OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


Glossary of play-by-post terms

glossary of play-by-post terms

To a newcomer, the wordswe use in roleplaying can seem bizarre and confusing. So here’s a glossary of terminology commonly used in play-by-post roleplaying.


Short for “application”. An application is a process (usually a form) that one must go through to do something else, such as join a game, or create a new character.


Stands for “Alternate universe”, which could be a world based on the canon of an existing TV series, but with a different timeline of events.


When you take a claim a character as your own. Perhaps the original owner has left the game, but you want the character to remain. There’s a guide on how to do this in OngoingWorlds here.


Canon is the material accepted as “official” in a fictional universe. For example in a Harry Potter roleplaying game, the characters Harry, Ron and Hermione are canon characters, but any characters you create yourself and add to the world will be non-canon. Canon can also apply to the storyline, events which are canon are ones that have officially happened, but non-canon events are things which have happened in fanfiction, including your own game, or someone else’s story. Although what is considered canon can be confusing, events and races mentioned in officially published Star Trek books might not be considered canon because they haven’t happened in the TV series or films.

C-Box or Chat box

An area for instant chat that many play-by-post games have. Very useful if you want some quick help, or to chat OOC with other players.

Conversation splicing

Taking quotations from a dialogue and giving a response to each individual part instead of as a single response (Thanks very much to slant and Desertpuma for this one!).


A foolish player or an action that is inherently foolish (Thanks very much to Slashy Flash for this one!)


An often undesirable player who tends to create OOC, out-of-game, drama and stress.


Also known as “playby”. Another term for the image used for a character. This is typically an actor or an illustrated character. In OngoingWorlds you can upload images for your characters, which will be shown alongside each post they’re mentioned in.


Also known as “pic-shipping”. To plan out relationships based on the character’s play-bys, rather than the characters themselves (thanks to xexes for this one).


Also known as “purple prose”. Excessive wordiness, usually through descriptions and adjectives, that don’t always contribute to the story in any meaningful way, but might create ambiance (Thanks to Joelle and xexes for mentioning this)

Game Master

The peson running the game, often also a “Moderator”. Sometimes known as DM (Dungeon Master – a term inherited from tabletop roleplaying), or perhaps “narrator” because they’re moving the story along.

God modding

Also known as “powerplaying”. God modding is when someone’s character has the ability to practically do anything without limits or boundaries. The same term can also be applied to when a player writes events into the game without the GMs permission. This can lead to arguments in the game, especially if one player writes another player’s character doing something completely out of character. See a full description of God Modding and why it’s annoying here.


Bringing OOC knowledge into an IC situation, e.g. knowing that a character really likes ice cream, when it has never been mentioned, and your character has no basis for knowing this fact.


Also known as: Mod, or Admin. Someone with admin rights of a game to edit or delete posts, approve new players or remove players.

IC: In-character

Roleplayers might write things as their character, for example join a chat-box and pretend to be their character, this is known as being “in-character”. Many roleplayers using Twitter and Tumblr will post in-character. On OngoingWorlds however, most roleplaying is done written in 3rd person.


Also known as “mun” or “player” or “member”. A term some roleplayers use to refer to the player behind the character. Sometimes it’s shortened to the word “mun”.

Mary Sue

Also known as “Marty-Stu” or “Gary Stu”. A character trope disliked by roleplayers, usually because s/he is too perfect, or too powerful, or too intelligent for her age and experience. Mary Sues are unrealistic and can also be a way for a player to put a “perfect” version of themselves in the game. There’re more written about the different types of Mary Sues here, and has a good description here.


Similar to God Modding, Metagaming happens when the character makes a decision based on something they wouldn’t know, but their player does. This makes the game world seem unrealistic.


Often referred to either the player’s character, or things that inspire the player.


Stands for “Non Player Character”, this is a character who is part of the game world but isn’t controlled by any of the players. The actions of NPCs might be controlled solely by the GM of your game, or might be allowed to be controlled by anyone (check with your GM!).

OC: Original character

Stands for “Original Character”, ie one that isn’t an existing character from a fandom. Ron Weasley isn’t an original character. But “little Jonny Weasley, adopted second cousin twice removed” is an original character that I just made up.

OOC: Out of character

Stands for “Out of Character”, meaning a post or comment written by the player, and not from the perspective of their character. The opposite of this would be “in-game” or “in character” (IC).

PC: Player Character

The fictional character the member is currently is playing. In OngoingWorlds, some players can “own” multiple player characters and can edit their character profiles.

SL: Storyline or Plot

The ongoing story that is occurring to all individuals in the game, much like the plot of a novel.


When the story is being dictated by one person (most likely the GM), and doesn’t give any other players the option to deviate from the story. Usually this is a bad thing, as each player should be allowed to contribute their ideas to the story, giving everyone equal control. But someone needs to keep it vaguelly on topic, so a small amont of railroading is inevitable.

Roleplaying Game

Also known as: RP, Roleplay, play-by-post game, PBP game. The game you’re playing if you’re in a game on OngoingWorlds! Roleplaying takes many forms, but on OngoingWorlds it’s a group of players weaving a story over time. We call it roleplaying because you’re writing the actions of a character, and progressing the story from the point of view of that character.


Stands for “play by email”, a term used to describe roleplaying done by email. In essence, very similar to play-by-post roleplaying, but technically means using email. Many people use this term to describe non-email roleplay, which is fine.


Also known as: pbp. A broad term used to describe roleplaying done by forum, or by a system like Yahoo Groups or


The act of surprising another player with a thread that their character is invited to, or the act of surprising a player by the appearance of one of their characters in their own thread. Preferably, Post-bombs are consensual. (Thanks to Steelgoat for suggesting this!)

Rapid Fire

Also known as “ping-pong posting”. A type of posting style that requires players to write posts back and forth to each other quickly (thanks to AuderyCarpenter and xexes for this one!)


Short for ‘retroactive continuity’. This refers to a player (or players) OOCly backtracking and erasing plots from the IC continuity as if they had never happened.

Ship or Shipping

Shorthand for “relationship”, “shipping” means writing about a relationship between two characters in your roleplay.


A character that resembles the player via personality, and personal appearance, and is a representation of the player in the game. Dangerously similar to a Mary Sue.

Serial Character Creator

A person who makes many, many, many characters. They may enjoy creating characters more than roleplaying them.

Serial Game Creator

A person who creates many games. They may enjoy creating games more than they enjoy mantaining or roleplaying in them. (thanks again to xexes for this and the one above)


To plan out relationships (often extremely) ahead of time. A “shipper” is thread usually started by the player of a character in order to find them friends, lovers, or enemies. May or may not include song lyrics. (thanks to Joelle for suggesting this)


A  slang term for roleplaying erotica.