I'm working on a work that's set in a universe of an existing, fictional work (basically, a fanfic).

My goal is to explore the worldbuilding of that work's Universe in a direction where the original creator pretty much left things mostly to imagination.

  1. Is asking questions in this context on-topic?

  2. If so, is it preferable to honestly state what the Universe is (which - if no other benefit - instantly offers people familiar with the works many many details of the world); or simply describe the relevant details of the World without mentioning it's based on a published work?

As a random example, I would like to ask a question asking about how would a specific detail of Heinlein's Starship Troopers world work. This is clearly offtopic for SFF.SE (as I'm interested in a hypothetical, not in-universe or RAH facts); but seems fully ontopic here, if not for the fact that the world I'm "developing" is not originally mine but Heinlein's.

Another example: (more fanfic friendly :) - what jobs could a pure-blood wizard do, if they wish to (a) live in a Muggle world; (b) use magic to help them in their work; yet (3) Not get Ministry of Magic repercussions by violating secrecy.

  • $\begingroup$ ... obviously, the question assumes that whatever question you want to ask, would be 100% ontopic for the site otherwise - not subjective, not broad, specific, answerable, etc... $\endgroup$
    – user4239
    Jul 16, 2015 at 1:26

1 Answer 1



1) It is fine to do so. I certainly did, and if the question wasn't very popular, it wasn't considered off-topic.

2) I would say that it does not harm, but you'll have to see if it brings something to the question. You have also to consider that, maybe contrary to most well known cases in SFF.SE, here not everyone may be familiar with the original world, so you certainly need to summarise the key factors of the world. With that in mind, you could either be building a world similar to the original, or a fanfic, no one needs to know.

There is just maybe one reason why specifying the world, is that if you are doing fanfic, you are constrained by the possible incoherences of the original sources. Indicating where it comes from explains why you must respect some constraints.

For your second example, look at Kingsley Shakelbolt as a secretary of the muggle Prime Minister. So you might want to clarify whether there are canon answers, if you want to do a fanfic.


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