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BACKGROUND: I'm a buildmaker. I'm RAW RPG gamer, following the philosophy of "GM has no say when it comes to rules", and I enforce this both as a GM and as a player. I love inventing things while at the same time trying to avoid following ready-to-use build guides. It's a mental challenge, it's a riddle, it's a minigame and I love doing it.

But since I mostly play big systems (I mean 100's of books kind of big), there is no way to memorize or even read every single rule and line of text that can be considered a clue to understanding some specific rule. And even then there's probably some errata or official magazine article that has something to add in the matter that I never knew existed.

PROBLEM: Most of the time my questions have a single goal of "how to make this work". I don't care if it's OP, broken, unrealistic, game-breaking, intended to be errata'd (as long as it wasn't in the end for whatever reason) or problematic in any way shape or form. I'm interested in making something work, per RAW, bending rules as far as they can be bent but NEVER, EVER, breaking the rules and never, unless there is no other way, relying on GM's decision, because rules simply don't provide anything to go by.

I'm not interested in "what this GM would rule" or who would or wouldn't allow something at their table. And I'm getting a lot of those, so much that I'm running out of ways to politely tell author of the answer or comment that I'm not interested in that angle, nor will I ever be. I'm interested in getting desired result, by any means necessary within RAW ecosystem.

EXAMPLE: My recent questions regarding Major Image spell for Pathfinder. I tried to split it in two (because several times before I was accused of squeezing several questions into one), I tried to specify my intentions (things I am sure should work and all I need is justification/precedent/single-long-forgotten-line-of-text-in-an-obscure-book in a way lawyer in court would present one to win his case).

I have no idea how to write such question properly to get the answer I need. So, how do I go about that?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've seen this question and from the back and forth between yourself and the people commenting/answering, it seems you're more looking for the answer you want rather than the answer you need. Which is a completely different thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Jan 4 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MCG We aren’t really in a place to decide what OP wants or needs. However, I think there seems to be a discrepancy between what many answer writers think will be useful for future readers and the sort of answer OP is looking for. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 4 at 18:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I wasn't trying to decide anything, apologies if it came across that way. Was just commenting how the question mentioned felt to me, and likely other people which may be why OP wasn;t getting the expected responses \$\endgroup\$
    – MCG
    Jan 5 at 11:02

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You can’t make people do what you want. The most you can do is explain that you’re looking for a particular sort of solution; this is fine to do. As long as the answers attempt to address the problem, they can approach the problem however they like, even if it isn’t exactly the sort of solution you’re looking for. This is a feature, not a bug, of the Stack Exchange model. Diverse perspectives are welcome and provide value to future readers too, not just the question asker. What you can do is vote. Downvote answers that don’t satisfy what you’re after, upvote answers that do, and others are free to vote however they like. When an answer does satisfy you, you can accept it, which will pin it to the top of the answer list no matter the reader’s selected sort order.

If a question does not receive a satisfying answer, then you can offer a bounty for it, and include in the bounty text the sort of thing you’re looking for out of a bounty-worthy answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But aren't opinions forbidden on Stack? "This GM would allow/disallow/do-something" is an opinion. This kind of thing should be penalized right away no? Also, if I'm asking for RAW (I specify this every single time) everything that even mentions non-RAW approach should be considered off-topic and penalized too, no? Why are such behaviors allowed to exist? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Jan 3 at 1:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ A well explained “this GM would rule…” is a valuable answer. Unsupported answers generally are penalized via downvotes. But we aren’t good to delete good-faith attempts to tackle a problem just because they don’t approach the problem in exactly the way the question requested. We have thousands of valuable answers that don’t address their question exactly as asked. Like I said, this is a feature, not a bug. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 3 at 1:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NecXelos We don't forbid opinion. We “insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references” (help center), where references include subjective experience. We could hardly insist opinions be backed up if they weren't allowed to begin with. Pure opinion is unwanted: an answer saying only “I'd do it like this” is unwelcome. If however it says “because of these facts, citations, and/or experiences” it is potentially good expert guidance and will be judged on its merits. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 4 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ In addition to the many good suggestions you give for what OP can do, they can also flag an answer as "not answering the question", which should bring it to reviewer attention. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 9 at 19:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt No, that would not be appropriate. There is a difference between “not an answer” and “not the sort of answer I was looking for”. NAA flags are for posts that do not attempt to address the question at all, not posts that address the question in ways we dont like. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 9 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ OP says, "I'm not interested in "what this GM would rule" or who would or wouldn't allow something at their table. And I'm getting a lot of those, so much that I'm running out of ways to politely tell author of the answer or comment that I'm not interested in that angle, nor will I ever be," So you are saying that an answer that deliberately ignores the scope of the question and provides only 'what I would rule' should not be flagged as NAA? Because it is an answer, just not the one that the OP wanted? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 9 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt if you have an answer, please post it, so users can vote on it. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 9 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Clearly I am stating the case as extremely as I can, but I am also trying to understand your position on the use of the flag. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 9 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt You're asking for frame challenges to be banned. Please see this FAQ about frame challenge answers. In particular, the answer states: “We advise you also answer the question at face value, though you may prefer not to do so (and sometimes, it's a very good idea to not do so).” If you think that FAQ needs to be revised to disallow frame challenges, that’s a new meta discussion. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 9 at 20:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VLAZ Thanks, but I don't have an answer, or at least one that is meaningfully different. Thomas' existing answer is well-written and outlines several things OP can do if they feel a particular response is not answering their question. If if my initial comment was valid (which is questionable), at best it would be a "yes, and..." added to Thomas' answer, and not an answer in its own right. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 9 at 22:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov As I understand the process of raising a flag, it puts the answer into the review queue where either a number of common users or one moderator then decide whether it is 'not an answer' or not. As part of that review process, presumably they are considering things like 'this may not be the answer that OP wanted, but it could be valuable to the community' vs. 'this is simply not a good faith attempt to answer the question under the terms asked'. I don't think suggesting that OP has the power to ask for such a review is the same thing as "asking for frame challenges to be banned." \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jan 9 at 22:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt It isn’t at all clear to me that the deleted answer you’re referring to addresses the question at all. To me, it isn’t an even a frame challenge, it’s just a side conversation. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 9 at 23:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt if you're suggesting flagging is an appropriate course of action, then that is not covered in any answer on this page. So, that suggestion is definitely a distinct one that can also be voted on. If instead you're only interested in finding out whether NAA is an appropriate action, then please go over How do I properly use the "Not an Answer" flag?. In particular, note that under "When should I not use this flag?" it says "The answer makes an attempt to answer the question, even if it is wrong or inaccurate or you disagree with it". \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 10 at 8:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt it still basically says the same thing. But more terse. In essence NAA is for something you should not put in the answer box. Not about wrong content. The post you link to tries to enumerate those - content that should be an edit of the question, or a comment, or a follow-up question are examples of what should not go in the answer box. That's what "not an answer" means - "this was posted as an answer but is not one". Rather than "it is an incomplete answer" or "it's a wrong answer" or "I don't like the answer" or anything else that treats the post as still an answer but undesirable \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 10 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt Regarding the deleted answer, I didn’t flag it, nor did I review the flag on it. However, were I to have seen it,, I would have flagged it VLQ rather than NAA, because as you state, it technically does provide an answer to the question, but provides only a single unsupported sentence doing so. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 10 at 16:33
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Ask open ended questions

In your current approach to these questions, you describe your loophole and supporting arguments as to why it should work, and then ask if your conclusion is correct. When people answer why it is not correct, you in comments follow up trying to invalidate or find gaps in their arguments. This (at least for me) creates the impression you may not be looking for an answer to the question, but for confirmation that your clever, creative reading works.

If you really want to know if it would work, you can ask the question open ended, for example, you can just ask if, rules as written an Illusion like major image can impose conditions. Cut out the self-answer in the question that describes why you think it could or should. That way, you have a better chance to get neutral answers.

Also, if you do not like the answers you get, you do not need to accept any. And, you can self-answer with your own conclusion, and open that up to voting by the community. My experience is that just like for confirmation-seeking questions, you will get downvotes if your answer is either wrong or unpopular; but at least this will provide you community feedback of how highly or not people think of your conclusion. You still can accept your own self-answer, no matter if it is the one with the most votes or not. The acceptance checkmark is an expression of what answer you think is the best for your question, not what the consensus best answer is.

Are you getting opinion based answers?

Looking at the answers for your most recent example questions Can you use the Major Image spell to replicate/cause other conditions?, and How does the Will save to disbelieve the illusion from the Major Image spell work?, my impression is the answers are not opinion based, they provide ample support and rules citation for why what you want does not work.

You say you like to find loopholes, even if they create abusable results, but you lack the in-depth mastery of the systems you are doing that in. When you ask a question of this nature on this site, where there are people who have that in-depth mastery, and they tell you why your idea of a loophole does not work based on that more comprehensive knowledge of the rules, they do exactly what you asked for. They answer in a RAW based way. Unfortunately, that answer means that your idea does not work.

There is a great answer by @DanB that explains what RAW means: it does not mean that if the rules are silent on something, you get to do whatever you like. It means that -- especially if you want to do something unbalanced or exploiting the system -- you need an actual rule that states what you want to do is how it works, and no rules text that would stop it from working.

Lastly, there are some systems like 5e, where the spirit of the rules explicitly is to leave a lot to the DM, often refered to a "rulings, not rules" attiude. So, when you ask about an ill-defined area of the rules, by design the answer will be "Ask your DM", sometimes with some "Here is what I would do based on my experience with this problem" thrown in. The reason you are not getting a RAW answer is because in those cases there is no rule written for what you ask, other than the rule the DM adjudicates such cases. So the answers tell you that RAW, there is no specific RAW answer. That does not make it an opinon based answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like asking open ended questions may be detrimental to what OP is looking for. The response they’ve gotten indicates that the community at large thinks the sorts of solutions they’re looking for aren’t good. Leaving out the request for that particular sort of solution may lead to readers not even considering that sort of solution. At least with the explicit request, we know what’s on OP’s mind. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5 at 13:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks a lot. This answer is actually helpful and gives me some kind of guidance on how to get results. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Jan 5 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I think that in fact this might work really well. The community gives pushback when a querent appears to be using the rules poorly (e.g. nonsensical interpretations, non sequiturs, suspected bad faith, etc), and it sounds like Nec is putting forward interpretations are getting pushback, but that functions as a red herring. Instead Nec just wants to know if A lets them do B, or if/how they can do B, and the community can just focus on that instead of also combating their interpretation. If ppl don't like Nec's parameters they might push back on that, but it's worth a try. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5 at 18:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to be clear: the thing I'm endorsing is not asking for loopholes or hacks or edge cases, it's specifically asking how to do a thing with certain features available, or asking if you can do the thing, etc, in an open-ended manner that doesn't put forward “i think this loophole lets me do it”. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 5 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Try this instead: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/104170/25662 \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Jan 15 at 22:11
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Emphasize that you are only looking for RAW answers, and that the actual problem is the thought-exercise.

You can find examples of how to successfully ask by looking through question histories from KRyan and HeyICanChan, among others.

For some game systems, asking any question strictly about the written rules will attract low-quality opinion-based answers. My experience suggests that there is a strong negative correlation between those answers and how satisfying that system is for rules analysis, so that may be a small loss.

There is also an inexplicably fraught history here around asking about the literal implications of a ruleset. You may need to grow a thicker skin if you want to splash in those waters. That's neither fair to newcomers nor right, but pretending won't change the reality.

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