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Welcome to the Sandbox!

This "Sandbox" is a place where Worldbuilding.SE users can get feedback on prospective questions they wish to post. This is useful, because new and experienced users can have trouble writing a clear and fully specified question.

  • There is a much better chance of your question being well received if you post it in the Sandbox first.

If you're here to help mentor Sandbox questions (THANK YOU!), jump to the "Helping in the Sandbox" section. If this sandbox has grown too full, jump to the "Maintenance" section.

  • Please don't vote on any of the proposed questions in the Sandbox. Votes don't mean anything here and you could inadvertently bias others who might help, or worse, make a new person feel like their question writing skills are hopeless. Or worse yet, much better than they are. If you think a question is good, leave a note of encouragement and a helpful tip. If you think a question is bad, leave a note of encouragement and offer your help to make it better!

Posting to the Sandbox

Please take the time to read through the Help Center > Asking pages. We know it's a lot to read, but those pages contain the rules our mentors are using to judge your proposed question. If you have not taken the time to read through them, we ask that you do. It would also be beneficial to read through our Meta posts about high concept questions, open-ended questions, and what "primarily opinion-based" means on a creative site like Worldbuilding.SE.

To post a question to the Sandbox: Post an answer to this post with the content of your proposed question. You can create as many answers as you have proposed questions, but it is recommended that you only work on one question at a time. The content of the post should be as close as possible to the format you would use when asking on the main site. If you would like, you may add a section at the bottom explaining what parts of the proposed question you are most worried about (See the Sandbox FAQ for more information on suggested syntax).

Once you have posted your proposed question, users will be able to comment on it with feedback. You can then respond to their feedback with comments of your own, or make edits to your post to attempt to address their feedback (after editing, be sure to notify the user via a comment of your own, use @username in your comment to make this happen). The feedback/edit cycle can go on for as long as needed until either you are confident that your question is ready to be asked on the main site, or you've decided the question just won't work.

  • Please be patient. While most sandbox reviews can be completed in a couple of days, some questions may require a week or more for review.

Finally, please ignore votes. We've asked mentors to not vote for Sandbox questions because questions change here too frequently. Nevertheless, those index fingers hovering over left mouse buttons are trained to vote, so votes occasionally appear. Please completely ignore votes that happen to appear for your proposed question.

When your question is ready

  1. Post it to the main site.
  2. Add a link to your main-site post to the bottom of the "Graduated Questions" list. The list is the accepted answer to this post.
  3. Edit your Sandbox post so that it only contains the title and a link to the main-site post. Delete everything else.
  4. Delete all of your comments.
  5. Finally, delete your Sandbox post. Users with enough rep can still see the post, but it will be moved automatically to the bottom of the answer list, making this Sandbox easier to use.

If you abandon your question

Occasionally a Sandbox question is abandoned. While crafting the question, you may discover the answer. Or you may realize that the question's basic premise can't be expressed within the rules of Worldbuilding.SE. You may also simply forget that you have a question in the Sandbox. If you decide to abandon the question:

  1. Edit your Sandbox post so that it only contains the title and a notice (e.g., "Abandoned question."). Delete everything else.
  2. Delete all of your comments.
  3. Finally, delete your Sandbox post. Users with enough rep can still see the post, but it will be moved automatically to the bottom of the answer list, making this Sandbox easier to use.

Please be aware that questions without activity (edits to your question or comments left by you) for more than one month may be judged abandoned and removed. We'll leave a comment or two to get your attention, but eventually, forgotten questions will be cleaned up and deleted.

Helping in the Sandbox

We are sincerely grateful for the many users who help mentor questions and new users here in the Sandbox. Sharing your experience adds considerably to the quality and enjoyment of the site. We invite you to help us by adhering to the following policies.

Keep the Sandbox clean. In order to keep the Sandbox clean users are encouraged to look out for questions that have not seen any activity in some time.

  1. If you notice the OP has not edited his/her proposed question or left a comment in 2 or more weeks, please tap the OP on the shoulder with a comment (e.g., "Are you still working on this question? This draft might be deleted if there is no further activity.")
  2. If you notice the OP has not edited his/her proposed question or left a comment in more than a month, please flag the question for moderator attention (e.g., "This Sandbox question has been inactive for a month."). Please do not take it upon yourself to delete the OP's question.

Delete your comments when they no longer apply. Please make it easy for others to see which comments are still relevant to the discussion by removing your obsolete comments. In addition you can ask a mod to purge comments under graduated posts or move them to chat under abandoned posts to make it easier for users that can see deleted posts to use the Sandbox.

Please do not vote on proposed questions. Questions in the Sandbox frequently change (it's why they're here) — and the moment they change your vote may no longer reflect your beliefs. It's unreasonable to expect mentors to constantly watch Sandbox questions and there is no automatic way (indeed, there's no way at all…) to notify voters when a question is edited. It is better to use comments. If you feel the question should be downvoted, explain the problem in a comment. If you feel the question is ready for the main site, say so in a comment. The dates on the comments allow other people to judge the relevance of your statements.

Please do not answer questions here. We know it's tempting, but answering the question in a comment will clog the comments and may not even be relevant to the final form of the question. If you have an answer for the proposed question, simply wait for it to be posted to the main site, and answer it there.

Please do not edit a proposed question unless you have the OP's permission to do so. The purpose of the Sandbox is two-fold: (a) to perfect a question and (b) to help users learn to craft good questions. If you jump in and fix a question you've subverted (b). Whenever possible, let the OP edit their proposed question. Exception: If a question has been deleted but not properly cleaned up, help us out by editing the question to remove everything but the title. Thanks!

See the Sandbox FAQ for more information on how to use the Sandbox.


This section is referred to when a new sandbox is created. In order to make the Sandbox easier to use, a new Sandbox question will be posted when the old one becomes too full (between 75 and 100 sandbox questions).

Whomever creates the new page: be sure you want to be actively involved with the Sandbox, because until it gets replaced in the future, you'll be notified of every proposed question and every comment.

(A) Update this previous sandbox list:

The previous sandbox post should be locked as obsolete by a moderator and renamed to "Inactive Sandbox [Date]." Please add a link to the top of the old sandbox page to the new Sandbox.

If there are active questions in the old Sandbox, leave a comment for the users indicating that the old sandbox is closing and they either need to wrap up (preferred) or re-post the question in the new Sandbox.

(B) Update these links after the new Sandbox is created:

(C) Create the "Graduated Question List" answer and mark it a "Community Wiki."

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I have locked the previous sandboxes as "obsolete". This should avoid confusion with the duplicate, since they hardly have the same content. For future reference, just flag the to-be-closed sandbox for mod attention requesting it to be obsoleted. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Dec 11, 2022 at 18:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Reminder to readers : Please do not vote on proposed questions. At least 2 persons/accounts skipped the sandbox's rules recently. For everyone's sake please read them and apply them carefully. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Dec 30, 2022 at 22:51
  • $\begingroup$ Maintenance question: is it appropriate to up/downvote a proposed question to get it to zero? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Mar 2 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas I do. People aren't supposed to be voting and bias of any kind isn't the point here, but it's hard to break a habit. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 5 at 1:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas :-) Your edit is the third time "please don't vote" is mentioned in the post. I'm OK with it... but I doubt anything will change. Based on how users use the Sandbox, very few of them read the instructions. C'est la vie. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 6 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH --- I didn't see the third one! (oops!) I figured that if the message were closer to the top, it might get seen and processed early on. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Mar 7 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ Question : What should be done when no one comments under your post? Should the question follow the sandbox procedure (->adding it to the question list, etc.), or should it be discarded silently and posted on main, without any link to the sandbox? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 1 at 7:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena You've discovered the weakness in the system. The Sandbox only works when a bunch of people are regularly participating. That was once true - but today few have the time to participate. I'd hate to suggest that the Sandbox's time has come and gone, but were I a querent with an unaddressed question in the Sandbox after 30 or 60 days, I'd post it on Main - and if anybody complained on Main, I'd post a link back to the Sandbox with the question, "where've you been?" $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 1 at 7:25
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I'll follow your advice ^^. This also implies I can't get my own questions reviewed, since it looks like I'm kinda the last one here 🦋. I can almost hear the tumbleweeds rolling, western movie style 😅. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jun 1 at 13:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena It seriously hurt the value of the Sandbox when our Stack Exchange Overlords decided to discontinue the community ads. That was how we kept people reminded to stop in. Those ads were very effective. I assume SE wanted the space for monetization purposes, but that's only a pessimistic guess. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 1 at 15:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I concur: if a query has sat here uncommented on, the OP is well within rights to post it on main, and if anyone there complains, put it back on them that they didn't help when help was sought. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jun 1 at 17:39

11 Answers 11


Graduated Questions List

In accordance with Sandbox policy, answers containing graduated questions will be deleted. This answer is designed to be a repository for all those questions that have graduated. It is a community wiki answer, so add in your question here, at the end of the list, once it is posted on the main site! Position #1 is an example of how to do this to get the ball rolling.

  1. Sandbox for proposed Questions
  2. How large of a magma chamber do I need to geothermally power a small city?
  3. How can muscle atrophy due to long gestation in artificial wombs be avoided?
  4. Knocking Out Zombies
  5. How to map arms of the galaxy?
  6. How would I go about establishing phenotype in the case of co-dominance where mixed phenotype is not an option?
  7. How can I determine gene expression in cases of multiple co-dominant genes?
  8. Surviving Organ Failure


I am posting this question in the sandbox because:

  1. It is huge, and the chances I'm making some kind of mistake are correspondingly high.
  2. It has a weird format for a question, and I'm not sure if there's a better way to construct it.
  3. It may appear to some readers to be about brainstorming, and I would like to find out how common that perspective is and maybe have a chance to defend/explain, if necessary.
  4. I really care about this question and want to give it the best chance it has.

If you are able and willing to take the time to read it and give me feedback, thank you! I greatly appreciate it.

ForeverWorld: What problems require intervention?


Suppose a god-like entity of some kind (Q from Star Trek? Stargate's Oma Desala? The Author of a fantasy world?) has an earth-like world that he would like to preserve, roughly in its current kind of state, Forever. Not just until the sun goes nova...Forever. Not just until the heat death of the universe...for actual ever. However, obviously, this will require various interventions. A planet like earth is always changing and evolving, and various entropies will eventually render it un-earthlike. The goal of this question is to list all (or as many as are knowable) of the problems that would require intervention for our Q-lookalike to maintain the planet in an earth-like state, Forever.

Scope and constraints

  • We are not concerned with the entity's powers or what kind of interventions he may or may not make. For the purposes of this question, we are only listing the problems that require intervention, not attempting to suggest the interventions themselves.

  • We are concerned with problems that affect the planet itself, and by extension, its sun and moon. Problems affecting galaxies, stellar neighbourhoods, and the greater cosmos are out of scope for this question. We can pretend, if you like, that the sun, moon, and planet are the sole contents of an otherwise empty and stable infinite vacuum.

  • If there are two or more related problems that seem like they would be solved by a single intervention, I would still like to list all of them. For example, the loss of the planet's plate tectonics and the loss of its magnetic field both result from the loss of convection in the mantle/core, but it's desirable to list all three problems--not just the loss of convection.

  • Similarly, if there is a slow-acting problem that would only occur if other faster-acting problems were mitigated by unknown, "black-boxed" interventions, it's desirable to list this problem too. For example, if orbit-decay via gravity waves only becomes a problem long after the sun would have died, let's assume that an intervention prevents the sun from dying--so we will need to contend with the problem of orbital decay via gravity waves.

  • We are not concerned with problems arising from the actions of humans or intelligent species and their impacts on the planet/moon/sun. These are simply out of scope for this question.

Helpful answers

I have listed as many effects as I can think of that meet these criteria. I've broken them down in categories and assigned them IDs so that other dependent effects can reference them. I've also indicated where I am uncertain if an effect is legitimate and invite correction.

A helpful answer will:

  • Confirm, amend, correct or refute any relevant effects I've already listed

  • Enumerate any additional effects I am missing; preferably categorizing and referencing other relevant effects

Effects list

Sun, Moon & Orbits

1.1 Over time, the sun will run out of fuel for fusion; after forever, it will be dead and emit no light.

1.2 Over time, the sun will run out of fuel for fusion; after forever, it will have destroyed the planet via red giant stage and/or nova.

1.3 Over time, planet will transfer rotational energy into moon's orbit; after forever, the moon will be further away.

1.4 Over time, planet will transfer rotational energy into moon's orbit; after forever, the planet will be rotating slower.

1.5 Over time, planet & moon will lose orbital energy via friction with solar wind; after forever, the planet & moon will crash into the sun.

1.6 Over time, the moon will lose mass via spalling from solar wind; after forever, the moon will be destroyed. [Uncertain!]

1.7 Over time, planet & moon will lose orbital energy via gravity waves; after forever, the planet & moon will crash into the sun. [Uncertain!]

1.8 Over time, planet & moon will gain or lose orbital energy via light pressure; after forever, the planet & moon will crash into the sun or be moved to a different orbit. [Uncertain!]

Lithosphere & Core

2.1 Over time, the planet's core and mantle will shed heat and cool; after forever, it will be dead and frozen.

2.2 Over time, the planet's radioactive elements will decay; after forever, there will be no more radioactive elements.

2.3 Over time, the planet's heavy elements will sink to the core; after forever, there will be no more heavy elements in the crust/mantle.

2.4 The planet's magnetic field depends on convection in the core; because of 2.1, it will lose its magnetic field.

2.5 The planet's tectonic movement depends on convection in the mantle; because of 2.1, it will lose its tectonic movement.


3.1 Over time, hydrogen in the planet's atmosphere will escape into space; after forever, the atmosphere will have lost all its free hydrogen.

3.2 Over time, water in the planet's atmosphere is photolysed; because of 3.1, the atmosphere will lose all its water.

3.3 Over time, even molecules of heavier gasses occasionally escape into space; after forever, the atmosphere will escape into space. [Uncertain!]


4.1 Over time, the planet's oceans will accummulate salts; after forever, they will have a greatly increased salinity [Uncertain!]

4.2 Over time, water in the ocean evaporates; because of 3.2, the oceans will disappear via evaporation.


5.1 Many kinds of geographical features are formed by tectonics; because of 2.5; those kinds of features will stop occurring.

5.2 Some kinds of geographical features are formed by wind erosion; because of 3.3; those kinds of features will stop occurring.

5.3 Many kinds of geographical features are formed by water erosion; because of 4.2; those kinds of features will stop occurring.


6.1 Evolution of life is an ongoing and non-cyclical process; after forever, ??? [Uncertain!]

This (6.1) is a weird one, and I expect to be asking about it in a separate question. Feel free to comment on it if you already know of relevant research or resources, but otherwise I expect it's better to wait for the dedicated question.

6.2 Life depends on many conditions; because of 3.3, 4.2, or several among 1.*, life would die out.

  • $\begingroup$ This is far too broad a question for this site. You're asking us to generate an open ended list for you. We're here to answer questions about specific worldbuilding issues you have. Asking us to list any problems we can come up with is the opposite of a specific question. You'll need to edit this down to focus on a single issue rather than an open ended request for comments. While you're at it you should edit the post for brevity and readability. It took me far too long to figure out what you were actually asking. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 19 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ "A helpful answer will: Confirm, amend, correct or refute any relevant effects I've already listed". This means that there are, 1, 2, 3... 24 questions + the big one asking for more problems. Minus some which could be merged together. Gasp 😵. It's the first time I see someone deliberately wanting to get into so much troubles 😛. What you're currently asking is to write the whole book/movie/game/other art in your stead, it will be too big to handle for anyone. And well the wheel, let's not forget the absence of criteria of which answer would be better ^^'.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jan 19 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ [...] One way I thought of dealing with breaking stuff is to ask for the most important issue in a work domain -geology, astrophysics...-, with "important" being defined : fastest to happen, most damaging, ... That way you move from lots of answers to a few good ones relatively scalable to others. Alternatively, ask internal-consistency questions about your list : Imagining X planetary situation, would this Y event happen eventually to the scale I'm picturing (if not dealt)?Again, this moves from many answers to basically 2 with their explanations : yes/no. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jan 19 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ The goal of this question is to list all (or as many as are knowable) of the problems that would require intervention So long as that is your goal, this question will always be closed. Stack Exchange is not a free research service and the Stacks aren't here to substitute for an education - and that's basically what you're asking for. See the help center's book rule. Questions are required to be focused, specific, and answerable with a reasonable objectivity that can result in selecting a best answer. By definition, your goal precludes that. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 22 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ Please bear in mind that this question is asking for an off-topic infinite list of things vs a well-scoped question asking for a finite list of things. Also, nearly every item you list in your "Effects List" is an answer to your question. The help center states, "To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers." $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 22 at 3:55
  • $\begingroup$ Finally, nearly every question that asks, "what did I miss?" is closed because, by definition, the answer is open-ended (building on the infinite list of things problem, the help center states, "To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question."). I can't see any way to salvage this question. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 22 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ Is this question still active? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 14 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I mean...with the feedback I've gotten, it doesn't look easy. But I'd appreciate a brief conversation about your last point. Perhaps if we can deal with the "open-ended"ness of my question, there may be a way to salvage it by breaking it down into smaller-scoped questions. Here are two questions I've already asked that asked for lists of things: $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Feb 14 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ Both seemed reasonably well received, and I'm guessing that it's because both times, the "list" of things I was asking for was of a reasonably narrow scope, and reasonably objective. For my new question here, I'd like to think that the list of things I'm asking for isn't actually subjective, but just....really big. If I were to break it down into a bunch of narrower-scoped questions (eg. What are all the effects that, with enough time, would eventually de-orbit a planet?), hopefully they would be as well-received as my previous questions. Does that make sense? Or am I still missing something? $\endgroup$
    – Qami
    Feb 14 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ That does makes sense. If we can scope this down to the Finite List of Things, then we're good to go. "Really big" means it violates the Book Test (see help center), basically, too broad. I'd have to hunt, but somewhere in the help center SE states that it's looking for more-or-less one-page answers. Enough to be thorough for the type of questions they're looking for. But, unfortunately, nowhere near enough for what this question as scoped asks. However, please note that I think you'll have trouble narrowing the scope. Too much of what you're asking about is interdependent. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 25 at 4:41
  • $\begingroup$ Is this sandbox post still active? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 1 at 17:14

What's the next species to be domesticated by humans

So, in my world-building project, 700 years in the future, humanity has advanced to the point of having a small interstellar empire. This is all just back story, I just want help writing this question:

What's the next species to be likely domesticated by humans?

  • Foxes and Hedgehogs, domesticated in the 1950s and 1980s respectively, have at this point become common pets on earth, foxes being even popular alternatives to dogs in interstellar colonization do too (REASON UNDETERMINED)
  • Personal candidates: Capybaras, reindeer (only partly domesticated), Corvids, Leopord Gekos, Bearded dragons, and most common Exotic pets
  • I really have no idea on how to ask this question or even where in the wider Stack Exchange network this would really fit into
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ (a) By definition, the next one will be the Russian Red Fox, which is well enough along that it could claim official domestication within the next 20-30 years. In other words, what research have you done to determine ongoing domestication efforts? (b) Otherwise, this is a (VTC) story-based question. The next domesticated animal is the one your story needs to forward its plot. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 6 at 5:43
  • $\begingroup$ Is this sandbox post still active? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 1 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ I have no idea. $\endgroup$ Mar 1 at 17:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm disappointed that no one has stepped in to give you more insight. I'd like to go put a "we need help in the sandbox!" post on Meta. Do you want to wait for that and see if we can get more comments? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 1 at 17:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JBH yeah, that'll work $\endgroup$ Mar 1 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ I would consider the reasons, as near as we can figure thousands of years later, why certain animals were domesticated in the first place. Sheep = wool and meat; goats = independent, meat & milk; dogs = partnership; foxes = because we can. And then move that rationale forward: consider your space faring tech level and infrastructure; what are the needs of colonial systems if any; what other sophonts have they met; what niches actually need to be filled; which animals are most likely to even be domesticable. When you get some of the background information sorted, then it just becomes (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Mar 2 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) a matter of formatting your question. Generally the Four Point Question format (Background, Pertinent Information, Restatement of Question, Criteria & Considerations for the Respondent) works best. You've already got B, your opening paragraph and first bullet point. PI will be some of the things I asked you to consider. R will an amplification of your marquee / title question. C&C will be where you tell us respondents what you're actually looking for. If you like capybaras and reindeer, this is where you'll tell us. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Mar 2 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH --- Foxes are soooo cuwute! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Mar 2 at 6:00

Lengthening Earth’s Day/Night Cycle

Tags geophysics hard-science post-apocalypse humans science-based

Proposed Question Which of these is the most scientifically plausible way to bring the Earth to a 28- to 30-hour day (i.e. rotation speed) in the “near future” (~200 years) for my post-apocalyptic, world-building concept?

  • A. Asteroid impact?
  • B. Neutron star fly-by?
  • C. A closer moon?
  • D. Internal disruption to Earth’s core (inner or outer)?
  • E. Other?: ____________


• Killing off most (but not all) of humanity is not a problem; it’s preferred.
• Major geophysical disasters expected.
• Earth’s orbit may or may not be affected.
• Tidal locking NOT preferred.
• Reduction in magnetic field is expected.

Sandbox Questions

  1. Is a multiple-choice-type question acceptable? The options are based on the research I’ve already done.
  2. Is an open-ended “Other?” at the end acceptable?
  3. I think this question works here in “Worldbuilding” as it’s the geophysics basis of the world being built, but if you think otherwise, let me know.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (a) The hard-science and science-based tags are mutually exclusive. It's worth reading both tag wikis, especially the wiki for hard-science. That tag is ruthless. (b) It is VERY worth your time to review this series of questions from one user asking how to change the rotation of Venus. Almost anything you ask will likely be closed as a duplicate of those questions. (c) Asking if A-D can solve your problem is asking four questions. Asking multiple questions is specifically (*Continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 25 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ ... a reason to close questions. Yes, they're similar, but they also require very different analyses. Thus, the Q as asked, if not closed as a duplicate, would be closed as Needs More Focus (asking more than one question). (d) "E" is dangerous to ask because it's open-ended and Stack Exchange prohibits that (see help center). (e) Multiple-choice questions are only acceptable when the consequence of each option is already known and you're asking for the better option for your given circumstance. In this case, those consequences are not known. (*Continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 25 at 4:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ... (e) As mentioned, open-ended questions are prohibited. In fact, it's worth your time to carefully read our tour and the following two pages, help center and help center, to better understand the limits of this site. There are limits, some imposed by this Stack, but most imposed by Stack Exchange. (f) Otherwise, yes, this is a great question for here. However, please note that we grew tired of that other user asking question-after-question about changing Venus' rotation. If his Qs don't solve your problem, you'll need to be very specific and very focused. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 25 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Well, you have certainly given me a lot to consider here. I will do so and appreciate your in-depth response. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – eHaraldo
    Feb 26 at 18:44

How does one go about creating the biology and character of a non-physical life-form?

One of my protagonists is a scientist of unspecified fields of study, who managed to open a gate to what he terms "The Void". How he managed this is irrelevant. Most of the story thus far has taken place in the various "universes" of a multiverse. Upcoming parts of the story, however, directly involve "The Void" and is integral to the larger plot and themes of the story.

"The Void" in this story is misleadingly named. It is not an incomprehensibly vast or eternal space, but it is the nonexistence of space and time. For lack of better terms, I'll refer to it as a place, despite there not being any physical space to it. The void is described in the story as being Nothing and Everything. It is absent of any and all physical matter, forces, and fields. However it is differentiated from the concept of true Nothingness and nonbeing as it is a metaphysical plane where abstractions, non-physical systems, and even concepts exist and interact. "The Void" is that from which the "Universes" spring, a kind of pure potentiality.

Though physical things can't really be in this place, as there's not physical space, they can enter the void as a consciousness. However unlike with a physical body there are no physical laws and biological functions that can create or regulate that consciousness. They can maintain their mental processes such as reasoning, emotion, learning, sensation (now only to non-physical forces), imagining, and memory. However their ability to maintain this consciousness and all the different processes and functions relies entirely upon the strength of their sense of self and their unwavering belief in their own existence.

Nouns, verbs, and other language can be lost as their memory disintegrates and they lose their own name and the proper names required for functional communication, and they become unable to create or recall concepts and ideas. Emotions are tied to concepts and ideas as well as perceptions, since they cannot form or remember constructs their ability perceive things breaks down since this information can no longer be used, and emotions break down as they can no longer uphold an internal structure of the self. Without the sense of self, the consciousness begins break down and the rest of their functions crumble as well. Once their belief in their own existence fails, or rather their ability to believe, they cease to exist all-together.

A somewhat brief explanation is given later, by a character who in theory knows a lot about reality but who is somewhat suspect in his accuracy, on the creation of Universes in the Void. Since the nature of the Void is that it is potentiality, it is malleable to a certain extent. Ideas, concepts, and abstractions can coalesce into frameworks that are strong enough to move from potential to actual. In layman's terms, the sheer amount of power in their belief of their own existence and sense of self actively allows them to transform into a physical universe.

This nature of ideas and thought being part of how this world operates is seen in other ways as well. One can't travel through the void in the physical way. There is no distance between one universe and another. To move between them, one has to either use the strength of their imagination to force a method of movement onto a non-physical plane (like convincing yourself that you're in a car driving seven miles along a road and the arrival at your destination, or in a ship flying through space, or in a boat on a river, or walking on a path), or they must bring themselves metaphysically close to another universe by traveling through ideas and forms (if you think about the universe you're going to in a way that describes its exact parameters and nature, such as knowing the universe's name, you'll find yourself already there).

The actual writing of this has been largely experimental, full of non-linear sequences and things like the total blacking out of nouns as the character begins to fall apart. But as a part of the narrative I need to introduce the notion of things actually living in the Void.

Of course, any non-physical life-forms can be comprised of any material being that becomes lost or stuck there as a consciousness but is mentally stable and strong enough to maintain itself. However what I want is beings who not only live in the Void, but are its natural inhabitants. Beings of pure thought or abstraction, or living ideas, or living systems.

While I'm not limited in anthropomorphized options such as a personified Death, I want to explore a more alien aspect. Religion is full of Spiritual beings. Angels, deities, personifications, faeries, and much more. But since the character observing these beings is a scientist who has spent a lot of time resisting these terms, I don't want to use those kinds of terms or descriptions.

I had the idea to take some characteristics outlined in Biology as descriptive definitions for what constitutes life. These are:

  1. Homeostasis: the regulation of an internal environment to maintain a constant state.
  2. Organization: The structures and systems of multiple parts to make a complex but ordered whole.
  3. Metabolism: the transformation of energy into a form that can be used to maintain internal functions.
  4. Growth: The increased complexity and parts of the system, fueled by a metabolism that has a higher rate of energy intake than waste disposal.
  5. Adaptation: the process where the organism becomes better suited to live in its environment.
  6. Response to Stimuli: In this case, all stimuli must be non-physical in nature.
  7. Reproduction: The ability to produce new individual organisms either asexually or sexually.

Though an actual consensus on the definition of life doesn't exist, life as we understand it has been known to exhibit all or most of these characteristics.

This method was met with some measures of success. One can apply 1,2,4, and 7 to a system, such as a complex mathematical formula. If I'm willing to stretch those definitions creatively I can also attribute forms of 3 and 6 to a mathematical formula as well. And it's specifically stated that I don't need all of the requirements to count something as being alive, just most of them.

But while this method does give me a way to justify the existence of non-physical life forms (at least enough for the story), it hasn't really provided a very helpful method in making beings I can actually have my protagonist interact with in their own "environment". Since the Void is an immaterial reality, the mind of a physical being might be able to translate its metaphysical perceptions into forms that the mind would be able to comprehend. That would result in a chaotic dream-like place bereft of sequential time and normal spaces. Which, while I feel might be a step in the right direction in portraying the Void itself during certain scenes, hasn't been enough to help me push forward on the problem of the inhabitants.

Primarily this feels like a problem of how to take this concept of immaterial life forms and write them in a way that the characters can at least interact with them while moving through the narrative. The closest I've managed to get to success thus far is the main character being assaulted by a number of "whispering voices" who nearly managed to convince him that he didn't exist, like some kind of siren power, but fled the mental contact when he reaffirmed his existence and identity through sheer force of will.

What are some options for how to turn this concept into a series of functioning and interactive, if still non-physical, characters?

Sandbox Questions

  1. How can I improve/adapt this question? Have I provided enough information? Is that information comprehensible?
  2. Formatting the question itself gave me issues as I don't know the exact source of my problem and thus had trouble narrowing the focus down to a more practical question. How might I improve the question so that it's less nebulous and more easily answerable? Or alternatively, how might I break this topic down into separate and better questions?
  3. What tags would this even fit into? Philosophy? Writing? Xenobiology? I'm not sure that it fits exactly into any of these, though they are connected.
  • $\begingroup$ You do realize that if time does not exist in The Void then stories cannot exist in the The Void? And that whatever objects you imagine there cannot interact, because interaction is a sequence of events, and without time there are no sequences of events? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 16 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ This is quite the unusual question and universe; Reminds me of both lucid dreaming and The Elder Scrolls's CHIM superpower state. Let's take down each of your questions now. The easiest first, question 3 : You should be able to use any of the following tags with ease alien, life, philosophy, dimensions. I suggest to at least have one of the first two, since it's your main topic. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 16 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ Now for the really important stuff (you can mess up tags, few really care :) ), question 1 and question 2. Let's begin with understandability and organization, which is the second easiest thing : You can divide your question in more sections. For instance : "What is the void-verse?", "interacting with the void (ie. creating universes, self-existence and word crumble)?", and most importantly "what is the problem I have when making my void lifeforms?". Use the proper format for that 📝 (pile up "#" before your section title. More "#" is for subsections. Or add "="/"-" under the title). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 16 at 9:30
  • $\begingroup$ ""The Void" in this story is misleadingly named. It is not an incomprehensibly vast or eternal space, but it is the nonexistence of space and time." As cool-looking this sentence is, this will lead to a bunch of confusions + apparent contradictions as AlexP showed. There's time preventing... Well anything from happening, but there's also the very alien concept of having no space to hold anything yet containing lifeforms and Void travellers's consciousness.[...] $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 16 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ [...] Perhaps -and only if this matches your actual definition of the Void- this could be better described as an universe existing by the concepts brought into it : Nothing exists until it is brought into it, wherein it is crunched bits by bits and stop existing altogether. At least this solves the non-existence of time and space containing nothing. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 16 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding the core question you are asking, now. This is where it gets tricky. Do you have specific goals with your Void life in mind? In other words, what kind of interaction do you want? Are they a recurring threat to your Void travellers (ie. the siren power), a mystery said travellers are trying to research on, their new home pets, something else? I'm asking because I'm not quite sure where do you wish to go with them, and alas a direction is needed on Worldbuilding stack-exchange : questions where you cannot scale answers one to another are closed for being "opinion-based" :/ . $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 16 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ Finally, and perhaps it's the most important hint : Make sure you don't design one specific species and defining life as a whole at the same time. This can make things very hard for you to build upon. The bottom-up approach (->seeking interactions kinds) is probably the easiest here as it'll be closer to what your Void traveller will actually experience, or more accurately "experiment" : They will see weird stuff, then make (cor)relations with what they know and finally describe and categorize the lifeform as a whole. With such things you rarely have the whole picture from the start. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 16 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ You probably could drop the entire biology bit, as the Void is a thoughtspace(think World of Dreams from the Wheel of Time). I have a similar concept of my own, and creatures from the Void are only constructs of thought-physical spaces that exist there are the consequence of someone from a material universe intervening. $\endgroup$ Mar 25 at 19:00

I know I have another question being refined here. I'm not abandoning it.

Anyway, How would the coastlines of a chemical sea on a planet with extreme winds form? has the premise of a good question. Details are provided, but it's almost impossible to read and understand what the questioner actually wanted, so I'm gonna take a crack at making it more readable.

How would these weather conditions affect the structure of a chemical sea's coastlines?

On a particularly windy Earth-like planet, there is a sea with the following traits:

  • Size roughly equal to that of the Caspian Sea
  • Composition similar to Lake Natron, caused by the extreme density of chemicals in the soil, with some contribution from vents.

The main weather patterns on that planet are as follows:

  • A permanent cyclone in the planet's polar region, wind traveling south over the sea
  • A secondary permanent cyclone encircles the inside of the basin in a counter-clockwise direction, creating the local wind currents.

The lake itself has sediment beaches, and the beaches are encircled by rocky cliffs.

Given these conditions, how would the coastlines of this lake change over time? How would the cliffs shift on the lee and windward sides?

I assume deep gouges would first form in the windward cliffs, eventually disintegrating into nothing the closer they get to the shore, with huge drifts of chemical-salt formations, but I am uncertain how the lee side (the shore closest to the wind source) would be affected. I have thus far written it as an even slope with relatively mild geography in the shadow of the cliff. However, I also assume that on all sides there are counter-clockwise "scoops" of stone and arches, either of more chemical formations or cliff stone, with larger drifts of sediment on the Eastern shore, caused by sand pounding the more stable cliff-rock.

Tags remain the same, but ìnternal-consistency or science-based could be added. Not sure which, both have merit in the situation.

I also think that the way I structured the information at the start is a little clunky, feel free to edit.

  • $\begingroup$ Please only focus on revising one question at a time. We're volunteering out time to provide feedback, and help you learn how to ask good questions. Work with us to get one question to a good state at a time. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 4 at 4:31

This question may be part of the anatomically correct series, although as a new user I'm not sure.

In a Earth-like setting, what differences from real slime molds would this organism have? The defining characteristics of this organism are:

  1. living underground (a few centimeters or more)
  2. covering a vast area like Pando does (either alone, or more plausibly in a vast colony)
  3. having its spores spread aboveground (bigger and taller than real sime molds)
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how we can help you here :/. Let's disregard the fact you already state one difference in your question (spores being bigger/taller). What prevents you from checking some sources (wikipedia, youtube, books...) and check each of their attribute : Size, growth, feeding/reproduction method(s), resistances...? Indeed you know the best how you want your organism to be : If you give us enough details, you will already have enough to answer your own question, since... Well, you made it and I believe you took inspiration from said slime molds ^^". $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 1 at 9:52
  • $\begingroup$ @TortlienaI I understand perfectly. Maybe I can ask specifically how can slime molds live underground? $\endgroup$
    – lollo259
    Apr 1 at 10:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Iollo259 Yes, as long as it's your version of the slime mold and not the real world one ^^. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 1 at 10:27
  • $\begingroup$ The Anatomically Correct Series deals with a quasi-naturalistic quasi-evolution of reasonably classic creatures from myth, fantasy and sci-fi, etc. As such, you could certainly cast your question in that mold. Looking at what you've got, I agree with Tortliena, that this would almost certainly be met with comments along the lines of "let me google that for you". What we'd really like to see is a question that offers some kind of worldbuilding problem that needs solving. Maybe an evil mage has weaponised the slimemolds for use in his amusement dungeons and now they've escaped! (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 1 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) Or perhaps one kind of people relies on the slime molds as domesticated sources of X. But another kind of people live nearby who are preyed on or affected by the slime molds. How might they resolve the problem. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 1 at 16:51


How can a type II civilization harvest energy from supernovae?


As seen in this question, planetary objects surviving a supernova is a laughable concept without handwavium. The amount of energy being dumped by a supernova so ludicrously enormous that we have a hard time conceptualizing it.

Neutron stars output almost all their energy in neutrinos. The rest is in plasma remnants of the original star, or light generated during the process.

Of course, someone comes along and decides they need that energy. Assuming that they are somewhere past Type II on the Kardashev scale, how exactly would they go about this?

Requirements to consider the supernova harvested:

  • The greater part of energy produced by the supernova needs to be harvested.
  • Equipment can be single-use.
  • Remnant materials do not need to be harvested; as the civilization already does such things on a regular.

Answers cannot include:

  • Engineering the nova to not take place. Compressing it into a black hole and waiting until the heat death of the universe to get your energy back in a trickle of Hawking radiation is not helpful.
  • Extensive use of warping space; this method is going to be inherently inefficient.
  • Generous amounts of MumboJumbonium. Explanations need to be at least partly based in science (E.g. each collector is a stack of neutrinovoltaic cells that will be ablated away in the aftershock.)


  • Computer hardware is hardened against neutrino radiation that "leaks" through the collectors.
  • Materials science is considerably advanced(Metamaterials are common in-universe) -The civilization is capable of the automated construction of normal Dyson swarms, usually via disassembly of planetary bodies, but rarely, via lifting matter from the star itself.

Proposed tags: supernovas, megastructures, [JBH suggested changing science-based to science-fiction]

  • $\begingroup$ Are you actually looking for a science-based solution to a problem so far beyond our current technology that it's "indistinguishable from magic?" E.G., the Alcubierre drive is a mathematical hypothesis, not a technological fact. That hypothesis does not grant us insight into how such a drive can be built. I'm thinking this question violates the help center's book rule: too many issues must be addressed to have a science-fiction level answer. This is not a specific question, which is required by the help center. You're asking us to invent an entire technology. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 24 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ Let me address all that in a different way. What's your goal or expectation for asking this question? What are you going to do with the result? Let's say you wanted to know how to get energy from radioactive rods. Are you looking for this kind of answer, which would make sense for worldbuilding, or this kind of answer, which doesn't? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 24 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ So it was an infinite list problem. I think these problems could be solved by changing the question from "How" to "Can" and axing most of the background, as it's irrelevant, and as you said, detrimental to the usage of science-based $\endgroup$ Mar 24 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ Okay @JBH I did some recollection: the reason I want to harvest the energy is computational power. Such a thing was very briefly touched on in the linked answer(linking to another answer). $\endgroup$ Mar 25 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ @TheCommander I concur with JBH; The "infinite-list" feeling comes from the fact that it's very likely far beyond anyone's real world knowledge. This leads to a state where no answer using real world would be believable, meaning the only viable solution is to draw from the infinite source which is imagination :). Your proposal could work, just be sure to delimit clearly what you want to be checked vs what we should accept without ever complaining it would not work that way (#Frame-challenge). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 25 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena so adding a list of things an answer cannot include would help out in narrowing it, correct? $\endgroup$ Mar 25 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ Added a few no-gos and clarified the list into do's and don'ts. $\endgroup$ Mar 25 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena assumptions added as well; I am now drawing blanks. Perhaps you could dream up a frame challenge that works around my question? $\endgroup$ Mar 25 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ @TheCommander We're not on the same page ^^". I was talking about changing your question from "how to do it?" to "I have made this technomagic system, is this specific concept of it scientifically plausible (ie. can it be done?)?". This kind of question could be useful if you just want to explain/justify one part to make the whole believable, like using cold fusion power to explain how giants mechs are standing (disregarding for instance how it would crumble on itself without moving). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 27 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena so what I'm getting is: Change from "how to do it" to "Can I do it, given the following circumstances?" $\endgroup$ Mar 28 at 4:13
  • $\begingroup$ @TheCommander It's even more than circumstances; Think of this as an internal-consistency question : You invented something from the ground-up, and you want a specific part of it to be checked. "E.g. : I made a giant glass bottle house to live in. Disregarding how it would be made and in theory, would using wooden counterforts help make it support its own weight?" Emphasis on "in theory" : the idea is to work with the principle, as you will surely get downvoted (lacking research) if you ask to put a theory into a very, very impractical but concrete case, to say the least :). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Mar 29 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ comment purge probably necessary now; also @Tortliena edited to your suggestions. $\endgroup$ Apr 11 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ I have to take a step back from WB:SE for a while, something rather unpleasant happened. Do you have the time to have a look back @JBH... Or any other lucky one who read this comment? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 17 at 8:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I can take this. Sorry to hear about the unpleasantness. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 17 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ I've read the current question and the comments. You're close. What's missing at this point is a set of clear marching orders for respondents. The only practical answer to "Can a type II civilization harvest energy from supernovae?" is "yes." In other words, that's not a practical question to ask. Per the help center, questions must be specific and answerable. From your list of conditions and limitations, it appears you're asking, "how can a type II civ harvest...?" If that's correct, then we need to find the best way to express the question without it sounding like brainstorming. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 17 at 8:23

Why Does My World’s Sun Appear Blue to Its Inhabitants?

I’m think of making a world populated by humans (who have colonized and terraformed this planet) where the sun the planet orbits appears blue from the said planet’s surface. Visitors to this planet observe the same effect. What would cause this appearance of color? Here’s some thing’s I’ve considered, but I’m unsure about whether they would achieve the effect I’m after and not impact life on my planet:

  • The sun is a Blue Giant Star (the problem with this approach is that Blue Giant Stars can bombard orbiting planets with levels of UV light that would make them incredibly hot and uninhabitable).
  • A gas in the atmosphere causes the color to appear blue (I honestly have no idea what gas in the atmosphere could create this effect).
  • Some other astronomical phenomena around the sun causes the tint (I don’t know what astronomical phenomena could create this effect).

Some limitations (everything scientifically possible goes so long as):

  • The atmosphere must be safe for human life, animal life, and plant life (all of which should be assumed to be same as on Earth) without need of bubble colonies, space-suits, etc.
  • The light and heat energy from this sun cannot be harmful to human life (see above item), or other forms of life native to Earth.
  • This planet has two moons that provide a bit of light at night.

So my question is why does my planet’s sun appear blue to its inhabitants?

SANDBOX NOTES: Does this question follow the rules of a “well asked question”? I’m trying to improve the way I go about asking my questions. I recently discovered the help section and all of the useful resources there for making sure your questions follow the guidelines. So what do you think, do you think this question is appropriate for this community? I’d appreciate your feedback.

  • $\begingroup$ Does this question follow the rules of a well asked question? Is this suitable for the main? Or do I need to edit it? $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Apr 24 at 12:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? The fact that you do not know whether you want the atmosphere or some astronomical body to be the reason it looks blue will be likely a source of confusion. I suggest you take a look at the question I linked to better understand why something looks that way or another in the sky. It doesn't encompass everything you can learn, but you have a blue sun in there, so it's a great start! $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Apr 25 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Yes, that does kind of. Thank you for sharing that! I searched for blue suns in the stack exchange a couple of times before, and I don’t remember seeing this one. It seems to be about perfect if I choose to go with atmospheric filtration. The only thing I’m a bit concerned about is that none of those answers addressed whether or not the gasses added to the atmosphere’s to get these colors would be harmful to Earth life (life that originated on Earth). What I want to know is whether a sky like this would harm life. Perhaps I should narrow my question down a bit more for this. $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Apr 25 at 13:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the linked question was helpful, then I'd agree: focus on the gasses. I would suggest doing some basic research first. Find out how toxic those gasses may or may not be. Then you could certainly ask a question along the lines of "I have an Earthlike planet whose people need to see their star as blue. The atmosphere contains XYZ gas in P proportion. Is this amount of gas detrimental to terrestrial life?" $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 26 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Thank you, I will do that! I appreciate the advice! 👍🏻 $\endgroup$
    – Kal Madda
    Apr 26 at 3:23

How Do I Re-edit this question to make it more suitable?

TITLE: What is the safest spot for the Achilles heel mark for a warrior?


Most people are familiar with Achilles. The near indestructible Homeric hero whose one weak point on his whole body was one of his ankle/heels.

According to one myth, that's where his mother, Thetis, held him while dipping him in River Styx. I have read another one, where she kept him on burning fire but Achilles was prematurely pulled out of it via his ankle.

In Trojan Wars, Apollo guided Paris to strike Achilles on his otherwise vulnerable heel, thus killing him.


An ancient Geek warrior falls in the River Styx (A/N: why and how are irrelevant). Somehow, they survive and achieve Achilles' invulnerability. With invulnerability comes an Achilles heel. However, they can choose where to have this fatal weakness.

Question: Where is the best place to have an actual Achilles heel on one's body for a Greek-era warrior?

What is fatal to Achilles heel?

It is a circular spot of diameter 1.2 cm. It is not so sensitive that a slight poke from a finger or a little prick there would kill the person. This weak spot could stand light scratches and skin grazes. If injured deep enough, it is like a kill switch. Even if the point happens to be in place, if struck in normal condition, the person would have easily survived the wound.

Requirement and Considerations:

  • The person is a warrior.

  • The Achilles heel has to be well protected to not be harmed in such situations: war, skirmish or duels.

  • The Achilles heel spot neither leave visible mark nor feels different from normal skin.

  • The warrior can only use Greek-era armor and clothes. They can not use extra protection if it is easily visible to an enemy and might arouse curiosity.

  • Note, invulnerability is a highly visible power. After some time opponents would cotton on that this warrior is similar to Achilles and would try to actively find his Achilles Heel spot.

Considering the outfit, weapons, and fighting style of the ancient Greek era, pick the best point to have an Achilles' Weak Spot and provide an explanation to support your answer.

I have edited my question according to helpful directions given by reviewers. Does this constitute a well asked question? Should I structure my question more before it is good enough for main site.

  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately your question is fundamentally inappropriate for this site. You're not attempting to establish some fact about your world. The rules of your world are already established and you're asking about what a specific character will do within your world. The question is also structurally unsound. Stack Exchange is designed for questions with specific answers. Your question currently reads more like a discussion prompt than something that's going to have a single objectively better answer. While you could make edits to contort this to fit on WB I'd recommend against that. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    May 3 at 7:27
  • $\begingroup$ @ Avani Sphennings is the stricter one among us. There's definitely potential, but you need to turn your question around a bit so that people cannot nitpick it's story-based (what sphennings raised). For that, you should rephrase your question to something akin to "What is the safest spot for the Achilles heel mark for (I presume) a warrior?". That way you'll move the subjectivity of choosing to a more objective criterium (it's like the question "where was the location you risked to be hit the most in ancient times?"). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 3 at 11:10
  • $\begingroup$ You should also perhaps focus on a specific combat type (duels, full-sized battles...). Emphasis on "perhaps", I won't be torn in pieces if you don't do that :). $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 3 at 11:21
  • $\begingroup$ Then the tips below are true everywhere you are asking this question, even outside WB:SE : Does the character know they have the Achilles's mark, ie. can they add protection to this spot? What is the minimal surface area/size of the spot roughly : like you imprinted the bottom of a teacup on the skin, a bit more, less? This should clarify your constraints a little more ^^. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 3 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena Thanks for your suggestions. I have fixed the post. Is it better structured now? $\endgroup$
    – Avani
    May 3 at 16:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Avani --- This looks much better to me. It is no longer story based; you've got a focused query with sufficient detail for it to be reasonably objectively answered. The only thing I would suggest really doesn't have anything to do with your question: this isn't really much of an "Achilles heel" if the warrior is not actually vulnerable. Someone has to know where it is in order for the story to work properly. Otherwise, you've just got a character who is highly resistant to common weapons and the injuries they make. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 3 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Thanks for feedback. I will be changing that point. $\endgroup$
    – Avani
    May 4 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Avani I took the extreme (:p) freedom of fixing a typo (invulenrability -> invulnerability). I don't have much to add, and this current version passes my closure vote with ease, and likely the others's too ^^. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    May 4 at 16:38

How could a weapon be designed to hit in a ring around the point of impact?

Preliminary context

In my tactical turn-based, square grid based RPG game, I intend to add a wide variety of single use items with unique effects for the player. One of them would mechanically allow one of them to strike from a distance every enemy around one of its ally without harming said ally, offering good crowd-control and area-of-effect capabilities in a coop intensive game.

The area-of-effect of the weapon and its damage both seen in game and in-world
The area-of-effect of this weapon in-game are the red ⚠️ squares (squares are ~1m long). The grey circles roughly delimit what you would expect of the in-world area-of-effect of this weapon.

Unfortunately, I'm a bit out of luck finding out a believable world-explanation of how such weaponry might give such effect. I'd need this to depict a better representation of it, both item-wise and as it is used. Indeed, real-life explosives (the ones to usually have area-of-effects) strike at its strongest at the epicenter, losing potency with distance. I can't find back in my memory if other worlds created a weapon specifically for that purpose, either : Yes there are skills which fire rains of arrows in a perfect circle (and somehow in a split second). There are spells like rings of fire or ice, too. You also get a lot of "shockwave" style attacks, harming everything around the user who somehow stays safe. But no weapon which would not require insane abilities or magic handwavium, and where the user is not the one in the epicenter (preventing the use of the "You're immune to your own weapons" suspension-of-disbelief joker).

So let's not fiddle around the target anymore :

How could a weapon be designed to strike in a ring around the point of impact?

The goal is quite simple : Develop a mechanism for a single-use, ranged weapon which can hit in a "donut" around the point of impact. It can take the shape you want (rifle, grenade, thrown melee weapon...) and use the kind of damage you want (piercing shards, fire, explosion, acid...) as long as this meets this criteria. While you'll very likely need to tell if it is especially suited (or unsuited) for one kind of damage, your answer should focus on the mechanism behind the dispersion of said damage.

I will judge your answer's quality first and foremost on the external simplicity of your design and usage : Indeed, It'll help a lot when drawing its application later on, like its appearance in the action hotbar. The same goes for the usage, I can't afford players to wait through 15 over-the-top steps to deal damage. In short, be clear, quick and simple on the frontline part of it so it will be easier to show what it does at a glance, ie. its affordance.

Constraints and conditions

Now to the conditions :

  • The weapon is expected to incapacitate or even take down humans. This is not an anti-material weapon. Consider the highest damage it could do, regardless of whether it would normally lose power on consecutive hits (like when you swing a sword around you and hit two persons at once). The range should be close to the circles in the picture above, but it can reach 1 or 2 meters further if needed.
  • Anyone -even enemies!- in the epicenter shall not be harmed, at most a scrape or two. I'd rather have the person in the center not doing anything special to avoid getting hurt.
  • Consider that the weapon is used on a flat, even ground, without obstacle and everyone standing up and still. Since my game is 2D, you don't need to make it hit very high or very low.
  • It should be one-time use. This includes grenades or disposable rocket launchers like the panzerfaust, but also (non-boomerang) thrown melee weapons. Liquid or gas holding weapons also fall into this category for me : Spraying an acid vial, pepper sprays...
  • It should be carriable by an human adult and thrown -or launched- from a reasonable, safe distance. The wielder has proficiency with this weapon, and can reliably hit the same spot.
  • Available technology is up to today, minus complex electronics like drones and robots. Also, my world isn't based on hard-science, so get creative and fanciful!

Finally, understand well that you shall not consider why would an engineer ever want it to hit in a ring (I see you in comments!). Jazzy area-of-effects is a very common code of the turn-based tactical games. That's because the suspension-of-disbelief is transfered to the gameplay's benefit : Here, it's the comfy utility of dispatching enemies without harming your tank. A tank player job's is hard and boring. let's not add to it that their friends are purposefully harming them, too!

tags : , , game-world-mechanics (if accepted by the community)


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