Inspired by this question, are questions that ask about a specific detail (like, for example, the color of a creature's blood) or specific incident (like how a specific action could occur) on topic when the question springs from a novel (or other work of fiction) that takes place in a role-playing game setting? Or should such questions be migrated to a different stack?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't the first time i see this kind of question closed. How is this any different from "Why are nethys masks black and white?" or "Why is elminster immortal?" type of questions? \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 14:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Here is a (closed) related question. Also asked here, and again here. (With thanks to @ShadowKras for pulling those together.) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras Actually those questions are better than the question being discussed here. As SSD's answer mentions, WH40k is a general setting used for a lot of different kinds of games, of which paper & pencil RPGs are merely a small subset. Forgotten Realms is very much a setting primarily intended for use by D&D (that it happens to have sold boatloads of books is merely a bonus), which makes it more of an RPG-centric setting than WH40k is. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ About boatloads of books: The fact that the Horus Heresy saga alone (WH40k) has more than 40 published novels should be a hint that we are being biased in allowing forgotten realms questions and not warhammer 40k questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ The fact is that both questions i asked have answers in novels (i could be wrong about elminster), not on setting books. We are (more often than not) excluding questions about a setting due to its unpopularity as a rpg setting. The question linked by SDD can actually be answered by the rpg setting books (tau blood are blue, period) but there are also non-rpg books that attempt to answer that same question by explaining why it is that color, and there are official artwork, even on rpg books, that display said blood in a different color (maybe by ignorance by the artist). \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe his question should be edited to ask what is the color of tau's blood, instead of asking about a specific character from a novel (which are mostly official sources of information about the setting) \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage out of curiosity, i checked on this website which authors got more books published: Dan Abnett (wh40k) sold more than Ed Greenwood and Paul S. Kemp (forgotten realms) combined. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:30
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras In the dark future there is only money! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:37

2 Answers 2


One thing to note in this particular case: WH40k is predominantly not an RPG setting, it's a model wargaming setting. The setting itself has since taken on a life of its own, where it has become an piece of IP independent of any particular expression thereof. The novels and (multiple) RPGs aren't even made by the same companies.

Consequently, the novels aren't even novels about an RPG setting, they're novels set in an independent setting, which happens to have RPGs set in it.

This is equivalent to getting questions about Star Wars novels here.

Only if the question is about RPGs or related to RPGs

The question that inspired this is about a setting that happens to have RPGs set in it, but is not an RPG setting. The novels have no particular relationship to RPGs, and nor does the question. The question is asking about a setting detail in a science-fiction novel.

As such, it is firmly off topic, just like a question about a character's words in Vector Prime would be off-topic. Fortunately, it's in the domain of Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange, so unlike many off-topic questions we get, it has a home in the network to go to.

If the question had been seeking information for using it in an RPG, that would have been on-topic (I hope nobody is going to go and make that question-laundering edit to the question now, though). Our minimum bar for “is it about RPGs?” isn't hard to clear. But it's merely a question about a plot detail in a novel unrelated to RPGs.

A development: off-topic confirmed

The asker has clarified that they're asking about armour painting and blood colour because they're thinking about how to paint their WH40k wargaming miniatures, for wargaming. They've been directed to Board & Card Games SE, where they're at risk of being shut down again because lore questions are marginal there (emphasis mine):

[…] if someone started asking questions about plot points that are best accessed through books, I might advise them to use the SciFi/Fantasy Stack Exchange instead. I think an analogous situation would be if someone asked questions about, say, making a custom table for board gaming. I think a lot of questions about its functionality and design would be on-topic here, but if they started asking what kind of glue to use for the joints there's probably a construction or DIY stack exchange better suited.

(Though being marginal, maybe it'll be fine there.)

This development confirms that the question about the character's words in the novel is solidly off topic here. Their question would be helped best by the setting-lore experts that populate Sci-Fi SE.

(I would do a migration right now, except that doing so in the middle of a discussion would be presumptuous. However, I'm concerned that in practical terms this discussion is now hindering the user getting expert help as soon as possible.)

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ While I trust your judgment, can you offer some outside support—perhaps by one of the gaming companies involved—that actually says Although our material nominally takes place in the same setting as this other material, our material is otherwise in no way connected with that other material except that the settings share the same name or something? Further, doesn't that kind of information (and the proof behind it) become an answer (albeit as a frame challenge) to the question posed? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 15:44
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan For what reason would "this has nothing to do with RPGs" be handled by posting an answer saying as much? That's not even a frame challenge. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 15:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener It offers, from an expert, insight into the RPG's setting which shares with the novels the name of the IP. Y'know, which is probably why the asker posed the question here in the first place. Having an answer that says The site can't answer questions like this because means having a ready link for future questions instead of explaining the whole thing again in comments or forcing the asker to glean the narrow reason for his question's hold from a broader question on Meta. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 15:49
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan But, why would we be interested in doing that? We're here to answer questions about RPGs, not answer questions that aren't about RPGs by explaining why they aren't about RPGs. Excluding those questions -- and not caring about giving that level of insight necessarily -- is a feature of our handling of off-topic questions, not a bug. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 15:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Because crossover material between RPGs and other media is sometimes in the site's wheelhouse? Because closing questions like these without a more detailed explanation makes the site seem unfriendly, especially to newcomers? Because I didn't know what d7's answer here explains and neither may the asker or another reader that has a similar detail-oriented question? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 15:58
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan There are many areas of knowledge that can be relevant to RPGs, but a long time ago in mid 2012 it was decided that we were only interested in handling questions that specifically engaged in RPG expertise. We found ourselves unable to be a one-stop shop for expertise in all things history, geography, politics, boats, finance, and novels, but we were being treated as that because hey, those things show up in RPGs, right? I agree it would've been helpful to explain why it was closed, which is why I left a comment providing my own stance \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ This kind of approach would exclude basically every question regarding warhammer 40k rpg lore. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:16
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Have you revisited the question inspiring this question since I edited it? Also, I'd like to point out that I am in no way encouraging questions like How can I build a WH40k battlesuit in real life? or What do I need to know about macroeconomics so I can build an RPG economy? but, instead, questions like If this RPG-related media thing happens or exists, what does the RPG say about it? If I made it sound as if I wanted more than that, I apologize for being unclear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yeah it sounded like you were advocating including any question unrelated to RPGs but related to fiction, and giving it a partial answer that mostly explains why we won't answer it, which was weird to me. We can totally facilitate what the RPG might have to say, because that's actually a question about an RPG. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Fair enough. In a similar vein, would a question like What other media is part of the canon for this specific role-playing game? be a decent clearinghouse question for information on large-scale IPs like Star Wars, Trek, and the aforementioned WH40K? (I mean, seriously, I was unaware of d7's point about the WH40Kverse being canonically different among publishers, being familiar with the 'verse only via the 90s comics, for instance.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Maybe — depends on the game and the voters. I chose not to act on this question, and I'd choose similarly for that one. For star wars, given the emergence of "Legends canon", the answer would probably start with "depends on what you consider canon". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras No, we have lots of those (though they're not all tagged [lore]). The difference is that they are asking about lore within the context of reading or playing the RPG(s). This question is about why a character in a novel said something, which is neither about an RPG, going to be used within an RPG, or came up in the course of RPG-playing. It's a textbook case of the dividing line between RPG.se and SciFi SE. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 17:33

If it fits into the category of [lore] question, then maybe.

We have both [lore] and [history-of-gaming] question categories, and tags, that if asked well are often acceptable questions. That said, there are a variety of [history-of-gaming] questions, and [lore] questions, that get closed due to not being well asked questions. I thus recommend that examining the question to see if it is well asked, like any other, be the first criteria used before seeing how well it fits into the [lore] or [history-of-gaming] class.

Is there an element of what's going on at the table in the question?

A further examination point would be to see if the question is being asked in aid of folding such literary/lore details into game play: while that's a more on topic question, there are some [lore] questions that do not necessarily get asked in a "help me with this at table issue" that are good questions.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know why this is downvoted because it's pretty simple and right. If you are asking a lore question about your RPG and it happens to get answered by something out of a related novel, great. If you're just asking a novel question, take it to SF&F or whatnot. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 17:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .