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Here is a question I asked a couple of months ago — Is "a special melee attack" an actual game term?

Most upvoted answers agreed that there was no game term "special melee attack", and this phrase had its natural English meaning,

Later on I came across this JC's tweet that says exactly what "special attack" is supposed to mean:

an attack can be special and not fall into either category: weapon or spell

In a hurry I shared the news with the community, but my answer was downvoted without a single comment. I doubt the reason is that JC's tweets are no longer "word of god", since the question wasn't about any kind of "official ruing". The question was about a particular game term meaning, and clarifications from the game designer itself seems the most reliable source to me.

So what is the answer's problem?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I hadn't paid any attention to that question/answer before now but I have now gone and left a comment with my reaction to the answer. I didn't up or downvote because, while I don't think it's correct, I do think it adds value. I can't speak for others' choices, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Apr 8 at 20:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara particular votes aren't relevant; the main purpose of the question here is not re-evaluating the answer, but understanding the problem with it \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Apr 8 at 21:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused. Isn't re-evaluating the answer integral to understanding the problem with it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Apr 8 at 21:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ As the question's author, if you think a game designer tweet is the most reliable source, you are free to accept your new answer. It is possible that some downvotes happened because your new answer was not considered "useful" given that there was already a popular and accepted answer. If you made your answer accepted, that might sway votes. Full disclosure, I am one of the upvotes to your answer. Because the tweet was not considered by the accepted answer, I found its addition useful even if I ultimately do not agree with it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 9 at 6:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ I certainly can't speak to these particular votes on this particular question. But JC's tweets have become polemic here. I have had comments on my answers say "This is a good answer, but I am downvoting because you included a JC tweet." \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Apr 9 at 6:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara I mean, my goal here is to understand the problem, not to make people reconsider their downvoting \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Apr 9 at 10:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ The tweet doesn't actually provide any new helpful insight. We already know that its neither spell nor weapon by how the term is used in the rules (we know its not a weapon attack because it would be stated that it is, we already know its not a spell because otherwise it would be stated, thus we already know its neither spell nor weapon). The tweet doesn't explain the reasoning, nor does it provide additional context, and it is no longer official. I did not DV, but I can see why its might not be super popular as answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Polygnome
    Apr 9 at 11:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't see anything wrong with your answer, but I can't answer for the six people who did. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12 at 19:57
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This answer is not useful because it's incorrect

Despite the fact that "special attack" was a game term in previous versions, there is no such thing in 5e.

The word "special" does have its natural English meaning, It means "out of the ordinary".

JC says that

the grapple described on p. 195 of the PH is called a special melee attack, not a weapon/spell attack

...implying that it is out of the ordinary melee attack, not a (convenient) weapon/spell attack.

Another example is the Sword Of Answering:

this special attack ignores any damage immunity or resistance

Therefore, "special attack" does not mean "neither weapon not spell", it just means "an attack which is out of the ordinary".

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