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What is Precedent?

As part of our quality standards, we assume that the objective of a work of homebrew is to be compatible with the official core book rules content of its given edition of the game. To that end, anything that is being made for the game must be considered in comparison to that core rules content, and nothing else. Obviously, if we were to compare new homebrew to other previously existing homebrew, you can easily begin to slowly drift away from the original mechanical balance of the core rules. This is how you get power creep: when designers stop working within the context of their original system. By requiring content to be considered in the context of only the core rules material, we are ensuring that we do not generate power creep in our homebrew. Precedent is the system of unwritten standards that core rules content represents. For example, in 5th edition, no simple weapon deals 2d12 damage, so a simple weapon for 5th edition that does deal 2d12 damage would be running contrary to that precedent. Now, that does not mean you are restrained to just replicating the core material, it simply means that the mechanical aspects of your homebrew should be in-tune with it. For example, there are no races that can fly in the core books for 3.5 edition. That does not mean you cannot make a flying race for that edition! However, you will need to find a way to mechanically offset the combat advantage flight offers to ranged PCs, such that it will be mechanically equivalent to the other races of that game.

Also included in precedent are the design standards and guidelines provided by the developers. These standards and guidelines may have been published in a wide variety of forms, including core books, magazines, pamphlets, press releases, interviews, podcasts, web pages, and even twitter posts. This piecemeal release of design standards is done primarily because the developers work for a company, and they need to protect both their copyrights, and their development methods, in order to maintain competitiveness in the market. As a result, it is pretty much impossible to keep track of official design standards, due to their incredibly informal method of release. That said, where standards are released in an easily accessible form, such as monster design guidelines in a Dungeon Master's Guide, we will make every effort to point those out to you, and even make them available if possible. Regarding those standards which are difficult to access, or were released in a form which nolonger exists, we will make every effort to incorporate those standards into the design guide they are most applicable to.

As a wikian, you have the authority to edit (almost) any page as you see fit. Even if access is barred to normal users on a page, its talk page will always be open for discussion. If you ever see a design guide on this wiki which does not incorporate some element of precedent that you are aware of, edit it in! For example, say one of the developers of 3.5e went on record explaining some of the behind-the-scenes for how they designed spells for that edition, and the design guide for 3.5e spells is not in accord with that; just fix it!

Just understand that, as an absolute baseline of quality, we expect your work to be compatible with the game it was made for. It uses the same rules, and works on the same math. I don't think that's too much to ask: that your work make some sense. It isn't some draconian policy of categorizing balance into some strict system of standardization, nor does it even request your ideas be good in the sense of being original, interesting, or fun!

If you deviate from precedent

It is not the end of the world, nor does it mean your page is unwelcome here! Intentional design decisions have their place. However, it does mean that you need to communicate where it deviates from precedent, and justify that deviation.

  • If it doesn't follow the same rules, or follows extra houserules, you need to post the rules it does use, and link to them from it.
  • If it is part of a collection of works which use a different standard of balance, like a campaign setting or a supplement, then that also needs to be communicated, by including the name of the collected works (in the page title) (before its proper categorization).
  • If it is operating on unusual math, (like a rebalanced fighter to be on-par with a wizard) then it needs a design disclaimer to communicate that to the audience. (See The Same Game Test (DnD Guideline))
  • If it contains properties which may be complicating to certain players, DMs, or situations, then you should communicate that also.

Abnormal/deviant design decisions are communicated via the Template:Design Disclaimer which is placed at the top of such a page via

{{Design Disclaimer|# edition|specific details about what is weird}}

Which outputs thus:

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