Recently we had this question on the site, I've reproduced it completely below for those unable to view it. It directly conflicts with the site FAQ.

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ------ happened?”

Obviously this question isn't an actual problem as it's noted that it's just for fun, and it's quite obviously hypothetical. Also the question as written is not about RPGs, but rather is a hypothetical Physics question with RPG trappings.

How could this question be modified so that it matches the rules of the FAQ?

Can a D&D character be launched into space?

Ok, this is just for fun. Community Wiki away.

Gilbert the Goblin saw something glinting in the water off of a dock. Ever the curious little creature, he jumped into the water and swam down the 10 feet to retrieve the item. Ooh, a shiny gold coin! Still inverted and reaching for the coin, he decided to place the gold piece in his Deep-Pocket Cloak (200 cubic feet of extradimensional space) before swimming back to the surface. He pulled aside a flap, exposing the many pockets in the cloak and FOOM! Gilbert was launched into orbit from the sudden force of the upward buoyancy created by the extradimensional space in his pockets.

Assumptions, clearly stated by the Rule of Awesome:

  • D&D Physics treat the entire 200 cubic feet of extradimensional space as displacing an equal volume of water.
  • Gilbert and his cloak and his shiny gold coin are not torn apart by the sudden force.
  • Gilbert weighs 40 lb, the cloak weighs 1 lb, and his coin is weightless.
  • All force is applied along a straight line perpendicular to the surface of the water.
  • The gravity is identical to the average Earth gravity.
  • The density of the atmosphere is identical to that typical of our Earth.
  • Gilbert assumes the ideal position for minimum air and water resistance

What height does Gilbert reach?


There's the 4e question:

"How can I present a persuasive argument to my GM to allow me to launch an enemy into space following linky" (not going to actually bother doing research for a meta question, but there's a 4e cosmonaut.)

There's the 3.5 question:

"I've got a gnome with boots of levitation and a decanter of endless water. Can he fly, and if he can, how fast?"

Both of these require reference to in-game interactions, either rules or at the table.

Looking at this, the easiest way to phrase this is a:

"I [suggested to the GM last night][want to suggest] that my deep pocket cloak can act as both a floatation device and as a way to launch my character out of the water. My GM likes realistic physics. How high do I go, using earth-normal physics, with the following parameters: ... Is it worth suggesting this to my GM in my 4e game, or is there a better way to do this?"

There's also the more general question of:

How do I handle physics problems in 4e games? (I've faced physics puzzles before. it was... odd)


What are the consequences of having magic items obey real-world physics?

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's the problem with this whole mentality. This site is rules-lawyer focused. There are tons of games that just don't work with that mentality at all. The AD&D 2e PHB specifically references real world knowledge, which can include anything in having a character do something. That's 100% physics in this case, and it doesn't have to be looked at from a game mechanics perspective. Expecting game mechanics is really a d20 type requirement that especially became popular around 3.5. We're not going to have many OSR people posting here if this is how we have to do it. \$\endgroup\$ – migo May 30 '11 at 0:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, these are good suggestions for making the question valid, in my opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – Cthos May 30 '11 at 3:01

I think we can afford a few "code golf" style questions here, as long as:

  • They are clearly written.

  • Related to RPGs.

  • Are a question which can be answered.

  • We don't have too many of them.

Acknowledging that the question is outside the norm is also a plus.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it was really a Code Golf question: it was just a joke. To me, questions like this are noise and make the site much less useful. \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Jun 4 '11 at 13:00

It can't be. You can remove the "it's just for fun" lead sentence, but in the end that's still the deal, the question is just a joke/physics problem not a real question.

You can take related concepts and make really quite unrelated questions out of them, or have the question bring cool imagery to your mind that you decide to somehow incorporate into a game, but that's not the same as the original question being valid.

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    \$\begingroup\$ THe problem with this being that moderating in that manner discourages a sense of community. \$\endgroup\$ – aramis May 30 '11 at 7:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since one of the best suggestions for DMs in -at least- the 4E manuals is "Saying 'yes, and...' this answer is demotivating at the very least. Brian's is much better. \$\endgroup\$ – Adriano Varoli Piazza May 30 '11 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't happen to believe "being able to post everything you want" is the definition of community. That's what forum sites are about. You can post anything you want, talk about it how you want. This isn't a forum or social media site. It's a stack exchange. It is for expert questions and answers. You think that's "against community" - I believe it promotes the right kind of community. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica May 30 '11 at 15:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ The very structure of stack exchange puts closing and opening questions in the hands of the community, if you can't realise how moderating in this fashion destroys that, you're just proving right what I've said about you. \$\endgroup\$ – migo May 30 '11 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Besides which it could come up in a game. Is it much different if this was a game example and the player wanted to know what exactly happened? \$\endgroup\$ – mirv120 Jun 2 '11 at 17:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mirv120 of course, that's what makes all the difference. Reread the part of the FAQ quoted in the beginning of this Q. "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ------ happened?”" Real game problem yes, brain teaser no. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Jun 3 '11 at 1:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough, though I think that shooting down those kinds of questions will limit this place. A lot of hypothetical questions come up with games especially on how to push their limits. Maybe we're narrowing our focus too much here? Plus what if the hypothetical answers a future question, doesn't that serve this site's purpose? \$\endgroup\$ – mirv120 Jun 3 '11 at 4:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's the thing though. The question above, while hypothetical, has an actual answer. You could use physics and come up with a single correct answer. If you apply the rule that no hypothetical questions can be asked, you hit problems. For example, "What would happen if a Rod of Cancellation touches a Sphere of Annihilation?" has a single clear answer, but because all hypothetical questions are out I can't ask it. (Bad things is the answer BTW). But it seems you're saying it'd be okay if I said "I touched a rod of cancellation to a sphere of annihilation..." That doesn't make any sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Cthos Jun 3 '11 at 4:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ That part isn't "our part" of the FAQ, it's SE boilerplate. It's part of the formula. We can modify the formula a bit for RPGs, but in general there's the right way, the wrong way, and the Stack Exchange way, and we'd like to try to trust the SE way. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Jun 3 '11 at 4:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ The SE Way isn't a mystery when you cut to the heart of it. You ask HONEST questions you really have, and really need the answer to for your life/work/hobby. Not pose brain teasers for others, not ask questions maybe someone might have, not seed questions someone else had somewhere else. Everything else adds layers of dishonesty and unusefulness and disincentive. Ask real questions - get real answers. Other stuff detracts more than it adds, long term. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Jun 3 '11 at 4:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ FYI - a situation similar to the one presented in the question did come up in my game. It wasn't exactly as the question described it, but I was in a whimsical mood and decided to add a little narrative to spice up a boring question. If that was against the "SE Way" then so be it, but tell me that and allow me to edit the question. I have no problem with actions being taken against the question, but didn't the 4 reopen votes maybe hint to you that the community disagreed? \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jun 3 '11 at 11:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dpatchery it was certainly a hint that people wanted to reopen it even though it was a wildly bad Q as stated. So it's your Q you want to edit it, which I take a lot more seriously than the rogue's gallery saying "but maybe it could be a good question one day if it ate its vegetables!". I want to know though - do you really have a meaningful question to ask, or do you know the answer and just want to brain-tease the group? What is it you actually need out of posing that question? \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Jun 3 '11 at 12:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk My DM ruled that the character would be shot into the air a distance equal to half how deep he was in the water. Being a slight physics/math buff, I knew the real answer depended on a lot more variables than that (but it wasn't worth arguing at the table, obviously), and I wanted a concrete answer to bring to the next session. I could approximate the answer but I'm not good enough with physics to account for drag through the water, air resistance, etc, so I wanted to pose it to the community to see if someone could give me a precise answer. \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jun 3 '11 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ The Gilbert example was just a generalization. Given a good answer with work shown and math explained, I could substitute my own values that were specific to my game. \$\endgroup\$ – dpatchery Jun 3 '11 at 12:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll discuss with the other mods. I think you might understand why in general we are reluctant to reverse on this one given the ad hominem attacks and general bad behavior from certain members of the community surrounding it, and we don't want to give the community the impression that acting badly is rewarded. But since the actual poster has chimed in with an actual coherent and specific statement of how this could be a good question, we will talk about it. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Jun 3 '11 at 12:45

Simple. The PCs are on a Spelljamming ship around a planet that isn't known for having any, and they encounter a Goblin, with a significant amount of air around him floating in orbit, and they wonder why. Gilbert explains what happens, the PCs raise their eyebrows and move on however they like. The players might want to number crunch on their own time, so it helps to know if it'll stand up.

And guess what, now that the question has been asked, this is a scenario I want to throw in to a game, and I've got players who will actually crunch the numbers (they've done it before). It's a real situation that I'm facing now.

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    \$\begingroup\$ by this sort of logic anything and everything will be on topic for the site, as long as you say "in an RPG". That doesn't work. Furthermore, in your example, you could accomplish the same thing with any other number of other scenarios, or invoke suspension of disbelief. If you're playing D&D, plenty of other things require suspension of disbelief, why should a goblin in space be any different? \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross May 30 '11 at 0:13

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