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I recently saw a question tagged about World of Darkness/Mage the Ascension and commented on answer that they didn't provide any citational support from the rules.

They did add some in, but then I started looking at other questions with these systems and it seems like very few answers have rules support for them.

Solutions are proposed and accepted, but nothing is actually supported by citing rules from the game.

I'm not familiar with these systems, so I'm unsure if there is a reason why these answers are so different from other system answers.

If this is an issue, and these answers do need the same type of support we require for other systems(but if they don't, I'd really like to know why), what should we do to help improve the existing and future answers for these systems?

Examples:

A larger question here may be (and maybe this needs to be asked separately) if our objective question citation requirements are system-dependent.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm a little at a loss at how to answer your question. The entries as listed do cite the disciplines and sphere ranks required to achieve the effects desired. What other rules support are you looking for? \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Dec 12 '19 at 3:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, those all seem to have citations... #2 doesn't cite rules, but it's drawing from personal experience instead, and also indirectly references rules anyways. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 12 '19 at 8:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jadasc I see the references to disciplines/spheres, but no citations to where it says what those disciplines/spheres do. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 12 '19 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wonder if this question is a symptom of D&D-centricism that some of our users now and again lament. I think that is a part of what you are wrestling with as you reviewed those Q&A's. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 12 '19 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast It very well might be, which is why I was asking because while I'm unfamiliar with this system, I am familiar with our citation expectations. But ultimately, this is a question of do we require clear citations of rules when referencing them or not. And if not, why? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 12 '19 at 13:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ But looking at other non-D&D questions, the citations continue to be light. Maybe the citation-heavy D&D questions are influencing me. But still goes back to why don't we require the same for non D&D questions. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 12 '19 at 13:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Do you suppose it's because the D&D community has a need for that kind of rigor that other gameplay bodies do not? \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Dec 12 '19 at 13:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jadasc That's what I"m now trying to figure out :) The citation requirements we have I thought were general and not just for D&D...but maybe i'm wrong? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 12 '19 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Some of us who answer D&D questions may tend to overcite, or apply citation overkill, due to the ease of using the on line resource that game family has. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 12 '19 at 21:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Can you please state concisely what actual problem you are trying to solve? Are the questions not getting answer? No. Are the answers excessively downvoted? No. Are they going unaccepted by the askers? Depends on your criteria, I guess, but I don't think so. Are you, personally, qualified to judge the merits of the answers? You seem to admit, no. I see no fundamental problem, here. System, as they say, functioning as intended. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Dec 13 '19 at 1:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the core issue is that World of Darkness relies much more heavily on creative solutions and agreement with the storyteller what an ability can accomplish than the DND style "this is exactly what your ability does". It would be difficult to cite from a rulebook "this is what you must do to achieve your desired goal" because there are so many paths to get there, and relies on player creativity and storyteller discretion. Giving one possible path and the corresponding interpretations to accomplish the desired task is about the best we can do. \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Dec 13 '19 at 17:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast High competition can also bring out heavy citation rigor. Over on Board & Card Games questions about Magic the Gathering will often see 2-3 answers one-upping each other by being more complete and comprehensive with process descriptions and rules citations, to be The Best Most Comprehensive And Indisputably Accurate Answer. MTG also has a body of rules that is expansive and complex to navigate, like D&D, and lends itself easily to citation. Other games tend to be handled on BG.SE in a way more relaxed fashion, and don't have the same ease of citation anyway. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 13 '19 at 20:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ 5e answers have the same problem. The ease of dndbeyond and the size of the community help a lot, but a lot of answers still go without quotes. Obviously you are supposed to support everything, but for games that don't have as many players, askers, and answers, there is much less competition so the answers are lower quality. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Dec 18 '19 at 8:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that there are questions where citations are deemed mandatory, like rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/132639/… - where answers have been deleted for not providing citations. \$\endgroup\$ – Trish Dec 18 '19 at 13:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Trish I don't understand what you mean by the Tome of Magic. In the scope of BG.SE's Magic: the Gathering questions, we cite the Basic Rules which is a PDF with a two-digit page count. There's usually only 2-3 rules to cite, but folks will cite them to help their answers compete. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 18 '19 at 14:42
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World of Darkness isn't D&D, and citations may not always be feasible.

I want to make clear at the outset that I do agree with you, and where proper citations and rule references are possible they should be included. I try to do this where possible when answering WoD questions, but it isn't always possible or especially desirable.

There are a few features peculiar to WoD that I think affect how reasonable a citation is:

1. WoD is huge and distinctly organized

There are a lot of products released under the World of Darkness label, and they're pretty scattered in what they cover. The "basic" rules are not strongly comparable across all of these. They're all d10 games, but as each subfranchise under WoD tries to evoke WoD's themes for totally different types of supernatural creatures mechanics often aren't very portable.

As an example, the way that werewolves are detailed in Vampire: the Masquerade books is very different from how they are detailed in Werewolf: the Apocalypse books, to the extent that they're not exactly describing the same thing. In V:tM, werewolves are described by vague applications of abilities unique to V:tM rather than the "proper" rules that are used in W:tA. The mechanics that govern vampires are totally different from those that govern werewolves, so these awkward translations are really the best that can be done.

The upshot of this is that there is often little ambiguity in which books are meant for most questions. If you have a question about V:tM, the answer is almost certainly in the V:tM core rulebook. Some more precise questions (say, about a specific clan in V:tM) will draw from the splatbook for that clan, and there are rarely alternatives to choose from. In cases where there legitimately are multiple possibilities it seems to me that people generally do offer citations (examples include updated books disagreeing with previous versions within an edition, or rules which may plausibly be spread across multiple books).

There is some confusion that arises from poorly named editions of the games (old WoD vs. new WoD, Theater of the Mind vs. 2nd Edition vs. Revised vs. V20 vs. Chronicles vs. V5), but typically tags on the question are specific enough to head it off.

2. Meta-madness

A big part of the WoD games is the metaplot-- the "true" story of what's going on behind the scenes. Many questions that aren't about specific mechanics touch on this in some way, and the answers (to the extent that any exist) are spread across every conceivable product in ways subtle and explicit. The metaplot is, famously, not consistently described, meaning that generally citations are not definitive in answering the question. This was, allegedly, by design, to foster creativity in specific Storytellers.

In practice, it's simply unclear what is canonically true and what isn't. As RPG.SE isn't a forum it's not a good place to discuss which citations should prevail over others, or what abandoned plot points are still in force (I'm looking at you, Secrets of the Black Hand Vicissitude parasites!). Some of the sourcebooks that provide (commonly accepted to be) canonical answers don't even have rules in them-- there are WoD novellas and comics.

The result of this is that it's extremely difficult to discern the truth of an answer from trolling the books, and the effort of doing so is immense. Providing citations is great for indicating the thought behind a position, but aren't definitive in the way that they generally are for D&D. It's a bit like trying to describe the specific properties of Miska, across all editions of D&D at once, for a huge proportion of questions.

3. As an aside...

A lot of canonically true information does exist in the books, but in a particularly casual style. Most of the books include multiple, long narrative sections full of detail and with annotation-style comments (also providing game-relevant information) tacked on. In many cases this would be hard to cite-- it's an observation by an in-universe character reading or recounting the narrative section and commenting on it. The annotation doesn't include enough context to be a citation on its own, and citing the context can often result in a massive block of quoted text from which it is hard to extract the salient information.

4. WoD is a mess

I mean no disrespect. V:tM was the first tabletop game I ever played or ran, and I think highly of World of Darkness in many ways. But it's simply full of inconsistencies and other problems which make scope awkward in approaching questions. I mentioned above the difference in how werewolves are represented in their own product vs. in other books under the WoD franchise. If a querent comes here asking a question about werewolves, it's not totally clear which would be the authoritative answer.

If the querent only has the V:tM core rulebook, would they be able to use an answer drawing from W:tA? Or might their problem be that the awkwardly-translated werewolf information in V:tM is too shallow and one-dimensional to use in the way they want? Should answerers expect the querent to buy and use the W:tA core rulebook? The WoD products aren't unified in the way that D&D books are, and without requiring askers to list all specific products whose contents might be valid it becomes hard for answerers to even identify the correct set of rules from which to offer an answer.

The White Wolf wiki is particularly bad about this.

5. WoD questions are often broad and poorly specified with respect to cite-able information

One of your example questions (the one about learning magical Disciplines) had an answer from me which contained no citations. The reason I didn't cite anything there was because answering the question in a comprehensive way with citations would require dozens of citations. There are more than a few magical Disciplines in V:tM, and they have varying amounts of things in common with each other (it's not at all like comparing an arcane spellcaster to a divine spellcaster, for example).

I won't say that it was necessarily appropriate to not add citations, but to hunt down and add each one for each style of magic that had an answer would take ages. My answer (though not popular) is correct, even though it doesn't cite the nameless annotator in Blood Magic: Secrets of Thaumaturgy expressing (multiple times) that unapproved individuals learning Thaumaturgy are to be executed by the Tremere clan across a narrative section written by another unnamed character.

6. SE factors

We all know about the odd incentives that the SE format can introduce. It's a simple truth that WoD questions are fairly niche and rare here, meaning that there are relatively few users ready to assess how reasonable a citation is. And there is a particularly short timeframe to post an answer and collect whatever few upvotes are ever going to be available for a given WoD question, turbocharging the drive to get an answer in right away.

And since adding WoD citations is difficult, time consuming, not definitive, and often (apparently) of little value to querents, it doesn't surprise me that answerers often determine that fully-cited answers aren't necessary for some questions.


tl;dr:

I really do think that there are reasons that providing citations is more difficult and less useful for WoD questions than for many, perhaps most, other game systems.

There are still many questions for which citations are definitely appropriate and helpful, and those should include citations. For others, demanding citations in all answers will only make answers worse (or prevent answers from being posted in the first place). I don't know how to gauge where the line between those question types is, or how to respond to an answer lacking citations when they should be present (short of posting my own answer).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like that you brought up in your 5th point that the sourcebooks for almost every World of Darkness book is presented in-universe, even with other nameless authors/narrators disagreeing or adding sidenotes on explanations of other events. Only when it specifically highlights mechanics and dice-rolling does it break immersion. \$\endgroup\$ – JRodge01 Dec 13 '19 at 18:40
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Is this a site for experts, or not?

To open, I will quote @thedarkwanderer aka @Pleasestopbeingevil:

This entire site is premised upon "someone who already knows how it works [knows] if the answer is correct".

The RPG landscape is very broad with rules light games, rules heavy games, and loads of variations in between. There are even 200-words-or-less RPGs in the population of games that may trigger questions here. (For example, there are roll for shoes questions).

Even with a system that is "rules-medium-toward-rules-heavy" like D&D's various editions, ambiguity arises in the material that is published. For any system, not just Mage the Ascension / World of Darkness, that may not be as rules heavy, one could expect more cases where an expert (as defined by the meta in the title) needs to rely on knowing the game from actual play to arrive at an answer to a given problem.

While I personally, as a reader for many questions, like to see rules citations, I am not in a position to know how useful or necessary a citation is for a given problem unless I am very familiar with the game and its play at the table.

Am I an expert or not?

What does one do when one comes across a question or answer that doesn't seem to meet "back it up!" standards?

  1. If you are familiar with or expert with this game, comment and prompt the answerer to improve the answer.

  2. If you are not familiar with nor expert with this game, then leave that commenting and prompting for someone who is.

  3. In either case, expert or not, when it seems soft on support leave one comment that the answer needs more support.

    There are a lot of questions and answers that I leave alone because I am neither familiar with nor expert in a system. And that's as it should be.

    Should we non-experts leave comments asking for more support if the answer is unclear or seems incomplete?
    Yes! (but don't get into an argument in comments)
    To achieve a favorable Signal-To-Noise-Ratio, feedback on answers and questions that come from readers of all expertise levels can be helpful in improving any question or any answer. I like to ask myself: "if it is unclear to me, might it be unclear to most readers?"

In any case, vote your conscience

If the answer is not helpful, or is unclear, a down vote can be cast.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 it’s the people familiar with that game that are the best to judge, trying to inject yourself into an unfamiliar game without knowing its landscape is just being a busybody. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Dec 13 '19 at 1:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk-JusticeforMonica My apologies if I came across as busybody. My intention by asking here was because I didn't understand the difference between what was expected in the game I am familiar with, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions I guess. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 16 '19 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch It's generally best to let those familiar with a game self-govern how that game gets handled on the site. If there's a problem pattern showing up, they're the ones in the best position to recognise it and raise it—it's their area of the site to manage. In a way we're a melting pot of subcommunities regulating themselves. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Dec 18 '19 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Absolutely! As I said above, it was something I noticed, ran it by Rubiksmoose, and we thought it was worthwhile to ask here. From an outsiders perspective, having the quotes and citations is helpful for me to understand how games I'm not familiar with work, which may either drive interest in the game or provide potential new mechanics for me to use in my current systems. But this is why I asked and we've gotten some good answers (when I'm not being attacked for asking.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 18 '19 at 15:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ With this answer in mind, maybe we need to better address the way that D&D is handled on the site. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Dec 19 '19 at 8:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jgn If you'd like to propose a path forward, opening a meta on that topic might be appropriate \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Dec 19 '19 at 11:37
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Because non-D&D players aren't generally non-experts

The Stack Exchange network is generally designed from expert Q&A. This means I don't need to explain the basics of the stuff I'm asking about to you, or explain where it's from if that's obvious. I can just ask my question using whatever jargon is appropriate and wait until someone with the appropriate expertise answers. On our site, this is still how non-D&D questions work. If I talk about the combat resolution system for Dogs in the Vineyard, I don't need to say stuff like "Okay, so, you roll dice equal to your two attributes for the combat mode and then you...": I can assume you have or will RtFM and if you haven't and won't, that's your problem, not mine.

Similarly, for questions, if I ask a good question, I only have about a 70% chance of people with 0 experience getting mad because I didn't give them the links they want to make an easy extremely-low-quality answer. This chance is low enough that the downvotes and close votes are, at least for me, worth the offputtingness that hopefully discourages answers from people who have only ever played the latest edition of D&D and don't have particularly great reading comprehension skills from grabbing a pdf of the rulebook off the internet and either throwing out whatever their first guess is after ~10 minutes of work or posting a stock 'ask the DM' answer with 0 system-specific investment.

These two things are not true for our 5e D&D community. There's also a subcommunity that likes editing to link everything in 5e answers to D&D beyond stuff, which looks like but is not usually supportive citations.

Also, our 3.5/pathfinder has a sufficient group of highly-active really good users that you usually get a good answer to your question eventually (though it may be buried beneath highly-upvoted or accepted nice-sounding absolute garbage), and part of how that subcommunity works involves writing like this. That looks like a wall of citations (which is not a complaint!), but it is actually mostly not that. The only real substantive citation in that (totally fine) answer is the link to the errata for the DMG supporting the claim that there isn't any. The two "see here"s contain an appropriate joke emphasizing the community's eternal struggle with D&D's love of reusing words and a q.v. onto another tangentially related topic the author had previously treated in some detail. The rest of the "citations" aren't support for the answer-- they are assistance to the uninitiated in looking up basic information in the books. Like, the answer tells you the ring of protection is on page 232 of the DMG, which it spells out in full. That's because you might not know what 'DMG' means, and you might-- even though you are currently reading a question about the ring of protection and it's a totally normal core magic item in the core magic item section of the DMG-- not know where to find the published statblock for the ring of protection. We write that way not because it supports the content of the answer but, at least for myself, because 1) it forestalls some complaints by people who haven't read the material 2) it gets more upvotes 3) it looks/sounds cool 4) it is more helpful for educating and helping the audience than not doing that.

There is no requirement to attach non-supportive citations to your answers. As far as I'm aware, no other subcommunity on this site does that, though 5e is superficially similar and I'd write similarly for SR4 if I were answering similar questions nowadays. There is a requirement to Back Up your answers, and the current top answers on all the questions you link do that. They just don't hand-hold you to every page and book (note also that most non-D&D systems only have one book) on every topic mentioned. They expect you can look it up yourself if you want to.


Props to @KRyan and @HeyICanChan for developing our unofficial 3.x writing style.

I think this answer is kind of rant-y currently. I'm not sure how to make it less rant-y. Any edits helping with that would be appreciated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To be fair, sometimes even in D&D 3.5e you have to just... rely on the expertise of the writer and the expertise of those voting on the writer. There’s only so much we can do to transfer our knowledge to others via text. A lot of things, especially synthesis, rely on the perspective of knowing about all the things and there’s just no way to give someone else that same perspective. So even in D&D 3.5e, there’s cases where my answers will look quite a lot like those linked here. And while that’s perhaps not ideal, it certainly isn’t “wrong” or a “systemic problem” as suggested in this question \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 12 '19 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this answer is valid as an observation/explanation of the current status quo, but speaking as someone who has been extremely critical of the ways that other Stacks often assume, expect, or demand that visitors and contributors be experts in whichever subject they intend to ask about, I think I'm going to have difficulty seeing this as a workable justification for why these other subcultures should behave in this manner. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Dec 12 '19 at 19:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or, put another way: looking at the answers Naut cited, a lot of them do fail the "Theory of Mind" test, meaning a reader who only has passing familiarity with the system in question would fail to understand what they're claiming, because the answer is assuming the reader knows more about the system than their answer is willing to explain. If you know the visitor is already an expert, that's not an issue; but as I've opined about other stacks, I think this kind of assumption tends to drive off newer users. It's not necessarily true that only veteran users need to use this site. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Dec 12 '19 at 19:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Yes, absolutely. I think the way we write much of the time (i.e. similarly to the linked answer) just might be part of what is creating an illusion of propriety for some users, e.g. the OP, that leads to other sorts of answers arousing suspiscion, but that is an illusion-- the answers aren't unsupported just because they aren't riddled with q.v.'s and links to pfsrd20 or wherever. Like you say, sometimes the right answer doesn't touch on the sort of stuff that would be link/reference heavy, e.g. rpg.stackexchange.com/a/104170/14848 \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 13 '19 at 6:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not that that's specifically a 3.x question, but, I mean, it kind of is :P \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 13 '19 at 6:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema That is a legitimate concern, and a good reason to potentially write differently, but I don't think it should be required in the sense that answers not meeting that bar would be flaggable or something. Instead, I think it is probably more productive to leave a comment being like "what do you mean by X?" or even to post a new question with whatever question the answer has left you with. I also think there a difference between supporting your claims and making your claims accessible; I'm not sure that there's a real need for the support to always be accessible for the answer to be. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 13 '19 at 6:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ The difference isn't that 5e posts are not as sophisticated, it's that the community is so much larger. When asking a question there is a desire to prove that the answer is correct, using quotes. Simply stating the answer is not enough. \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Dec 18 '19 at 8:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jgn Of course stating the answer isn't enough, but quotes aren't the only source of support. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 18 '19 at 8:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil Such as? \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Dec 18 '19 at 8:47
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Mage: The Ascension’s freeform improvisational magick system allows for the creation of a variety of effects using the building blocks of the nine Spheres. A request for aid in creating a specific effect can be answered by describing which of those spheres, singly or in combination, can achieve that end. Sometimes, there's more than one potential solution, and other parameters — like the need to be subtle, or cast quickly — can come into play.

Because of this, there's often not a specific page citation that can be called out for a given effect. In these cases, it’s sufficient to call out the level of a sphere that can be applied and reference it.

Also, note that there's no SRD for the World of Darkness games, so excessive quoting tends to be frowned upon. Better to cite the book and let the querent work it out.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That definitely puts us in a weird spot. It's definitely allowable to quote paywall content if we limit to relevant parts, but if the rules are light enough that someone can piece it together by seeing how each sphere or discipline works, then I'm not sure what to do. But in other systems just mentioning how a rule works isn't enough. We need to support the assertion with what the rules say. Otherwise it takes someone who already knows how it works to know if the answer is correct and that seems less than optimal. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 12 '19 at 12:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I'm still a little confused as to your framing. You've already said that this isn't a system with which you're familiar, so I can't ask you to come up with a better way of stating the answer or posit a question that this structure would have a problem addressing. As you note, people are asking questions and finding satisfactory answers; what's the problem you're trying to solve? \$\endgroup\$ – Jadasc Dec 12 '19 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Our process here is usually answering a rules-based question by providing citations to the relevant rules and commentary on how to apply them. These questions bypass the first and solely rely on the second. I'm trying to understand if there's an acceptable reason for that or if we should be trying to bring these questions in line with standard site practice. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 12 '19 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just commented onthe question, too, but it does seem like we don't require the same level of citations for non-D&D questions. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 12 '19 at 13:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Even if we don't include the quotes, only putting the book in is like saying "yeah, the rules are in there, go find 'em" which seems kinda unhelpful. PUtting book and page seems like a good compromise if there is a site-wide accepted reason not to put the quotes in. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Dec 12 '19 at 13:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch This entire site is premised upon "someone who already knows how it works [knows] if the answer is correct". \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 12 '19 at 18:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil So you are saying we should, in general, cut out quotes, explanations, etc, and just post the punchline? \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Dec 18 '19 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jgn No. 1) Good answers don't usually have a punchline. Punchline answers use an emotional connection with a sympathetic audience to the idea that some other position is bad to get votes based on agreement with the conclusion rather than the merits of the logic presented itself. That's always struck me as a bit disrespectful to the opposed position. 2) The site requires that answers be backed up. Just because you refuse to recognize legitimate evidence as such doesn't mean that that evidence is illigetimate. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 18 '19 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ 3) None of that is even indirectly related to what I said. It is, instead, a straw-man-like punchline. As I mentioned, I personally find that sort of argument distasteful and mildly offensive, though based on our interactions on this site I realize you don't see that the same way. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 18 '19 at 17:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil I'm not sure how to understand your statement then. It seemed to be advocating for not /not/ putting quotes because good answers will be upvoted since others will know it is correct? Perhaps you meant it in jest? \$\endgroup\$ – gszavae Dec 19 '19 at 0:07
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So I will fully concede to not having familiarity with most of these systems, and there is therefore an outside chance that my unfamiliarity has led me to miss some critical assumption or knowledge about the system that would render me to miss the obvious ways these answers are supporting themselves.

But I don't get the sense [most of] these answers properly justify themselves.

Let's look at each example to see why (excepting the first one Naut cited, because that one did receive citing).

What could prevent a vampire from learning magic-related disciplines?

This answer is probably the least egregious of the examples provided, since the original question is ultimately asking for an answer that proves a negative... which tends to lead to uncited answers (you can't cite text that doesn't exist).

But it would benefit from at least citing examples of lore that prove the precedent that vampires might be averse to learning magic-related disciplines, if only because the original question didn't cite any such precedent earlier. This is relevant because there might not be any such precedent in the first place; and if so, that might make for a relevant frame challenge to the question.

How to make a vampire fireproof?

So this answer has two problems. Firstly, it's subject to link rot. This is technically true any time that you place a hyperlink in an answer (or anywhere, really), but in this context, the link is only to a fan-created wiki page, and these sites are generally unreliable. So if that page ever goes down, the answer will become unsubstantiated.

The second problem is that the answer fails to Back it Up with respect to how it applies this dance. It offhandedly mentions that at the answerer's table, they permit the extra point to Courage to also give immunity to Rotschreck as a houserule, but doesn't adequately explain why they use this houserule at their table or what the impact has been on their play.

How can a mage implement a hammerspace?

To be honest, although the answer has its own issues, the question seems to pretty directly fail our research requirements. In D&D5e, it would be generally unacceptable to ask a question like "how could I build a good Gish character?" because the question becomes too open-ended; we instead prefer questions like "Is this Sorcerer14/Cleric6 character with [x, y, z] going to allow me to be effective in melee combat?" because it gives specific, concrete goals that the OP is trying to achieve, which we are trying to evaluate the merits of.

Like I said: I'm not familiar with Mage: The Ascension. What I might not know is that there's a specific ability, "Create Hammerspace", that does exactly what the OP wants, and they're just unaware of it. But based on both the answers it got, and the framing of the question itself, it appears to instead be an overly-open-ended question in the form "what would you suggest to solve this problem?" which leads to the Too Broad/Overly Opinion-based kinds of questions that are generally unsuitable on this stack. So I don't know that that question should have remained open in the first place.

But even accepting that it did remain open (and assuming there were good reasons I'm simply unaware of for it to remain open), the answerer should cite the specific rules that allow the spheres they're using to behave in the way that they're claiming they behave. The descriptions for these effects aren't usually a single sentence in the source material, and it shouldn't be incumbent on the reader to have to dig through the material being referenced to prove that the person providing the answer knows what they're talking about.

Any spells that would allow a mage to breathe while buried alive?

This appears to be little different to the second answer we looked at, except that this appears to be a much simpler case. As a result, it wouldn't have required much evidence to cite either of the spell spheres referenced, and maybe quote the specific sections that justify their behavior.


I don't really see a need to have drastically different expectations of rules citations for different game systems. I respect that in many of these cases trying to track down the specific rules could be difficult or time-consuming, but given these kinds of questions tend to get a lot less attention in general, I don't think it's unreasonable to spend a little extra time making sure the citations are correct.

Moreover, being able to back up a claim in an answer, whether by citing a specific rule, or by descriptively providing direct experience, is still an extremely valuable tool towards proving the applicability and validity of an answer, and I don't really see that this differs just because you're not playing Dungeons and Dragons.

So in general, if the expections on answer citation are being insufficiently enforced for these systems (which certainly seems to be the case, given the evidence I've looked at), I think we should strongly consider more proactively referencing these expectations.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "How can a mage implement a hammerspace?" — ok, imagine asking "How can I play a character who turns invisible in combat?" in a D&D game. One answer is "there's an invisibility spell, it's right in the book," but also there's like six other options and some of them are cheaper, or stronger, or last longer, and they may be hidden in secondary sourcebooks or mechanical read-between-the-lines on other powers. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Dec 13 '19 at 5:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ How can I deal with fire? Learn Firedance. It does [x thing that solves that]. How is that different that a 5e question asking "How can I pick a lock with Mage Hand?" and an answer saying "Become an Arcane Trickster. It lets you [x thing that solves that]", Is that really a bad answer? Why? Do I have to also say "One time I played an arcane trickster and used Mage Hand Legerdemain to pick a lock and it worked, like the text in the book clearly says"? Sure, link rot might happen (and should, because that linked material is presumably in violation of copyright...) but it's not link only \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 13 '19 at 6:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexP That's largely my point. The fact that a system might have an obvious "here's the exact ability that does this" answer is why I generally do not issue "too broad" or "unclear" close votes on questions whose system I am unfamiliar with. But looking at the question we're talking about, it's pretty clear that the game system we're talking about doesn't have that kind of answer, or else it would have been provided as an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Dec 13 '19 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil We still have an obligation to back up our claims. Even when I do "bounded list" questions I try to make sure any spell or ability I reference either quotes the relevant text to show that it does what I'm claiming it does, or else I at least try to reference the book + page number where it's located. Answers to more objective answers don't need to exhaustively reference personal experience; but they need to reference something. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Dec 13 '19 at 14:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Xirema There is no functional difference between quoting the material and paraphrasing it. The part where the answerer says "it lets you [do X]" is the exact kind of citation you are asking for, just from a different culture than you like. Having book and page number doesn't make information any more supportive at all, it just makes it more accessible. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Dec 13 '19 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil Accessibility is good and necessary though. I would argue that, at least in this context, accessibility is a goal in-and-of-itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Xirema Dec 13 '19 at 18:12

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