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For questions that are scoped across any and all editions of D&D we have the tag for that (among its uses).

Twice in three days I've noticed questions about monsters across D&D editions and tagged with being voted closed as “unclear” and comments asking for which edition the question is about.

  1. Does an Ooze (Gelatinous Cube) float?
  2. Has there ever been a quasi-lich in an official TSR or WoTC publication?

I'm a bit perplexed by this, because from my ancient, hoary perspective on tagging, these seem to be well-scoped, on-topic question that are correctly tagged with the “pan-edition” D&D tag. That perspective does mean that (as in some past meta discussions) my understanding of “the way things are done” is sometimes dated enough that I'm out of sync with what a large of the active community thinks is “the way things are done”, so I'm honestly wondering what's going on behind these events.

Is there something I'm missing? Is there a shift in how the community expects edition tagging to be done — and by extension, is there a change in whether we accept pan-edition D&D questions? If so, is this a change we want to enshrine via consensus discussion, or is it something that needs course-correction?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this comes down to the exact nature of what the asker is looking for. Asking for lore about a given monster across all editions makes perfect sense. Questions seeking stats for a monster need to be tagged with the specific edition. Both of those questions suffer from not being super clear about which of the two (lore/stats) the asker really wants. \$\endgroup\$ – Oblivious Sage Nov 3 '17 at 21:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage I can see that (borderline) for the first example, but not for the second. Even for the first, I see that objection as being borderline because asking for information drawn from any/all editions is, I think, a valid way to structure a question, while focusing on the “I'm playing edition X and want info” and letting answers maybe pull from foreign editions is also a valid question structure, making them both valid and a matter of taste rather than editorial correction. And still, it's not applicable at all to the second, so something more/else might be going on? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 3 '17 at 21:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I had to reread your title 3 times to get it to make sense, lol \$\endgroup\$ – DForck42 Nov 3 '17 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is not obvious to me from looking at it that "dungeons-and-dragons" means comparisons across editions. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Nov 4 '17 at 6:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin Should the tag excerpt and wiki be improved? “Questions relating to Dungeons & Dragons as a whole, or to multiple versions of Dungeons & Dragons” and “…is for questions relevant across versions” seems good to me, but then I watched the tag ‘grow up’ so I already know what that's “supposed” to mean, and maybe those words don't actually convey it? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 4 '17 at 7:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure how to make it better. IIRC, most askers don't check the tag wiki, so that seems like a nullity in driving tag practices. However, the tag excerpt and tag warning are pretty good already, so I don't think there's any improvement to be had from surrounding it with better description. I'd say every cross-edition question could be "dnd-history," but I don't like that well enough to propose it as a solution. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Nov 4 '17 at 14:17
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I think the Ooze one is properly tagged pan-edition, but the Lich one is not. This is because, in writing an answer to the lich one, I realized that the question, if it is pan edition, is horribly overbroad. All first and third party published material for all editions of D&D? That's... a LOT of failed liches. There's like 3 in Pathfinder alone, plus one or two in 3.5, and then there's I-don't-even-know-how-many in AD&D. I'd bet at least one. That, plus 'I wanna make it fight my level 4 party', makes me suspicious that they tagged because they didn't know better and not because they meant it.

That is; the lich one could be tagged pan-edition, but if it were then I would expect a good answer to thoroughly survey all failed liches across all editions as well as failed liches in popular 3PP material, before then making a recommendation, regardless of if that recommendation is a frame challenge or not. The current question provides very little guidance on what makes a good suggestion for a failed lich, and that's a problem if answers are gonna just be individual monster from individual editions, like they currently are (including mine). That answer format is basically identical to bad game-rec. I voted unclear not primarily because of edition confusion, but rather because I don't know what they want. What 4th level party? It really matters what their party is capable of, and edition is probably the biggest/easiest piece of figuring that out (high-op 4th level 3.5 characters, for example, might have a decent shot at failed lich variants that 5th edition characters would be literally incapable of affecting in any detrimental way).

The other unclear thing is which editions count. Specifically, they call out WoTC and TSR but I don't know if Paizo would count via Pathfinder stuff or just via their 3.5 3PP work.

All this is to say that I don't think we are changing how we use it, just being more sensitive to people using it wrong when they meant '5e' and picked the shiny tag. The Ooze question, for example, is a fine pan-edition question and definitely does not need to be edition scoped. I don't feel overwhelmed by the prospect of typing up a review of every discussion of floating gelatinous cubes in every edition; I was surprised that there was even the one result that was found. I do feel overwhelmed about trying to do the same for 'lich-like undead spellcasters', though. And I don't have enough faith in proper tagging to VTC as Too Broad.

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Unless the OP's writing a novel, I don't see how the gelatinous cube one shouldn't be edition specific. Even if you ask an e.g. dnd-5e question you can always say "if there's not info on this in 5e but there is some old Ecology of the Gelatinous Cube article or something that speaks to it, please let me know.

Exact same thing with the quasi-lich question - "I'd like to introduce my 4th level party to a sentient undead wizard with a single-minded obssesion that carried him past the threshold of death. I could create a character from whole cloth but I'm interested in any references that might detail a similar monster." So they're playing in a specific edition. The best answer would have info for that edition. They should tag for that edition. Wanting to know stuff from other editions is a fallback.

I endorse hassling these two OPs to specifying the edition they're using, they're both already saying "you know, or other info from wherever."

I think especially in D&D there's an obvious hierarchy - from same ed, first party from different ed, third party from same ed, third party from different ed, from a novel or whatnot... for questions stretching for lore info for game purposes.

If you're asking lore just to know lore - which usually makes me sad and most historical survey questions seem like a giant waste of time as they are often not tied to any real problem - then the all-eds tag may be appropriate. But if you need an werehamster for 5e and you're not sure if there is one yet and you say "failing that from another semi compatible edition" that's fine and awesome and tagged [dnd-5e].

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    \$\begingroup\$ When running D&D, I'm as likely to use homebrew D&D-like system than any particular edition of D&D. And I won't know which one I am using ahead of time, since I run games in various rules systems in the same setting. So the assumption that the question is about a particular edition of D&D is not always true. As far as I know, many OSR players use a hodgepodge of different D&D editions and D&D-like games and adventures for different games. \$\endgroup\$ – Tommi Nov 4 '17 at 9:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thanuir I think we have an OSR tag though, and while in the old days we all did a little bit of hybridization -- a number of the D&D games I played had Met. A. and Gama World imports -- for the purposes of scope in the current context and our format, it doesn't seem to work to assume someone is running a hybrid system. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 4 '17 at 14:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Thanuir If you do happen to be asking questions about D&D-based homebrew systems, it's good to explain that in the question -- and then we'll tag it just something like [dungeons-and-dragons] accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 5 '17 at 12:31

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