It struck me earlier that a few questions are being labelled when the tag is more appropriate. It also strikes me that the three tags (the previous two plus ), whilst related, are not exactly the same, with homebrew somehow straddling the two.

Definitions from the internet:


A common use of the term is in role-playing games to signify a deviation of game play from the official rules.


A roleplaying game played using house rules, or devised entirely by its participants


Issues related to designing RPG system mechanics

My first question is, do we need to do anything about this? If so what can we do?

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ I was writing up an answer to this, but it seems that game-design is a bit multi-purpose - it covers both 'designing your own mechanics' that is encompassed by homebrew concepts, but it also seems to include some portion of "Why was this mechanic designed this way" for existing systems. Not sure what to make of that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jan 9, 2012 at 18:11

2 Answers 2


Those are three different sheep:

  • are variant rules and worlds from the published ones. Often, these are to fix (perceived) issues or alter gameplay. It can also cover changes to the world, that have a deep impact, e.g. stripping Magic from Shadowrun or introducing widespread guns to the Forgotten Realms.
  • is mainly trying to emulate official content. E.g. statting a single monster, class or weapon. Commonly comes as a homebrew review, where we are presented the work.
  • is for dissecting or developing a mechanic or comparing different mechanics against one another.

The aims of them are very different, so the tags should stay apart.


I would break it up thusly:

Questions asking about user-generated tweaks to existing systems.

I don't really see an issue with having this tag cover analysis of existing mechanics and the creation of new ones. Both are an application of the same skill-set. However, it may grow to become meta if we develop a more refined set of sub-tags.

The distinction I would use: game-design is about generic principles, and the creation of mechanics for outside use. house-rules is about tweaking existing systems and mechanics for personal use.

But I haven't sifted through those tags yet to double-check.

The one that feels a bit odd is . This question should probably be tagged house-rules:

Players rolling all of the dice in D&D 4th Ed

This question might be tagged or , depending on whether you view the One Roll System as an engine to create new RPGs (tag it game-design), or a consumer-usable system in its own right (tag it house-rules):

Adding an explosive dice mechanic to the One Roll Engine

That leaves the question: is homebrew about rolling your own things in an existing setting, or is it a system tag about playing with a custom-built system (a la dnd-4e, 7th-sea, etc.)?

These questions support the former:

Guidelines for creating homebrew classes (base/PrCs)

Custom magic item creation standardization

Are there any low-magic 4e home-brew settings?

This question supports the latter:

What tool(s) have you used to manage spell lists, especially in a home-brew?

I'd lean towards using it as a system tag, but the actual usage leans towards using it to describe user-generated content. I'm also not sure how the homebrew and systemless communities interact... Whether systemless gaming is truly without rules, or if it can fall under the umbrella of a group-specific customized system.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .