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This question has got me thinking. I think it balances a very fine line, on the one hand Dyson Spheres are most definitely on topic, how to destroy one... yeah, I could see it. The last lonely outpost with a pressurised atmosphere. It's no different to asking about any other apocalyptic scenario.

What bothers me about this the drive of this question it isn't about how can I design this world, it's about how can I drive this campaign/story. For that reason I can't help thinking it's better suited to RPG.SE

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  • $\begingroup$ In my part, as Original Questioner, it is more about "how do i design something that have an Impact on a very Large scale Thing, without looking like - yeah ima fiering my lasor!- like" $\endgroup$ – Fulli Sep 18 '14 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Fulli I think reworded there's no reason the question can't work. It's just what you're after is more about story telling than building/destroying the sphere in the first place. I'm worried that the suggestions you actually want are off topic in WordBuilding - that's not to say it wouldn't be suited to another SE site! $\endgroup$ – Liath Sep 18 '14 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ At RPG they would send me to Space, at space they would send me to physics, at physics they would send me to prg... Worldbuilding is the one place where this can be asked. I mean you answerd to the multible moon question mainly with physics. I would like - as i said destroy the thing and leave a scrap field the party can search later. IMO this is still worldbuilding ;). but if the majority dont think that i will delete the question. $\endgroup$ – Fulli Sep 18 '14 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Fulli I know what you mean that's why I tried to throw some suggestions out there before I came here - This is the point of the beta process, lets see. Post an answer and argue your perspective - I'm still on the fence! $\endgroup$ – Liath Sep 18 '14 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ I haven't read the question yet, but just FYI, plot generation ("what should I write?") is off-topic on Writers. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Sep 18 '14 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ I rephrased the question. $\endgroup$ – Fulli Sep 18 '14 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ Major, world altering events should be on topic. Now if you ask, what should character x do after the apocalypse?!? That is decidedly off topic. But asking how a place would look, or what the likely impacts post event are I think fit here nicely. $\endgroup$ – James Nov 6 '14 at 14:48
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History building is an important factor of world building. History building is also pretty much the same as active story building, just that the writer is the one moving all parts and roles.

That isn't to say it's automatically on-topic though - I think it's valuable to consider whether we as a community want to assist in running worlds in the same way we do creating worlds. Personally I feel it can easily detract from the goal we have as a site, if we start mixing in people actively running their worlds. This is as a result a really tricky problem to think about.

The ease of parallel between "history" and "story" means we can transform these but I would suggest we not just do that in all cases. Rather, look at what the question is asking, look at the underlying problem, and ask, "Do I think this is a valuable thing for world building?" If the answer is yes, then we can use edits to help shape the question to be less about the story and more about the history. That is, assuming that the scope of the question remains useful on the site - something far too contrived or narrow may just not be useful for people at all.

Sometimes, or perhaps even often-times, that answer will be no. If someone comes in here asking about this huge political tangle caused by the players in the story, that's probably not something we want to deal with. Whether these players are operated by the writer alone or by friends in roleplay, there's a distinct difference between something being background data and something being active developments. "Player interference" can be an easy measure for whether or not something is in our comfort zone. "Event driven", as explained in Godric Seer's answer, is another key sign of acceptability. There's a difference twixt writing to produce a particular backdrop or setting, which is what we do here, and writing to allow for a particular event or dramatic structure, which is not what we do here. The line isn't a clear black-and-white, unfortunately, but it's one we would have to judge based on. I prefer salvage over outright shutdown but this I feel can easily lean more often to unsalvageable. As long as we don't stay blind to what can be fixed to something that we find useful in worldbuilding, though, I think it can work.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea of drawing a line between player-/character-driven and event-driven. The former is more about character design, whereas the latter can be on topic (but does not have to be). $\endgroup$ – a CVn Sep 20 '14 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ Definitely a grey area since characters and events are not distinct things (a geography changing disaster could be triggered by a single character, a population, or something unrelated to characters). $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Sep 21 '14 at 17:07
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In My Opinion:

Storytelling is the thing the worlds built here are made for. Therefore questions with storytelling in the back of our heads are essential to keep the whole community fresh.

If you label every question where "in my story there is ..." and "they do ... " with off topic and send them to other SE pages you scare the new members away. WorldBuilding has many crossovers with physics, space, rpg, languages, economy and who know what else! So you could set the side up as a "post question here to get redirected to some other SE side" or you could be more like "nice that you questioned this here and not on this SE side, let me try to answer your question".

If the core of the questions is about building a world (what in my understanding is also building living things that need to take actions fitting into the world) and have some side notes that the question is asked with that bit RPG in mind, it is here to answer.

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    $\begingroup$ @ Liath: thanks again for the editing $\endgroup$ – Fulli Sep 18 '14 at 14:33
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I agree with your assessment that the Dyson sphere question is likely off topic. The problem is that there isn't a well defined line between stories and event-driven worlds. Personally I think we should draw the line depending on which types of answer and which driving forces are involved. For instance, "What events can cause this change in the world at large?" could likely work. "What world structure would lead to these sorts of events?" could also likely work. "What events can cause this future event to happen?" is off-topic.

The dyson sphere question wants the players to leave the dyson sphere. It is asking for events that would lead to this (although it does limit to a specific world change to drive this). While the means passes through a global event, it is still one event driving another and therefore more story-telling than world building. The answers do not depend on the world involved.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree with your on/off-topic examples. The key difference (which I explicitly call out in my answer) is that the first two are open-ended to achieve a specific result, and the last one is just open-ended. $\endgroup$ – Bobson Sep 18 '14 at 15:06
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This question could be saved with an edit to ask what would cause a sphere to be completely destroyed and what would the effect be. The current version is too much about how does the story work and not enough about how the dyson sphere would start the destruction, be destroyed etc.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know why this has been down voted, seems perfectly reasonable to me! $\endgroup$ – Liath Sep 19 '14 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ Upvoted - I don't understand the silent downvote either. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Sep 21 '14 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ Seems quite reasonable as to me as well. $\endgroup$ – DonyorM Sep 23 '14 at 3:57
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As I said in my answer about list questions, I think questions like this should be on topic here, but only within my proposed tag.

That tag would be specifically for open-ended questions about accomplishing a specific result, such as "How do I make {this thing} happen, given {these} constraints?"

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  • $\begingroup$ If you have a world you want to brainstorm about, take it to the brainstorming room $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Sep 24 '14 at 14:13

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