I asked How can tome warlocks "back up" ritual spells they have inscribed?

It was put on hold because "RAI is not a thing". (This surprises me since Jeremy Crawford, the arbiter of RAW, seems to think RAI is a thing. Here. Here. He gives a definition of it here. Of course since we can't Detect Thoughts IRL, we would have to infer RAI from RAW plus consistency.)

For the answer, I wanted either RAW, or a logical argument based on RAW. (E.g., "Although the rules are not explicit, to be consistent with rules X and Y, the simplest explanation is Z.")

How do I request such answers without my questions being put on hold?


2 Answers 2


Your description of what you want (“either RAW, or a logical argument based on RAW”) is what RAW means all by itself here and in the wider community. You appear to be using “RAW” to mean just rules… but that doesn't need a special name, because that's called “the rules.” While what “RAW” actually means is a rules-interpretation method that involves analysing the logical meaning of the rules.

So if explicit rules statements and/or logical interpretation thereof is what you're looking for, just ask for RAW. If you're just looking for what the rules explicitly say, use no tag and make no special request, because asking a question about the rules is enough for answers to be about the rules.

More precisely, it's not that there's no such thing as RAI (rules as interpreted or rules as intended), it's that rules as interpreted is already a necessary part of a RAW analysis, and asking for the rules as intended just attracts (based on past observations) a lot of answers that are merely guesses. When trying to mean “rules as intended”, instead of using that or the ambiguous acronym “RAI” to ask for the designers' intentions, just ask explicitly for what the designers have said about how the rules works. Site history has shown that questions asking for designer statements result in solid (though sometimes difficult to produce) answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There's a false premise in " we can't tell you what the rules as intended are without guessing" in that rule authors intentions may well be represented outside formal rules in, at, for example, convention panels, blog posts, podcasts, media interviews, design notebooks and all the other wonderful avenues available in our Age of Ubiquitous Digitally Documented Everything. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lexible
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 20:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lexible Yeah, that was badly worded and didn't express what I was trying for. I've rewritten that part to get at the explicit problem with asking for “rules as intended” and its relationship to guesses, and how directly asking for designer statements is the fix for it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 I really like the edits! I wonder if a "Game-Designer-Notes" tag (or equivalent) would help find the happy intersection for those wanting rules as intended RAI, and your point of "what the designer said". \$\endgroup\$
    – Lexible
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lexible We do have a bunch of questions of that type; that might be a category worth tagging for. Given past wordings, probably [designer-statements] would be the best name for it. (The way to find out if a tag is useful is to just start using a tag, and see if others start using it too.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 18:53

The problem with asking for RAI is that unless you have a specific statement from the designer of the game as to their intent, you are asking for pure supposition, which is largely then substituted with the answerer's opinion. We have a previous meta question on the nature of and problems with RAI in a question. Rules-as-intended and designer intent You specifically use the term incorrectly as "inferring" intent. As you note, we don't have Detect Thoughts, and people arguing their own inference of intent litters RPG forums everywhere. We prefer answers that Back It Up! here.

If you want an answer from pure RAW and strict logical implications of RAW, you ask for RAW. You can modify your list of sources to include "Tweets by Jeremy Crawford" if you want.

If you want an answer that takes into account not just the rules in the book, but common usage, play experience, guidance from other editions, etc. you just ask the question.

Your question about "can I write spells into a normal book" is a great example. The RAW answer apparently is "yes but you can't do anything with it..." The general answer is no, no one plays that way, a spellbook is the special kind of book you put spells in and any other "book" is not suitable. The only way to have a RAI answer is if someone asks that specific question to Crawford and gets an answer back. The degree to which people don't understand that leads us to prefer you to just say "RAW including designer tweets" or nothing, not use the term RAI.


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