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I'm sure this is a problem in other tags, but it seems to come up relatively often in 4e and I feel like most of the time we handle it well. However, today was an exception.

A few questions about mounts

Was asked and while there are some questions there that merit advice, but largely the question is seeking to understand the rules of the game.

Shortly after this question was posted, this answer came through. The poster of the answer doesn't seem to have played 4e, at all. Their answer contains the basic advice "stop worrying about the rules and do whatever seems right" which might be good advice in some systems, but is terrible advice for 4e. Specifically this paragraph was troubling:

A mount is a creature. Treat it like it. An enemy could attack it or attack the rider. Don´t really pay attention to the 4E RAW about it - prefer using commom sense instead. It will make a game more imagininative and fun over time, and you will get away from that "MMO-with-dice" that 4E feels like. If you like that feel, well, that´s ok, however. [sic]

This is nothing more than system bashing, and shows a clear lack of both expertise in the system and respect for the person asking the question. At best this is an unhelpful answer, at worse it's a clear non-answer.

However, when this was pointed out in the comments, and (assumably) in a flag, the moderator response was:

4e does not equal RAW, there are plenty of people with a variety of play style preferences that pick it up as their first rpg just because it's on the bookstore shelf. This answer is valid since the question does not say "raw rules only, no advice." Therefore this answer is not challenging the frame of the question. No more comment fighting about it please.

Do we really want inexpert answers being validated in this way? This question was asking for some advice, yes, but mostly it's a rules question. And unless you're going to provide both the rules, and the advice, it's not a complete answer. Add blatant system bashing to it and it should be deleted on sight. Leaving answers like this make this community poisonous to all play styles.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you disagree with an answer, isn't the response to downvote it with a comment explaining why, and then give what you feel is the correct answer. Surely it is no more complex than that? \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 1 '14 at 14:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Phil we shouldn't have moderators validating non-answers and ignoring legitimate 'not-an-answer' flags. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 1 '14 at 14:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ but it is an answer. The fact that it is incorrect is unimportant \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 1 '14 at 14:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's the mods' job to decide if flags are valid, as you should darn well know from doing it on another site. If we just accepted all flags, the system would just say "click to remove," wouldn't it? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Apr 1 '14 at 15:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle I'm confused, what's the problem with moderator flag handling? \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Apr 2 '14 at 10:34
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Downvote them. You're right, we don't want to validate answers giving poor advice, and that's why we have our downvote button. Use it liberally.

Ideally, if you can, provide a competing answer, but naturally understanding whether an answer is bad doesn't mean we also know the right answer.

As for whether the answer is valid: it is. The question is asking: "what's the rules for all this stuff?" and the answer is saying "stop fretting about the rules, just handle it like this." That's a valid way to respond to a question, and we've provided a lot of good answers around that format. So it's a valid answer to the question, and won't get removed as Not An Answer.

That said, whether it's a valid answer doesn't affect its quality level.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This. A million times this. I just don't understand why people have so much trouble accepting the fact that incorrect answers can be given and what to do if they are. The whole point of the site is that in these cases you down vote and provide an alternate, correct answer. Why should that not apply in this case? \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 1 '14 at 14:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I still contend that it's a non-answer. It doesn't address the rules at all, and the advice is borderline harmful. It should be downvoted into oblivion, but I think removal should be on the table. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 1 '14 at 14:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle yeah, the advice is borderline harmful, but it's still an attempt to answer the question. "stop fretting about that stuff" is a good answer when it's appropriate, and the fact it can be good and appropriate demonstrates it's a valid type of answer. just that here, in this instance of someone answering this way, it's terrible. but that's a matter of quality, which is resolved via voting. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Apr 1 '14 at 14:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I contend that for this particular answerer, this approach may well work for his group of players and others with a particular style of play. Sure, it's probably poor advice for the system as a whole, but the does not invalidate it as an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 1 '14 at 14:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess one supplementary question is whether we should be requiring anyone who offers this type of advice to be able to back it up with evidence of them having used it themselves \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 1 '14 at 15:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener I feel that the issue is "stop fretting about stuff" is generally useful, EXCEPT when it comes to 4e and how 4e is designed to be run. 4e is almost an exclusion case unto itself compared to the rest of D&D when it comes to the rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 1 '14 at 15:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith but that's a dangerous route to go down. 4e isn't the only system where this could be an issue, although I agree it is particularly the case for D&D itself. For those other systems and in general, who is it that should make the decision about whether "stop fretting about stuff" is an appropriate response? MY answer would be that that is what the voting system is for, and that it doesn't need any 'special attention' \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Apr 1 '14 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/6426/… says you and some other folks are wrong... \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Apr 1 '14 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Rules Zero and its implications, which I feel is a part of all of this, is NOT published in any of the 4e books as far as I can tell after searching through them. Previous editions had Rule Zero or something similar baked in but 4e does not. \$\endgroup\$ – Joshua Aslan Smith Apr 1 '14 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phil Generally agreeing here. In specific though, even the "back it up" standard is dangerous. We only apply it to recommendations, because they're poisonous to the site otherwise. We shouldn't be broadening that to help us delete answers we don't like on non-recommendation questions. That way lies madness that makes "Not an Answer" potentially apply to any answer and become meaningless as a flag. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '14 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JoshuaAslanSmith Rule Zero is numbered "zero" because it is definitionally a rule that always exists, before the first rule of a game is ever written or read. Some games embrace it and mention it explicitly, but it's always there in the human-social CPU that a game executes on. Getting all RAW-y about rule zero is one of the signs of the apocalypse, I believe. I think it's in John somewhere. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '14 at 16:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I'd agree with this assessment. The answer is "valid" (for sufficiently loose definitions of valid), but it's bad. Downvotes are the tool to deal with bad answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Tridus Apr 3 '14 at 12:45
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Well, this escalated quickly.

I'm the guy who started it, I guess, because I flagged the answer and made a few comments on it. And I did not flag it or comment on it because of "lack of system mastery," nor did I ask for deletion.

I agreed with the answer's points, but it had two fundamental problems which I thought made it a bad answer despite my agreement, and which I felt were imminently fixable: it was rude and it ignored part of the question.

First, the answer (and other comments made by the author, which are now gone) used non-useful anti-system language, saying that any system which didn't make "common sense" a core priority was inherently and objectively bad. It specifically used the "MMO" language which is historically associated with knee-jerk anti-4e diatribes that aren't based on any understanding of the system. I felt these were inappropriate to the site's behaviour policies, made the poster look less informed than he seemed to be, and obscured the good points the answer brought up.

Second, the answer deliberately avoided addressing a core part of the question. The question asked explicitly for certain 4e rulings, which the answer did not provide. That doesn't mean the answer should only have provided RAW --obviously the querent was asking for guidance too-- but that it clearly ignored a major part of the question, and that made it a poor answer.

After a quick back-and-forth in comments in which I realised the issues would not easily be solved through comment input, I flagged it because I thought a moderator might be better able to address the points. It seemed like the basic "don't bash systems, answer the whole question" issues which moderators deal with regularly.

enter image description here

I did not intend to call for deletion, nor to claim that RAW was the only acceptable kind of answer. I'm not sure where these ideas came from, but they did not willingly come from me. I am rather appalled that they have arisen at all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Well. Let´s make some things clear. 4E use tons of rules that are based on the MMO feel (the Power Mechanichs are the most proeminent) and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Im failing to see where my anwser was rude, and for me at least, the author was saying "I have some house rules, are they good?", since he cited the rules he was using and asked for feedback on them. You guys are focusing on the middle of the question, but look at the end of it too. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 10:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ThalesPereira I'm not saying it's right or wrong, good or bad, as a concept. I'm just saying that the "4e is an MMO" argument is most often associated with broad, ignorant anti-4e rants. The association has become poisonous and you didn't need to use that language to make your point. As for "look at the end of it," I am: I clearly acknowledge that your answer was addressing a major part of the question. My problem was that you also chose to dismiss a different, equally major part of the question, and while that's fine on forums, SE expects good answers to be independently complete. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 2 '14 at 11:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can't speak for others, but I never claimed that you shouldn't be giving the advice you gave. I only suggested that you could be taken more seriously by not using language associated with ignorant 4e-bashing, and that you should answer the rest of the question also (never instead of, I dunno where that came from). \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 2 '14 at 11:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn´t ignore the middle of the question. I invited the querent to think about it from another angle. I provided guindance. What is a complete anwser is relative. Yes, I didn´t enumerate every question that he asked and said something about it because that´s was not the point. The questions is "someone confuse on how to use flying mounts is having trouble, help." My anwser may not be really great, but as guindance, is complete. The real question is on the end - those "mini-questions" are just explanative of the problem. The querent don´t dominate english, so he needed that to explain himself \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 12:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough, I can see that. And again, I never thought your answer should be deleted. I like what advice you gave, I just thought it could be improved upon. I'm very sorry it got so out of hand. Drop by the Role-playing Games Chat some time and we'll commiserate about the weirdness that is 4e's mechanics-first philosophy. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 2 '14 at 12:06
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First, system mastery is not the end all be all of gaming. GM techniques span systems and gaming groups and many groups have loads of fun without "system mastery." System mastery is not a requirement for being an expert gamer. But that's not really relevant to the issue at hand, this question's title is disingenuous. It's about what playstyles are "allowed" to answer 4e questions; that an answer based on rulings-over-rules "is not in line with the querent's chosen system."

Many people play 4e as a RAW-fest, but not all do. As D&D is (was?) the leading brand in RPGs, it is often played by many people on the strength of it "being on the bookstore shelf" and people try to bring their own playstyles to it. That's been its boon and curse over the years, as people have used D&D to play everything from pure minis combat to high concept sci-fi games to historical accuracy games (to, apparently, "Finding Nemo" type games)... All those kinds of gamers are welcome here, regardless of how well they fit the majority opinion, "designer intent," or other presuppositions.

I will remind everyone about the long-standing question Can D&D Fourth Edition be played effectively in a non-gamist manner? Some folks here are basically saying "no, and non-gamist answers regarding 4e are invalid." That is not actually what people answered that question with, by and large. They largely said "well, it tends towards that, but you can do it differently." Let's all keep that in mind, that others can do things differently than we would.

The questioner did not clarify whether they wanted "a RAW answer" or "a GM advice answer," and given the statement of the question and its tagging, their intent was unclear. I posted a comment asking for that clarification, instead of assuming my own playstyle is the one associated with it. @JonathanHobbs says I pointed out the answer was challenging the frame of the question - actually the reverse, others claimed that and (incorrectly) pointed to the meta Q as some kind of "proof" that answers challenging the frame should be deleted (not a valid interpretation of that meta) - I disagreed, saying the answer does NOT clearly challenge frame and it only does if you make the "4e = RAW and that's the only playstyle" assumption.

Furthermore, the answer is legitimate by any and all of this site's rules and guidance. You may not like it or agree with it and that's what the voting system is for. You trot out the banner of "oh but it's poisonous to other playstyles," but basically you want this question removed so that its playstyle is silenced. That's unacceptable and will not be tolerated on this site. Propose a comment or an edit to the language you consider "bashing" if you would like. Could the answer have been stated better? Yes, sure. To be fair, it's a lot more coherent than the original question was, we get all types here.

One last piece of advice - be patient. The answerer has now replied here on this meta Q, stating his 4e experience and explaining some of what's going on, which has mollified some folks already. The questioner may also chime in given time. This is why we don't immediately delete things someone doesn't like. Instead of just rapidly escalating more and more - this has escalated from me declining a single flag to delete a not-so-great answer to comment wars and meta questions and shrieking about "abusive moderation" in chat in a couple quick hours - try to use the system. Vote. Comment on why you think something could be improved. Let people respond. The nuclear option is not always the best, and immediate escalation when one doesn't get one's way breeds conflict instead of a happy site. Give questioners and askers more than a couple minutes to refine their thoughts. Edit your previous comments to refine rather than turning them into a mini-chat. Give people the benefit of the doubt. We try to keep high quality here on the site but that doesn't mean things have to get perfect in 5 minutes or be mod-deleted. We err on the side of NOT mod-closing or mod-deleting things immediately (or at all), as that would really be abuse. The line can and should be wide.

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    \$\begingroup\$ No, but I would expect an answer about the rules to be informed by the rules rather then be "throw out the rule book" which is what this is. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 1 '14 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is only a rules wonk mindset that interprets this question as "only about the rules." From another point of view, the guy is throwing out 6 random mini-questions basically about how he can limit the superpower he sees with a character having a flying mount. A legitimate answer to that is "don't micromanage the rules about how fast a griffon can climb, use this approach instead." You know, it's real simple for the OP to clarify if they want pure rules or advice, how about you let them clarify their question instead of just pushing your agenda unremittingly? Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Apr 1 '14 at 15:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ You know Myx, you could afford the tiniest shred of professionalism in both your answers and your comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Lord_Gareth Apr 1 '14 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk if it's unclear shouldn't the question be closed? Does a question always have to specify they want RAW to get a RAW answer? What makes this question different from the dozens of 4e rules questions we get every week? \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 1 '14 at 17:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Most questions are open to a variety of answers. They should specify if they want the set of answers narrowed down to a specific cognitive set. This one doesn't. That doesn't make the question unclear, it makes it open to different viewpoints. My reading of the question is that it's not clearly a pure-rules question. I understand that your reading of it differs, and that's fine, and therefore a request for clarification. I decline to unilaterally close or delete it on those grounds however. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Apr 1 '14 at 17:18
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First of all. I´ve played 4E since birth, and all versions of D&D for a long, long time. If I don´t see a rule as "good", that doesn´t mean I don´t know the system "at all", as people were saying. My viewpoint is different. Not wrong, just different.

Im the author of the anwser and I'm really... surprised by all the grudge against that post. Ive played 4E for a good time, and I suppose that "Don´t liking 4E as-is" is a valid viewpoint. I don't enshirine 4E rules - I admit that some of them are good, and I can see that some of them are not. That question was not Raw and i suppose I can say that a rule of the system is bad. It´s my opinion, my advice. He asked for advice. Not for RAW.

It seens a crime proposing a variant rule for the system for some people. Im not Bashing 4E. 4E is a good system for some things, a bad system for others, and it goes into the same pitfall for all D&D games - mount rules sucks. I would say the same for 3.5.

My advice may seen "terrible" for some, but it worked for my group. It works for most non-gamist groups. My intent is to make his game FUN, not RAW-Viable, and that the point most people miss.

Sometimes books simply don´t work. This is to be an site were EXPERTS give advice. Just trowing rules at people without considering their implications is not what an RPG Expert does - it is what Rules Lawyers do. Im feeling really uneasy about all of that negative repercussion. My point was to be helpful, not to be "aligned with 4E people".

Also, my mother-language is not - as you can see - english. Im sorry if my words may seen a little off, but I´m trying my best.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is productive. Sorry for the combative tone of this particular post. I started my morning a bit frustrated and there are some ongoing frustrations with site governance that are playing out here too. The advice you gave is viable. But the reason I concluded that there wasn't any system mastery was because there wasn't clear evidence of it. That's a bad assumption on my part, and I apologize for it. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 1 '14 at 16:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Some advice for next time to help your answer be better received: explain the rules, and then explain why you don't think they work. Then explain your solution. How do we handle a desire to challenge the frame of a question? \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Apr 1 '14 at 16:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ To clarify, doing it in that suggested way isn't necessary or a rule here - it's just a method that has been found to naturally win hearts and votes. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '14 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle I just don´t want to figth over a stupid thing like rules for a game that someone else is rulling. I want to help. Sorry if it seemed that I was bashing 4E, it was not really the intent. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 1 '14 at 17:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thales Pereira, the problem I can see is that the question is a bit unclear on what it's asking for (RAW or advice), and your answer comes off as a bit system bashing and that you shouldn't use rules just common sense, which typically doesn't win arguments here unless if you give examples to why. \$\endgroup\$ – Ze Demon Pyro Apr 1 '14 at 20:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is not actually on the system bashing intent here. I just don´t understand how people can consider core rules so sacred. People tend to act like a horribly sin to not use RAW or saying "RAW is BAD". It´s like crying over for someone saying that "Java is Slow" on StackOverflow... \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 1 '14 at 21:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Specifically, comparing 4e to an MMO is historically language used by anti-4e propaganda that doesn't actually know what 4e is like. Using that language invites comparisons to that attitude, whether you agree with it or not. I've tried to make clear in my own answer here exactly what my original objections were, and they were not ideological. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 2 '14 at 1:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW That´s true, but it is also true that 4E tries to emulate an MMO. Anyone that played World of Warcraft or any WoW-Like MMO (Especially AION or TERA) can see the way the two look alike, in "feel". It´s not meant to be an offense - if you like it, you are free to go with it. That´s why I said that if he liked that, that was ok. This is a cultural problem, since here on Brazil that negative feedback because of that comparision wouldn´t happen. Here, 4E is called a WWD by some (WoW-With-Dice). That´s just a fact, not an offense, on our eyes. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 10:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ The point is that comparing 4e to an MMO has been used as an insult, a lot, by a lot of people. It has become a pejorative in English, and that now makes it impossible to use inoffensively. It's like people calling American Football "Hand Egg", because the ball is egg-shaped (not ball-shaped) and controlled with the hand (not the foot). In was invented to be an insult, so being factual doesn't make it less insulting. Same with "4e is an MMO". Not meaning to offend, with a term that has become inherently offensive, doesn't make it less insulting. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 2 '14 at 16:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ It´s a cultural issue, then. If people are getting insulted by having 4E compared they are overreacting. It IS like a MMO - the MAKER of the game said that. Saying "It´s not, stop bashing" makes no sense and is a plain lie. It´s like two children in a pool yelling at each other "Don´t spill water on me". Makes no sense getting upset because of this, IMHO. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 16:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your opinion is not humble here, you're actually becoming deliberately insulting by calling everyone childish. I speak as someone who really, really dislikes 4e. Still, I object to how you are speaking. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 2 '14 at 16:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I corrected myself. I meant no insults on that part. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 17:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ You are right that it is cultural. Please read the link that explains the word "pejorative". Pejoratives are specific to a language and culture. You don't get to tell people what words should mean in their culture. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 2 '14 at 17:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I know what they are. I speak a few different languages, so it´s a kinda commom problem to me having derogatory terms on a language that are OK in the other. I can understand the problem with american football and other terms like that when they are used in a pejorative context, however I fail to see that on my awnser, that was not on the intent to be pejorative. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 17:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, is not that being like an MMO is a bad thing. It's a good trait that helps some game-styles.There's nothing shamefull on that, so I fail to see how it can be offensive. I really like MMO's and there are places for games like them. I already said that I like and I am supportive to 4E. I really don´t understand how people didn't get the point still. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 17:09
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I put my mind on this overnight and starting to see something that is becoming clearer as I read more 4E questions here. That´s not an 4E bashing issue, that´s an issue of Bashing someone that seens to bash 4E. I never said that "4E is bad as a whole", never raised the flag "don´t use 4E". I was talking about 4E mount rules and that they suck, IMHO, and some people took that as system bashing.

4E have an MMO feel, and that is not a bad thing. Some people, me included, don´t like it, but I won´t be blind enough to say that 4E is trash. Some people like that feel, and for some games, I can have fun in it too. WoTC build that game on the wake of WoW, so is kinda obvious that they tried to appeal to that public. It was a marketing strategy. WoW is already D&D-ish in essence, but 4E put lots of MMO-Mechanichs (Powers, for start) on the table, making it possible to play games that have an MMO Feel (again, it is not a bad thing) on the table. Heck, I used 4E to play countless WoW Games, and it just works for that. It´s another feel, not classic D&D feel.

Saying that comparing MMO´s to 4E is "historically related to bashing 4E" is a poor excuse to what happened here. I was not - again - was not bashing 4E. It was even stated by WoTC that that was the whole point from the start. Look at what Collins said about 4E:

"As professional game designers, we look at all games for lessons. Certainly, the lessons we learn from online games are going to be the most obvious ones because they have a lot of people familiar with the sources, but there's also lessons about turn management from European board games, interface ideas from card games."

Emphasis mine.

Look at this artcile for the complete context., but keep in mind that I just wanted that quote from it. I don´t think that Andy did a bad work on 4E. As the 4E proposal, it´s good. Some people don´t like, but it does not mean that 4E is "trash".

If I was to bash 4E, I would start poiting another game to the questionner, but that was not the case.

So, people, when the designers say that a game is similar to a MMO in some way, STOP bashing people that agree with it. Please.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Good points. It's worth noting that on this site, it is vanishingly rare for anyone to use "MMO" and "4e" in the same paragraph without having the express purpose of spewing vitriol on the system and all who use it. These are not ideas which, in this site's experience, get used alongside intelligent useful 4e advice. I suspect that's one reason this got derailed so quickly, and other bits of your tone were picked up on and amplified by that context. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Apr 2 '14 at 11:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep. It took me some time to figure what´s really happening. Here, there are 4E-haters, and "4E-Haters-Haters", in a way :). \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Apr 2 '14 at 12:08

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