One of the reasons behind this is to make both players feel comfortable playing male and female characters, as opposed to just one player.
  • Verse, AU – The “verse” refers to the “universe” that the roleplay takes place in. An AU (Alternate Universe) is a universe that is not canon to the show/movie/book.
  • Slow burn – When characters becoming romantically/intimately involved with one another over naturally the course of time. Slow burn may also refer to the plot itself being realized very slowly. *Note that in Fanfic RP, it is common to force characters to become involved. I personally don’t enjoy forcing of any kind, but it is not as looked down upon in Fanfic RP.

Have any RP terms that I forgot? Please let me know and I will add them to the list!