This question, from a relatively inexperienced user, asked "Would you use this (homebrew) spell?"

Thomas Markov rightly identified this as opinion-based and bad-subjective, explained that the question type was not one we used, linked to stack policy on questions to be avoided, suggested that the question could successfully be reformatted as 'is this spell balanced at this level', linked to a list of homebrew balance questions, and linked to a meta question describing that format. All in all wonderful community support.

However, I wonder if we should also suggest a different direction. Perhaps when the OP wrote 'would you use', they meant, 'Is this a useful addition to the spells available, does it fill an unmet need or niche?' Even if they didn't mean that, that seems to me to be an objective question that invites a comparative review of the functionality existing spells and perhaps a good-subjective discussion on challenges, problems, and solutions.

For example, if someone suggested a homebrew spell that offered one day-long protection from the elements and asked whether it fulfilled a hole in the meta, answers might include that there are spells that protect one from elemental damage in combat, but not over an adventuring day, and there are actually design reasons for that.

Is this the type of question that the stack should support? If so, how and when should we encourage posters to ask these types of questions?


1 Answer 1


I think that turning it into a balance question is probably the right approach

How does one discuss the balance of something? One of the best ways is by looking at the available approaches to solving the problem without that something. It’s not the only consideration—particularly if there simply isn’t an existing solution for the problem—but a good answer should at least get into it, even if it’s just to say that there isn’t any great existing comparison. And if an answer gets into it, boom, we’ve also answered the question of how it fits into a niche.

Likewise, if the spell does something that just didn’t really need doing, that affects its balance. A spell that produces a perfectly-woven basket but can only be cast underwater, even if there’s no other way to accomplish such a thing, isn’t a powerful spell; being “better than everything else” at underwater basketweaving doesn’t matter because no one cares about that. Which is to say, “underwater basketweaving” isn’t a niche that the game incentivizes players to care much, if at all, about.

So a good answer to a good balance question should cover these kinds of questions for a homebrewer, and potentially other things besides. Going with a balance question is probably the best approach.

This isn’t really quite an “XY” situation, though

The querent probably really does want to know about potential niches, or have doubts about the homebrew finding one, and that’s a valid concern to have. It’s just an awkward thing to ask after, and not really how this site works. So in a sense, we are substituting a related question that gets at what they’re interested in, much as we would with an XY problem, but not because Y was a potential solution the querent naively thought would resolve X, but because Y is a part of X, and X is something we can actually address.


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