I'm still new to the site and while I've found the community insanely helpful I'm unclear sometimes on what is and isn't allowed as a question.

Would it be appropriate to post a question detailing a specific part of our campaign (specifically a long-running puzzle) that went less than optimally and ask for feedback / ideas on how it could have been handled better?

On the one hand this is obviously quite specific to me and my players and our campaign. I'm looking for ideas of how this specific puzzle could have been handled better on my part to make it more fun for all.

On the other hand I expect it might be met with more general answers involving GM tips and puzzle tips and the like. I could use more generalized advice for planning future puzzles based on what I messed up this time.

I could focus the question on how to create and handle complicated puzzles, but that's already been asked before. I'm hoping to get insight from some of the minds in the community but that does, by default, make it specific to me. With that in mind I'm leaning that this probably isn't an appropriate topic to ask in a question. Am I right?

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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, you certainly asked this question very well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Feb 23, 2017 at 1:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Miniman Thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex
    Feb 23, 2017 at 1:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ With regards to your concerns about the question being too specific to you, you should take a look at the answers to this similar question, which say just about everything that needs to be said on that topic. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Feb 23, 2017 at 2:19

2 Answers 2


Doppelgreener's absolutely right that "looking for ideas" is a poor formulation, likely to be poorly met. I think they're also right in their third paragraph, that there's a formulation of your problem that could be met with great expertise.

"only one way to find out..."

I'll say one different thing: I don't view question closure as a stigma, or a punishment, or necessarily a sign that you're doing anything wrong. We don't have a perfect prescriptive guide to what will make a question on-topic or off-. We have lots of areas where we know things are definitely on-, and lots where we know things are definitely off-. But many possible questions lie in areas that haven't yet been crowd-adjudicated. When sincere querents bring well-posed questions in a grey area discussion starts, sometimes contrary views are expressed, and we all learn a bit more about the boundaries we want.

Those boundaries can shift over time. Sometimes those boundaries are clear to some but need more explication. It's (usually) in tackling question posts that those necessary discussions find their root.

The question you posed--less the problematic idea-generation formulation--isn't obviously off-topic. It's not a shopping question, it's not about a CRPG, it's not "I want a super-cool adventure, anyone got ideas?" So go ahead and post it. Hopefully you'll get some great answers. Possibly it'll get closed, with some elucidation as to why. Either way the Stack benefits, thanks to your contribution.


Where you're going wrong is in saying you're "looking for ideas".

RPG.SE doesn't do idea generation. Requests for ideas break our format when all answers are equally valid, and they get exactly what they ask for: they tend to get inundated with crap short answers from people shooting off a short suggestion they've never tried and which probably won't even solve any significant part of the problem because that technically fulfils your request; you did ask for ideas.

We're a Stack Exchange site; we focus on finding comprehensive practical solutions to real problems people face. Describe what happened, describe how it went wrong and what you can identify, tell us what specific, clear outcome you would have wanted out of it, and request of us comprehensive expert guidance on how you could have achieved that outcome for learning in the future. Your question should invite nothing less than complete and thorough solutions.

It might be closed as opinion-based or too broad (only one way to find out) but at least you'll be in scope for the format we target.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for weighing in! Does this mean I can't in the same question ask for "ideas" or "tips" or whatever word I use about how I as a GM can improve, beyond the bounds of the single instance? (ie, extrapolating from what went wrong this time to steer me in a better direction next time). I'm unclear if you're saying I can only (in theory) ask for specific advice on this specific puzzle, or if being a little more general is acceptable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Alex
    Feb 23, 2017 at 13:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Avoiding asking for "tips" is separate to whether you're specific or general. So let's deal with those separately. Please do be specific, but if you want to be "a little more general" we'll find out how that works out when you ask. (Don't artificially inflate the question to help others; look to help yourself and the advice we produce will help others.) As for asking for "tips" — avoid it because we're not interested in our site being host to 99 small useless speculative tips, we want complete solutions that have been successful for people in similar circumstances. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23, 2017 at 19:47

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