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As a new(ish) member of this SE, I'm curious of of the duplicate policy as it applies to different games and different editions of games. I've been thinking about asking a question based on my Dragonborn getting an extra attack and if he could switch between his breath attack and his weapon attack. Looking though the site, I found almost the identical question I wanted to ask, but the question is for 3.5 instead of the edition I play which is 5th.

There's a few other details that make it slightly different, but in general are questions about the exact same game mechanic, but across different editions of the game considered duplicates? I'm assuming since the mechanics of the game may be different they are not duplicates, but I'd just like to be sure.

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Questions about the rules of different games are inherently different questions, because the rules are different. By definition, different questions can't be duplicates of each other.

The only wrinkle is that not every different edition of a game is actually a different game. An example of this is that most editions of Call of Cthulhu are different publishings of the main book, but the rules they contain describe are effectively the same game. By contrast, D&D editions are the opposite: each published edition contains different rules, and is therefore a different game that merely “takes over” the name from the previous game of that name.

So go ahead and ask your question about Dragonborn in D&D 5e! The question about Dragonborn in D&D 3.5e can't answer a question about a different game's rules, so there is no concern about duplicating it.

(Sometimes people like to add a note to the ends of their questions in these cases though, saying “This is similar to [link to question], but for a different edition.” That's sometimes useful in case someone finds one question via, say, a search engine, but they were looking for a question about the other game — the link to the similar question about a different game can help them get where they were trying to go.)

Pathfinder & D&D 3.5e: A special case

Pathfinder and D&D 3.5e share many rules, being directly related games by different companies. In many cases a question about one will have the same rules and answers as the same question about the other. We handle these on a case-by-case basis, for lack of a better handling system.

So for Pathfinder and D&D 3.5e, err on the side of asking the question. More experienced users will help sort out if it's a duplicate or not. Often it won't be a duplicate, but even if it is one, that's okay: you'll have your answer, and duplicates are useful here and don't reflect poorly on the asker.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Pathfinder is an annoyingly ambiguous case for this, where much of its rules are identical but plenty aren’t. I wouldn’t mind seeing some suggestions for how to handle that in this answer, even if it’s just a reiteration of the “handle it on a case-by-case basis as it comes up” approach we’ve seemed to go with so far. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Feb 19 '17 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I agree, it's an annoying corner case. I would love to add guidance for it here, but I don't currently see a clear handling method that would improve on the (non-ideal) case-by-case thing we do now. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 19 '17 at 17:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan How do we handle it for 3.0 and 3.5? those are almost identical systems. Vampire the Masquerade 2e to Revised, or Revised to v20? Those systems are so incredibly similar on a particular rule, but the minor tweaks at a distance affect rules interactions... I don't see a way of doing minor version differences on anything but a case by case basis. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Feb 20 '17 at 4:22
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It's always good to note your research in your question. If you ask "What die do I roll to see if my attack hits the enemy in D&D 5e?" and we already have an answer for AD&D 1.0 or D&D 3.5 or something for the same question your question may get closed as a duplicate, especially if the answer there explains that the d20 is used across all editions of D&D. If you're aware of a potentially-identical question and still unsure of the answer, you should link it in your question and say something like "I've read X, but I'm concerned that the answer may be different because Y". At that point your question is not a duplicate, and it won't be closed as one even if the answer is "No, Y is irrelevant, X is still the answer". "I've read X, but I'm concerned that the answer may be different because of the changes in editions" is pretty much carte blanche for your question not being a duplicate even in situations where the different editions are nearly identical.

We as a community try and assume good faith, but it's easier to assume good faith when you demonstrate it is well-founded by making it clear you know what you're asking about and, if you're asking about something that has a seeming answer on our site, that you in-fact have a good reason why that Q&A doesn't work for you. Plus, you should be doing this anyways, because well-researched, clear, and useful questions will hopefully get you lots of upvotes ;)

I mean, I personally upvote any question that contains a link to research the asker did (not counting SRD-link-by-names for 3.5/pathfinder), regardless of how basic, unless its secretly-offensive; unfortunately it still seems like most of our questions aren't asked that way :(

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