Dumb Question - What does 'RAW' mean?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

Silver Crusade

I have seen the abbreviation but I don't know what it stands for.


Rules as Written

Silver Crusade

Andrew Besso wrote:
I have seen the abbreviation but I don't know what it stands for.

Rules As Written....directly from the Core Rulebook.


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"Rules as written." Basically it means that you translate the words in the rulebook very literally. Taking only what the words actually and literally say into consideration.

This is opposed to RAI... or "Rules as Intended", which is reading between the lines and distinguishing what the writer/editor/dev. probably intended as opposed to strictly what it says. This can be incredibly tricky and dangerous in many situations because sometimes a reader can make a logical leap that the writer never meant.

Determining when its appropriate to use RAW or RAI is something of an art, and is the basis for many, many arguments.


YMMV, but the worst arguments are with people who not only question the value of RAI, but ignore the very concept of RAI, as if it didn't exist.

Shadow Lodge

Dazylar wrote:
YMMV, but the worst arguments are with people who not only question the value of RAI, but ignore the very concept of RAI, as if it didn't exist.

Per RAW there is no RAI. ;-)


MisterSlanky wrote:


Per RAW there is no RAI. ;-)

Sure there is. Just read between the lines of the rules as written-you can't miss it;)


Then you throw in the fact that Rule Zero - the right of any DM to change any rule in the book if it will enhance his/her game, is RAW, and you have great grounds for endless arguments.

The RAW vs. RAI vs. Rule Zero debate is kind of like Christian theology, with everything represented from the strictest forms of fundamentalism (the Bible - preferably the King James version - is the only source of knowledge about God and each word and phrase is absolutely perfect and not open to any interpretation) to the vaguest forms of liberal Christianity (the Bible is a neat book that has lots of stories that may or may not be true and guidance which we may or may not need to follow because it is all open to interpretation, and there are many other non-Biblical ways in which you can come to learn more about God).

Within these boards you will encounter many RAW fundies, RAI liberals and Rule Zero zealots who have a grand old time arguing gamer theology passionately (and usually in a civil manner, with some notable exceptions).

In the end, almost all these arguments boil down to the same thing. Where you fall on the RAW vs. RAI vs. Rule Zero spectrum is largely a matter of personal taste and preferred gaming style. None is inherently better than the other, and it's all good so long as your group is having fun.


Brian Bachman wrote:
(and usually in a civil manner, with some notable exceptions).

Leave Sebastian out of this!

Shadow Lodge

I find this whole debate (even though I rarely participate) very entertaining because I deal with something very similar day-in and day-out. I work for what is known as a Contract Research Organization (CRO) in the medical device arena. We work daily with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements and are beholden to some pretty strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Because our organization contracts out to other companies, we get a really wide variety of questions/issues with the FDA.

We have to deal with FDA regulations regularly (this is another word for "the law"), and the FDA supplements these regulations with guidance documents which are sometimes a little abstract, other times very pertinent, and other times contradictory to the regulations. The result is that we discuss what we're doing in context of the "word" of the law vs. the "intent" of the law all the time.

Although different, the two conversations are very similar, and the answer from my job is often "it depends". While playing an RPG is hardly as life-or-death as my real-life job can be, I find listening to these debates immensely interesting.


Readings Abandoning Wisdom


I would be curious to see the proportion of players who support RAW vs. GMs who support RAW.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

I prefer Cooked vs RAW.

Sorry, couldn't resist.


CourtFool wrote:
I would be curious to see the proportion of players who support RAW vs. GMs who support RAW.

Good point. I'd love to see some good polling data on not just this question, but other player preferences.

The general feeling I get from the boards is that it seems to be mostly players who are devoted to RAW. I am greatly overgeneralizing, but seems to me that some of them really want the game to be more like a combat simulation game in which the DM is bound by all the same restrictions as the players.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

RAW \raw\ n.
1. An abbreviation for "rules as written" used in meaningful discourse.
2. An abbreviation for "rules as written" used as a blunt instrument by trolls.


Are they really trolls or do they just have a different creative agenda?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

CourtFool wrote:
Are they really trolls or do they just have a different creative agenda?

I consider it trolling when someone implies that the designers are idiots and the game is broken to the point of being unplayable, all because I occasionally have to use common sense to work around an obvious rules oversight.

If you're talking about the RAW without doing any of that, you probably aren't a troll.


Ah, I misunderstood the context you were using it in.


Brian, you forgot the Oberoni Fallacists. You know as in:

Person 1: Rule X is flawed because of reason A.
Oberoni Fallacist: Since you can change any rule you want with Rule 0, therefore Rule X is not flawed because you can fix it.
Person 1:But if it is not flawed, why would you need to fix it?
Oberoni Fallacist: RULE 0! BOW BEFORE IT! *puts fingers in ears*

Silver Crusade

Holy Cow! I had no idea that I was starting a philosophical discussion with that post.

Unfortunately, organized play limits the GM's discretion to use "the zeroth law".


CourtFool wrote:
Are they really trolls or do they just have a different creative agenda?

Hey! Trolls and creativity aren't exclusive of each other.

Obvious Troll wrote a sonnet once.

[Sobs softly in the corner]


Brian Bachman wrote:


The RAW vs. RAI vs. Rule Zero debate is kind of like Christian theology, with everything represented from the strictest forms of fundamentalism ... to the vaguest forms of liberal Christianity (the Bible is a neat book that has lots of stories that may or may not be true and guidance which we may or may not need to follow).
Epic Meepo wrote:


RAW \raw\ n.
1. An abbreviation for "rules as written" used in meaningful discourse.
2. An abbreviation for "rules as written" used as a blunt instrument by trolls.

With these and the troll comment I had to start faking hysterical coughing in my office. Twice.


Obvious Troll Is Obvious wrote:
Hey! Trolls and creativity aren't exclusive of each other.

The creative ones are the most dangerous.

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