Recently, a user posted a question asking for a specific user's house rules. This question was promptly closed as off-topic, and I feel like the community made the right decision, but I can't put my finger on why.

Looking at our What topics can I ask about here page, the question seems to fall squarely within the description of an on-topic question for this site: It's about role-playing games, and requires the attention of an expert; And it's definitely about "RPG rules or mechanics" as well as "Techniques for running or playing RPGs." The page does list a few reasons why a question might not be appropriate, but the only one that might apply is about potentially becoming obsolete, and that one seems a bit of a stretch; KRyan is well-established as a GM, and their list of house rules is therefore unlikely to change much.

Our What types of questions should I avoid asking page doesn't seem to have any relevant guidance, either: The question is reasonably-scoped, isn't an invitation to discussion, has a single concrete answer... I can't find anything there that suggests this question should be closed.

We would have closed this question as 'Too Localised' back in the day, but that close reason doesn't exist any more precisely because it was too wishy-washy and subjective - so presumably we must have a more concrete one. Perhaps I'm just not making an obvious connection between what the help pages say and the features of this question?

Why was this question closed? I do suspect it should have been, but we need to know why, because if it's a reason that isn't explicitly stated on our help pages, those help pages need to be amended.


2 Answers 2


The question is off-topic because it's a very bad fit for the Stack Exchange's resources (crowds of experts) and mechanics (voting-based evaluation and sorting).

The Stack Exchange is founded on the wisdom of crowds: multiple people give answers based on their expertise in the subject, then the voting of other experts lifts up good answers and pushes down poor ones.

What we have here is a question in which only one individual has expertise, so RPG.SE's collection of experts isn't useful. And nobody except that one individual has experience to say whether it's a good or bad answer, so RPG.SE's evaluation-and-sorting process doesn't come into play either.

Having established that, it's crucial to recognise that the Stack Exchange is only interested in doing what it can do well. There's no need to become a one-stop-shop, no desire to replace other online resources, and no obligation to include everything related to the subject of RPGs. KRyan's house rules would make a great blog post, or a thread on a traditional forum.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Devil's advocacy: Couldn't you apply this same reasoning to questions only answerable by contacting the developers of games? There's been a few of those. Off the top of my head, rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/30997/… and rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/26868/…, for example. Where do we draw the line between a question only one person can answer and evaluate, and a question only one person can answer by social media proxy and which everyone votes for because they're a definitive authority? \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 3:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe Anyone can contact the developers, anyone can do research on developer statements, the same way anyone can research a book or, well, the web and forums and public statements and twitter. Anyone can also, in context, establish what is and isn't nonsense, what contradicts other statements and is questionable or invalid, and so on. Everyone can judge a well-written useful answer. However: only KRyan can ever answer the question, only KRyan can ever evaluate its accuracy (or the tiny number of people at his tables). It's a social poll ("what your house rules?") with only one invitee. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 4:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ The fact it's also just social curiosity which doesn't resolve any genuine problem (except "I don't know this one dude's house rules") is also relevant. So the internet gets to learn KRyan's house rules - so what? What's so important about them? KRyan's a great writer and all, but his house rules were made for his circumstances and preferences, and have no inherent relevance to anything else. Why not your house rules? Why not mine? I don't think it's useful to the 'net or solving anything to share mine exactly, but I'd blog about them if it seemed worthwhile. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 4:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Good rebuttal. It's relevant, so I recommend you edit it into the answer. Incidentally, +1. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 7:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Or I guess you could post a new answer with that reasoning. Or @BESW could edit in into this one. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe At this point I think I'll just be lazy and leave those comments as is. They make sense left there in context and meta doesn't have the same pressure as main to move important content out of comments - discussions in comments can stick around. Thanks for the recommendations though. ;) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 5:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Fair point. I'll accept this answer as-is, then. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 23:34

For my part, I found the question... kind of uncomfortable, for reasons I cannot quite articulate? I think it may in part be that I am not interested in inviting questions or criticisms of my houserules (even though I’ll happily volunteer individual cases where I use a given houserule if it is relevant, since that establishes that I have actually tried what I recommend), and I especially don’t feel like answering every “well why not this rule?” which I might even use and have forgot to include.

In any event, as the only person who could have answered the question, even if it had stayed open I wasn’t planning to actually answer it. I don’t have a singular set of rules written down, since I use different rules for different games. There are definitely plenty of commonalities, but even there, they’re not written down; they’re just well-known among those I play with.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for sharing your perspective. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 5:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ But, dammit, I still can't find your house rules for flight! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 18:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I suspect sarcasm, but since those actually are written up neatly, here you go. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Convey tone? On the Internet? Inconceivable! (It actually wasn't sarcastic at all. Bookmarked and thank you.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 18:11

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