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Design Goals

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. ;)

Person: RPG Geek (Promotional Images)

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.

Specific situations:
  • 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 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):

First Printing
Second Printing
Revised Edition
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:

Hardcover Version
Softcover Version
PDF Version

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 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).

Final Words

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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