Nine years ago we decided campaign research questions were off topic. The guidance given was:

Questions asking about a general real-world topic such as history, geography or economics might more likely belong on another Stack Exchange site (e.g. History) than here. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself …

Would an RPG expert give me a better/different/more specific answer to this question than a Historian, Geographer, etc? If yes, then feel free to ask it here.

Consider this question: Do 'light hammers', as depicted in D&D, being throwable have any historical precedent?

The question asks if the D&D 3.5e concept of throwing a light hammer corresponds to a historically accurate weapon.

Is this a campaign research question that should be closed as off-topic?


3 Answers 3


I'll just reiterate/rephrase what I already said in the comments below the question.

As written, the question does indeed ask about "historical precedence". However, I don't think that's what OP is really asking; instead, he's curious how a realistically throwable (but still melee-capable) hammer would look like, especially in the context of past editions of D&D.
This is evident by the body of the question: he states that he has "been trying to find a 'realistic' or at least believable depiction of a light throwing hammer [as present in 5e]". He then goes on to ask about issues he found with depictions of "throwing hammers" in a 3.5e sourcebook. Only in the last sentence is history mentioned again.

Incidentally, it just so happens that people don't have an incentive to throw hammers around nowadays, considering bullets and other weapons are much more convenient for getting the job done (outside of sports, that is, but olympic hammer throwing involves throwing a ball on a chain, which isn't very hammerlike if you ask me).
Therefore, unless somebody here happens to be throwing hammers as a hobby, historical evidence of the existence of such hammers is the easiest way to prove the viability of such hammers. This is why I think OP focused on asking for historical precedence - it's the most apparent way of judging the realism of medieval-ish weapons. At the same, however, OP thus limits answers to being based on historical evidence, which I don't think is the intention, but rather a consequence of accidentally narrowing the question too much based on his own assumptions.

Either way, I don't think this question is, at its core, history-exclusive enough to warrant moving it to history SE (although it wouldn't be out of place there, either). Well, to be specific: as it is currently phrased, it does make more sense over there, but in my opinion, we should make sure to gauge OP's intent instead of immediately yeeting him over to history SE - after all, we are supposed to be a community of experts, not a question proxy. If it turns out that OP really only wants to know about historical throwing hammers, then history SE is indeed a better fit.
Otherwise, to quote the cited meta: "Would an RPG expert give me a better/different/more specific answer to this question than a Historian, Geographer, etc?". In this case, I think that is indeed the case. While a historian might be qualified to present suitable historic evidence, insight into past editions of D&D or experience with LARP (both of which are likely more prevalent here than on history SE) could also very much be the foundation of a good answer.

As it stands, the question should, in my opinion, be closed for a lack of focus. It's asking one thing in the title, while really asking something else in the body. Suggesting the inclusion of historic evidence is perfectly fine, but explicitly asking for historic evidence would indeed be a reason to move the question to history SE.

Considering that OP isn't exactly new here, I think it's reasonable to expect him to refine the question.


I would say yes, it is off-topic.

Adding a reference to D&D (or any other game system) to the question doesn't really change the question.

The question could be asked as "Do thrown hammers, as weapons, have a historical precedent?" without changing the expected answers.

Alternatively, the question could be asked on a different (non-History) stack exchange, again without changing the expected answers. For example: "Does the idea of Thor throwing Mjolnir have a basis in historical combat?"


Sometimes areas of Stack Exchanges will overlap and that is okay.

The linked question is a question about how to use history to depict to players of an rpg the verisimilitude of throwing a hammer (an unwieldy looking object).

I've been trying to find a 'realistic' or at least believable depiction of a light throwing hammer, that would be the equivalent to the 'Light Hammer' in D&D 5E (which has the thrown property).

This comes under the category of 'How Do I Make This Believable To Players'. It's phrased oddly, but many questions on rpg.se are phrased oddly, poorly, or have incorrect assumptions underlying them. Questions don't need to be perfect to be answerable (and there is value in answering imperfect questions so people with similarly imperfect queries can find them via searching).

A historian will likely know about hammer throwing or rock throwing or other blunt objects that could be hurled, a renaissance faire guy might be able to link to a video of someone throwing hammers or axes quite accurately.

A skilled GM will know how to 'depict it believably' and answer on that basis.

This question can completely reasonably be asked in either location or both. It's a poorly phrased question, but the subject matter is both 'history' and 'rpgs', it fits almost dead centre in the overlap between the two sites.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is just asking for the question to be made into an opinion based question that should also be closed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 21:07

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