Tags: Do you use them? Why, Why not, how



So I have tried to use tags when creating items for my games but I keep on falling back to a single or two-sentence description of the item and then its stats.

For example:
NanoSword: Self-repairing Blade made of NanoBots. Blade deconstructs when not in use.​
“I’m Like a damn Jedi”
1d6 Dmg

I can see where I could add tags like “Hidden” “Durable” “Sharp” “Unbreaking”
But I feel like the description gets that across.
I don’t know, am I wrong here? lol

What’s your guy’s opinion on Tags and how do you use them to better your games?
Or tell me why you don’t use em.


I think in your case above, the description works well enough. My personal experience is only using weapon tags for story or thematic uses. For example, if my players are trying to get through town without drawing attention and one warrior has a huge axe with the “cannot be concealed” tag, then i would make him/her roleplay that a little or make a roll to act casual and not draw attention. I guess I end up using them more for social or non-combat situations to make the trek more interesting.


From a game design standpoint, there are two main considerations.

The first one is whether you want tags to be mere descriptors or whether you want them to have mechanical effect. Mere descriptors might provide an edge (or drawback) in the moment of the fiction depending on the DM and player. Take the “volatile tag” for example. In my game, I ruled that volatile meant unpredictable, usually in a bad way. And so, whenever a character in my game rolled a 1 with an item with a volatile tag, or used the item in a careless way, maybe throwing it or jostling it, that meant the user took damage. Another DM might rule differently or give the tag different “weight” in the moment, but the tag was there to inform the fiction. Or the “concealable” tag. A player might say, “hey, I don’t think the guard would find this shiv because it has the concealable tag,” and I would probably have the guard overlook it in that moment of the fiction.

On the other hand, if you have tags with mechanical function, then you have to define them in a list. In this way, they are like feats. Take the “slayer tag.” If a weapon has the slayer tag, then it does ultimate damage on any enemy it previously damaged. That tag can be applied to all sorts of weapons or even a character, but it exists in a pre-defined list of available tags that provide a mechanical benefit.

The second consideration is whether you even need to use tags. It sounds like maybe you’re just making loot with unique mechanics, and that’s awesome too. In that regard, I don’t know that you even need a tag system. Just create some cool loot for your game, which is also satisfying.


What @Alex and @Kindred said!!!

Also consider if a tag will be used more than once “unstable explosive” will probably fit a few things in a steam punk world.

“The Last of the Corruptors” would probably only fit only one person/thing.

All that said, tags is also a way in this game to give characters traits that fulfill 2 mechanical functions.

  1. Is not loot, can’t be stolen or haphazardly lost!!!
  2. Does not count against gear limits!!!

I treat milestones as tags in this regard typically…but only really came up twice for me so not a great teller of how that works out.

Ultimately I feel, Tags is the ultimate duct tape of this game…not often used as originally intended, but fixes a ton of other things.

If someone just got his arm loped off in a fight,” missing left arm “ tag.

You could technically use them as temporary status in D&D 5e (e.g. poisoned, hexed, grappled…) it is the simple, not normal, not sure where this fits of the game.

Just with Tags and Effort you can run a game.

Make 3 tags for your character every time a tag fits the situation you roll easy and weapon effort, every time you don’t it’s a normal roll and basic effort. As you take wounds, you roll on the. Negative tag table.

So don’t fear them, but don’t make everything tags, or it can get odd and inconsistent. Like Duct-Tape!!!


I think using Tags with a mechanical function would make my group to keep looking at their notes like a glossary.

I can see the merit of having them as descriptors I think I’ll try that in my current game. Since most of my players are unfamiliar with firearms.
And I think you guys are right that using them as ways to help my players role play and make the story more flavorful.,



If I’m going to use tags in my prep its purpose is to let me know how to narrate or act something by giving me some key words (tags) to fall back on.

For example:

Let’s say I have a character with the following tags in appearance.

Appearance: Receding thin orange hair, orange mustache and beard, well trimmed and a little curly, and thick hands. Always smiling. A well-worn flat topped sailors hat, dark blue.

Now when I’m narrating him to my players, I’m staring at those tags.

GM: He hugs his well-worn sailors hat, “Well, you aught to know…”
GM: He smiles and offers the gem. It sits in his open thick hand.

You can do this with more than appearance obviously, and you might not want to overdo appearance like I did in the above example, no need to use a ton of extra narration for no reason. But the point is I would use tags as a way to help my game, as prep, to keep my character consistent, without me having to memorize everything.

They are easy short words or phrases you can just look at and fall back on while delivering the game content.

You can make different categories of tags, or even use them for locations, here are some categorical examples.

Narration tags:

Name, race, and appearance, are all words and tags you can look at to use when narrating the actions of the character. Or NPCs appearance on first sight by the players.

Personality tags:

Traits are used as tags for how to narrate the character’s actions. What their mannerisms are like. You can also include tactics in personality tags, what kind of approach a character has when trying to get what they want, or when trying to avoid the players, etc

Or just reminders, like ‘affable, reminiscent’. IF you can play off these words. I find it’s easier to word them in a way I can directly use/read.

Ex: Easy to talk to: ‘tell me your troubles’ and Reminiscent: ‘Ah, I remember when…’ and ‘His eyes stare off into the distance, he smiles, paused in memory.)

Asset tags:

A long oakwood table: Ink stained. Paper strewn. Cups of quills.


You get the idea. It’s prep stuff, things you can directly use, and so that if the players visit that character sessions later, the character still feels like the same person, because you have all those tags there to guide your narrating.

Added thought just to tie it back to ICRPG:

ICRPG: I think one of the examples given in ICRPG was a word to remind you that a dagger could be used to pry something open, not just stab with. So it would improve your narration by giving you a variety, something you didn’t have to think up on the spot. To help the player come up with ideas of how their prop could be used in a game, with an easy single-word reminder.


I think the first case, his narrative description is serving the same purpose as tags. Hank thinks in lists, so tags make sense for him. If you think in poetry, your “tag” is. couplet. If you think in pictures, you tag is an image. I like the punchy, granular nature of tags but if the same information comes in a line of description, the purpose is served. Do you agree?