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Perhaps it's just the game designer in me, but for many of the questions asked here I almost automatically start thinking of homebrew solutions to whatever problem the asker is having. Would providing a short bit of homebrew rules be an acceptable "answer" to a question?

The clearest example is the recent question, "Is there a real use for the Medicine skill in D&D 5e?"

On the surface, the answer to this seems to be a simple "Nope, it's pretty useless." As soon as I read it, though, I started thinking about ways that Medicine could be useful, specifically a set of rules for using the Medicine skill to maximize hit dice re-gained during a rest.

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If, after well articulated research, you can reasonably suggest there's something missing for what's being sought in the originating system, and the querent doesn't explicitly forbid homebrew, you can answer with a "Your system doesn't support your request, but here is some homebrew I wrote, and here's how it played out in a game I ran."

That last bit is really important, by the way.

We require answers that are justified by good subjective and objective components (if any.) Discussing your homebrew in context in your experiences shows that you've tested your homebrew. Since your answer can stand alone without the homebrew, due your research into the system showing the absence of support, or the poor implementation of support, adding a "here's how I fixed this problem" is quite good.

We're not a good community for the testing or discussion of homebrew though.

As a note, if the querent explicitly requests potential homebrew, then you're on much safer ground, especially if you can point to similar imaginings and how they worked in other games.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The requirement for the homebrew to be tested sounds like a good one. Unfortunately since I don't get to play much, that rules out most homebrew I might make, but then again that's the point, isn't it. \$\endgroup\$ – AgentPaper Nov 12 '14 at 1:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ It really is. You could always get the homebrew critiqued on an appropriate forum and then present the revised homebrew with someone else's experiences. Or use Role-playing Games Chat to test it in a contrived scenario. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Nov 12 '14 at 1:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Role-playing Games Chat approves of this message. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Nov 12 '14 at 1:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 - what no one wants or needs is some rule you just made up in 10 seconds with no vetting as an answer to a question. "I used Perception as a seventh stat in 2e AD&D for 5 years and here's how it worked" is fine. "Hey I just thought of you replacing all d20s with d10s in D&D, that might work better, I haven't done it of course" is not. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Nov 12 '14 at 1:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, we have some old questions where everyone just 2¢'d the answers to death with whatever came off the top of their head. Not our finest work. That's definitely something we avoid now that we know better. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 12 '14 at 3:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Definitely agree. I had a feeling that the homebrew I was thinking of giving wouldn't be appropriate, but wasn't quite sure how. Good to have it made clear, and hopefully I'll start being able to play more and maybe have some actually useful homebrew to share. \$\endgroup\$ – AgentPaper Nov 12 '14 at 3:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Given this, do we really need the rules-as-written tag? Seems we could do better just by enforcing this policy. It would kill off ad hoc rules offered in response to rules questions, which is the main reason to ask for RAW, I think. \$\endgroup\$ – Bradd Szonye Dec 7 '14 at 11:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the idea of testing homebrew solutions, but such a short testing period would be skewed more by the luck of the dice than anything else. While a policy to insure this would be too strict for my liking, it might be worth reminding readers of 'basic' probability and statistics. "I gave the fighter a untyped +5 bonus to attack rolls at level 1, and it played out well!" /probably/ isn't useful if said character's player never rolled above a 5 the whole session, after all. \$\endgroup\$ – Arkhaic Jun 9 '15 at 5:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Arkhaic In the best of cases, the homebrew answer comes in the form of: "Oh, I've been handling this for months. Here's what I've been doing, here's how it's been working out this whole time. (Optionally: also, I tried these other two methods, but they didn't work so well.)" \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '15 at 0:05
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I'm going to add a different answer that differs slightly from Brian's.

Answering Game Questions With Homebrew

  1. Some game questions are asking for "Rules As Written" answers. Homebrew is not an answer to those questions. I mean, you can put forth a homebrew answer, just don't be surprised when it gets downvoted into oblivion.
  2. Some questions are asking about how their game system works. Answers are generally expected by them and others to be about the usual system, but following the guidance in How do we handle a desire to challenge the frame of a question? you can suggest your own tested solutions after clarifying how it works in the system, and that either there's not a solution or the solution is one you find poor for specific reasons. As Brian says, "We require answers that are justified by good subjective and objective components (if any.) Discussing your homebrew in context in your experiences shows that you've tested your homebrew. Since your answer can stand alone without the homebrew, do your research into the system showing the absence of support, or the poor implementation of support, adding a "here's how I fixed this problem" is quite good. This doesn't mean you can only suggest homebrew when there's not a RAW answer, but also where the RAW answer is suboptimal.
  3. Obviously if someone is asking for homebrew/house rules/alternatives, it's fine. "I'm playing AD&D 2e and feel like I need some kind of Perception mechanic but there's not one... How do you handle this?" That's legitimate, of course answers must conform to Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and not be something you just made up off the cuff.

Homebrew Questions

  1. Questions about vetting homebrew rules are acceptable inasmuch as they are tightly scoped. Remember the goal is "Good Subjective, Bad Subjective." What's the difference between asking a question about a new rule from a third party publisher and your own homebrew? Nothing, in nature. But the question has to be tightly scoped - complete explanation of the rule, and "have you done this or similar and what were its effects."
    For example, "I want to replace AC with damage resistance in 5e D&D because it seems more realistic. Here's the exact details:... Have you done this, and what are the pros, cons, and effects on your game?" This is legitimately answerable without speculation. Others have used official and/or unofficial rules to do this in various D&D flavors. Experience does not have to be 100% identical to qualify as Good Subjective - as every group and table is different, that's not possible. Of course, you can answer this badly and get downvotes ("Savage Worlds works kinda like that! It's fun."). But homebrew is legitimately on topic.

See Are "critique my home-brewed content" questions on topic? I've also added a tag to some other meta questions.

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YES! The more the better. The site is absolutely suffocating in BtB (by the book, aka RAW) rigidity that misses the entire point of roleplaying games and their use of GMs to make calls on the spot. Advice and thoughts are definitely something that it urgently needs more of. I wonder sometimes if some of the answerers have ever actually put the books down long enough to play a session.

Unless the poster specifies BtB, you should encourage out-of-the box thinking instead of parroting the same old party line which is by far the worst aspect of the site today.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you ignore the unjustified criticism of the site and its members, this answer reads as "YES! The more the better. Advice and thoughts are definitely something that the site urgently needs more of. Unless the poster specifies BtB, you should encourage out-of-the box thinking." Some justification for these statements would make this a much better answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Nov 19 '14 at 22:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is all well and good if the homebrew is tried and tested and known to actually solve the problem at hand \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Nov 19 '14 at 22:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I sympathise, I really do. I lament the "modern" perspective of Rules Uber Alles deeply. But this is why your answers are often poorly received: not every question is properly answerable with homebrew. If someone comes to us confused about how something is supposed to work, answering with homebrew is fundamentally not answering the question. To answer non-BtB you need some connective tissue in the answer between what they're asking and the off-book advice, usually by answering BtB to solve their basic confusion, and only then offering the homebrew/etc. as a superior alternative, explicitly. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 20 '14 at 1:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I find this hard to relate to as I've never seen an experienced GM who didn't make more on-the-spot decisions than they did book-based decisions. Homebrew is the default setting for all the GMs I've ever played with or talked to, so why should the default setting here BtB? Obviously, BtB answers are to some degree more objective but that objectivity is misleading as it's not something that can be applied in actual play very well. To give the BtB answer and not at least mention that the norm is to take that as a baseline rather than the be-all-and-end-all is a distortion, IMO. \$\endgroup\$ – Nagora Nov 20 '14 at 8:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ The world is wide and strange and much larger than we see from the comfort of our familiar rounds. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 20 '14 at 8:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie True, but I'm talking about the basis of the default assumptions here, not denying the existence of alternatives. I don't find the apparent assumptions realistic or representative of how RPGs are actually played by experienced gamers, nor how they intended to be played on the whole. If there's a GM there's almost always a "rule zero" yet it is widely ignored here, I feel. I think Brian's accepted answer is about as wrong as it could be but it does reflect a general theme of the site. When there is a GM, there are no "lacunae". That's the whole point. \$\endgroup\$ – Nagora Nov 20 '14 at 21:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ When assumptions about the community are contradicted by community behaviour, the onus is not on the community to conform to that one person's preconceptions. I'm saying we live in bubbles, which we mistake as representative of the whole but are not. Ironically, the other message in my inbox is about this very same issue, but from the opposite view that BtB is the supermajority's default. So, that's illuminating. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 20 '14 at 21:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I think it depends on the community. The on-line community is certainly dominated by BtB thinking; I don't believe that's representative of all gamers. People who ask questions on-line are often looking for an objective answer are somewhat self-selecting. What I'm arguing for here is that answers try to be more realistic and present the sort of things that a GM might actually come up with in play at a table. Or at least, be more accepting of that style because otherwise we're setting up expectations in newbies of how games are played which their GMs probably won't fulfil. \$\endgroup\$ – Nagora Nov 21 '14 at 7:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Regardless of generalisations about the wider RPGs community's habits, the Stack Exchange system can't and shouldn't support discussion and speculation about homebrew outside the guidelines presented by Brian above (which is awesomely supportive of tested homebrew, but rightly recognises that most GM improv relies on intimate understanding of the immediate context in which it's implemented, and so we can't help there). Dozens of forums do homebrew speculation well, and the Stack feels no need to duplicate existing function. We're about providing what forums can't do well. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Nov 21 '14 at 23:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ The type of question where BtB is going to be expected by voters are things like "How does X work?" Questions where off-book answers will be (are already often) well received are things like, "X is happening, how do I handle that?" Do you see the difference between those? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Nov 22 '14 at 1:01

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