It's been my experience over the past couple years that the RPG stack is becoming more about rules lawyering and less about how to have fun with the game.

It's reached the stage where it seems impossible to write an answer without it being busted in comments and downvoted because it's always seen as being about rules. I can't cite rules in my answer (short of memorizing the entire library, at least for the current 5e D&D) because I usually read and answer from work, and my employer's network blocks all access to gaming related sites (that they recognize -- I think Stack Exchange sites slide by because most of them are at least potentially "neutral" in that regard).

In short, this is quickly becoming "no longer fun" -- and when a game is no longer fun, the almost universal advice is to either find a way to make it fun, or quit playing. I can't bring rule books to work -- and don't own most of them anyway (I'm a player, not a DM, so reasonably should not keep the DMG, Monster Manual, etc. in reach anyway).

Further to this, it's become almost impossible to ask any question related to reasonable play of the games that interest me without it being a duplicate -- so why should I treat RPG.SE as anything other than a reference site in the future? What's the point?

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    \$\begingroup\$ How do I handle a player exploring the entire dungeon with his familiar? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MikeQ More like I posted my opinion and was questioned on where the rules said that. But if it's silly to care about this too, that's another reason to quit visiting RPG.SE. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon I think the core issue people were pointing out is that you portrayed your opinion as fact. "First, the imp isn't technically under the player's control -- it's an NPC supplied by the Warlock's patron, and works to further the patron's goals" can you see how this is different from saying "First, the imp isn't technically under the player's control -- it's an NPC supplied by the Warlock's patron, and as a DM I have ruled that it works to further the patron's goals [and here's how it worked out]"? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 16:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MikeQ We say one thing, and then do another. If I have to know answers to questions that don't even show up in help documentation (much of which was written after I joined, so I wouldn't have seen it as a new user and never knew to look for it later on) to ask or answer here, there's another reason not to be here. It does seem a little counter-intuitive that the RPG stack is the strictest among all stacks I visit on citations and wording. Perhaps we should set up a vetting station to send our answer and questions to before posting them... \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 16:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon You are welcome to use Meta if you have a specific concern about a potential question/answer that you'd like community input on before it is posted. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose It seems, however, that we have an unspoken, unwritten requirement that any post at all made without hours of poring through rule books or an exactly apt rule citation needs to be handled that way. Like I said, if it's not fun any more, why keep doing it? I've seen religion taken less literally -- and I grew up in a fundamentalist church. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 16:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ "It seems, however, that we have an unspoken, unwritten requirement that any post at all made without hours of poring through rule books or an exactly apt rule citation needs to be handled that way." Actually, it very often is written that we expect this in an answer. If a user writes into their question that they expect an answer that cites the attendant rules text, and you answer does not provide that, you haven't answered the question at all. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 16:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Our citation expectations are written here and included in our faq. Nobody expects you to pore over rules for hours—most of my answers involve at most 5 minutes of checking the rules. Some exceptional ones require me to do a lot more research, but I'm not obliged to do that and I only do it if I'm enjoying that. I can and do often leave answering to someone else in that situation, since someone might know better than me and I'll be interested to see what they say. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon I can fully empathize with rules questions not being fun for you any more, I really can (also also brought up fundamentalist so I hear you there as well). My answering activity on this site dropped off because I wasn't interested in answering D&D rules questions that much any more. That is definitely something you should think if it is worth it for you or not personally. However to say that every post requires pouring over rules for hours simply isn't true in my experience. It isn't new that answers about the rules need to show expertise and be accurate and cite things as needed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I hope that my comment did not contribute to your frustration. It was a novel take on the PHB text I was hoping to engage with you further on that but I guess the frustration took over. I apologize for that if I was part of the problem. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 19:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm glad you've decided to stick around. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov The irony of that is that I've recently dropped out of my second (and last) D&D group; the game itself just feels alternately too restrictive (classes) and too complex (too danged many classes and subclasses). And there are easily five D&D questions here for every question that's not D&D. Games I want to play (GURPS, Risus, Stars Without Number, anything Cypher system) I'd pretty much have to run; there don't seem to be any local groups -- and I won't have time to run a game until at least retirement (6-12 years out still). \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 16:46

2 Answers 2


I don't intend to try to convince you to stay. That's your personal choice and I'm not going to tell you whether or not spending time on this site is is a wise use of your time because I am not you and there is no way I can know what is best for you.

I will say, however, that we value every member of this site though and you have made many high quality contributions, and we would be sad to see you leave.

That being said, I'd like to address some of your points which will hopefully help you make your decision:

Separate fact from opinion in your answers

Let's start with the example you state inspired this question. In a recent answer you said:

First, the imp isn't technically under the player's control -- it's an NPC supplied by the Warlock's patron, and works to further the patron's goals

Commentors requested that you provide a source for the bolded section because the way you phrased the statement implies that it is a fact (when in actual fact, the books don't say this; they do say that the familiar "always obeys your commands" though which largely contradicts your point). This is not a matter of rules citation, but of factual accuracy. As pointed out in a comment:

While the second point is an interesting plot idea it is absolutely not reflective of the feature as written, please clearly separate between what's actually in the rules and what are your own ideas to flavour things up.

If I said as a thesis to one of my answers, "a dragons' diet consists solely of garden gnomes in 5e Forgotten Realms" it is right for people to call me out on that. It is possible that in my games dragons only eat garden gnomes, but nothing in the texts give the basis for claiming this is a fact for everyone reading my answer.

We want people who can bring useful experience to their answers

An easy correction for your answer that would likely have assuaged at least some of the criticism would have been to edit your answer to say:

First, the imp isn't technically under the player's control -- it's an NPC supplied by the Warlock's patron, and as a DM it is entirely reasonable based on [support] to rule that it works to further the patron's goals [and here's how it worked out when I tried it].

This is much improved because it distinguishes what is factual and what are things you are bringing to the table. And we want people to bring personal stuff to their answers, but we need them to be clear about it and properly integrate it into their answer.

So, to sum up, this isn't an example of "rules lawyering" this is a matter of voters rewarding accuracy in answers which is something that we expect and need voters to do. If you say something is a universal fact, you need to have something to back it up. Or, if it is not a universal fact at all, make sure that is clear.

If you can't cite the rules, don't answer questions that require rules citation

I can't cite rules in my answer (short of memorizing the entire library, at least for the current 5e D&D) because I usually read and answer from work, and my employer's network blocks all access to gaming related sites

You've been told this before: but answers on this site must be backed up. This doesn't have to be with rules if the question is not about rules, but good answers must include some sort of support. This is core to the entire SE system not just RPG.se.

If you don't have access to the rules to sufficiently back up a rules answer, then your best option is to wait to answer these questions until you do have access or just don't answer them at all. That is what I and others do to get around this issue.

You say yourself that you have not memorized the rules, and, in fact, in previous answers you've stated things in your answer that are factually incorrect (potentially even including your statement about familiars) and had you had access to the rules and looked it up would have avoided a mistake.

The fact is though, a single person's access to rules during a certain time is not a compelling argument to change or ignore site guidelines for a worldwide community that operates around the clock.


it's become almost impossible to ask any question related to reasonable play of the games that interest me without it being a duplicate

Well if those things are incorrectly being marked as duplicate then that would be an issue and please point that out.

Assuming that these are correctly being marked though, this is how the site is intended to work. We've all been disappointed when we had a question we thought of only to have it closed as a dupe, but the reason we do it is so that we don't spend time and energy answering the same questions over and over again. Instead we can have one place where we put all of our answers and (theoretically) keep them high quality and up-to-date so that it remains useful for any people with that same question. And, as the site gets older, we expect to have covered many questions already especially since some types of interpersonal issues just never really change and are a common issue across groups, systems, and time.

What's the point?

so why should I treat RPG.SE as anything other than a reference site in the future? What's the point?

Like I said at the top, that's up to you. Feel free to continue to contribute or not, use it as a reference or not.

If you strongly believe that answers should not require support and that answers that state ambiguous facts should not be clear where they come from, then maybe this isn't the best place for you. However, you have many highly upvoted answers on this site and a very low number of deleted and/or negative scoring ones which indicates that overall the community has agreed that your contributions are valuable. I know it is easy to have the occasional friction point stick out more than the 80% of other events, but do try to consider those times as well.

Also, as always, if you see something about the site you don't like, feel free to work to gain support to change it and bring it to our attention here on Meta. We can't or won't change some things surely but we know there is always room for improvement and we do strive to do that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ “You say yourself that you have not memorized the rules” — and not that you imply it, but nobody would expect anyone to either! Even rules I think I have memorised, I go back to verify those rules say what I think they do as I provide answers related to them. Sometimes the question covers a scenario I haven't paid attention to before, and makes me see those same rules differently and notice things I didn't notice before. Also since they're right there I can now cite them, so that others can verify my answer. But as you say, if I can't access the rules right now, I just don't write an answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2020 at 17:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose the link above to my other Meta question actually supports my point -- this site's expectations and norms have changed so much in the last couple years that the very same answers that would have garnered bunches of upvotes in, say, 2017, will now remain near zero score, either due to mixed votes or lack of votes. It's still a great reference site (except for games I actually want to play, like GURPS), but it's no longer a good site, at leat for me, to ask and answer on. It's like it's gotten full, or turned academic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon You may be talking about a larger trend and I'd agree somewhat that RPG.se has gotten more rulesy of late. But I would point out that your latest example (the one that prompted this question) is an example, frankly, of you saying something that is not supported by anything but your own opinion and is largely contradicted by the rules. I think that at any point in the site's history such a thing would have been commented on/downvoted. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 13:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Also, just a note, but every answer you've made this year has been well received vote-wise aside from your most recent one (which was still +2 when it was deleted). Some of them getting into the 30+ range which is exceptionally good. In 2019 you seem to have had more deleted/negative posts but still overall positive. It is possible that in the past these would have been more positive (it is extremely hard to say, not least because I haven't read through each one of them) but you are still getting good feedback on most of your answers it seems to me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Also, a suggestion about the sourcebooks at work thing: any way you could put the core book pdfs on a thumbdrive or phone and use that at work? Some workplaces do block thumbdrives, but it might be worth a shot if you hadn't considered it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose The only thing the USB ports on my work computer (backpack/thin client) are good for is keyboard/mouse and charging devices. No data or storage works on them in any way. My phone, OTOH, has lots of free storage, but PDFs cost extra, and my partner is an author, reinforcing my longstanding decision not to pirate IP. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon That's a shame. I fully stand by not pirating though. Gotta stand by RPG authors and make sure we're supporting them for sure. Not that it sounds like it will do you too much good, but depending on your country I think it might be legal to do a scan of your own books or even to get a pdf from someone else. But IANAL at all. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 14:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Zeiss I agree with Rubiksmoose that nothing has substantially changed that would make that answer be treated better several years ago. It made a statement that was false, or made up without disclosing it was made up. One of my earliest answers did the same thing, someone called me out on it, and I got downvoted and I removed it because I realised I actually had just given an answer that didn't have any rules basis. If you think there was a time we celebrated answers that did something like this and were broadly okay with it, I think you might have some very rose tinted glasses on. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you're advocating that you'd have more fun on a site where you got to make stuff up and be completely wrong and get rewarded for it anyway with nobody expecting you to do better than that, what kind of site would that be? We'd be useless as a reference site, wouldn't we? We'd sure have more fun getting points all the time, but are you sure that's the kind of site you'd want to be using? I suggest you reflect on what you're asking for here. Do you think that's really how we've been operating all these years? Do you think we'd even still be relevant if that's how we were operating? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Well, thanks for assuming I intended to mislead someone. Not only is that virtually impossible on this site (too many automatic rules checkers), it has never been my intention. My comments about changes to the site weren't necessarily specific to this one answer (which I deleted once the error was pointed out -- "don't remove, improve" doesn't apply when I can't access the resources to do so in a timely manner) -- except that the automatic assumption I was intentionally "making stuff up" is a change from when I joined. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon Mind telling me which part was me accusing you of intentionally misleading people? Please don't be passive-aggressively abusive towards us here, we are trying to work with you. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 18:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I said your answer included “a statement that was false, or made up without disclosing it was made up.” That's not an assertion of intent. You either made a mistake in asserting what was the case, or you were describing personal rulings or handling without disclosing that was what you were doing—the exact two scenarios Rubiksmoose describes above. I am not however assuming bad faith on your part. I do however think your expectation you should be able to answer rules questions without checking the rules is unrealistic. Your memory of the rules is not that good, that's the case for most of us. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon To be clear, there's nothing wrong with being wrong, and there's nothing wrong with deleting answers until you can improve them. Look through the revision history of this answer of mine. I deleted and undeleted twice as users pointed out inaccuracies and omissions in my answer - and the answer evolved significantly throughout the process into something that went on to be an accepted answer. I approach this site with the attitude that I want to give the best answers I can, and so I welcome constructive feedback to that end. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 18:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ZeissIkon I think the issue here is where you see doppelgreener saying that you "made stuff up"? If so, I think that phrasing may be coming across to you differently than was intended (and this is understandable, "making stuff up" is a phrase that can indeed have negative connotations along the lines of being intentional). From comments, she explained that she only meant it in the sense that you had mistakenly created this fact, not that you intended it to deceive people. As such, I'd ask you try to read the comment in that light. We are indeed trying to help you with anything we can. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ And I'm not saying that you should even want to give answers grounded in sourcebook citations, but on a site that is founded upon a principle of community involvement in improving answers to questions, an attitude that in some way is opposed to community contribution toward improving your answers probably isn't aligned with what we're trying to do here, and that's okay, as long as you can recognize that your aims and the aims of the greater community may not be aligned. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 18:53

Why you should stay: three reasons

Reason 1: I'll miss you.

I have found you very easy to interact with on each occasion that we have interacted. I think your approach on games and playing contributes to that, and I value your input.

Reason 2: Experience based answers are still useful

You've got a variety of at-table experiences that I am sure will be useful that we have not tapped into yet.

A third reason: we don't know what the future holds

Some of the campaigns and games that you play in the future will provide some insights or experiences that will be welcome, and we don't even know what those are yet.

Not sure what I can say about dupes: I think, now that I've been around for a bit, that they are mostly a positive mark in a curious way: the dupe directs people to what they need even though the same question can be asked in a variety of ways.

SEs remind me a little bit about the inherent job insecurity in some engineering fields: you sometimes write up a solution that makes your job/task complete, and thus no longer needed. So you go and find new challenges. I have a friend who invented a few very complicated rotor head parts on current helicopters. And less than a year later, he was out of a job. So he ended up working for the company I work for. SE, as a "library" will eventually reach something like saturation. For a given SE, at that point all that will be needed is a dribble of new input to fill in cracks not already caulked in.


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