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20 September 2012 @ 09:53 pm
A/B/O Primer  
In fanfic, the alpha/beta/omega trope is actually a collection of a whole bunch of other tropes. There are so many variations that’s it’s really hard to say what a/b/o fic is. For every definition, it seems like there’s at least a handful of exceptions which clearly still count as a/b/o. It’s a whole lot easier to talk about what a/b/o fic can be.

Generally, a/b/o society is broken up into three groups, designated by the three Greek letters alpha, beta, and omega. These three groups generally (though not always) include both men and women. Each group often (again, not always!) has certain characteristics:
  • Omegas - Periodically go into heat, tend to be socially/sexually submissive, can get pregnant and bear children (generally but not always including the males). If male, have natural anal lubrication.

  • Alphas - Tend to be socially/sexually dominant. If male, they usually have a penis with a knot, similar to a dog’s penis, which has given rise to the whole knotting trope. If female, they may have a penis with a knot, some similar penetrative sexual organ, or only standard female reproductive organs.

  • Betas - The “normal” people, that is, people with anatomy and physiologically just like ours. There doesn’t seem to be much consensus on what social role betas have. (All the more room for experimentation!)

In addition to these common (but not necessary!) interpretations of the individual groups, tons of additional tropes have sprung up. The following is a list of some other things that also crop up in a/b/o fic. They’re definitely not mandatory, for the trope or for this fest, but can add spice to your a/b/o world:
  • Social roles determined by whether you are an alpha, beta, or omega.
  • Heats - periods of sexual insatiability, experienced by omegas
  • Ruts, which are like heats, only for the dominant person in the relationship (usually the alpha)
  • Super-human senses of smell, which a/b/o people depend on more for social information than we do. In some fics, one group (for example, alphas) has a better sense of smell than the other groups.
  • Various and technological developments which deal with the presence of alphas and omegas, including but not limited to heat suppressants, laws about omega/alpha relationships, all kinds of social mores
  • Discrimination or prejudice against one or more of the groups from members of the other groups
  • Packs – units of alphas, betas, and omegas living together in groups ranging from just a few people to an entire community. (Common in werewolf fics, which often also have a/b/o and knotting.)
  • Soulbonding or Mating or other terms referring to a binding lifelong biological and social commitment between two or more people. Sometimes a person has only one possible mate and has to find that person; sometimes mating occurs during a key sexual event, for example an omega’s first knotting.

There are a number of other articles around fandom about what a/b/o is and what some examples are. Here are a few:

Conclusion: a/b/o isn’t so much a list of rules as it is a collection of suggestions that authors can take or leave as they choose. That’s one of the things that’s so much fun about the trope: you can do darn near whatever you want with it. So have fun. :)
(Anonymous) on August 16th, 2017 04:35 am (UTC)
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