Can we get a clarified difference between and World Building SE. I personally feel that they're probably different in scope.

The reason I'm asking this, is I've asked a couple of questions (really it was the same one clarified) trying to get help in the process that comes with readying oneself for an off the rails chronicle and having a "living world", but both times someone has basically said "There's an entire site for world building".

Now much like Unix SE (which overlaps with all 3 of the original SE sites and, Ubuntu SE) there is definitely overlap. But I do believe we can distinguish between questions that are ok here, and questions that belong there, by better defining "world building" and what it means in the context of the site(s).

So here's what I think the difference is (should I make this an answer?)

World Building in the context of the SE site, meaning that site is for, users who are attempting to create a universe. Universes like this include Star Wars, Game of Thrones, World of Darkness, Dungeons and Dragons. They could be the authors of fiction, video games, movies, etc. That site is more dedicated to people who are creating the "world's" we play in.

World Building in the context of this site is defined as populating the world of an existing universe. In role playing games worlds are only partially populated, there are usually some known denizens and locations, but the rest is up to the GM. For us questiosn about world building should be restricted to things specifically about populating existing universes. In some games I suspect this is more open, for example I wouldn't be surprised if some games allowed you to create a planet with variations on things like gravity. Said planet must still be within the existing universe though.

Am I on spot? if so could we perhaps clarify the tag?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This might be worth a read before anyone writes an answer meta.worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/a/215/9 \$\endgroup\$
    – Mourdos
    Oct 8, 2014 at 13:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You ask if you should make that an answer: if you want to propose an actionable division along with asking for clarification, it's probably worth keeping that separate in its own answer so we can vote on it separately from the question. If you just want your understanding clarified and that's what the question's about, your present understanding belongs as part of the question. (I'll leave you to work out which one it is based on your intent here.) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8, 2014 at 14:01

2 Answers 2


So rule #1 is that no SE needs to care what some other SE considers on topic. It's either on topic for you or it's off topic for you. If it's off topic - maybe it's on topic on another SE, maybe it's not, it's not directly relevant except as a purely helpful "maybe try place X" suggestion after a close. The complaint "But then it's not on topic on any SE" is not relevant to closing - "sorry, let them eat forum" - and therefore neither is "It is on topic on another SE." Something is not off topic here because some new SE has chosen to include it, but it is off topic here if it's purely about that other thing and only tangential to gaming.

If a question is sufficiently related to RPGs, it's on topic here. We try to be somewhat generous about that and sometimes frankly err on the side of being too inclusive (making fake parchment, making fantasy swears). We've drawn a line at times (historical research, because "well I can game in the real world so any real world history question is on topic right? Wrong."). See the on-topic tag here on meta for existing rulings. Other things get knocked off organically (non-sleepy snacks).

Things can be on topic in 2 places, ask those where you want to get answers from. For example the "Christian reaction to RPGs" question is posted both here and Christianity.SE, which is fine as it's on topic in both places. Some of it is also a matter of degree, not of black letter law. If you plan on having 20 questions fretting over all kinds of aspects of your fictional world - people here will get a little tired of it and you'll start pulling answers like "Just make it up, windbag." worldbuilding.se might be a better choice because by definition that kind of minutia is not just on topic but is kinda the entire point of that stack. Just like if you started asking 20 questions about "what do Methodists think about RPGs? How about Episcopalians?" you'd probably be better served on the side of the line you're focusing on.

A worldbuilding question is on topic here if it has tangible relation to roleplaying. If it's just fictional world creation - "what history sounds cool" - I don't think it's on topic. If it has to do with aspects of a world that are going to be used in a game, interacted with by RPG characters, etc., then that is something where a RPG-driven answer will be more specifically on point than a fictional answer.

To directly respond to a point in the question, on-topic here is NOT a function of whether it's development of some world some other person has sold you as opposed to a world you are creating. Both are on topic. For rules as well as setting, this is not "crap WotC wants to sell you SE," homebrew is completely on topic.


So, first, to get this out of the way, the comment you brought up says:

There is an entire Stack Exchange devoted to worldbuilding; methinks that this question is far too broad to try to answer here.

The tag got along splendidly for three years before World Building Stack Exchange arrived; the fact the topic now has its own site doesn't make questions about it too broad. Mind you, they can still be too broad like any other question, and the commenter could have meant that in the ordinary way that you're asking too big a question.

Now then. The line between when to ask here or there can be drawn pretty naturally based on business as usual:

RPG.SE is for questions about playing RPGs. We focus on an application of world building to the RPG context, like physics is applied mathematics. We have needs different to those of general world builders: we build worlds for people to interact with in specific ways, we need to leave room for player agency, and there's no point in us building stuff the players won't interact with. Borrowing from our guideline on real world topics, RPG experts are often going to give you a better, different, or more specific answer. If they will, and you want those answers, ask here.

When you take a look through our open world building questions, almost all of them are totally at home here in the applied context. Some exist in a grey area (like How do you customise swearing to a setting? and Incorporating smell, taste, and weather underwater), but as you'll see from those questions, RPG experts have still provided better, different, and more specific answers for the RPG context that are more helpful to us RPG players or GMs than the answers we'd get at world building.

If you're in a grey area where you're not sure where your question belongs, work it out for yourself based on the kinds of answers you want to receive.


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