RPG Terminology


A role-playing game (RPG and sometimes roleplaying game) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting or through a process of structured decision-making or character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines.

We write each RPG similar to a series of novels where we follow the characters through various adventures. Each RPG novel has a specified beginning, middle and end. The events of each RPG novel builds on and/or expands the events detailed or mentioned in previous stories.


This is the software application we use for publishing our posts and character biographies as well as for doing our actual writing and tagging of one another to respond to scenes. Typically, we just refer to it as our website or game site. Storm Shelter’s Nova site is Storm Shelter’s game website. It means and refers to the same thing no matter how we say it. The Nova definition will appear in parenthesis next to the term it matches.

Missions (Mission Group)

Storm Shelter regards each case they take on as a Mission. We are using this term to designate the overall main grouping for each RPG (aka RPG story). Each game or RPG consists of numerous missions that are divided into parts that are called chapters. Each chapter consists of numerous scenes (posts).

Sometimes a mission will have a specified time frame and/or location. For example, the mission’s events all occurred during the week prior to Halloween in the town of Marshmallow which is located in the state of Wisconsin. Chapters and Scenes (posts) will further break down the time frame and setting.

Chapter (Mission)

Chapters divide Missions into sections based on time frame and/or specific location and aid in grouping posts (scenes) into chronological order to facilitate reading the entire story in a logical sequence of events. If the entire mission occurs in the town of Marshmallow during the week prior Halloween, we can have the first chapter contain all the events that occur on Monday and the next chapter will be the events that occurred on Tuesday and so on.

Scene (Post)

We actually use scene and post interchangeably. A post or a scene is the actual writing that occurs. It can also be said that we are adding our post to a scene. Scenes are contained within the chapters. It is preferable that we write our scenes in Nova and save them for publishing (aka posting) them in chronological order. Scenes also serve to further breakdown the story into an event time frame and setting. For example, if our chapter takes place entirely in Marshmallow, Wisconsin’s town hall on Monday, then a scene might be set at 9 AM in the cafeteria at the table of Mayor Grouchy and the town’s chief of police, Marshal Dillon.

How chapters and scenes are organized depends on the mission’s needs and will be specific to each mission being written.


Primary Characters (PCs)

Each Player’s main character, usually the one created first although this might change over time. Nova requires that one character be designated as Primary which is the character name shown when you log into your account on the game site. Aereth considers the Primary Character to be the Player Character that will receive the majority of <em>screen time</em> much like the leading character in a book, movie or television series. We can change which character appears as the Primary Character in Nova as game and story needs change.

Secondary Characters (SCs)

These would be considered recurring supporting characters in a book, movie or television series. They are important and integral to the story but take second place to the main character(s).

Storyteller Characters (STCs)

The majority of RPGs use the term NPC for these characters. Wikipedia defines an NPC as follows: In contrast to player characters, non-player characters (NPCs) are controlled by the gamemaster or game engine, or by people assisting the gamemaster. Non-player characters fill out the population of the fictional setting and can act as antagonists, bystanders or allies of the player characters.

This definition is fairly apt. The main difference is that we use them for minor supporting characters and anyone can request to create an STC. The main reason we’ve moved away from calling them NPCs is that they are not truly non-player or non-played characters plus when Anodyne releases NovaNextGen, the term NPC will no longer be hardcoded in the bio creation feature.

Don’t worry! Although we’d prefer that everyone start using STC instead of NPC, no one will bite your head off if you use them interchangeably.


For our RPGs, an NPC (non-player character) is truly just that. These are characters that get mentioned here and there from the played character’s point of view such as the barista at the local Starbuck’s or the barmaid at the local tavern. For the sake of consistency, we have a tables setup for Storm Shelter and Aereth to be used for keeping track of recurring NPCs. It has fields for documenting name, role and general description (such as dark hair and eyes, tall, rather plump). Links to the tables have been or will be added to the Admin Control Panel’s menu.

Storyteller (STs)

Technically, we are all storytellers at Aereth and Storm Shelter due to the fact that we all have to participate in that process to write our RPGs from beginning to end. Each Chronicle at Aereth and Mission at Storm Shelter should have GM Storytellers who keep the action going and guide the timing of each scene, etc. Additionally, each Player acts as a storyteller to fill in scenes and information or contribute to the planning of actions and events.