# Should questions about dice in general be on-topic? [2023]

This question was asked and answered in 2019 with clear consensus in this Q&A: Should questions about dice in general be on-topic?

However, I am asking for a revisit of this discussion, in light of this question being reopened on the main site: Do you know the angles of a face for a 7 or 14 sided die? Notably, the question has no RPG-context whatsoever, and is solely about the geometry of dice faces.

To be clear, I am not talking about questions about AnyDice, or questions that are doing something with dice as part of game design or character builds or anything like that. This discussion is about questions that are just about dice themselves, such as the question linked above.

### If the word “dice” is the only thing that relates a question to RPGs, it is off topic.

Consider this revision to the example question about dice geometry:

I need a 5 and 7 sided mathematically fair polyhedron. The decahedron could replace the existing pentahedron (If you're wondering the angles are nearly 52°, 128° and two 90° opposites from each other), but I couldn't find a way to make a perfect heptahedron or the angles for a perfect tetradecahedron.

Analyzing the decahedron and octahedron there are 3 properties

• Have a circumsphere,
• All faces must be congruent and
• Opposites sides must be parallel

I don't like the idea for using an octahedron as a substitute for the heptahedron, so don’t answer with that.

I have changed nothing about the meaning of this question, I have only removed references to dice. The only thing that related this question to RPGs at all was that the polyhedra mentioned were described as dice. This question has nothing to do with RPGs, it is just a geometry question.

This is just an example of why this sort of question isn’t what this site is about. Questions that are similarly void of actual relation to RPGs should be off topic, and the original answer given by mxyzplk should remain the standard guidance on these types of question:

However, our site is about role-playing games. That's its appropriate scope. That makes us tangentially good about a lot of things. Dice! Desktop publishing! Fiction! Weaponry! But we have to draw the line somewhere. We're not board and card games. We're not arbitrary historical questions. We're not genre fiction questions. We are good at all these things, but this is a site for RPG players and we owe it to them to stay focused on RPGs.

General dice stats are not our exclusive domain and, whether or not some other stack answers those question well, they are not on topic and should not be unless specifically in a RPG context.

And finally, as I mentioned in the question, this is not about tools like AnyDice or dice rolling tools used on platforms like Discord. As I describe in this answer about VTTs, these things are the tools of our hobby, and questions about using them are on-topic.

• Do you think the example in question could be salvaged by OP specifying "dice… for my custom RPG based on Burning Wheel" (or whatever)? Commented Nov 25, 2023 at 16:00
• @Laurel It needs to be related enough to RPGs for RPG experience to be meaningful to an answer. For the example question, if enough context were given so that an answer to the effect of “you don’t need to work out this math because this other solution solves the game design problem you’re trying to solve” would make sense, then it’s an RPG question, not a geometry question. Just saying “Oh I’m playing burning wheel” isn’t enough, we need to know how you’re applying this geometry problem in an RPG context. Commented Nov 25, 2023 at 16:19
• @Laurel One time I had a question about Early-Middle-Ages river travel for my long-running campaign based on Burning Wheel. So I went over to the History stack exchange and asked them. Same principle here. Commented Nov 25, 2023 at 17:17
• @AlexP On the contrary, we regularly accept math problems here just because they say there is "a clear RPG gaming purpose" behind it (example). Why wouldn't the same principle apply here? Or do you think that math questions should be closed too? Commented Nov 25, 2023 at 17:33
• This is the campaign research question problem of site scope. That meta even directly references AlexP's river travel question. This isn't down to, like, math questions, because there are math questions that relate to RPG expertise and are on topic (“how do I calculate these weapon bonuses?”) and there are math questions that don't relate and are off topic (“how much does my office cafeteria lunch cost?”) and the math isn't the issue. Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 1:58
• "How do I roll a d5 or a d7" has some answers - use a dice roller that supports arbitrary sides, or if you want to get boutique about it you can buy e.g. an unconventional d5 or d7 from GameScience. To the extent that "How do I custom-engineer a polyhedron to be a d5 or a d7" does not accept these answers, it involves tools that aren't really a part of the broad RPG design space. We know how RPG designers create dice that don't exist - they put numbered slips of paper in a hat. Commented Nov 26, 2023 at 5:25
• @Laurel As I see it, that kind of questions are one hop away from the subject of RPGs as they are about using maths formulas directly as a part of an RPG, whereas the dice geometry question is two hops away: You could ask about probabilities of d7s and d14s but the geometry of specific dice is irrelevant to an RPG. Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 1:45

## Put them where they belong

For my mind, unless the hypothetical dice question relates to an RPG more or less directly, it’s off topic. So, if it’s about probability or geometry it doesn’t belong here.

But it does belong here (Maths Stack Exchange); flag it so a mod can move it.

• Put them where they belong is fine to say, but this question is about what belongs, not what to do with them. Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 23:05
• @doppelgreener the point I’m making is if they fit better there, they don’t belong here Commented Nov 30, 2023 at 4:42

## The question linked in OP is borderline but not clearly off-topic

The querent did in fact first ask on math.se -- notably with different text with what seems to be an attempt to use more mathematical language. At that time I linked a relevant existing question as a comment, but the question was neither closed as duplicate nor directly answered. Apparently the querent either did not see my comment or did not find the information sufficient, as they later asked here on rpg.se, bringing us to the current situation.

I neither voted to close nor to (re-)open the question here. I think there are a couple of on-topic-for-rpg.se questions trapped inside, struggling to get out; this is why and how I answered the question on this Stack using RPG context, but there is a continuing breakdown in communication.

### math.se doesn't want context-less questions either

This is point #1 on math.se's "how to ask a good question" FAQ. Actual question closure and de-duplication on math.se is spotty at best, but to be fair math.se has a larger flow of questions over a wide variety of topics, so the task is genuinely more difficult. Arguably, then, the criticism should be "this question does not provide enough context for any Stack" rather than "this question is off-topic and should be asked on math.se or stats.se instead".

### The mere act of posting on rpg.se signals a little context

While insufficient on its own to make for good context, choosing to post here rather than on math.se or stats.se is not nothing. For example, if you post a question here, you are likely to get an AnyDice answer, which is a well-known tool within the RPG space and is usually close to ideal for a RPG context. Meanwhile, on math.se most people have never heard of AnyDice; you are more likely to get a probability generating function (PGF)-based answer, which while elegant from a certain mathematical point of view, is probably not as useful for a RPG context. (Though if any PGF enjoyers would like to make an argument for them in a RPG context, I'd love to read it.)

For contrast, here is a recent question where the specific mathematical frame really is the focus rather than the RPG context.

For the question linked in OP, I chose to list several physical realizations of a d7 due to the RPG context. I do wish the querent was more clear as to whether this was what they were looking for.

### Expertise tends to favor rpg.se

I've been monitoring the tag on rpg.se, math.se, and stats.se near-daily for the past two years. If you post a dice question, there's a chance it will go unanswered on math.se, whereas and on rpg.se have a perfect answer rate, with just one short (and not due to lack of mathematical expertise). If the problem is easy, many people on rpg.se can answer it; if the problem is hard, you're better off looking for specialization than general math expertise, and I think that's going to be easier to find on rpg.se than anywhere else. RPGs are a narrower topic than math or even just statistics, so the intersection of the two is ceteris paribus going to be a larger fraction of RPGs.

I would personally prefer to answer the same question here than on math.se. The community and its moderation are stronger here, and contributions get more attention. Though I recognize that these rely in part on maintaining the quality and focus of questions.

• I’ve thought about this a bit, and I don’t think this a good enough reason to allow these sorts of question. Your observation that rpg.se is really good at these questions is true, but not because we can a priori expect our site to be well equipped for these questions. This site is really good at rpg-adjacent maths questions because of a small group of users (yourself, posita, Ilmari) who have the right intersection of professional experience and interest in our hobby. If the three of you stop visiting the site, I think we are no longer even a great site for getting these questions answered. Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 18:47
• But in contrast, where a maths questions is contextualized as an RPG problem, I know hundreds of active users here who are great at solving RPG problems. Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 18:49
• (And to be clear, there are a few others who have adequate expertise for solving math problems here, but yourself, posita, and Ilmari Karonen really are superstars in the rpg-math space.) Commented Nov 27, 2023 at 18:50
• Thank for the kind praise, even if I should have guessed that I would not align with the community at large -- obsession is often the price for expertise. Well, it's just too bad. Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 8:53
• I think the subject of geometry of fair dice would be plenty of context for math.se. I do agree that if they were simply asking about the geometric shape without mentioning dice it could be seen as lacking context. Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 1:47

## Treat each questions on its merits

It is a mistake (I am being charitable here) to try and make a broad general rule when our site's level of expertise is sufficient to take care of this on a case-by-case basis.

### This isn't a problem that needs any solving

From a comment by @HeyICanChan (thank you)

The site has 50,000 questions; just 300 are tagged dice.
Two-thirds of a percent? Seriously? Folks should vote to close dice questions they think are off-topic. Don't make a policy that will make the site seem even less welcoming. –

Each question about dice can, and needs to be, assessed to see how it applies to an RPG. If it doesn't, then it can be closed as off topic.

An attempt to make a "policy" about this is misguided. Further that point, the volume of dice questions, or rather, the mass flow rate isn't of sufficient magnitude for this to reach the level of "problem" that needs solving.

I say again:

### Treat each question on its own merits.

Don't try and fix what isn't broken.

• The site has 50,000 questions and just 300 are tagged  dice . Two-thirds of a percent? Seriously? Folks should vote to close dice questions they think are off-topic. Don't make a policy that will make the site seem even less welcoming. Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 12:23
• @HeyICanChan Thank you for putting a number on it. 😊 Commented Dec 10, 2023 at 14:24