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Drugs are a staple of RPGs set in a dark future (, , ) or dark world (, , ). Many of these games also have rules about the consumption and effects of such.

Pharmaceutically speaking, drugs is actually the word for many compounds that act on the body and comes from the word for dried (herbs). So from that standpoint, it would be a non-issue to have a and ask about how a game handles Aspirin or other medicine under it. Maybe to stress that it is about any kind of medical product.

However, the colloquial meaning of drugs is more often that of recreational and/or illicit substances, a tiny subset of the pharmaceutical meaning of the word. This is also what might make a problematic: the automatic connotation with illegality, though it fits the main use of the theme in many RPGs.

In other games, often the more fantasy kind, drugs appear in the rules for poisons, for example treats alcohol as a weak poison. This would suggest a better term - but already exists!

Maybe I don't see other, better ways to name a tag that encompasses drugs and avoids to be connotated to illegality?

Tag update

These questions might or might not need the new tag. It might take a few weeks to mix them naturally into the flow of questions.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you think the poison tag doesn't handle this already? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 10:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I don't, most of the poison questions are not about the poisonous effects of drugs, and CP, as well as SR, don't handle them as such, but as sources for temporary buff/debuffs, while poisons mostly deal damage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 10:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would be helpful to include links that highlight the distinction. Do you also mind to highlight why the connotation is problematic? \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ what about just medicine? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 20:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster Some of the substances dealt with in Cthulhu 20's games would not qualify as medicine under modern definitions: Pervitin (~Meth) and Heroin had been deemed medicine in the 1920s but now are substances that nobody would prescribe medically. Likewise, Shadowrun has literally combat drugs that make a person batshit crazy and hard to kill with a single dose. Such things are not medicine in any way. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish I read through all of the linked questions in your search, and tagged them as appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 20:34

2 Answers 2

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The tag name [medicine-and-drugs] sounds fine and good. English doesn't have a good name for this joined concept that isn't loaded with implications one way or another. We're fine with [this-and-that] tag naming: see for example.

I wouldn't worry about the poison aspect. Nearly every substance is fatally poisonous in sufficient quantities, even including water. Medicine and drugs are about having the correct quantity. So are food and drink for that matter.

Going with [medicine-and-drugs] makes the purpose of the tag very clear in plain language with no surprises (like using “drugs” to describe aspirin) and also neatly encapsulates fact that several well-known substances can be considered either depending on how you use them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ alle ding sind gifft vnnd nichts ohn gifft / allein die dosis macht das ein ding kein gifft ist vñ preparation // All things are poison, and nothing is without poison; but the dose makes it clear that a thing is not a poison. // - Paracelsus \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 17, 2021 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ name and describe a tag that handles drugs? I was going to answer "Pharmacist" but I guess that wouldn't be literal enough. 😊 So I up voted this one instead. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast if anything, it would be "Pharmaceuticals" or "Pharmaceutical substances". The Pharmacist is someone who handles :P \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 18:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Trish That is exactly the joke, Pharmacist is who handles drugs. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 20:50
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We shouldn't.

"Drugs" as an area of real-world expertise is not an RPG topic, and so is inappropriate for this stack.

"Drugs" as a mechanical system does not generalize across different RPG systems, and so is inappropriate as a tag.

It's possible that we could eventually need a "drugs" tag for questions about how to play while various players are high, but that doesn't seem to be useful at the moment.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Questions about how to play while other players are high is already covered by problem-players. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 18:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Things not being the same across different game systems is not a counterindication against being tagged. Consider attack as one of the larger counterexamples. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 9:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh-unsilenceMonica good example of another bad tag. Try it this way: how do you see someone using the attack tag, in isolation, to find questions they can answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 11:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fectin This is a well-known non-problem of RPG.SE; we have countless tags that nobody can have mastery in. What somebody can know is something like [dnd-5e] + [sorcerer]; if we removed tags people could not have total mastery in, that would remove almost every single tag we have \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 12:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic granted, but why are we making it worse? Why are we spending so much effort and drama on a misusing a system in a way which doesn’t accomplish its purpose? \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 12:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov We don't do 'badwrongfun' here, as a community, (this is said with a grin). Playing while high is a playstyle for RPGs that has a long history IME. FWIW, there are for sure two and possibly more of the group in my Wednesday night play group who get stoned either before or during the game. One of my most memorable Empire of the Petal Throne sessions (GM) included a few of the players doing some Thai stick during a break ... with results both bizarre and absurd for the rest of the session. (Granted, this was before the war on drugs). Rye whiskey I usually sip while playing. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 13:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I was wondering if someone would mention that. I certainly don't think there is anything inherently wrong with getting high and playing RPGs. I myself have on occasion indulged in various ethanol rich beverages during game night. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Sometimes, it (a bit of tipple) helps to really see that dwarf as he's wrapped up in a roper's tentacle.. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 13:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fectin I'm not sure I see "drama" as a characteristic of this discussion or of how we handle tags in general. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 13:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the description of the tag was always planned (and is) explicitly about game mechanics, not intoxicated players \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin “good example of another bad tag. Try it this way: how do you see someone using the attack tag, in isolation, to find questions they can answer?” — The only-tag test on RPG.SE is considered to pass if the tag can make sense in combination with a system tag. Our tags are not expected to pass this test completely on their own, it's exceptionally rare that they do. See here: Is the Only-Tag Test for meta-tag-ness broken here? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 15:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Any tag is good, if you can combine it with system-agnostic or game-design. Can you be an expert on attacks, poisons, medicine or food in system-agnostic or design handling? Yes, you might know 20 different systems how to handle designing or handling these things for a vast different setup of games. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trish can you think of any example of system-agnostic food questions that would be on topic here? Everything I can imagine is real-world research or game recs. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin "How to handle my inability to see the significance in the foods my GM confronts our characters with because I have no idea how they taste or look and what they might signal?" - Food being a messenger of culture - even fantasy ones - might make for excellent system-agnostic questions about how to integrate talking about food and drink in RPGs \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, how food conveys culture is not system dependant. If a player is unable to see the difference between Kimchi and Sauerkraut, that is not dependant on the System. It is system agnostic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 14:22

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