Roleplaying & Fanfiction Term Definitions


Short for "alternate universe." These can range from minor alterations such as a character who died in canon being alive, or major alterations such as a team of superheroes being a team of firefighters instead.


Everything that actually happened or is actually demonstrated in the source material, or is confirmed by the creator/creators to have happened or work that way.


A plot or storyline done simply for the humor value with no real intent of it being taken seriously.


A type of player whose primary goal is to find a romantic partner for their character ASAP. You can tell a despie when the player gets upset if xe can't find someone to ship with xir character in the first five minutes of a roleplay.


An actual person (typically an actor) chosen to depict what the writer's character looks like. EG, a player may decide xir character looks like Will Smith and uses pictures of Will Smith to represent said character.


Personal notions of how things work or what may have happened within someone else's universe. EG, "It's my headcanon that Hermione Granger has a stamp collection back home."

GM/Game Master

A person who is in charge of a game and its plot. The GM reveals information as the players make discoveries, generally chooses how to interpret the dice rolls into story events if the game uses them, and plays NPCs (supporting characters in the plot). However, not all games are run by a GM - some are managed through player consensus, for example.


Choosing actions or consequences for the other player's character without the player's permission and/or having your character successfully avoid taking damage from everything, even and especially when it makes no sense. The following actions can all be considered forms of godmodding:


The act of letting your character act on or respond to information you know, but that your character would not. For example:


The "meta" version of a character that resides in author/player's head. If you create a character and suddenly find that said character takes on a life of xir own and starts doing things you never saw coming, then yup, you've got a muse. Of course, not everyone develops muses, and that's fine, too.


The author/player/person behind the keyboard.


A type of player who treats roleplaying as a competitive sport. Munchkins are focused on getting the most goodies and "beating" the other players - story, character development, and all else be dashed.

NPC/Non-Player Character

The term originated in the days of tabletop RPGs, where it was originally used to indicate any characters played/controlled by the GM (game master). In roleplays without an official GM, the term can refer to temporary or minor characters who are used as the plot requires them (EG, a shopkeeper in a place the characters visit) who might be played by anyone.

OC/Original Character

A character created by the writer/player, rather than by someone else.

OOC/Out Of Character and IC/In Character

Each one has two definitions, which can be summed up thus:

  1. OOC: Anything that the players do outside of the roleplay. EG, if the players have a conversation with each other, it may be refered to as "OOC talk." IC: Anything that happens within the game.
  2. OOC: A character behaving in a manner inconsistent with prior or canon characterization. EG, "Captain Kirk was really OOC when he started demanding blueberry waffles!" IC: The character acting consistently with previously-established characterization.

PC/Player Character

Characters run and operated by players in a roleplaying game. Typically also created by their players.


The state where a character has so much talent/ability/power/skill it damages the credibility of the character, or spoils the tension because it's impossible to build up suspense around the character, or unbalances the RP.

One method that usually works to keep your character from being OP is to give your character one or two things to be really good at, a few things to be sort of good at, and to make sure the scope and scale of your character's talents/abilities/powers/skills don't greatly exceed those of the other characters in the setting. Also, make sure that it's reasonably possible for the other characters to beat yours.

Power Gaming

Deliberately creating and/or playing as powerful a character as the rules of the game will technically allow, even to the detriment of the story and other players' enjoyment - EG, the other characters have next to nothing to do or contribute because the power gamer's character can quickly and easily resolve most conflicts and problems.


The act of controlling or making decisions for another person's character without permission. For example:


The act of contriving or forcing circumstances in a roleplay so that players don't stray away from the (usually narrowly-defined and plotted) story planned out by the admin/game master/other player. The more obvious it is that railroading is going on and that the players have no real say or influence in where the story goes, the more obnoxious it typically is.

Some examples of railroading:


The world/series/franchise the story/roleplay is set in. EG, a Star Trek roleplay is set within the Star Trek universe.

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