Can an oven and melting be used to further alter an existing die's biases or balance? was closed as off topic. Is this area really off topic for our site? If it isn't, can this question be reopened?

I don't think it is off topic. Dice are a medium used in pretty much every tabletop role-playing game, which means that things that involve dice at least have some analogous connection to tabletop games, on a fundamental level. Being able to change the primary medium of agency between players and the rules by which they gauge their success could have serious ramifications as to the success or failure of a role playing game in general.

Thus, As one of the two actors in a role-playing game, the first being the player through their character, the second being the dice which determine whether the actions of the player succeed or fail; Loaded dice have a direct implication on the standards of play and the success of a role-playing game in the long term.

The question itself was closed because it was perceived as off-topic, but the help center directly states that "Tools and equipment used while playing table-top RPGs (including running them online)" and "Matters which are specific to table-top pen and paper RPGs" with specific, identifiable answers are on-topic questions.

Similar questions such as The Saltwater Float and Does Microwaving a die affect its balance are questions similar to this question but were not closed. Both deal with , , , and methods that could be used to identify cheaters which could have a negative outcome on a non-electronically hosted role-playing game.

In the case of the latter of the above two un-closed questions, the primary answer in question goes into depth and even shows instances of dice melted that could be used to identify cheating.

Since these things all have to do with role playing games, with the direct implication that someone using a pair of dice affected in such a way would be subverting the table and intentionally altering the outcome of rolls to their advantage, we owe it to ourselves to investigate just in case the knowledge becomes useful at some later date.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think some contention on this issue might come from that “RPG expertise” is part of our guidelines for real-world research but there's different stances for what “RPG expertise” means. To some, it naturally entails familiarity with the tools we use, so the physical properties of dice & altering them are topical. To others it enropes a different overlapping set of skills & knowledge. E.G. if someone sees “RPG expertise” as being about execution & design of rules (which is valid) then dice are outside RPG expertise to this theoretical individual. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ (from the question) Why does changing the liquid to hydrogen peroxide make the question more on topic? \$\endgroup\$
    – Icyfire
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 5:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Because the question ties in to the ease of testing between Galium(an expensive liquid metal that isn't very common) and Hydrogen peroxide(A household disinfectant that is very, very common and cheap). If testing with H2O+ MgSO4 to determine a dies balance is on-topic, attempting the same test with H2O2 should be as well. Also Galium is really hard to see through and harder to acquire. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 5:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's not a valid question edit. (It's been rolled back now.) That's using the information from the answer to ask a new question, which isn't done with an edit, but with posting a new question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 5:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ And it's not the case that “if question A is on topic then similar question B must be”, because, as a former moderator pointed out, “At the end of the day, it's about how you frame your question. We certainly have questions about [thing that may or may not be about RPGs], but [on topic questions] exist within our jargon and our sphere of expertise…” \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 6:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ How would you suggest framing it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 6:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sandwich With context indicating a practical RPG-related problem that you are facing, per the help center. If there is none beyond “I saw that other question and I had this idea I want people to science for me”, then there is no practical RPG situation you're currently facing and it's off topic. (I've expanded this out into an answer, now submitted.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 7:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great meta! From the answers and, particularly, the vote-breakdowns on the answers it seems clear this is a boundary area that is benefiting from some exploration =) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 15:40

7 Answers 7


It depends on whether it's about RPGs or not

Questions here must be about RPGs. That's the site topic, and it's a hard requirement for questions.

That goes especially — not less — for questions about things that can be about RPGs or not about RPGs, depending on the context of the problem behind the question. Things like dice are RPG tools, but not all dice are RPG tools, nor are all questions about dice RPG questions.

Most of the time, if there's no reason to doubt a question's topicality, it will do fine on the site. It's mostly an honour system.

But when a question about one of these “RPG adjacent” topics demonstrates that its problem is nothing about RPGs and is just posted here because… we're usually helpful? It gets shut down.

(It gets shut down even more firmly if there's some sense that it's trying to get past our topic requirements by rules-lawyering our own rules or something. That's just taking advantage of our benefit of the doubt. I don't think you're doing that! But I've seen it attempted before, and the community didn't react kindly.)

Learning about / making loaded dice in general is not an RPG topic

That's what happened with the oven-dice question and with the gallium float question. They showed a distinct and noticeable lack of RPG context, and were shut down.

These questions are shoehorning themselves into our topic without actually having any RPG content to their problem. You've said right here that your goal is to learn more about loaded dice and how to make them. There's no gaming group, larger goal, campaign, GMing technique, cheating player, etc. involved in these questions. They're just looking to learn more about loaded dice — a subject that's its own topic that exists independently of RPGs, and that separateness isn't being mitigated in the questions by any clear-and-present connection to RPGs.

Contrast this with the two questions that they were inspired by (they're not the same):

  • Is the Saltwater Float represented in this question a good way to test for loaded dice?

    This is a question asking if a dice-testing method that's been talked about in the RPG community is actually practically useful for RPG players to test their RPG dice with. That's automatically miles more RPG content than the gallium float question, which has no background in RPG discussion and no apparent practical application to RPGs specifically — it is, as you say, just motivated by a desire to learn more about testing dice.

    Worse, it requires expertise that cannot be expected to be inherent to RPG experience. While saltwater floats, by virtue of the method being discussed within the broader RPG community means that it's obvious that RPG community members will have practical experience with it, a gallium (or other float) has no precedent in the RPG community, and therefore there's no reason to believe that RPG experience would be relevant to being able to answer the question. (In fact, it turned out that material science is what was needed to answer that question.)

    Even if it luckily turns out that some user here can answer an non-RPG question based on their non-RPG expertise, that's insufficient — we also need to expect that our community of voters are sufficiently expert in the answer to vote knowledgeably on the answer.

  • Does microwaving a die significantly alter its balance?

    This one has slightly less obvious RPG context, but it gets that benefit of the doubt mentioned at the beginning of this post. It cites a “a rumor online a long time ago” — readers will presume that, since the question is being brought here, that rumour was in the context of RPGs or within the RPG community, and therefore RPGers are particularly likely to have been exposed to the rumour and need it examined.

    It's more borderline than the original saltwater float question, because it's only a very thin and implied connection to RPGs, but it was lucky and didn't get looked at too hard at the time. (Ironically, all these questions are under the microscope now because of the attention brought to them.) As a sense of how borderline it is, we have one mod who's inclined to close it; one who's inclined to reopen it; and another who's right on the fence and wouldn't object to it being open, but also wouldn't object to it being closed. It's very borderline. But as long as it flew under the radar, it didn't get looked at too closely and it wasn't important to get it “right”.

So the questions that these are being modelled on are inherently different: while the earlier questions were rooted in RPG-related discussions out there in the RPG-playing community, which gave them RPG-related context enough to have demonstrable or presumed RPG topicality, these new questions aren't rooted that way. They're just derived from the other questions themselves, just hypothetical and untested idea extensions, with no origin in actual ideas rooted in the wider RPG community.

We've been here many times before

This debate on where to draw the line isn't new. The flawed idea that if one question about a thing isn't off topic then all questions about that thing must be on topic isn't new, but is still no less flawed.

We used to allow campaign research questions, until we realised that allowing them turned the site into “Everything Stack Exchange”, which was untenable (and at the time, if left uncorrected, could have resulted in the site being terminated). So we stopped allowing campaign research questions unless it was about a particular RPG setting. We brought it back into the basic site scope of “RPGs”.

For another example, we field a lot of questions about interpersonal conflicts and group dynamics. Tonnes of them. We consider those questions on topic. But that doesn't meant that suddenly every possible question about interpersonal conflict is on topic, not by a long shot! These questions are only on topic because they're about group dynamics that RPG playing groups run into and need to solve in order to play RPGs effectively. As a former moderator put it so well:

Yes, depending on what you want.

If you want a question situated in "how did you get your groups to choose a leader?" than RPG Experts can answer that.

If you want a question situated in "how does the cognitive theory of nudging provide a way to hint towards a group leader" welllll... We're probably not the best bet.

At the end of the day, it's about how you frame your question. We certainly have questions about RPG groups and the problems they face, but they exist within our jargon and our sphere of expertise without any sort of well-controlled trials or studies.

If someone comes to us and asks something about group dynamics that requires deeper psychological expertise than what can be expected of RPGers' just learning things for practical game-playing purposes, then it's going to be off topic. And it will still be off topic if the asker insists that it must be allowed because we allowed other questions about how people behave in groups.

If someone comes to us and asks a group dynamics question that has zero RPG content, then it's definitely off topic, and pointing at our existing on-topic group dynamics questions is a non-starter.

As another mod put it in response to that post:

if it's a general human interaction question no, if it's specific to RPG scope yes.

Non-RPG topics are only on topic here if they have RPG aspects inherent to the question/problem. General questions/problems about non-RPG topics don't make the cut.

Our topic page clarifies our scope, it doesn't expand it past “RPGs”

It's possible to read our topic page as saying that things like dice are on topic inherently, so that anything about dice is on topic. It even says “In general, if you have a question which covers: […] Tools and equipment used while playing table-top RPGs”.

“Dice are tools used in RPGs,” someone might think, “so any question about dice is on topic. It says so.”

That's one way to read the topic page, but it won't help avoid having questions closed. It's not the reading the help pages were written under.

Ages ago, we were tasked with defining what a Q&A site “about RPGs” meant for what questions we would answer. As part of that we asked ourselves What kind of questions can I ask here?

From that conversation, we explored the boundaries of “RPGs”, as a topic, for our purposes, to clarify what that topic covered. In doing so, we looked for what it already covered, and the plain reading of our site topic — RPGs — continues to be the guiding light for what is on topic. We've since had many other conversations refining our understanding of “what is RPGs”, but none have expanded our site scope beyond what Stack Exchange gave us this site to cover: roleplaying games.

So what we didn't do was decide that our site would be about RPGs plus things that overlapped with and went beyond the edge of “RPGs”. When our help pages list off things that can be asked about, those aren't there to expand our site's topic.

Put visually, our site's topic doesn't look like this:

A bubble diagram with RPGs in the middle and the seven other topics mentioned in our help page as separate bubbles overlapping and expanding beyond the middle RPG bubble

Rather, that list in our help page exists to reassure people that all things inside the RPG topic are on-topic, even if it's not RPG rules — yes, even their niche RPG interest that maybe they've been told elsewhere isn't “real” roleplaying. People regularly mistake RPG.se for being only about rules questions, or only about tabletop RPGs, or only about D&D, or only about face-to-face games, etc., etc. We've had conversations where we needed to explain that, yes really, LARPs count, and so does RPG-assisting software, and yes, non-rules RPG campaign setting questions are on topic and don't need to be migrated to Science Fiction & Fantasy. (Those are all assumptions about the site I've seen semi-regular users state, and have had to personally intervene to prevent them from chasing off a new asker!)

Our site's topic looks like this:

a bubble diagram: just one bubble labelled “RPGs”, with the sub-topics from the site help page scattered within its boundary

Our topic page exists to affirm the scope of RPGs for those who fear our topic is too special-purpse and narrow and doubt whether their RPG question fits here. It's not to expand our site's scope beyond the boundaries of RPGs.

Site scope must exist, and be enforced

Fundamentally, we have to have scope boundaries. We play games of imagination that model all of reality and some parts of unreality though — everything is potentially related to RPGs. We must draw some lines that allow us to curate questions and not turn RPG.se into a mushy pile of questions about everything anyone can think of.

We can't be Everything Stack Exchange. We are mandated to be RPG Stack Exchange, and to draw lines. Sometimes that means a well-meaning question just isn't enough about RPGs and will get closed, even if there are other similar questions.

Every question is different in myriad subtle ways, so every question is judged on its own merits. There's no riding the coattails of other questions to get the “on topic” blessing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 I think this one comes closest to capturing my feeling on why the particular questions that instigated this, while close, are off-topic. As I mentioned elsewhere I see an important difference between "I need to load some dice for my game on Friday, and all the things I've looked up about drilling and shaving and filling won't work but I've got an oven!?" and "can I use an oven to load my dice?" The first is about RPGs in a way that the second, seeming to stem from pure curiosity directed toward a crowd who might have had the same thought, isn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Same. The original couple are basically "please verify these widespread RPG rumours about whether these things do what people say they do." That's useful to us and RPG-relevant. The single science question that instigated this debate is not so much. I'm happy to say some of these should be open and considered on topic, others are not on topic. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 16:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm surprised that I haven't seen your typical "If an RPG expert can give you a better answer than someone else" on-topic definition in here. granted, i did only skim it, so it might have eluded me. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 19:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @inthemanual That's somewhat deliberate. It's not actually the definition, just a useful and short rule of thumb to help guide people towards considering on-topic-ness in the right light. Treating it like the definition can be misleading. This answer goes past any rule of thumb straight to the actual definition process that founded the site. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 19:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice pictures/diagrams. I wonder if it might not be best to move the pictures up to the top, or near the top. Your call, just an idea on presentation/organization. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 14:58

(I'm posting this separately because I don't want to tie votes on topicality (i.e. my first answer) to votes on the problems with this question in particular)

Your question is problematic, though

There's two reasons. The first is that it is rather overbroad, and in particular is poorly written. The answer to your question is trivially 'yes', but what you really want to know is 'and how' and there's like a bunch of different things you want to know how to do there.

The other problem is that it reeks of XY problem stuff/lack of research. Neither microwaving nor cooking is how you make loaded dice. You're doing this wrong for no discernable reason without any indication that you even understand how to do it right, and that can irritate people who are knowledgeable about the subject you are inquiring about, as well as meaning that we aren't really sure what you want since it's clear you want to do this wrong for some reason but it's not clear why. This makes your question unclear.

Really, though, there's a bigger, albeit unofficial, problem with your question. You are asking answerers to do a lot of work, but you aren't showing very much work in your question. I see you've put a 200 rep bounty on the linked answer to the other question, so I don't think you intend to do this, but when you post a question that's asking for some pretty serious stuff to be done, it helps people react a lot better if you demonstrate a general familiarity with the subject matter as well as some specific leads in the question. Something like "I'm aware that X, but I nonetheless am interested here only in Y, because Z" as well as "so far, I have found example and example and... but they don't answer the question for me because Reasons". Doing this makes it clear that you are invested in the question and taking it seriously, which makes potential answerers feel better about you and your question, and thus more likely to answer it and treat it well.

Potential answerers that get upset at your question are supposed to just downvote it, but downvoting doesn't feel powerful unless it puts a question to 0 or negative votes. As a result, people are going to look for any excuse at all to VTC or flag or otherwise shut down questions they don't like, even if the reasons involved wouldn't be considered by them for a question they did like. Rather than combatting closures in these cases, it's better to avoid the problem entirely by making your question better liked by people.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well that's not necessarily true, there are many kinds of loaded dice. For example there are dice where the sides are shaved to be uneven that can land on a particular result, dice that have been hollowed out with one of the faces replaced to alter the game balance, dice with a metal galium-like core that melt when held in hands and tend towards a specific face, dice that have air bubbles inside can tend towards specific faces as well, though this is more likely due to the manufacturing process instead of actual loading. \$\endgroup\$
    – Sandwich
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 4:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Sandwich I've never seen one with a gallium core, though that would be pretty neat. The filling-based variable load ones I've seen have ALL used paraffin. Even the ones I 3d printed I filled with a pariffin-based mixture. My guess is that that's because the outside of all the variable-load ones I've seen are polymer like regular dice so a gallium fill would be extremely heavy and thus noticeable. Not sure what in the answer you are responding to, though-- including overview details about loaded dice could definitely help with the 'image problem' the question has, if that's what you're ask \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 6:30

No, these questions are not on topic.

While dice are indeed used in RPGs, RPG expertise has nothing to do with answering these questions. While some RPG experts might also have die-making/materials science expertise, that is irrelevant - we have all kinds of other expertise but those domains belong to other places.

If the saltwater float can (with difficulty) be used to determine a dies balance, would a more dense liquid such as galium be better at doing so?

Can an oven and melting be used to further alter an existing die's biases or balance?

None of the reasoning in the answers to these questions leverages RPG expertise in any way. Therefore, they are off topic.

Those previous questions were tolerated as barely on topic. Now that we're getting a raft of similar questions, it's time to take action.

The reasoning for this is basic "what belongs on a given SE". We already covered this in Are campaign research questions on topic, part two?. To cut and paste from that answer,

We are not the first ones going down this path.

Game Development.SE had this problem a while ago. Game Development is a very wide topic, and as such, ended up with questions on a lot of very different topics: animation, art, programming, physics, networking, web development, mathematics, sound, and so on.

In summary, their problem was this: A whole lot of topics which could be asked elsewhere, and many questions which should, but all these topics genuinely relate to Game Development! How do we decide what's on topic and what isn't!?

Our problem is this (seem familiar?): Topics like history, geography, boat speeds - many of which can be asked elsewhere, and many questions which should, but all these topics genuinely relate to RPGs! How do we decide what's on topic and what isn't!?

Game Development.SE's solution

The biggest question for them was about which programming questions are off topic and which aren't, and they discussed that and came to a pretty decent conclusion. Likewise our main problem areas seem to be history, geography, and other topics which are just asking about the state of the world at a certain point in time.

I can get the best wording by directly quoting Game Development.SE's FAQ, where it's specific to programming:

General programming questions more likely belong on Stack Overflow instead of here. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself …

Would a professional game developer give me a better/different/more specific answer to this question than other programmers?

If yes, then feel free to ask it here. For more discussion on that topic, see this question on our meta site.

(Note: the "this question" link is the discussion I linked at the beginning of this section)

Our solution, from learning from Game Development.SE

Questions asking about a general real-world topic such as history, geography or economics might more likely belong on another Stack Exchange site (e.g. History) than here. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself …

Would an RPG expert give me a better/different/more specific answer to this question than a Historian, Geographer, etc?

If yes, then feel free to ask it here.

This is a directly analogous situation. The question is "about" dice and dice are "used in" RPGs but the question has nothing to do with RPG expertise and a RPG gamer will not give a better answer than a modeler, chemist, et al. Therefore it isn't on topic for our community, because we rely on applying RPG expertise to problems.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Framing and apparent purpose can totally make a borderline question into a clearly on- (or off-) topic one, and vice versa. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 2:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Nope. Questions don't have to be about a specific RPG to be on-topic; tool questions are okay and dice questions are questions about the most common tool in RPGing. See the help center for our current list of what makes something on-topic, which currently includes tools explicitly rather than only by association with actually running games. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 3:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ If an on-topic question requires that answer must leverage RPG knowledge, then that should be a requirement included in the help center article. \$\endgroup\$
    – Conduit
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 3:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer That's not correct. To the contrary, the help center does say explicitly that tools are on-topic only by association with RPGs: “Tools and equipment used while playing table-top RPGs…”. Presumably the tool in question need not be in use at that exact moment in an RPG, but the RPG-ness is necessary. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 8:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Dice are a tool used in playing table-top RPGs, RPG-ness appears to be met. No? Point taken in your other comment about a dog eating a die, but not this one. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie hmm, that seems to be different from what it says, and what our policy is. Unless you mean only questions about RPG tools are ok? That is, questions about dice, gm screens, dice-holding bags, larp swords, minis, papercraft, character sheets, fantasy mapping software, etc are okay (because they are RPG tools) while questions about rotary saws, pachinko machines, spanners, etc are not on topic (at least, not by being about such things) because those aren't RPG tools. That's what I was saying, though, and you seem to disagree... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Only that RPG scope is inherent to our topicality considerations. For example, asking about casino dice used in casino games with no evident connection to RPGs is off topic, despite dice being an RPG tool. Asking about the best metals from which to lathe dice from would be very borderline-lean-off-topic. Asking about a tricky part working on a dissertation on the mathematical packing functions of d20s would be firmly off topic. In short, dice being an RPG tool isn't an unsecured backdoor to smuggle OT questions through. (qv. campaign research Qs.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener /cc \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 14:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Unless we're deciding they're on topic, in which case dice being an RPG tool doesn't mean we're "smuggling off topic questions through" via back door, we're just asking a topical question. Altering dice right now looks to me like a grey area we're deciding on, and I haven't been convinced yet by any appeals to "but it's obviously off topic by our principles" — because those principles don't obviously say this stuff is off topic. In fact, the principle you mentioned earlier says it is on topic, or at least, deciding it is would be reasonable & not contradict that principle. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Yes, we could decide to give them a blanket OK; so far I am only pushing back against the circular argument that all dice questions should be on-topic because all dice questions are on-topic. :) I'm neither advocating for these Qs being obviously off-topic, just rejecting the "but dice = on topic" reasoning. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Cool. To me it's fuzzy & I'm still trying to make up my own mind, and at the end of the day I'm feeling like this is going to not have an objectively correct answer, but instead just a community decision made based on popular subjective vote with people voting by what their gut tells them, and in this situation that vote would be valid whichever way it went. I am OK with that happening. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppel As am I. I feel like these are borderline Qs, which inherently leads to a fuzzy-logic decision rather than clear rule-based judgement. I think the "further oven experiments" question has wandered too far from the site topic, but the microwaved die Q is grounded in an RPG origin enough to be borderline-probably-OK. For the same reason, I'm concerned about readings of our site topic that are blank-cheque broad; it eliminates good judgements on borderlines. (Or, in practice, just sets us up for a big reversal, like on campaign research). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie A dividing line I can see is that our original two dice questions are basically applied skepticism (a la Skeptics) to widespread established RPG rumours. But that one was "someone bake some dice for me for science please." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppel That's about how I see it. Similarly if someone asked about doing card sleight of hand: is it about fudging initiative as a Savage Worlds GM? Okay, weird and borderline but might be okay. But if it's just "no, teach me magic tricks; cards are RPG tools so it's on topic" then I'd say no. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comment removed now that you have updated your reply, and I put my thoughts into an answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 3:51

They are if you are dealing with the RPG issue involved: cheating.

I think you have an X-Y problem going on here. The problem with loaded, or badly balanced, dice is that they can (but not necessarily in the latter case) lead to some non-trivially bad at-the-table experience if someone is not relying on RNG but is instead using a loaded or badly balanced dice on purpose to achieve something at the table.

That has at-the-table ramifications that can get ugly. I have seen this IRL, and I threw a guy off of my table for it. There were RL issues that followed and a friendship more or less destroyed. (Mid 80's).

The science is interesting, sure, but for RPG purposes, the Problem To Solve is either cheating, or one player always getting that high roll when everyone else gets the broader distribution.

I'd suggest that you re-frame the question along those lines.


These questions are fine

Dice are rpg tools, even if there are other uses for them as well. Questions about the workings of dice are at least as on-topic as questions about the workings of RPG-assisting software, and we tolerate those even when they don't pertain to a specific game in progress.

Like the help center says, "Tools and equipment used while playing table-top RPGs (including running them online)" is part of our scope. Questions about them are as much on-topic as questions about "A specific problem with playing or running a table-top RPG", because these tools are a part of the gestalt idea of RPG expertise that we have. We allow questions about Scabbard, maptool, etc, and we should certainly continue allowing questions about dice as well.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ After a couple of comments with mxy, I think the Gaming issue is the cheating involved, and how to detect it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 2:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast There doen't need to be a gaming issue, though. The gaming issue is dice. Dice are a tool. We use dice. Anything that's about dice is ipso facto on topic, because talking about RPG paraphenalia is on topic even when it has nothing to do with an RPG. The help center gives "Tools and equipment used while playing table-top RPGs (including running them online);" as a subset of things that makes things on-topic. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 3:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Not everything about dice is ipso facto on topic — not everything about RPGs is on topic! It still has to have RPG relevance, and fit our topic guidelines. For example, “Are standard polyhedral dice sets bad for a dog's digestion? Should I take my dog to the vet?” is not on topic here. Given one counter-example, the statement that all dice questions are on topic here is disproven. Hence, they must pass a higher bar than “it's about dice.” A basic rule of thumb is that it has to be within our RPG topic (the raison d'être of the site), so not “even nothing to do with RPGs”. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 8:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie: I think the answer phrases it better than the comment: "even when they don't pertain to a specific game in progress". \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 8:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSided I'm not sure that the polyhedral die digestion question is actually off-topic. You might get better answers from a different community (e.g. vets) but I imaging RPGers as a group have a good deal of experience dealing with people and animals accidentally ingesting their polyhedral dice. Medical knowledge may be more relevant, but I bet you more RPGers have had dogs eat d20s than vets have had dogs in with d20s in their stomach. I think probably there's no difference between a d20 and any other small lump of plastic, but I don't actually know that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie It's true that not all dice questions are on-topic, though. For example, we no longer handle recommendation questions, so a question like 'what kind of dice should I get as a present?" would of course be off topic. Dice questions are subject to the same sort of restrictions as, say, Fate Core questions. I don't think that really needs mentioning, here, but if you do I can add it. That's what was meant by "as much on topic as", though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Adding on TDW's commentary: we have absolutely no doubts Fate Core is on topic. I can even ask the properties of the book itself (e.g. see this). However, it's definitely off topic to ask if the Fate Core book is toxic when my dog eats it, right? That's a Pets question, or more accurately “why are you asking people on the internet, this is urgent, call the vet.” So if our intuition is dice are a topical object, and understanding them and how loaded dice work is topical, that's fine with questions about dogs eating them being well off topic. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ (OTOH, in saying that -- toxicity of dice is absolutely not something I'm interested in us dealing with. That requires real-life understanding of health issues. That's not a subject within our purview, that's for Parenting or Medical Sciences or Pets or the doctor or hospital.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 9:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Yeah, health issues currently happening are kinda a special case. If somebody was worried about having a dog because what if it eats their dice when they drop them, though, I would feel entirely confident as an RPGer saying that's not something that needs worrying about; just don't leave the dice on the ground and pick them up when you drop them. But yeah, don't post a stack exchange question for a potential medical emergency, please >.<;;; \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 10:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ The standard delineation of what's on topic on SE sites has always been "would an expert in X give a better answer?" In this case the answer is no, it has nothing to do with RPG expertise in any way. You may as well ask "how many RPG books do I need to stack up to reach my top shelf." Just as with our campaign research questions, the yardstick is not "is this used in a RPG," it's "is this actually about a RPG". I guess no one is reading the link in my answer, I'll go cut and paste more in. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk We aren't uneducated, we just disagree with you. I think RPG experts are the right people to ask about RPG tool questions, even when they don't directly pertain to an RPG. It's not like campaign research, because it's not about something that might be useful for an RPG but is otherwise unconnected but instead about something not used in an RPG that builds off the same experience. RPG history questions are a better analogy. Your book pile question is not at all off-topic, it's just ignoramic, unclear, and when clarified would be trivial. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 22:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk A 'good question' version of your book pile question is "how much shelf space do I need for a complete set of official D&D 3.5 books in English, excluding Dragon and Dungeon magazines?", which we are absolutely the right place to ask. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Yes. That's on topic because context matters. A book pile question where the context is instead “no, I'm trying to reach my cat” has a context that makes it off topic here. Context matters for topicality at the edges of our site scope. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 7:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Yes, but we aren't talking about the edge of our site scope here. We're talking about stuff that's smack dab in the middle. There are ways for questions about this stuff to be not okay, but it's really not a edge-topicality situation. I think the point about expertise is a good one. RPG expertise does reasonably prepare us to be able to answer well questions about RPG tools, so those questions are generally ok. They improve site quality and our community is prepared to handle them. I'll try to write an essay on that when I have some more motivation. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 7:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's not extending the diagram, I agree. But there are areas where the only bubbles covering it are 'RPG-related' and 'RPG-tools'. That is, it's not about any RPG (i.e. individual game or game system), but is RPG-related. An edge case, in my mind, would be where a question is on the edge of being about RPG-tools v.s. random stuff. Like a question about playing cards that isn't off-topic, b.c. saved by context. Cards aren't really RPG-tools, not inherently like polyhedral dice are. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 22:29

No, those are not RPG questions.

While the effect of those loaded dice (or learning how to detect them) does apply to RPGs, the posted question and similar ones are more about manipulation of materials and how to recognize.

The WHY you are wanting to learn more about it is relevant, but these are HOW questions that belong more in materials science or something else that is directly related.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I had initially voted to reopen. My apologies as I've thought about this more and agree it's off-topic. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Gaming yes, RPG, not necessarily. But this question was not about detecting cheating - it was about how to cheat. I may be wrong on the final paragraph, but I think the prior 2 are correct. I can delete that last bit if that's what's bothering folks. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ And if dice are on the table, then questions about pencils, computers, etc. are all valid as well. This needs to be directly related (how to identify cheaters/loaded dice) to be relevant to RPG.SE. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, just tossing it out there. (Not sure why this is attracting downvotes, it's a PoV). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast heh, no worries. But yeah, I saw your point on the final paragraph and it really wasn't necessary for my answer. That was pure opinion that I think clouded the first two paragraphs. I can also be a pretty literal guy and expanding RPG to include questions on specific tools that are used with it and are really unrelated to roleplaying can be hard for me. I may (or may not) come around, but unless there is a direct impact question to an RPG, then those questions should probably go to exchanges that are directly related to it. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 15:34

https://crafts.stackexchange.com/ might be a better fit for this question.

This site is watched by RPG experts, and "how to properly cheat at dice" is not something that we expect is in their skillset. It's not something we expect they would enjoy answering. Some of them might actually be offended by the question.

The nice folks on crafts, on the other hand, might know a lot about the proper use of tools for softening plastic, the best plastics to use to get mild deformity, et cetera.

https://lifehacks.stackexchange.com/ could also work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ilmari Karonen has a well-received answer (+69/-0) on the Saltwater Float question linked, and Icyfire has an even better answer (+160/-0) on the Die Microwaving question. Both have more than 5k rep and are undeniably RPG experts that enjoyed giving exemplary answers to those questions, so this explanation should take those into account before declaring the entire subject to be off-topic and potentially offensive. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 1:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TuggyNE Both those are qualitatively different questions from the later ones. The former is about a tool RPGers have been using for RPG purposes and asking if/how it works; the latter is a question about the veracity of an RPGing myth/rumour. Both of those are already only borderline on-topic though. The questions following on from them are qualitatively different: they're no longer grounded in RPGs — they're only grounded in extrapolations of the previous questions. If the first two were borderline, the later ones are well past the border stones. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 2:42

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