What does RAW stand for in tabletop RPGs?

Rules as written

In Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) and other RPGs, RAW stands for "rules as written." Players and Dungeon Masters (DMs) invoke the concept of RAW when describing how a game action is supposed to function given a literal interpretation of an RPG's rules.

For example, when a player attempts to climb a rock wall in DnD, in-game rules describe how difficult the climb is and what actions a player must perform to successfully climb the wall. Strict DMs will use the RAW to force players to perform a skill check (or several) while climbing the wall, no matter their characters' athletic prowess.

However, because RPGs are collaborative and adaptable, a DM and their players could agree to use the RAI, or "rules as intended," to modify the game's actual, written rules. Because at the end of the day, RPGs aren't about rolling dice; they're about having fun.


What do you mean I take cold damage here? I'm a literal ice dragon!
Hey, I'm just using the RAW

According to the RAW, no

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Updated December 31, 2020

RAW definition by Slang.net

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