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We're getting a steady drip of D&D 5e questions that boil down to asking to confirm a CR calculation and reassure the OP that they've followed the DMG's monster-homebrewing instructions properly. So far these are them:

All of these feel like the same question, but they're not technically duplicates because they're different circumstances. Do we really want to keep seeing iterations of basically the same question for the lifetime of D&D 5e?

Related are questions that haven't tried to calculate a CR yet and just ask us to do it:

Is there a problem here? If so, what; and is there a solution? Do we need a canonical question to close such questions as duplicates of?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can this be boiled down to "Do we want 'confirm my findings?' questions", or is it more nuanced than that? \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Feb 2 '16 at 20:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ My first instinct is to create a generic CR finding tool (enter base CR, number of creatures, etc.), creating a generic version of that question with an answer pointing there, and then marking others as duplicates of it, so that there's only one question representing all of them, but that would be Tool Rec :/ \$\endgroup\$ – Smurfton Feb 2 '16 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Tritium21 I'd hesitate to broaden it to that without actually looking at a list of questions that are that general. This seems to be an issue that's happening somewhat alarmingly a lot in 5e at the moment, so that's the concrete case I have in mind. Besides, handling it for 5e might give us useful practical solutions that we could apply more broadly, should the issue be brought up later about the broader question base. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 2 '16 at 20:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Smurfton If we were to have a canonical question for these, answers would be written as usual and compete to be the best/accepted. I expect that the result would be an answer basically saying "no really, it's not a science, you just follow the instructions and then playtest it a lot", but it would also be valid to answer with “here's a tool”. (Tools can be recommended in answers; we just don't take Qs requesting recommendations.) Though given that it's not a science, I doubt a tool would actually solve their disbelief of the DMG's results. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 2 '16 at 20:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Having not actually read those questions yet, I thought that they were under the impression that they calculated wrong, not disbelieving the DMG, sorry. \$\endgroup\$ – Smurfton Feb 2 '16 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Smurfton I think it's a mix of thinking they've made an error and disbelief that it's not a rigid science, actually. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 2 '16 at 20:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Worth mentioning is that we have plenty of questions that boil down to the same answer. We aren't marking questions where the answer is "Use your words" as duplicates either. \$\endgroup\$ – Smurfton Feb 2 '16 at 20:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Good question, does SO have any policy on "check my work" questions? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Feb 2 '16 at 20:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ At a bare minimum I'd love a [cr-calculation] tag applied that I could then ignore. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Feb 2 '16 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Smurfton That's right, having the same answer isn't enough for two questions to be considered duplicates. That's why I'm bringing this here as an exception to be (maybe) handled differently, if needed, rather than just closing them all as duplicates myself. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 2 '16 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ahriman We do get a bunch of those, true. But they tend to be about different rules or rules combinations, making them less repetitive. Those are kinda low-value questions, but they're valid still. I guess the thing I'm seeing here is the same “am I doing it right?” question being asked about the same rules, just with some different numbers making them not-duplicates. That makes me wonder if they require exceptional handling. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 2 '16 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm trying to get better information on the types of questions we want asked. It seems to me that CR could attract bad answers that are primarily opinion based because many custom monsters are unique and no one else would have experience. Are they on the good or bad side of opinion based? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Feb 5 '16 at 20:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov So far the answers appear to be on the good side, at least marginally. (I haven't done a thorough review, but neither have they jumped out at me as low-quality.) Generally they seem to explain how first, since correcting people on what the DMG's monster design philosophy is seems pretty straightforward (teaching to fish), and then give custom advice that demonstrates the process (while also giving a fish). \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 5 '16 at 21:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ If that's the general case, I don't see reason to prohibit such questions. A lot of questions hinge on a general misunderstanding or lack of understanding of the rules, but there never seems to be issue explaining the rules in any given answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Feb 6 '16 at 0:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov The question is: do we want to be explaining this forever? Do we expect to be explaining this forever? If so, can we do something to prevent needing to re-answer this question every time it comes up with different numbers? (These aren't rhetorical, but show the crux of the issue that I see.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 6 '16 at 1:29
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TL;DR: 5E is still new, this might be an anomaly, lets watch it for now before we do anything.

It may be too early to judge

5E is not a terribly old game right now, so while we may have a wealth of similar, but not identical questions, it may simply be the newness of the system compared to the 45 year history of gaming that predates this site. We are a first-line solution for people with questions for possibly the first time in D&D's long run.

We are seeing issues that are usually solved in isolation, before a community instinct for the correct answers has really formed. I believe that as time goes on, we will see these kinds of questions less.

That said, this is something we should keep an eye on in case it does turn into a real problem. At that point we can do something along the lines of creating a generalized monster CR question, and close new questions as duplicates of that... or come up with a better solution. For now, we should just watch.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Given how the actual guidance in the book is to do a first run with numbers, and then tweak it a bit, this topic will actually be more useful in time, not less, as more DM's try it out and discover various quirks and things which improve getting the CR into the right zone. A larger body of "expertise" should in time evolve via the tried and true trial and error method. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 5 '16 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast The community instinct for if to tweak, how to tweak, and by how much to tweak, is what will develop over time. Should that happen, generalized guidance should actually be articulable in a single post. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Feb 5 '16 at 15:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree with (1) as the final repository, since the assignment of CR begins to get a bit more squishy as monsters get more and more special abilities and CR increases. It's not as hard for simpler monsters. But I do agree that it will likely take a small number of core posts/Q&A's in the end as that "sense" develops. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 5 '16 at 15:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, the trouble is that the more special/high the monster gets and the squishier the calculation becomes, the more our answers become subjective anyway - "No good way to tell, I'd call it an 11" would signify questions that aren't scoped enough for the site. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Feb 8 '16 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk My take on that side of it is that experience in doing such is an OK response to something subjective, not that subjective is somehow "leper unclean." Per good subjective/bad subjective distinction, "I have done this and here's why it's an 11" strikes me as the kind of back it up approach we'd prefer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Feb 8 '16 at 17:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast That's the idea, yeah. What we will have to watch for is people not doing that and still getting generally upvoted. That would indicate a problem with the question type—that the community as a whole has given up on expecting them to be well answered, and started treating them as not properly answerable. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 13 '16 at 19:50

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