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I don't know how many Meta regulars have looked at our Tour (aka About) lately or ever, but this question and the confusion prompting it made me go looking for why it might have been asked.

Apparently, our Tour is horribly inaccurate about what our topic scope is. It's very good at making it clear that CRPGs* and non-RPG games (murder mysteries, boardgames, etc.) aren't our bag, but it does it at the expense of a bunch of RPG types that we have spent a lot of time on meta deliberately including in our scope.

Some quotes, emphasising the problem:

RPG Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games.

...

Ask about...

  • A specific problem with playing or running a table-top RPG
  • RPG rules or mechanics
  • RPG adventures and campaigns
  • Tools and equipment used while playing table-top RPGs
  • Information about RPG campaign settings
  • Techniques for running or playing RPGs
  • Matters which are specific to table-top pen and paper RPGs

The problem: Nowhere does the Tour mention that we accept questions about freeform, LARP, play-by-chat, and other such RPGs we've deemed on-topic. And, by being unusually specific, it quite clearly says (despite what it should say) that we are about only table-top, pen and paper RPGs.

This is quite inaccurate and unhelpful. It seems to have been borrowed from our FAQ on acceptible questions, which we originally had say "tabletop" in the first sentence, with later sentences clarifying that we actually really mean LARP and freeform and stuff too. At the time that seemed like it was good enough since we couldn't think of a short, pithy phrase that fully captured our topic, but it seems to have backfired in translation to the Tour.

So, can we change the Tour? Secondly, and more stickily, what phrase should we use instead?

"Tabletop" nicely eliminate CRPGs and party games like "Werewolf", but it also eliminates LARP. "Paper and pencil" neatly eliminates CRPGs too (redundant?), but also eliminates PBM and online play.

We either need a different term to distinguish our topic from CRPGs et al that still includes all our other accepted RPG types, or we need to wedge some qualifiers in there – like we originally did with the FAQ – that make it clear that our site includes the whole scope of the RPG hobby.

* Not that it seems to stop the CRPG question-askers we still get on a regular basis...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ouch. This is really bad. Thanks for pointing this out. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 8 '13 at 23:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ looks like we can edit most things in the tour page. We'll act on the higest voted response that we like. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 8 '13 at 23:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsun-Stanton Cool! So we "only" need to find that magic phrase that perfectly describes our hobby... But at least we don't have to get dev attention! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 8 '13 at 23:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep. We take care of the easyish things. Good luck :) \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 8 '13 at 23:57
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I think mxyzplk's change was constructive, but I don't think we should be talking as if "table-top RPGs" includes LARPs. It doesn't, and that immediately sounds silly and harms our credibility as a site for RPG experts.

So I propose this version:

Ask about...

  • A specific problem with playing or running a table-top RPG or LARPs, including those run over mediums such as play-by-post, play-by-chat, or online tabletop simulators
  • RPG rules or mechanics (Unchanged)
  • RPG adventures or campaigns (Unchanged)
  • Tools and equipment used while playing table-top RPGs or LARPs
  • Information about RPG campaign settings (Unchanged)
  • Techniques for running or playing RPGs (Unchanged)
  • Matters which are specific to table-top RPGs and LARPs

Don't ask about... (Unchanged)

  • Anything not directly related to role-playing games
  • Questions that are primarily opinion-based
  • Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer
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  • \$\begingroup\$ ok, changed it to that. also added a "don't ask about" line calling out crpgs and card/board specifically. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 9 '13 at 11:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Point #4 and #7 (the last one) were changed too; otherwise every bullet point except the first only talks about table-top RPGs and could poorly reinforce that we are only marginally about LARPs. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '13 at 12:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ IMO that's too much wordiness for no point. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 9 '13 at 12:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is a point: reinforcing it's ok to ask about matters specific to, and tools and equipment for, RPGs that are not just those on the tabletop. Currently it says you can ask about those questions, but only if it's a table-top RPG. Bear in mind: these are newbies we're talking about, who would think "Oh, darn, I can't ask about LARP equipment", not "Oh, they must have meant LARP there too." If we could leave it up to the latter assumption, we probably wouldn't have this question to begin with. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '13 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ So far I haven't seen any real evidence this has been a real problem to anyone - it's 100% speculation. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 9 '13 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Does the question that prompted this one count as evidence of a problem? (That's what I was referring to when I said we couldn't already leave it to that assumption) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '13 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ no, it totally doesn't. That's more someone that wants to just have massive theory-wonk discussions, not someone turned away because they thought we certainly don't cover LARP or PBP. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 9 '13 at 15:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might want to also change to "RPG Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop and live-action role-playing games." (Since you didn't address the first quote.) \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Oct 9 '13 at 16:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to add RPG video games under "Don't ask about..." There's been a couple of questions recently on that, so it might not hurt to clarify that point. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Oct 9 '13 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dlras You should probably mention that in an answer. :) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '13 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk it seems I've been mistaken - I thought that user was confused by both title and tour. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '13 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JonathanHobbs I was thinking you could add it to your answer if you found it helpful - it's more just part of the wording you missed and not its own answer, imo. \$\endgroup\$ – dlras2 Oct 9 '13 at 21:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dlras I am quite deliberately not attempting to change the first quote yet. I don't see anything wrong with an answer devoted to the first quote or an answer devoted to the list - in fact I find that beneficial in its own way since we can pick the best of each. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 9 '13 at 21:21
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A comprehensive definition is unlikely to appear.

Personally, I'd define RPGs within our scope as something like "collaborative storytelling, using a set of agreed-upon rules to determine outcomes and adjudicated by one or more living persons." But that's not going to fly in the tour. We want to talk about what we cover, not write a thesis on the nature of role-playing.

Our definition should be exclusionary.

Instead of listing everything we do cover (tabletop, play-by-chat, play-by-email, play-by-post, LARP, online tabletop...), how about saying what kind of RPGs we don't cover? That's... CRPGs and party games, right? We can still include a bit about what we do cover, for contrast.

...gamemasters and players of non-computer role-playing games, like tabletop and LARP games, including those which happen online but are run by people (such as play-by-post).

I don't know enough about party games to exclude them very easily, so I left that bit out for now. Comment with suggestions and I'll edit it in.

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2
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This is not much of a problem.

Adding a bullet point to the effect of "including LARPs and PBeMs and stuff" would be fine, but in general the scope is 99% tabletop. Coming up with bizarre turns of phrase to try to encompass all the edge cases degrades the primary use case, which is "tell some guy looking to ask his D&D question that he's in the right place," as well as the secondary "no computer games, shoo." If we add a quickie inclusive clause, then doing more doesn't really serve any other purpose to torture ourselves over wording.

I changed the last bullet to say

  • Matters which are specific to table-top pen and paper RPGs (including LARPs and play-by-post)

Do we really need to do more? I vote no.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that helps for careful readers, but who hasn't skimmed a bulleted list before. I think even a minor hint in the first line would make a big difference. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '13 at 2:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ k. moved it to the top bullet. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 9 '13 at 2:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry; by "first line", I meant "of the page". Our value proposition is that first line, so it needs to accurately convey our actual value proposition. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '13 at 4:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I disagree with that. The single-sentence lead needs to be clear even at the expense of being comprehensive. The longer we make it and the more clauses we put in it the less useful it is. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 9 '13 at 11:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just so: it is unclear right now. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '13 at 14:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I realise you disagree with the point of this meta. That's ok. I would ask that you stop attempting to preempt it by quickly making tour edits then saying "ok solved," though. Let the meta run its course. I don't want to unnecessarily complicate the lede either, and energy is better spent discussing how to do that than trying to get a dismissive mod to stop adding noise to the process. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '13 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd rather do minimum viable fixes for problems quickly than bother with huge long arguments on meta where people start acting like asses to each other, which appears to be starting now. Talk all you want, I'm sure one of the mods will look at what emerges. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 9 '13 at 15:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome to check out while everyone else argues. :) You can disagree after as easily now and you'll still have a diamond backing the disagreement. And, just maybe, the end proposal may actually be palatable. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '13 at 15:11
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More to prompt discussion than a proposal, and I wanted to keep the Q from getting any wordier than it was; some thoughts and brainstorming:

"Analogue"

I've seen "analogue RPGs" used to capture RPGs. (Game Chef 2013 used "analogue" to define acceptable submissions, though they left off the "RP" in "RPG" to include card and board games this year as a kind of inclusivity experiment.)

Con: implies that play-by-chat, etc., are not in-scope. Some kind of "analogue or normally-analogue-even-if-you-use-digital-tools-to-play" modification is obviously unacceptable.

What's interesting is that the "normally-analogue-even-if..." modifier seems to be our actual measure of what is and isn't OK when it comes to the divide between "proper" RPGs and CRPGs, so thinking about how to communicate that may be helpful.

Two audiences

We have to speak to two audiences at the same time:

  • People we want to turn away: CRPG players/designers and (much more rarely) writers, non-RPG world-builders, conlangers, and other people doing things RPGers often do but without an actual RPG involved.
  • People we want to include: LARPers, storytelling gamers, play-by-forum roleplayers, freeform roleplayers who use no "rules", etc.

This makes it hard to have a pithy phrase, since the sort of terms that strongly indicate that the first isn't welcome tend to imply the second isn't as well. "Tabletop", "pen and paper", "traditional", and "analogue" suffer from this.

I think of RPGing as a hobby derived from D&D and other pre-D&D roleplaying-storytelling that was Katamaried up by the birth of RPGs, so "traditional RPGs and games derived from the traditional RPG... uh, tradition" kinda captures our scope, but is obviously in a crap form.

"Roleplaying Games Hobby"?

This might be more what we're aiming for. We do cater to every activity that's under the umbrella of roleplaying as a hobby, including world-building (for RPGs), online play methods for RPGs, LARPing, storytelling games, and all that lot.

Con: "the hobby" is pretty nebulous. It does capture the whole ball of wax to me, but does a novice to RPGs read it that way too? I don't know.

Weak pro: I think this excludes CRPGs. I don't think anyone considers a "RPG hobby" to exist around CRPGs – that's the videogaming hobby, and "RPG" is a genre within the hobby, not a distinct sub-hobby.

Stronger pro, if the con doesn't sink it: it's nice and short, and it's a noun. (I somehow think being a noun is helpful?)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the dividing line comes down at whether it's ultimately adjudicated by a program or a living person. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Oct 9 '13 at 0:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean "analog"? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 9 '13 at 23:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I'm Canadian, eh. ;) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 10 '13 at 1:46
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As Is (provided for me to just copy-pasta stuff mods can edit)


Top bit

RPG Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gamemasters and players of tabletop, paper-and-pencil role-playing games. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about role-playing games.


Ask questions, get answers, no distractions

We can choose which question to put there.


Ask About

  • A specific problem with playing or running a table-top RPG or LARPs, including those run over mediums such as play-by-post, play-by-chat, or online tabletop simulators
  • RPG rules or mechanics
  • RPG adventures and campaigns
  • Tools and equipment used while playing table-top RPGs
  • Information about RPG campaign settings
  • Techniques for running or playing RPGs
  • Matters which are specific to table-top pen and paper RPGs

Don't Ask About

  • Anything not directly related to role-playing games
  • Questions that are primarily opinion-based
  • Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer
  • Questions about computer RPGs or board and card games; these have their own dedicated Stack Exchange sites

Tag list is same as featured question

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Updated to what it reads now. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Oct 11 '13 at 1:11
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Firstly, some background: feel free to skip.

The reason behind the actions(feel free to skip).

Firstly, thanks Seven for raising this. I'll be honest: when I came here, I didn't think this site would be super table-top/pnp focused, simply because of the name. Role Playing Games.

Yet when I saw the question from...ah, it's been removed -or at least, I cannot find it. The question about the unarmed army and should you be allowed to have an unarmed army. To me that was immediately understandable, and indeed very RPG-related, yet it was quickly...."shot down", for that is what it felt like, perhaps due to the overly militant pouncing. The chat felt initially uninviting, although thankfully it tapered to helpfulness -but think: will that asker have left with a positive impression? Is he likely to return? I don't think so on both counts.

One could argue, maybe he shouldn't return, because this site isn't for him -but on the flip-side I say, had the reaction/way it was dealt with been different, he may of been enticed into exploring further into the type of RPGing that is asked about here.

Alarm bells ringing, I thought it best to ask what is everyone's feeling of what an RPG is -and that was also quickly enough shot down, as it was felt not in tune with this site.

Hopefully that all sets the scene as to why I agree that the Tour page needs revising, and why the tag line for the site needs to be improved: hey if this site is about a group of veterans strongly protecting their domain, then it doesn't need to. But I thought that it is a site about making others become veterans, and indeed about showing off how awesome this kind of RPG is, rather than making it feel daunting and putting potential peers off.

As to what the starting site words could be.

Seven and dlras42 (for the live-action comment) I believe are spot on: Role playing game hobby. It is exactly that -and being a hobbyist is pretty damn cool. Yet noobs may not know what is meant by it. So why not reword that first, most important and excluding of words, to something akin to:

"RPG Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for RPG Game Hobbyists(eg: tabletop, paper-and-pencil, live action role-playing games and the like) and those that aspire to become such."

Immediately it is made more accessible, includes examples as to what the term means, is a cool sounding term, and is inviting by not excluding those that wish to dip their toes into this very daunting world. And all for the cost of... 1 1/2 line extra of text.

As to why who shouldn't enter needs to be made more visible.

I also agree with BESW: it needs to be made clearer who shouldn't post here -not because they are lesser beings for liking a different type of RPG (otherwise this site is but perpetrating the incorrect concept that pnp/tabletop Hobbyists are elitist), but because such sites are already present within SE. Until it was mentioned in reply to my question, I had no idea there were other sites for that. Indeed, this is mentioned in the tour page: but let's face it, it is a very small text of two lines. I read it when I took the tour, sure, but it went in one ear, and quickly out again. It would not be uncool to have a big warning about that (at least, in the font of the first words) below the words discussed in point one, yet prior to anything more in the tour, along the lines of:

"Dear explorers please note: computer game (hyperlinked) and board/card game (hyperlinked) RPGs are not covered here, as they are detailed with great insight in our cousin sites here, on SE!"

Immediately the Dear (or similar acronym) invites warmth from us (like how Tridus/others give greetings immediately to new users, that's a super nice touch) and showing consideration; the explorer or similar shows playfulness and a semi-link to what takes often place in pnp; treating the other sites as "family" shows acknowledgement that we are all part of the big bad world of RPG, and are not being elitist in serving one specific branch -it would just mean too much spreading thin on one site, which as already stated isn't really the point here.

As to what the tag line could be.

This is indeed a dozy: yet again though I return to what Seven suggested, and implemented within the line:

"Q&A for hobbyists, game masters and players of more traditional and unusual RPG Games".

Of course doesn't have to be worded exactly like that, but I think it hits all the right notes: -Hobbyists implies those that like to tinker without exactly being game masters (mentioned) or players (mentioned), and it also implies both groups in a cool way. Further, puts a more accessible and less intimidating terminology first. Also game masters seems should be kept as a separate word to make it look more tidy. -Please note: I am not stating "traditional and unusual RPG Games", but "MORE traditional and unusual RPG games". There is always someone who thinks that one RPG is more traditional/unusual than another, and who are we to disagree? By implying thought that here they are more of a specific quality, it clearly steers it away from popular RPGs (computer, board and card) and towards the more, well, traditional and unusual (tabletop, pnp, live etc.) -By a happy coincidence it is exactly as many words as the other tag -albeit I suspect the words are longer. 13 is a nice number.

Concluding:

That's all from me, apologies there are so many words here. I strongly hope that this site will be made to feel, for newcomers, more accessible than it is, and that ultimately you decide to make it such, as pnp/tabletop etc. RPG is way too cool to not spread about.

Like butter, it works much better spread, rather than eaten in a lump.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Normally a marking down denotes a disagreement with the views presented: whoever did such please feel free to also comment and add your views so that the answer can be more easily reached. \$\endgroup\$ – ReaperOscuro Oct 10 '13 at 18:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you structure your discussion such that your suggestions for positive action are clearly indicated? \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Oct 11 '13 at 0:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well tried to do as suggested Brian, thanks for pointing it out! Wordiness..alas have a lot to say, but it should all be clearer now. \$\endgroup\$ – ReaperOscuro Oct 12 '13 at 19:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question you're thinking of in the third paragraph wasn't closed because it wasn't understandable or RPG-related, it was closed because it was asking for subjective opinions on how to design a CRPG's interface logic to handle a situation that would never come up in a non-computer RPG. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 13 '13 at 0:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie ah i can appreciate that, yet my point is the approach to the question: it seemed very...aggressive and dismissive, ditto on chat. I'm not saying that whom posts wrong doesn't get told that, but there are ways to do it which are better looking than others. \$\endgroup\$ – ReaperOscuro Oct 13 '13 at 7:46

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