The comments on How to handle wealthy player characters as a GM? got a bit out of hand, but it gave me an idea...

The contention seems to be between these two perspectives on how to use :

  • [system-agnostic] should be for questions that are useful without knowing anything about the system being used, so it should, as reasonably as possible, apply to all systems possible.

  • [system-agnostic] is about avoiding system-specific answers, so it only needs to apply to a goodly range of systems, not all or nearly all.

Is that a good summary?

One comment stood out (emphasis original):

Your answer is only applicable to classical fantasy broadly based on the medieval period in systems that try to accurately simulate that period's economics. Consider D&D 3.5 [...] The wealth in 3.5 isn't meant to model medieval economics, it's meant to throttle the rate at which characters acquire more powerful magic items. The system is in fact a ludicrous economic model.

This has been my gut feeling about the [system-agnostic] tag in the past: that it should only apply if the question can truly be said to be answerable across every game.

Now, though, I think that's an unreasonably high bar to set. There's a lot of good use in questions and answers that are "unaware" (agnostic) of the exact system that will be used, while still being constrained to a particular kind or style of mechanics or play. There is very wide community support for using [system-agnostic] that way.

It's possible that we need some tags for play style–specific questions.

Rather than trying to make [system-agnostic] do duty as a catch-all for every question that is broader than one specific system, maybe we could use tags that are game-agnostic while still being limited to a particular kind of game. Maybe that would eliminate the arguments about [system-agnostic], since they seem to largely turn on the point that a particular question is still limited to a small set of games or a mode of play.

We already have and , two well-recognised (because they're old) modes of campaign play. We have , which gets used as often for "the genre created by and around Dungeons and Dragons" as often as it gets used for "all D&D systems" questions. We have , which sometimes gets used in a system-agnostic way to indicate a common mode of roleplaying out combats. We have , , and for questions about roleplaying within those literary genres. (Perhaps too broad, considering they're rarely used?) We have , which gets used for that play style as well as for mechanics for supporting it. covers a niche mode of play. I was surprised to find that we have for that part of the GNS! Even can be seen as a play style tag (it's certainly useful for avoiding questions that are irrelevant for my preferred play styles). We even have a tag to ask questions about different s.

I don't suggest going on a tag-creating spree, even if more such tags would be useful. The question is, would play style tags be useful? If we decide that tagging for play style is useful, then simply deciding that is enough. That will put us individually on the look-out for opportunities for new, useful tags as questions come up.

If such tags wouldn't be useful though, then that's good to establish too. That would mean that [system-agnostic] is the right tag for questions that might be limited to a particular play style by the body of the question, but which shouldn't be answered with solutions relevant to only a particular RPG.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Speaking as the person who wrote the quoted comment, my argument was not that [system-agnostic] should only be used when it applies to every game (there are a lot of odd games out there; I can't even imagine a question that would truly apply to all of them), but rather that it actually applies to every game it doesn't obviously not apply to. A question on economics in medieval-inspired fantasy obviously doesn't apply to, say, Dresden Files or Traveller. But someone might reasonably think it applies to a very common medieval-inspired fantasy game, D&D 3.5, when in fact it doesn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Mar 8, 2013 at 20:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can appreciate a distinction that needs to be made. This seems to me like a more vague example. I could see this as system-agnostic in that many system-specific responses could be generally ported over to another system and that many responses are likely to deal more with GM'ing than system-specific economics. One suggestion related to forcing PC's into elaborate hiring and lavish expenditure practices. This may be most fitting for a historically accurate system, but could be easily ported into other systems. On the other hand, the economics of the system is undeniably a critical element. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2013 at 20:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have some opinions as a new user, but I would like to ask for help with clarification. This may be a result of being too new to be very useful in meta, but can you offer some examples of how play style might be used? What would a summary of the tag look like if presented to users searching tags, and what would a relevant question for such a tag look like? This might help me get my bearing if it's not too much to ask for. Thanks for any help, appreciate the finetuning. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2013 at 20:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ My concern is that it's going to just cause more arguments than it solves. If people were well behaved you could just tag [simulation] [narrative] [rules] but you see the problem, we already booted rules, these become meta tags really... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Mar 8, 2013 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JamesBroyles I think they would end up being applied by experienced users (much like system-agnostic is now) rather than being easily searchable. Most people take their own play style for granted and aren't even aware there are other modes in which to play, so they're unlikely to even know a name for how they play, let alone search for it. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2013 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JamesBroyles For examples though, some of our existing tags are good examples. sandbox, for example, has this question: What to do when a player character does something suicidal?. That question would be answered very differently in a game that wasn't a sandbox; say (for only one alternative example), a game that emphasises pre-constructed plotlines that link tactical combat set pieces. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2013 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I'd be concerned about arguments too. I'd only want to push for such tags if they solved the problem we have of people arguing over the scope of [system-agnostic]. Even if they'd solve that, I'd further want them to add value instead of only fixing arguments over another tag. And I'm unsure I'd propose GNS-based tags as the one-size-fits-all solution, since that would amount to a site-wide endorsement of a theoretical scheme that not everyone agrees with. To avoid meta-taggy-ness, I'd want them to reflect the content of questions: they just put a clear flag on the content. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2013 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Do we need the System-Agnostic Tag? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 18, 2013 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage wow, I never would have read that comment as such. Had I seen it I would have responded negatively to it, as the question implied, to me, that very type of answer as desirable. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2102
    Oct 21, 2015 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


If we do keep the tag (something I'm coming to think may be unnecessary), then it should probably be a constraint on answers rather than on questions. It becomes a way for the asker to say, "You don't know which system I'm using, and I don't think the exact system is relevant to this question, so please don't bring system into it."

At the same time, that shouldn't mean that an answer can't use a system, merely that a good answer won't assume a system. It should be OK to say, "System X uses mechanic Y to solve that problem, here's how it works... and here's how it might be generalized to apply to other systems..." but not OK to say, "Well in system X mechanic Y takes care of that. END"

I think that will be more restrictive than (and therefore superior to) having it restrict the question to applying to a broad swathe of systems. If answers can be applied to a wide variety of systems, then the question is automatically useful to a wide variety of systems. Merely restricting the question to being "system agnostic" would allow overly specific (and therefore less useful) answers.

Side note: Should this be posted at the system-agnostic question instead of here? In addition to here?

Addendum: Regarding play style tags, I think we should be careful about introducing them. If we can find at least 5 or so questions already in existence that should clearly have the proposed playstyle tag and there aren't a bunch of grey area questions, where the tag might or might not be applicable or would be the subject of considerable debate, then it might be reasonable to introduce the new tag.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the sentiment answers both questions. I'm not sure what you should do about that! Maybe just reiterate the relevant core of the answer there. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2013 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like this answer. I made a small edit to this answer to dodge the implication of policing answers beyond voting, though. Is good? Do please revert if it changes your meaning. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2013 at 21:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: As much as I'd like simply remove bad answers, that's not the Stack Exchange way, so while your edit does change the meaning, it does so in a way that makes my answer more suitable to our community (and therefore objectively better, I would think). \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Mar 8, 2013 at 21:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Awesome. Okay, so topically: I think you propose reasonable things. Creating new tags only when they seem to fill an uncontroversial gap sounds like good policy, should we move to do this. It fits with my sense that we shouldn't create a whole new tagging scheme from thin air, but that we should maybe start looking to see if there are gaps we've been trying and failing to fill by shoving [system-agnostic] in there. I think seeing [sys-ag] as defining the scope of the request works too, and can easily be derived from how the question is asked. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 8, 2013 at 21:45

I'm not sure how useful those tags would be. I've talked to a lot of players who assume that they play the default play style. They might be aware that other people play differently, but their own is the normal one.

  • \$\begingroup\$ True, and that's a drawback of doing this more. On the other hand, experienced users already apply unusual tags like [system-agnostic] and [optimization], which new users don't often apply themselves. I don't know what the net of those two hands is… \$\endgroup\$ Mar 16, 2013 at 2:21

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