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Lately, I've been heavy into studying items in the PHB and XGE to try and understand them RAW. I'm not trying to make excuses, but being on the healing end of a long medical leave, I wanted to get back into D&D and return with a better understanding than when I left in hopes to improve the overall experience for the table. To add to this, I must confess having a bit of reading comprehension problems, that lead to many misunderstandings.

In my search, I've found this site as a reliable source to find answers to somewhat obscure or misunderstood concepts within the information given from Wizards of the Coast, and have noticed how much clearer my understanding on even unrelatable subjects within the books have been with every question I've asked or found asked.

However, and this is where the backstory ends, I've noticed that many of my questions about the limitations regarding RAW descriptions have resulted in my question being downvoted. Respecting the community, I've taken this into high consideration and have read the posts "how to ask questions" and increased my double checking in hopes to avoid this. Unfortunately, I'm still coming short.

Though I have a few ideas on why, such as my questions are off-brand to the site or my method of asking might seem strange, but I realize that trying to problem solve this on my own is breeding little results and so I'm asking the question here to gain a better understanding from the community.

  • Are my questions that off-brand to the site? if so where should I go?
  • Is there something I am missing in my questions or the reason for the site?
  • Are my questions just that childish?

Any help is welcome.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There's a big difference between a question being downvoted—which can be for any reason—and a question being put on hold—which must come with a reason. While a downvote could signal someone just not liking the question, a hold vote is folks wanting the question to be site-appropriate. I suggest this question focus on either downvotes or holds and another question posed about the other so both can be addressed at length. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 7 at 0:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I removed the closed aspect as my latest experience is about downvoting. I also want to give my method of asking about closed questions some more thought. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Apr 7 at 1:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can I suggest that you list links to some of your questions that raise the issue for you? As written a reader needs to click on your username, switch over to "main user," then sees that you've got 22 questions posted with no idea where to start looking for your problem. I think it'd be good if you made it easier for readers to follow your experience. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 7 at 1:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ You questions are not childish. I'd suggest removing that bullet since it is way out of context with the rest of your question (though I suspect that it may have come from your frustration of the results that you've been seeing). Asking questions in the SE format is as much art as science. I had to learn that by trial and error as I began to participate here. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Apr 7 at 16:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60: Well... maybe the OP's questions are getting downvoted specifically because they are not well redacted, as this one :/ \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Apr 9 at 16:40
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I've pulled up each of the questions you've posted that have gotten negative scores overall [at the time that I'm writing this post]. Those are

None of these are, in my personal opinion, terrible or even necessarily bad questions. However, all of them seem to have the same problem: it is very difficult to figure out what practical value the questions are meant to serve.

The precise reasons vary (and I'll iterate over each of them specifically so we don't need to generalize), but the essence of the problem is that Stack Exchange fancies itself not just to be a "help desk", so to speak, but also a repository of knowledge and findings. That's why (especially on the RPG.SE Stack) we put a lot of emphasis on editing outdated/obsolete questions in light of new information, or closing questions that we're not sure will have value beyond "am I reading the rules correctly". There have been multiple occasions (recently!) where we've gone back and downvoted highly upvoted/Accepted answers, either because there's something we think that was missed the first time around, or because new information is available that changes the accuracy of the answer.

Downvotes on a question are, to varying degrees, extensions of that policy: if users suspect that a question might not be useful, regardless of whether they strictly believe the question is "off topic" for the site, downvotes are often the expression of that opinion.

Can you enchant player characters' prosthetics permanently?

As the answer to this question demonstrates, there's really not much more to this question than "none of the books say you can do this; ask your DM". There's [at least] two versions of valuable questions that will merit a response of "ask your DM":

  • The Rules-As-Written are vague, confusing, or unclear, and "ask your DM" is the shorthand for the well-written explanation the answer gives to justify why the rules don't explicitly instruct you one way or the other how they should operate.
  • The question is trying to hash out a specific build or idea, and the solution to their issue depends on some kind of DM fiat or non-Rules-based solution that nonetheless solves a real problem.

This question doesn't really fit into either category.

What type of pike/spear is listed as it's own thing in the PHB?

This question saw quite a lot of editing, from reviewing the edit history. So in this particular case, it seems like the question probably got downvoted based on its original content, and didn't get reappraised because even after it got to a point where it theoretically represented your actual question, it then got closed for being unclear.

It's still not clear what the practical purpose of this question is, and if it's still pressing to you, I recommend you either open a Meta post for it or ask in chat.

Are Draconic Bloodline traits inherited or cultured and develloped?

The issue here is relatively straightforward: it asks "is it possible to gain class features without levels in that class?", and the answer is "No, you have to gain levels in that class". There's some essence of the question that's also about narrative justification, but there's just not much to be gained from it.

Can you create poisons/effects with a Herbalism Kit proficiency?

This question has the same problem: it asks "can an item be used to do something that nothing in the game says it can do?" Related to the first question: sure, "Ask your DM" is technically a valid answer to the question, it's not based on vagaries in the rules.

In particular, a better version of this question might have looked like this instead:

What ways are there to create Poisons?

That version of the question isn't necessarily perfect (I suspect it might get closed for being "too broad" by trigger-happy users) but it's at least a lot closer to being of practical use for other users: I imagine there are lots of campaigns where having access to the ability to produce poisons would be quite beneficial.

One last note on this question: another reason it might have been downvoted was due to lack of research. The Player's Handbook specifies Poisoner's Kit as one of the tools available for purchase in a normal campaign (pg. 154), and the Dungeon Master's Guide has rules for crafting poisons (pg. 258). Asking this kind of question, irrespective of the details (i.e. using an Herbalism Kit), and not explaining why the rules provided in those two books are insufficient for your needs is probably going to seem poorly researched.

What differences are there between spells and creating magical items?

This is a lot like the first question. The only thing I'll add here that wasn't mentioned before is that 5th Edition D&D removed a lot of stuff that created Permanent effects in the world. The Permanency spell from earlier editions is the obvious absence in this edition, but there's lots of other effects where either the ability to make something permanent has been removed; or the ability to make something permanent is extremely particular to the kind of spell being used—like, for example, using the spell Teleportation Circle to create a permanent circle that allows arrival at it.

As a result, questions of the effect "how can I make X permanent in 5th Edition" tend to raise eyebrows, because "making X permanent" is conspicuously something 5th Edition discouraged in a lot of spaces. So that could be an explanation for the downvotes.

How to improve these questions

The biggest thing for submitting a good question to this stack is asking yourself "what am I trying to do?" and focusing on that. Focus on the actual problem you're having, instead of hypothetical problems.

For most of your questions, I'm not sure they could have been salvaged. Again; they're not necessarily bad questions—for example, I could imagine the Dragonic Bloodline question being well received on a more forum-like site—but they don't have practical uses.

What I'm going to recommend instead, if you have questions where the goals are more esoteric or impractical, that you forgo submitting them as questions to the stack and instead just pop in chat and ask them. I promise that those kinds of questions are more on-topic than some discussions we have there...

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  • \$\begingroup\$ chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/11?m=46085648#46085648 \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Apr 7 at 2:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for those clarifications, I will do my best to formulate more situational questions in the future. For questions like the herbalism kit, draconic bloodline, and spells vs enchantments, they were more questions to understand parts of the descriptions that I did not get (such as why herbalism proficiency would only apply to half the plants in Herbology) moreso than a situational interpretation. That said, I must admit that I'm only working with the PHB and XGE and have not researched in other books or versions. I apologize for that. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Apr 7 at 3:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB Like I said, your questions weren't especially bad, the standards here are just higher than you might expect elsewhere. The downvotes aren't necessarily a "go away, you're being bad/annoying/whatever" response, however much they might feel like that sometimes. They're just a way of filtering questions that aren't going to be useful to other visitors. As long as for the most part you're trying to contribute positively in good faith, you're not hurting anyone. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Apr 7 at 4:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB Don't apologize for that; only working with those books is fine. I get the sense that you sometimes are wondering if there is some rule in other books about your situation, but there are really no secret rules as such outside of the PHB. What you find there or in errata to it are all the official "rules" except those related to specific content (ie: abilities of particular monsters, magic items, etc.). The developers do provide their official interpretations of rules from time to time through "sage advice" but those mostly deal with ambiguities with what's in the player's handbook. \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Olson Apr 15 at 18:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BenjaminOlson I do and there are. For instance, the PHB only has a handful of beasts listed as well as the mention of the artisan tools. It's in XGE that these tools are explained, Volo holds the key to Aasimars and other races, and the DMG has more beasts within it (though I'm still trying to figure out what animals give special leathers, such as hell hounds can make a cloak of fire resistance). So I'm left feeling that most of my answers are found in an exhert in another book. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Apr 16 at 8:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @VictorB Fair enough, though I'd call that optional content rather than rules, per se. Irregardless on the leathers point (and a lot of your questions) you have an enchantment/crafting question, and just understand that there are really no firm rules on those anywhere ever (except in the PHB on silvering weapons). So the answer to this and any other enchantment or crafting question will always be some variation of "ask the DM". \$\endgroup\$ – Benjamin Olson Apr 16 at 15:21
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I'll put my hand up as having downvoted a fair number of your questions, and generally not for the reasons provided by the other answer you've gotten to this question. While I can't speak for everyone, of course, I suspect I'm not the only person who downvoted for this reason.

Let's start with your most recent question, Can you create poisons/effects with a Herbalism Kit proficiency?. If you had asked that question, "can I create poisons with my herbalism kit proficiency", I wouldn't have downvoted it. That's not what happened, though. You gave an argument for why you think you should be able to create poisons, and then asked people to agree with you. I didn't downvote because I think this is a bad/useless/whatever question, I downvoted because I disagree with your argument.

Now, I'm not saying you can't/shouldn't ask your questions this way. However, when you give an argument in a question, you're making yourself liable to be downvoted by anyone who disagrees with that argument. And you seem to ask a lot of your questions in this format. There is, potentially, a separate issue to be discussed about why people disagree with your arguments, but I don't think this is a good place for that. I suggest you pop into RPG General Chat if you want to talk about it.

In any case, if you wanted to avoid getting downvotes on your questions, I'd recommend asking the question purely as a question, then presenting your argument for a particular answer as an answer. You may well get downvotes on the answer, of course, but at least you'll know where they're coming from - people disagreeing with that answer.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for taking the time to clarify. I didn't mean to sound opinionated in those questions, including my most recent one. Rather, I was inquiring more to understand the RAW and added context to avoid asking vague questions or give insight to my train of thought. Yes, I will admit that in my research before asking a question, I formulate an opinion on what it might be, but I've been trying to avoid applying those to my questions. I can understand that this method is only confusing the issue. As such, I'll work on boiling down the questions to shorter formats in the future. \$\endgroup\$ – Victor B Apr 7 at 4:05

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