RPGG Guide to Data Entry - General
The categorizing of Role-Playing Games into a database hierarchy is complicated. RPGs change publishers. Go out of print and come back. Get revised into new rulesets. You name the complication and the RPG world has an example to cover it. No structure we impose will be perfect - but we must have order. And so we have decided upon a fairly simple structure - with a few interesting ways to handle the corner cases.
The goal of RPGGeek is to create a database hierarchy that is flexible enough to handle a wide variety of collector needs but refrain from being overly complex so that it is navigable to the average role-play gamer. The idea is to be able to track things down to the print edition (if desired) while still allowing for higher-level discussion and review of any game, core book, sourcebook, supplement or adventure. We welcome collectors, players and anyone interested in the hobby of Role-Playing for any reason!
The Great Analogy
Picture a box. Could be a small box. Might be a large box. This box is our basic container on RPGG. We call this box an [rpg] and on the outside we label the contents. Inside the box we place various things that belong together - rulebooks, supplements, maps, dice, etc. We call these tangible things [items] or [rpgitems] specifically.
A classic example of a box would be "Dungeons & Dragons (v3.5)". It's a large box as it contains the three core rulebooks along with hundreds of supplements and sourceboooks that came out during its lifetime. We have another box labeled "Dungeon & Dragons (4th Edition)" to store the fourth edition books - they are separate because we don't want the older edition books feeling jealous of the new ones. But clearly these two boxes are related - they are both Dungeons and Dragons and so we will put them on the same closet shelf. This shelf is what we call a [family] and it keeps related boxes near each other.
Now within a box there may need to be some additional structure. Within the "Dungeons & Dragons (v3.5)" box we have books that are part of an ongoing series (such as "The Complete XXXXX" books) or are part of a campaign setting (Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, Eberron, etc). We use [series] and [setting] to group these books within the box - think of [series] and [setting] as a rubber band that can be used to bind books loosely together within the box.
Now... onto more technical details.
The 98.3% Rule
Throughout this guide you will see references to a rather magical number: 98.3%. We use this as a totally arbitrary (yet ridiculously precise!) number to determine if things should be grouped in the same box. For example, the 2nd - 6th editions of Call of Cthulhu are close enough compatibility-wise that you can take any sourcebook, supplement or character from one edition and use it any of the other editions of the rules - they are that close. For the purposes of discussion (forums, reviews, etc) we want these grouped in the same box. Whenever you see the 98.3% rule, don't get hung up over whether something is 1.5% different vs. 2.5% different - instead take it in the spirit it was intended: compatible enough that two RPGs or two Items can be considered the same for purposes of grouping together for discussion, tracking, reviewing, etc. When in doubt, ask for advice from the community!
An Example Entry
Here is an example of a well-formed item entered into the Geek. It demonstrates much of what you will read below:
Player's Handbook (D&D 3.5e)
The Basic Structure
If you only know one thing about all this, it's that we a general hierarchy of:
The [family] and [rpg] entries are not tangible items. An [item] is a tangible item. [item] entries are something you can buy, touch, smell, burn or sell - or, in the case of electronic versions, files you can acquire legally. In terms of the [rpg] Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition, an [item] might be the Player's Handbook or the Monster Manual or some adventure module or boxed set. The [rpg] is the basic way you group these items together - these are products that are designed for use together. An [rpg] entry is not tangible, but it is crucial. So, the [rpg] that owns those aforementioned items might be "Dungeons and Dragons (4th Edition)". We add the edition in (parens) so that you know what edition of the rpg you are playing as the Player's Handbooks and Monster Manuals have come out for numerous flavors of D&D. A [family] is an even higher level but looser grouping. It is optional but works well when you have a number of [rpg] entries that are related (such as the various editions of Dungeons and Dragons released over the years).
Because [items] such as books are released in hardcover, softcover, other languages, special bindings (leather, etc) we also have a concept of a [version]. Each [version] entry represents the same item - it might be a 2nd printing with errata included, a PDF version of the book or a foreign language edition of the book. All of these get listed as [versions] for the [item].
Below you will find a diagram that we've been using to showcase how it all fits together. You'll see in this diagram the [family] of "Dungeons and Dragons", two [rpg] entries to cover 2 editions of Dungeons and Dragons and a number of sample [item] entries under each. This is nowhere near exhaustive of the Dungeons and Dragons product line. ;)
We REQUIRE an [rpg] entry for every [item] entered into the system. So, even if you had a single RPG core book product that had no other supplements, you would still have an [rpg] entry for that and a single [item] entry that represents the actual rulebook. We hate seeing orphaned [item] entries that have no [rpg] attached. I've heard it told that every time an [item] is submitted to the RPG-Geek database without an [rpg] attached a Woodland Gnome dies. Not sure if it's true, but let's not test it.
If you know all of the above, you'll be fine.
For a more formal overview of the hierarchies and types of database entries on the geek domains, see Database structure.
Checking Pending Submissions
To check if an item is already pending in the admin queues, you can use one of these links:
Naming Conventions (this section needs some work)
Please avoid duplicate names: In case the name/title of the thing you want to enter is already used for the SAME level thing (e.g. another RPG with the same name, another person with the same name), then add a piece of distinguishing information to the name. Also, add a note to Admin that there is a duplicate name (preferibly with a link to the duplicate), so that Admin can add an equivalent piece of information to the existing entry.
- For RPG level entries, add the year of release in parentheses. For example, "Liminal (2019)".
- For RPG ITEM level entries, where two RPG items from DIFFERENT RPGs have the same name, add the RPG name to the title. For example, "Monster Book (Wizards and Warlocks)" or "Player's Handbook (D&D 4e)"
- For person names, add a roman numeral in parentheses. For example, "John Smith (III)".
- For settings, series, publications, or any other type of data, add a publisher name in parentheses. For example, "RPG Magazine (Joe's Publications)".
- Duplicate naming only matters at the SAME level, not different levels. The core rulebook RPG item for an RPG often has the same name as the RPG itself, for example, which is fine.
- The [family] entry should not generally contain any edition information.
- The [family] entry may included parenthetical information to help distinguish it from similar entries.
Here are examples of some of the more common families with proper naming conventions:
- Ars Magica
- BESM (Big Eyes, Small Mouth)
- Call of Cthulhu
- DC Heroes
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Mutants & Masterminds
- Star Trek
- Star Wars
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay
- World Of Darkness (nWoD)
If you have an RPG that has seen two or more editions, these should be different [rpg] entries (and, subsequently, the rpgs need to be linked together by a family). If two editions have rulesets that are nearly compatible (the threshold is set arbitrarily at 98.3% compatible) such that any sourcebook, supplement or character could be used nearly seamlessly amongst them, then it is acceptable to list a single [rpg] entry and keep all items under them. Think hard before you combine multiple editions into a single [rpg] and remember that even with editions split out, a single item can can be linked to as many [rpg] entries as it is compatible with. Before you combine into a single [rpg] really think out how close the editions are! When in doubt, ask.
- Put edition information in (parens). That is, "GURPS (Fourth Edition)" not "GURPS Fourth Edition".
- If the rpg is covering more than one edition (which are 98.3% compatible), the title should reflect that. e.g. "Chivalry & Sorcery (1st & 2nd Editions)"
- If the book title page or cover clearly indicates a format for the edition, use it. For example "Dungeons & Dragons (v3.5)" and "Dungeons & Dragons (4th Edition)" are the correct way to list these rpgs.
- If the book does not show an edition (such as the original AD&D or the original GURPS), list it with (1st Edition) in parens. That is: "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Edition)" or "GURPS (First Edition)". This makes things crystal clear.
- The d20 System Open Game License can allow a publisher to create an entire game, with the exception of character creation, which must refer to the D&D Player's Handbook. If the item is basically a "game" it should get its own [rpg] entry (see Fading Suns: D20 or BESM d20 as examples). Other d20 System materials, which are intended as generic supplements for d20 games, should go under one of the "d20 XXXX" [rpg] entries. See the notes under the [item] description below for more details on this.
- RPG Magazines are given their own [periodical] entry.
Here are examples of some of the more common rpgs with proper naming conventions:
- Ars Magica (1st Edition)
- Ars Magica (2nd Edition)
- Ars Magica (3rd Edition)
- Ars Magica (4th Edition)
- Ars Magica (5th Edition)
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Edition)
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition)
- Dungeons & Dragons (3rd Edition)
- Dungeons & Dragons (3.5 Edition)
- Dungeons & Dragons (4th Edition)
- BESM (Second Edition)
- BESM (Third Edition)
- BESM d20
- GURPS (Third Edition)
- GURPS (Fourth Edition)
- Mutants & Masterminds (1st Edition)
- Mutants & Masterminds (2nd Edition)
- Dinky Dungeons
Here are examples of some of the more common items with proper naming conventions:
For the "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1st Edition)" game entry:
- Monster Manual (AD&D 1e)
- Player's Handbook (AD&D 1e)
- Dungeon Master's Guide (AD&D 1e)
- Wilderness Survival Guide
For the "Mutants & Masterminds (2nd Edition)" game entry:
- Masterminds Manual
- Freedom City
For the "GURPS (Third Edition)" game entry:
- GURPS Ice Age
- GURPS Basic Set
For the "Star Wars (WEG Original Edition)" game entry:
- The Star Wars Roleplaying Game
Remember... the names of these [item] entries will always be shown with the associated [rpg] and [system] (if any) to avoid any confusion about what this product is.
A [setting] should be the name of the setting, not the rpg/book that covers it. For example, The Hunt: Rise of Evil contains a fantasy/horror setting from Mystic Eye Games set in Gothos, a world where dreams and nightmares come to life. The [setting] in this case is "Gothos", not "The Hunt: Rise of Evil".
[version] entries must have nicknames associated with them. The naming here is not as strict as it would be for the item title but it should include some distinguishing characteristic of the version being entered. Some examples of names include (but are not limited to):
Blister Pack Version
Rare Magenta Cover
<Foreign Language Title> e.g. Manual del Jugador
If you are entering an item but aren't sure of the printing you can simply use a nickname of:
We aren't being too strict here - look at the existing version nicknames on an item to see what makes sense. For versions which are in another language, we ask that you use the nickname field to put in the title as it would appear in that language.
The name of the periodical. If the periodical has had multiple names, because it has been renamed, select the most recent one, and add a note to your submission noting the other names. They can then be added as alternate names.
Magazine Issue titles should be standardized for consistency within a magazine line (so they look pretty in table format!). In general, this should be: Mag Title (Issue N - Mon YYYY) or Mag Title (Volume N, Issue Z - Mon YYYY). Do not zero pad the issue numbers - each magazine issue has an issue index that can be used for sorting. Please check out existing and well-fleshed out magazine entries in the database (such as Dragon or White Dwarf) and follow the format.
What Gets Listed at RPG Geek?
The obvious answer? The game must be a Role-Playing Game. However, we've discovered this isn't all that easy to define. Here are the guidelines that we are using to determine if something is a Role-Playing game:
- 1. It must be a game with a defined set of rules.
- 2. It allows the player to take on the role of a character.
- 3. It allows the player free will to choose what that character does in the game.
- 4. The actions chosen by the player directly influence the story which unfolds during the game.
This is vague enough to include most things we think of as RPGs. However, there are some fringe areas with respect to boardgames. Games like Shadow Hunters or Lord of the Rings Boardgame allow players to choose (or be given) a character and there is certainly a measure of free will as they play out those characters. But for LotR Boardgame, the story is fairly rigid and is not really influenced by the player characters. With Shadow Hunters there is only player/character interaction - no real story. Both fail #4 above and are not listed on RPGG (but are listed on BGG). Could it be argued that these are RPGs? Sure... but we want to have some dividing line and those aforementioned games just feel better on the boardgame side. Some of this will obviously be judgment calls.
And here are the corner cases:
Chainmail, Little Wars and any codified set of rules for Cops & Robbers, Cowboys & Indians, etc. prior to 1974 are out. For the purposes of RPG Geek, we considering the first true RPG to be Gary Gygax's and Dave Arneson's original Dungeons & Dragons. If it's prior to 1974, don't even ask.
Books with Limited or No Actual Rules
Books which have no specific rules content but are obviously released as part of a line to support an RPG are allowed. These must follow our "no novels" rule. Examples would be world sourcebooks, ideabooks, artbooks, books of names and cultures, etc. that are released specifically and in direct support of a Role-Playing Game. Generic fantasy artbooks, generic books on histories and cultures (even fantasy ones) are not to be listed - it must be released in direct support of an RPG. Edge cases will be judged by a random group of monkeys from the San Diego Zoo and all decisions are final until whimsically changed. If unsure, please post on our forums in the "How To RPGG" section or contact one of the RPG Admins for assistance or you can add your rationale for why it should be included in the admin notes section when submitting the item.
After discussion with the publisher, Dark Osprey books are in; other Osprey Adventures books are out.
Books about RPGs, Artbooks, Novels and Movies
Books about RPGs (price value guides, books reviewing or cataloging RPGs, etc) are in.
Generic books on how to put together an RPG game group or run a session, etc. are also in.
Collections of comics about RPGs are also in - i.e. Order of the Stick, Dork Tower and Knights of the Dinner Table compilations are in but the DC published Advanced Dungeons & Dragons comic series is out (it's not about roleplaying or the hobby, it's a comic based in the D&D world).
comic clarification products supplied as crowd funding rewards are out
Novels that use a setting from an RPG (Forgotten Realms Novels, DragonLance Novels, etc) are out.
Artbooks released in direct support of an RPG are in, but generic artbooks are out. Books released to support both a novel line and an RPG (i.e. the DragonLance Art books) will be debated.
Coloring books are out.
Movies are out. Movies like the Dungeons & Dragons movie are not to be included.
Books about painting miniatures are out.
Play By Mail RPGs
PBM (and Play-By-Email and Play-By-Forum) are allowed so long as they meet the guidelines above. In addition, you must be able to play such a game at the table with other people without the aid of a computer (even if that is not the normal way of playing). That is: it could pass for a true tabletop RPG which happens to be used (potentially exclusively) for PBM.
Live-Action-Role-Playing games are allowed if they meet the guidelines above. Larps get a RPG entry and an item entry just like other role-playing games. See this discussion thread: How to enter freeform LARPs?
We are specifically excluding improv theater, simulations, historical recreations, athletic games (paintball, etc) and cosplay (Costume Play). If unsure - ask.
Electronic and Computer Role-Playing Games
Any electronic version of RPG material published is fine for inclusion. This must either be new RPG material or a direct port of existing RPG material and distributed legally. This includes legal PDFs, web published entries, iPhone Apps which provide RPG material, etc. If the electronic version attempts to turn the RPG material into a playable game of any kind, we would consider it a video game and should be listed on Video Game Geek instead and not on RPG Geek. So, for example, if a "Lone-Wolf" style adventure was published online in PDF, HTML or DOC format (among others), we would consider it fair game to be listed here at the RPG Geek. However, if this were simply a playable form of a Choose Your Own Adventure game we would consider it a video game and should not be included.
Magazines with RPG content (reviews, scenarios, discussion, etc) are included. For magazines which had only occasional RPG content, only list those issues.
we do not list Blogs, Recurring web articles or other websites like RPG.net
Beta Products, Homebrews, Prototypes, Previews
Beta Products that are released in a tangible form (PDF, Book, Download of some kind) are okay to list.
Homebrews have their own special [rpg] bin called RPG Sandbox. Please make use of it for games you've developed but do not plan to publish or major derivations of existing systems that have been developed (including unofficial releases like "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (3rd Edition)": Players Handbook. It's a bit of a sandbox really.
Prototypes have their own special [rpg] bin called Unpublished Prototypes. Please make use of it for games that are in development (though major games that have a definite scheduled release and are in the final stages are considered under the "Upcoming Releases" below).
As soon as a game become published (self-published is fine) and has enough polish to be considered complete and playable, it should move out of Beta/Homebrews/Prototypes and be given its own [rpg] entry.
Preview PDFs do not get listed at the geek. We consider a Preview PDF to be excerpts from the book (whether it be a page or a couple of chapters). If the PDF is actually the quick-start or "lite" rules (which are actually playable), then it can be included.
Homebrew modules/adventures/scenarios that you have created for an existing RPG are allowed and encouraged. We prefer such adventures to be uploaded by the author otherwise please get clear written permission from the author. We prefer to see these homebrew adventures for an existing RPG to be uploaded as a file (PDF, DOC or ZIP file if you have more than one file for the adventure) under the parent RPG for which the adventure was created. If the adventure is extensive enough and has seen some quality development and playtesting, you are free to enter it as a new [item] under the RPG (just as we would for any (web) published adventure). Please use good judgment here. If your adventure uses any charts/tables or images from other released books for the RPG, please obtain permission to use them before posting.
Unlicensed and Unofficial Items
Unlicensed and unofficial items are generally allowed - though this is a touchy subject. When it comes to copyright violations we want to do the right thing by the IP holders. However, we are primarily a database of information - and we cannot simply ignore everything that doesn't have an official licence. What that means is that we will generally allow listings for homebrew RPGs or scenarios using a trademarked license (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc). In addition, we will allow noteworthy item entries for RPG items which were sold without direct permission (e.g. late era RPG eBooks from Last Unicorn Games which no longer held the Star Trek license, etc). We use the word noteworthy to distinguish between a bootleg copy of (hypothetical example) AD&D called "Advanced Dungeons & Wyverns" sold in Brazil with new cover art to 10,000 people back in the early 80s from a collection of pirated PDFs distributed on bittorrent. The former hypothetical AD&W might well deserve a listing on RPGG for collecting purposes - but the later would definitely NOT be accepted. There will be judgment calls made by the moderators of RPG Geek. For all material which is of questionable origin or legality, only a database listing will be allowed. No links nor files will be accepted for such items in our database and the More Info field will be used to mark such items questionable legal status clearly. No trades nor selling of these items will be allowed on the RPG Geek marketplace. All of these items will be covered in a special series designed to group them together: (Apocryphal Editions)
Fringe Products Used by Roleplayers
Items that are related to roleplaying but not specifically designed for roleplaying are generally allowed... up to a point. That is, we would allow listings for specialty dice (Spindown dice, Fudge dice, etc), software mapping products (Campaign Cartographer, etc), character generators (Hero Lab, D&D Character Generator, etc), tile sets (Dungeon Tiles, Dwarven Forge Terrain), map sets and the like. Generally these sorts of fringe products would be listed with "Generic/Universal" as the parent [rpg] unless they were designed specifically an rpg. We draw the line at more common-use things like Ticonderoga Pencils, Whiteboards and Projectors - none of these would be included in the database.
Specialty Dice Packs
We would prefer to see most specialty dice or custom dice listed under the one Dice RPG Item so as to not proliferate the millions of specialty dice out there. However, we are allowing specific first-party branded dice sets to be listed with the core product they are in support of. Examples: D&D branded "Premium Dice" sold for use with D&D can be listed as an item for the version of D&D it was sold for. Same for the specialty Shadowrun Dice set.
Collectible Cards for an RPG
Collectible cards for an RPG (such as The Shadow Over Nentir Vale Fortune Cards (set of 80 plus promos) for D&D 4e) would go in as a separate RPG Item for the set (plus promotional cards) for that set). When each new set comes out it will get its own RPG Item entry. They will all be tied up to the parent D&D 4e RPG. Special Promo Cards released during a set's run will count with that set and can be described in the more info field - don't use the [version] field to try and add every card. Also, we just need a sample of the exterior of the booster pack (should be the representative image) and a scan of the card back - do not upload scans of the card fronts (not even as a sample).
At this time we have decided not to include Miniatures into the database as the complexities and nuances of these did not fit the existing RPG database model properly.
CDs, DVDs, Software
CDs and DVDs can be included provided they contain official content for the game. This means that it must have some game-related content (e.g. the Dungeons & Dragons movie is out). Soundtracks for RPGs that were officially produced by the company that are made specifically for atmosphere within the game are also allowed (e.g. the Dungeons & Dragons soundtrack for the game is included, but the Dungeons and Dragons soundtrack for the movie is not). Generic non-RPG-branded music CDs composed for use with tabletop roleplaying are judged on a case by case basis. The CD/DVD must be sold separately (i.e. if a CD-ROM is included as part of a book purchase, it just gets listed in the description/more info for that book).
Software for character creation, maps, etc. that are designed specifically for a given game can be included.
Choose Your Own Adventure Type Books
This includes gamebooks such as the TSR Endless Quest books as well as the Steve Jackson Fighting Fantasy books. We have decided to generally allow these books on a case-by-case basis.
Broadly speaking, the main criterion is whether the book in question is a gamebook. Books that are more works of literature than games to be played are not suitable for inclusion in the database.
Examples of books that are out:
- Life's Lottery by Kim Newman
- If by Nicholas Bourbaki
For examples of series that are included in the database, see: Gamebooks.
If you're unsure, ask Stelio.
Dungeon Tiles and Models
Same as with the CYOA books, we have decided to draw a rather arbitrary line to include some types of these on the site, but not others.
Ziterdes Hardfoam Models are out;
Generic foam walls are out;
E-Z Dungeons are in;
Dungeon Tiles are in.
Something similar? Please ask.
Foreign Language Books
The database is hosted in the US and as such the native langauge for the RPG Geek system is English. However, we welcome foreign language RPGs and products that have been translated into other languages! If the game only exists in another language, you are free to create a new [rpg] along with any associated items for the game - do your best to give English descriptions (along with the native language if you choose). If the game already exists in English, we ask that foreign language editions of the books be added as a [version] of the English entry. See the [version] field above for more details.
Also, to help the Admins out who might not know the language: If the title should be alphabetically sorted on the second word, please write an admin note explaining that. Example game: "La Fille du Regiment" (sort on Fille).
The Rule Above All Rules
- Since not all rules can be covered adequately, we reserve the right to judge any item, image or other database entry which is not in the best interest of the RPG Geek and decline or remove it. This would be a very rare situation and we hope it never happens - the system is designed to be inclusive and we are striving to be as complete as possible.
We have a special set of Award (not for general purchase) Microbadges for uploading entries at the RPG geek. The following formula is used to determine total entries:
RPGs + RPG Items + Periodicals + Issues + Series + Settings + (0.25 Item & Issue Versions) + (0.1 for Issue Articles)
There are currently six official thresholds for RPG award badges:
for 10 Entries (Copper)
for 25 Entries (Silver)
for 50 Entries (Gold)
for 100 Entries (Platinum)
for 200 Entries (Herculean)
for 500 Entries (Ultimate)(This will also net you a place in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame)
for 10,000 Entries (Unobtanium) (Awarded to two users)
These awards are automated by the system and are given out once per day.
What is the RPG Geek Consortium?
The RPG Geek Consortium is a group of 35 members who discuss the thorny areas of the guidelines and continue to improve and evolve the Guide to Data Entry you are reading now. This group consists of members of the RPG Geek who are RPG collectors, administrators, site developers, publishers and RPG authors. The idea is to have a reasonable cross section of RPG enthusiasts to help make reasonably informed decisions on what gets included here in the guide. This guide was created by wavemotion and continues to be maintained by Purple (using input from the Consortium).
Thanks to all the users of the RPG Geek who have contributed and volunteered their time to ensure that this is one hell of a resource! As always, do what is most appropriate for your interests/passion. Without passion for this, you'll burn out.
-The Dungeon Master
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