- I asked a question, but it was closed, with users asking what system I was asking about. What do they mean, and why do I need to specify this?
- Someone said my question was missing a system tag. What do they mean?
- Are there times when I don't need to specify the game system?
- What do I do if I don't know the name/edition of the game system?
There are a lot of different RPGs out there (and a lot of editions of a lot of RPGs), and a lot of them use the same keywords, names, and – in some cases – book titles. As such, guessing what game system a question is asking about can be quite difficult - or rather, guessing incorrectly can be too easy. And you, the asker, do not want answers that are for the wrong game system.
We have therefore a policy† that requires you, the asker, to unambiguously specify which game system the question is about. This means that you should specify what game system you are asking about by name – and edition, if there is more than one edition of that game system. You can do so either in the body of the question or by using the appropriate tag (see below). If you include the system name and/or edition in the title, it will likely be edited out of the title, and indicated in the body and/or tags instead.
Note that while we do allow the use of commonly accepted abbreviations for game systems (such as "D&D", "PF", or "L5R"), including only a shorthand for edition (e.g. "5e") with no indication of the game system is not considered sufficient clarification – even if commonly used – for the simple reason that many systems have multiple editions and similar shorthands. See this Q&A in particular: Is '5e' a clear enough statement of game system by a question asker?.
If we find that the system/edition is not sufficiently clear, we'll ask for clarifications in the comments, and the question might get closed until that detail is provided.
Are there times when I don't need to specify the game system?
If knowing the game system simply isn't necessary, such as for many questions about RPG-related social problems, or about the design of your own system or similar statistics questions, stating the system is not necessary, but can be still sometimes be useful. However, any question about a game's rules, content, or other facets of the game itself needs the game system to be clear so we know what the relevant rules, content, or other facets are. If your question explicitly needs non-system-specific answers, consider whether the [system-agnostic] tag would be appropriate, and clarify its usage/your intent in the question.
A "system tag" is simply the tag that corresponds to a game system and gathers the questions asked about it. For most questions, the game system can be specified by including the system tag. This makes searching and filtering easier, and means that the body doesn't need to include an extra line specifying the game system where it doesn't flow naturally.
Simply including the tag when asking, or editing it in when requested, solves the issue. Many tags use common abbreviations, such as dnd-4e or gurps, while others spell out the full name, like masks-a-new-generation. You can view and search through our existing tags here (note: includes non-system tags).
There is a notable exception here: the dungeons-and-dragons tag, which is not for any question about a specific edition, but for questions about Dungeons & Dragons as a whole.
What if I can't find the system tag?
Not all game systems have tags here, because not all of them have had questions asked about them. Or maybe we've just given the tag an odd name, so you have trouble finding it. Either way, make sure to clearly state in the question body what game system you're asking about, and someone will create the tag and add it to your question shortly.
What do I do if I don't know what system we're playing?
That's ok; we'll still do our best to help you. Ask your fellow players, including your GM/DM if applicable. If you have at least 20 rep, you can also hop into chat, and users there should be able to help you. Otherwise, you can describe the game to the best of your abilities to get it identified, such as the name of the books you're using, and perhaps their publishing date (which may help experienced users tell you what edition it belongs to). But be prepared for the question to be closed while we try to suss out what edition it is.
For Dungeons & Dragons, World of Darkness, and Shadowrun in particular, we have questions that may help you identify what edition your books are for:
- How do I know which edition of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) the books I'm looking at are for?
- Is there an easy way to know what edition a World of Darkness sourcebook is?
- How do I identify the edition of a Shadowrun book?
†: You can read our most recent discussion on this policy here: Re-revisiting the "don't guess the system" policy