Thursday, 2 June 2011

General Ramblings: RaW vs. RaI

Welcome back to my humble textual abode.

Today, we will be digging into the subject of RaW versus RaI.
What, then, do these wonderfully prevalent abbreviations stand for? RaW is 'Rules as Written', and RaI either 'Rules as Intended' or 'Rules as Interpreted'. Basically, RaW represents taking the rules exactly as they are written, with no regard whatsoever for what 'makes sense', whereas RaI tries to make the rules 'make sense', even if this means going against the actual text.

The problem, as it were, is that these two often clash. I bet you can find plenty of examples, but here's one:

A Steam Tank Misfires. It now suffers D3 wounds. Does it get its armour save?

RaW: yup.

RaI: Hmm, the whole thing was just filled with hot steam, broiling enyone inside. Of course it doesn't.

So, which one do we go with? My short answer? Why on Earth would you want my short answer? Okay, okay. RaW.

Too short?

RaW, unless previously decided otherwise.

Still not long enough? Okay, here goes.

RaW is the rules. We have no way of determining RaI in an objective and easily repeatable way. Thus, whenever a dispute happens mid-game, my answer will always be to look to the RaW. As long as this is always the case, there can be no bias. Likewise, whenever I'm the rules-mongerer for someone else's game (which happens with a fair amount of frequency), I will tell the players what the RaW says. If they want to play it differently, that's their choice, and I quite often agree that that is the right call to make.

However, I have no trouble discussing a rule and reaching a soultion that is not RaW, as long as this is a solution that sits well with all (or most) of the concerned parties. Sometimes, we come across crappily worded rules, or situations brought about by the interaction of two separate rulebooks, which were sometimes published with several years in between. Sometimes, the only viable solution is to sit down (metaphorically speaking) and coming up with a workable solution.

Thus, when I do my Rules Conundrum posts here, or when I advocate what may seem like a ridiculously strict textual reading of a rule, this is my take on the RaW. It is not necessarily my take on the right interpretetation.

That'll do for now.

May your paint brush never bristle, and your paints never dry out in their pots.

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