Can any creature elect to make touch attacks or ranged touch attacks? is a terrific question and it deserves the critical attention it is getting.

However, that brings forth a very good conundrum brought forth by the comments in one of the answers. Regarding rules there could be an Open rule interpretation, and a Closed rule interpretation.

SevenSidedDie stated:

"Closed" is where only actions chosen from what the rules offer are legal (i.e., inputs must derive from and stay within the system: a closed system), while "open" is where actions are attempted and rules picked to implement them (i.e., inputs may come from outside the rules: an open system). Put another way, which view is operating in this Q&A: "the rules must explicitly permit touching someone in combat for someone to do so", or "you want to touch them? OK, we can resolve that using the touch attack rules…"?

So, is using the Open-Rules-Mindset appropriate for RP.SE or is Closed-Rules-Mindset appropriate? Are they both appropriate? How should they documented?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Surely this is a question that applies only to specific rules systems, not the whole of RPG.SE? A blanket policy here doesn't make much sense. Some RPGs are explicitly one or the other of these. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 9:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Well, d20 in this particular instance. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruut
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 9:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel as if the general structure of the d20 system, particularly, tends to indicate an open-rules-mindset - this system has been both praised and criticized for providing more freedom and diversity than previous and subsequent editions of D&D, but consequently having a more complex ruleset than those other systems. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


Ask questions according to the playstyle of the people who are facing the challenge, and answer questions in ways that you in good faith believe will be useful to the querent.

Some RPG systems are explicitly closed while others are explicitly open; most systems that I've encountered imply a stance but don't make it explicit. Naturally every group has the right to choose how they prefer to play regardless of their chosen system's stance (if any) on the matter.

So this is a playstyle issue. We've affirmed, time and again, that there's plenty of room for every playstyle here and it's inappropriate for RPG.SE citizens to tell people they're playing wrong (provided everyone's safe, of course).

So both the mindsets you've provided (as well as others; the vast array of RPGs means dichotomies of style aren't useful generalisations) are appropriate to find on the site. I see no need to formalise a system to indicate these philosophies. Most of the time they're pretty obvious, and it's a simple matter to just ask if clarification is needed.

Because, of course, good posts explain themselves: if there's some confusion over the philosophy a querent or answerer is bringing to their post, it's totally appropriate to ask them to clarify their position. This isn't because we think one position's right or wrong, but because a post is most useful when we're familiar with the playstyle assumptions underlying it. (Please note: this is not a license to harass folk. It's mostly something you'd ask a querent rather than an answerer, and it's almost always pretty easy to infer the rules-ward playstyle from a post's content anyway. If you feel the philosophy in an answer is non-useful to the question's context, that's what the downvote button is for.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Exactly my thoughts. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd consider the dichotomy useful and will use those terms going forward, but agree with everything else here. No need to point it out on every question or anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – DCShannon
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 1:53

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