I have come across this comment that seems to say there is a globally accepted definition of reskinning and refluffing and that it's not the same thing (I thought it was).

What are the commonly accepted definitions of reskinning and refluffing?


2 Answers 2


I don’t think there are any “commonly-accepted” definitions of the term. Some (e.g. SevenSidedDie in the linked comment, AceCalhoon in a comment to doppelgreener’s answer) make a distinction between the two terms, while others (e.g. doppelgreener themself, leokhorn in asking the question, and mxyzplk in a comment to doppelgreener’s answer) make no distinction and feel that what the first group is terming as “reskinning” as distinct from “refluffing” is neither of these things, but rather some form of very-small-scale homebrew.

I don’t think you can therefore rely on any distinction to be made by anyone reading your use of “reskinning,” but you also cannot rely on people not making some distinction – some people will assume you’re making one and others will assume you’re not. It seems safer to use “refluffing” since the definition of “fluff” is pretty consistent, though what counts as fluff and what counts as crunch definitely does vary somewhat, thanks to many publishers not officially denoting one versus the other. E.g. some people may consider it a rule that barbarians come from some relatively-primitive tribal culture, while others may consider that fluff and find the barbarian’s mechanics (e.g. some form of berserk frenzy ability) appropriate to “refluff” for drastically different characters (the same bonuses may also be fitting for a kind of “zen focus” or even “bullet time” depending on the system). So all around, your mileage may vary. It’s probably best to be thorough in your descriptions to avoid these problems.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with everything in this answer. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 16:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ (Well, almost. I don't think it's odd that many publishers don't demarcate the fluff and crunch; after all, it's a concept made up by D&D players during the 3.x era, and most designers have not subscribed to the belief that there is any distinction between setting truths and mechanical truths.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 16:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie And that makes perfect sense when you’re writing the official Conan Roleplaying System or other setting-specific system, but Dungeons and Dragons (particularly later editions) claim to be very general systems usable for a wide variety of settings. That being the case, there are no setting-truths, but I still think it’s valuable to have default “suggested” fluff. Getting in arguments about the suggested fluff, though, particularly when playing in different settings... not so much. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just pointing out that official separation of fluff and crunch is a historical aberration and even currently the exception to the norm. 4e does, but it's very rare beyond that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 17:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've seen more proofs these past few days that there is no clear definition of these terms, so I'll go with this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – leokhorn
    Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 8:18

So far as I've seen them used, they both mean the same thing.

There is at least a commonly accepted definition of fluff: everything that has no influence or substance in the mechanics. Fluff can be removed altogether or replaced with no consequence to the workings of the system, and usually comes in the form of story and description. Its counterpart, crunch, covers everything that has purely mechanical substance and which, if altered or removed, would alter the mechanics at play at some point.

"Refluffing" has always been about changing the fluff of something to give it a new look and feel, whilst keeping the mechanical designs intact. "Reskinning" has always been about... the exact same thing.

When it comes to changing the mechanics, that has different terms, such as homebrewing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ maybe we should start "recrunching" \$\endgroup\$
    – Trajan
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 9:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, refluffing and reskinning are identical terms for replacement not affecting mechanics. Reskinning is used more frequently specifically in reference to characters and monsters following the computer-game usage of skinning (character models) . SSD is leading that poor questioner astray. Changing a monster or whatever is "modding", homebrewing or just... Changing. I've never actually heard the word "refluffing" used, just reskinning. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 11:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ There's some fuzz. Personally, I would consider something like swapping fire-damage for lightning-damage to fall under the heading of reskinning, rather than modding (as a mostly cosmetic change). \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AceCalhoon it depends somewhat on the system as to whether this is a mostly cosmetic change though. With some Savage Worlds settings for example, changing a fire trapping to a lightning trapping has a significant impact on mechanics involved \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phil I was thinking along the lines of D&D -- I.e. mechanically similar, but may have interactions with vulnerabilities, immunities, or other effects. Would I stretch that to include something like Savage Worlds? I dunno, I haven't played that system. \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Commented Oct 24, 2013 at 18:39

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