I'm looking to better understand how to best answer questions on homebrew content and what our policies surrounding it are.

Normally, I had thought that the Stack wanted either rules-based answers or play-tested answers for mechanical questions.

However, in this question on Ranged Divine Smite viability, I was concerned that the answers provided both by users and a Mod do not meet community standards for answers to a question on homebrew content.

  1. Do we require answers to questions on homebrew to be backed up by experience?
  2. If so, do the answers in the example meet that standard?
  3. If not, do we have any policies regarding what is acceptable support for an answer to a question on homebrew rules?

I'm not asking how to vote, but looking more on how to approach answering questions like this in the future as a user and to understand if they meet our expected standards.

My concern is that if we can answer a house-rule question with untested opinions and/or "try it yourself and see" is not helpful to the OP or the community.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Because there is a rule on how Divine Smite works. This question is asking what happens if that rule is broken. It's basically a house-rule question. THey know the rule, they want to change it but would like to understand what happens if they do. And I had thought house-rule questions like that needed experiential support like Purple Monkey said in their comment. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 '18 at 13:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Given how the question is worded "should we do this or that" I see it differently. So I've said what little I'll offer and let the stack/community take care of the rest. Certainly a question worth asking. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 22 '18 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question was spawned from a chat discussion starting here. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 22 '18 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. The experience I'm relying on is "house-rules I've used that implicate everyone don't give me balance problems, here are the sort of problems they have occasionally caused and how to identify/deal with them." But I'm probably not communicating that clearly, given this post =) \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 22 '18 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 Gotcha - although balance across PCs is different than balance across the game (DM encounters). \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 '18 at 19:55
  1. Do we require answers to questions on homebrew to be backed up by experience?

We do.

  • So the top answer that cites experience - good.
  • The low answer that says "this is all opinion" - bad. Feel free and downvote it.
  • Nitsua's answer does some analysis in that it won't unbalance the party in an all-paladin party (valid analysis) and then says "well, I guess you'll have to try it" - true but not super helpful. I gave it neither an upvote or a downvote.

I am unsure what you are asking, however, other than "do answers get posted that don't meet our quality standards" (yes, obviously) and "what do I do about them" (vote your conscience).

  • \$\begingroup\$ i'm trying to understand when/how to answer questions like this. As I said in my last sentence, I had thought we wanted either rules-based or play-tested answers and two of these answers do not seem to fall into those categories and the thought that I could answer questions with "Well, I dunno. Here is an example of when it might not matter, so go ahead and try it and see" seems incredibly unhelpful. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 '18 at 13:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I had thought we wanted either rules-based or play-tested answers That is not the exclusive set of answers, as I see it. There is room for answers from the PoV of experienced DM's who approach the question from a RAF (Rules As Fun) perspective, particularly if (as I see it) the question is a bit open ended. As with the above comment, the question has elements of "opinion based" in it. (I agree with you that Icyfire's answer stands out as much better for numerous reasons) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 22 '18 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast The question is on assessing a potential house-rule, no? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 '18 at 13:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tried to clarify my question, does that help? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 '18 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch That's one way to look at it, but in context, since all players are of the same class and the asker is stating "I know how it normally works, you have to use spiritual weapon" and then saying "should we" I would have approached it differently as an answer. The experience based answer is attracting more up votes, which strikes me as the stack working as advertised, while some others are helpful, but not as helpful. Stack works, it seems to me. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 22 '18 at 13:41

The linked consensus is more limited than you are interpreting

The specific question that inspired this meta-question is "I want to homebrew something". The meta consensus linked about "only suggest homebrew if you can cite experience", by my reading at least, is more specifically "only suggest homebrew as a solution to a general problem if you've tried it". In other words, if the question was "One of my players wants to make a Ranged Paladin, but losing Smite effects seems harsh. What should I do?" then an answer saying "homebrew a way to make ranged smites" would need experience playing with their homebrew (Icyfire would still have an excellent answer to that question). Other answers might have mentioned ways to accomplish something hopefully similar-enough without homebrew, maybe a combination of feats that allows making melee attacks while staying out of range.

Basically, if a question asks "I'm trying to homebrew [exactly this]" then there are valid answers other than "I've tried [exactly that] and it (worked / didn't work)". Experiences with homebrew that's only similar, or analysis showing how the homebrew is/is not balanced against official content are also useful. In other words I think the problem with the low-voted answer is more "gave very narrow and specific recommendations without citing even slightly relevant experiences or similar official situations" while the middle answers are in the "here are some challenges you might face, and here are some ways to deal with that".

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    \$\begingroup\$ SO it's okay to give wide and general recommendations without experience to support it? I understand if this comes down to a personal voting decision, but the house-rule meta does seem to suggest that there is a higher standard. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 '18 at 15:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch what I'm trying to say is, the meta consensus of "Only talk about homebrew if you've literally used that homebrew" is only applicable when independently solving a problem with homebrew. If the question is about homebrew, then answers involving homebrew should only be held to normal site standards (e.g. comparing to similar situations) while answers citing direct experience would be a "higher level" more similar to citing official rulings. I'm not saying "if a question asks homebrew everything becomes a good answer". \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari May 22 '18 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does this make the original question more of a "Is this balanced" type thing? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 '18 at 15:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be important to remember that homebrew and house rules aren’t the same thing. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 22 '18 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch The original question is "would it be alright", which includes concerns like "is it likely to upset other players", but most of the answers seem to have taken it as "is this balanced". The low-voted answer might have been more appropriate if the question was instead "how could I implement this". \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari May 22 '18 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Whicih brings up the question on the homebrew meta question as not appropriate. That seems like a houserule idea and not a homebrew? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 22 '18 at 16:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I indeed was unaware, thank you for noticing. I don't think it affects my opinion (basically, I would hold house-rule answers to identical standards as homebrew answers), but I might be able to improve the language I used in my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari May 22 '18 at 16:06

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