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This is my usage scenario: I'm a gamemaster in an RPG sending an image of a map to my players. I'm trying to say that "this map was (according to the fictional history we've worked out) found in the library of Fred the Monk." I'm trying to find a word that means the same thing as the parenthesized phrase; a word that indicates the shift of framework from the real-world image to the fictional artifact it represents.

I think what I'm looking for is a bit like "ostensibly" or perhaps "suppositionally", but neither of those are quite right. Any ideas?

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4 Answers 4

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I'm assuming that the players do need some kind of reminder, and that just stating "This map was found" might momentarily confuse them. I suggest using "our" to sum up "we worked out."

In our fictional history, this map was found in the library of Fred the Monk.

or

According to our fictional history, this map was found in the library of Fred the Monk.

If you think something like "ostensibly" could replace the entire phrase according to the fictional history we've worked out, then perhaps you think the players will know you're talking about a fictional history and don't need a reminder at all.

The problem with a single word like "ostensibly" before "found" is that it will likely be interpreted as modifying "found" within the history:

Ostensibly found = the provenance of the map is uncertain—it was said to have been found in the monk's library, but this may not be the case.

Scare quotes (This map was "found" in the library of Fred the Monk) might convey your meaning, but IMO seem a bit silly and a roundabout option. They could also be misinterpreted in the same was as ostensibly found.


The only single words I've come up with is:

Storywise, this map was found in the library of Fred the Monk.

storeywise (adv.)

In terms of a story or narrative. wiktionary

But I can't say I like it. It's also possible that an adjective you like won't have an adverbial form that can function as a sentence adverb.

I don't think contextually works in this position either. You might make a case for it, but I don't think the players will understand it.

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  • This works, but I'm looking for a single word if I can find it. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 16:13
  • @GregHoward I've added an explanation of why any word in that position may be misinterpreted.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 17:13
  • Fair point about "ostensibly" modifying the "found." That's why I was hoping for something with the connotation "within the fictional framework." It's assuredly true, within the story, that this map was found in that library. I feel like their might be such a term used in math or philosophy-- a shorthand way of saying "given a particular set of assumptions"-- but I sure can't call it to mind. Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 18:44
  • I've added a single-word answer.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 21:13
  • "Storywise" will definitely work. Accepting this answer. Thanks for your help! Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 17:09
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I would be comfortable using "intradiegetically" (perhaps at the cost of having to explain it), but, in my anecdotal experience (and, I see, according to Joachim's answer 528494), the most common term — at least on the English-language Web — for this is "in-universe":

This map was (in-universe) found in the library of Fred the Monk.
In-universe, this map was found in the library of Fred the Monk.

However, Google Ngram Viewer, to my surprise, shows "intradiegetic" as much more common, and even "intradiegetically" as slightly more common, than "in-universe". I don't know why this may be so, but it would make me yet more comfortable with using "intradiegetically":

Intradiegetically, this map was found in the library of Fred the Monk.

If "diegetic" and "diegetically" are added to the Ngram search, they appear to be even more common than "intradiegetic" and "intradiegetically". (Personally, I prefer the symmetry between "intradiegetic" and "extradiegetic".)

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  • @Scott: I did have misgivings about my use of Ngram Viewer here, but I think the specific problem with hyphenated search terms mentioned in that 2012 post no longer applies, as Ngram Viewer now says it automatically applies the same correction shown in that post (in this case, "Replaced in-universe with in - universe to match how we processed the books").
    – user570286
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 2:21
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For some reason I'm unable to respond to @Joachim 's comment on the original post directly, so I'm posting it here:

Does this answer your question? Adjective meaning "outside the Novel"?

To me "diegetic" seems like a really good fit. I don't know of any reason this couldn't be turned into the adverb "diegetically" and I think it does serve my purpose:

This map was diegetically found in the library of Fred the Monk.

But as the other answer notes, it's kind of a specialist term, and for a general audience I think "storywise" with a slightly different sentence formulation actually works better, so I'm leaving that as the selected answer. Thanks @Joachim for your help!

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Background: I'm a gamemaster in an RPG sending an image of a map to my players. I'm trying to say that "this map was (according to the fictional history we've worked out) found in the library of Fred the Monk." I'm trying to find a word that means the same thing as the parenthesized phrase; a word that indicates the shift of framework from the real-world image to the fictional artifact it represents.

  • Our fictional history locates or places this map in Fred the Monk's library.

How could this be simpler? I don't think long-winded intellectual phrases are needed.

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