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I'm copying in a Q and A from the proposal. Feel free to disagree and post new answers.

For instance, the Commonwealth Saga has a lot of details about the worlds in it, especially in the two novels set earlier in the timeline. Would questions relating to how certain effects might be explained or questions about how you might reproduce the Silfen world that Ozzie visits?

I can see people being inspired by worlds like that and wanting to understand them, either for the purposes of running games in them, or adapting them for their own stories.

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    $\begingroup$ We need to be careful about copyright on these pre-existing fictional worlds. Many authors forbid fan-fiction, wile others explicitly welcome it. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Sep 17 '14 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild that's a good point and I think it might be worth posting a separate meta question about it. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Sep 17 '14 at 21:54
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We do.

  • Deconstruction of an existing world helps reveal elements that you might not otherwise have thought of.
  • Expanding or reconstructing them does likewise.
  • Modifying one or two aspects could drastically change how they work and is oft used as a plot hook.
  • Its cool.
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  • $\begingroup$ I agree. In fact, I was going to post a similar question (asking about existing worlds) until I saw yours. $\endgroup$ – Garoal Sep 17 '14 at 11:36
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Specific questions about altering worlds to create a new derivative or which use existing fictional worlds as examples seem reasonable. Questions directly about fictional worlds seem withing the purview of scifi.SE.

What would be a good name for the Bolian character in my Star Trek Fanfic?

Off topic as it's not about altering the Trek setting.

What would be the smallest change to the Bolians to have then end up as enemies of the Federation rather than members?

Possibly on topic as it's a question about making a new world based on Star Trek and it might seem out of place on scifi.SE.

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I would say that some questions might belong here, but others should go to https://scifi.stackexchange.com/

I would rule that questions about how a world works are ours but those about why things happen would be theirs.

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    $\begingroup$ Questions based on real science are out of scope on SFF.SE, just as FYI. As in "Would (how does) this fictional world work" is off topic $\endgroup$ – user4239 Oct 5 '14 at 6:55
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I am curious if questions on expanding/altering existing worlds could run against existing copyright laws. Someone who is a lawyer or works for Stack Exchange may know for sure. Its a big step from asking questions about an existing creation, LOTRO, Harry Potter, Star Wars on scifi stack exchange to adding onto or altering these worlds.

If it wasn't illegal, it would be tricky. Why questions or reverse engineering could be on topic because they would expand the questioners knowledge of worldbuilding. Questions like, what could cause a civilization to develop like civ x from story y shouldn't be a problem.

If the question was solely factual, what did cause civ x from story y to develop as it did, I wouldn't see that as a valid worldbuilding question. Its a tricky subject that starts with figuring out the legal requirements.

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    $\begingroup$ Disclaimer: Not a lawyer. Talking about a work of fiction is in no way illegal. Quoting is where you would need to be very careful about fair use. I think you are concerned unnecessarily. I believe there is another question about copyright on the meta already. $\endgroup$ – Mourdos Sep 25 '14 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ I think this answer of Vulcronos' is probably a good question. And I think my answer (also not being a lawyer nor SE employee) would be like Mourdos' comment, that I an sure it's completely legal to talk about writing fan fiction, even if the copyright holder prohibits publication of fan fiction itself. e.g. Paramount may send lawyers after Star Trek fan fiction posters, but they don't go after people who talk about Star Trek mechanics or about Star Trek fan fic, or about discussing writing Star Trek fan fic. $\endgroup$ – Dronz Oct 30 '14 at 16:18

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