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Smiling Banshee
16-11-2007, 13:24
RAW, I keep seeing it in various posts, what does it mean?

Misanthrope
16-11-2007, 13:26
It's how your **** feels after playing against a power SM list.

Captain Micha
16-11-2007, 13:31
Rules as written, basically a rules lawyers best friend is raw. Most rules lawyers, but not all are cheesy gits who need to get a life. Given gw's rules suck wording wise, it's often best to assume rai (Rules as intended) instead. Rules as intended. Which conversely are the lame cheesy gits best friend.

Really the ideal balance is, raw/rai. Which goes as follows, you play as the rules are written, if it comes into disagreement or some odd ball situation occurs you stop, and ask your opponent what he thinks the intent of the rule is, and the two of you come to a mutual consensus to rules as intended.

failing that resort to the infamous roll off if there is a disagreement, or if neither of you can come up with an idea. 4+ one way 3- the other way for example.

Nugottlich
16-11-2007, 13:37
Rules As Written. Basically illiteracy, since rules are always to be read as written.

It's typically used by people called "rules lawyers" to try and justify why they're changing the rule to give themselves an advantage while claiming that they aren't.

jedipenguin
16-11-2007, 13:41
Really the ideal balance is, raw/rai. Which goes as follows, you play as the rules are written, if it comes into disagreement or some odd ball situation occurs you stop, and ask your opponent what he thinks the intent of the rule is, and the two of you come to a mutual consensus to rules as intended.

This plan fails becuase it requires the application of common sense and the ability to compromise, attributes sorely lacking in many people.

Smiling Banshee
16-11-2007, 13:42
Nice one thanks.

Castigator
16-11-2007, 13:43
Rules As Written. Basically illiteracy, since rules are always to be read as written.

It's typically used by people called "rules lawyers" to try and justify why they're changing the rule to give themselves an advantage while claiming that they aren't.

Whereas "rules lawyer" is of course a misnomer, because real lawyers do not go simply by the written word of legal text, but just as often (if not moreso) by the law-makers intend, the context and a few other dimensions of legal analysis.

dcikgyurt
16-11-2007, 13:46
Rules as written is conceivably the game as it was meant to be played. It's the way I play, but it can be abused to give certain players an advantage, as has already been mentioned. I suggest rules as written, and if the situation is unclear, go with what ever gives the play whose turn it is the least benefit.

Nugottlich
16-11-2007, 13:47
Law isn't a pure science, I agree. I think the association comes from the fact that rules-lawyers don't just go by the text of the rule either, but try to do what unscrupulous lawyers the world over do, and try to subtly cook their interpretation so it works in their own favour.

Polonius
16-11-2007, 15:58
Law isn't a pure science, I agree. I think the association comes from the fact that rules-lawyers don't just go by the text of the rule either, but try to do what unscrupulous lawyers the world over do, and try to subtly cook their interpretation so it works in their own favour.

First off, that's not what unscruplulous lawyers do: it's what good lawyers do! Trying to get a court to interpret laws for a clients favor is the main job of a lawyer, as a lawyer is an advocate for his/her client. Railing against lawyers for that is like calling a doctor unethical for interfering with the course of nature: that's the whole point of medicine!

"Rules lawyers" really aren't lawyers, but's it's a close enough fit. The argument behind RAW is this:

1) the rules were written to tell us how to play 40k. These have been amended by FAQ's to an extent, and are grounded in a certain context.

2) Between the rulebook, the internet, and the 3 years since it's publishing, the authors of 40k V4 have had many, many opportunities to explain, expand, or otherwise clarify their text. In some cases they have, in others, they have not.

3) Unlike real lawyers, we have no idea what the designers intent was. This is the big difference. In the real world, legislators leave plenty of record about what they wanted a law to do. In 40k, for example, we really don't know what the intent of the designers were for many of these situations. We can guess, based on the ever elusive common sense, but that's all it is: a guess.

4) In real life, lawyers use previous court decisions to argue their case. In 40k, there aren't even remotely competant judges, and certainly no record of their decisions. The closest we come are the "unofficial FAQ's" put out by UK GT, Adepticon, and various web forums.

5) thus, outside of "common sense", the only avenue for interpreting the rules, unfortunatly, is the rules themselves and the FAQ's. Rest assured, a good batch of FAQ's would solve nearly all of the contentious RAW issues, and would take a designer at most a long afternoon of work.

To continue our legal metaphor, let's imagine that you play Dark Angels. According to RAW, no model that carries a rapid fire weapon may fire and then charge. You argue that the rules clearly intended to say that a model can't fire it's bolter and charge, but if it has a pistol, it's cool. The RAW, however, say that it can't, because the RAW are very clear. Is it carrying a bolter? Yes. Did the model fire? Yes. Then it cannot assault.

95% of gaming communities will quickly realize that this is silly, not at all what the designers probably intended, and since Dark Angels are weak anyway, we're not gonna deny you a few BP shots. This is now common law: a decisino was made in your jurisdiction, and the rule will be followed and the arguements will cease.

So, RAW is pretty stupid and pointless, right? Not quite yet! Suppose you pack up your Dark Angels and go on vacation, and pop into veterans night at the local shop. You, not being keen on RAW, fire your DA's bolt pistols and then announce a charge. Your opponent promptly tells you that you may not charge. You act indignant, things get heated, etc. Your opponent may not be a bad guy, they may simply play a different way in his area.

Sporting aside, and BTW I think you should always let stuff slide with new people to your gaming group, If you were aware of RAW and it's concerns, you could have talked this over with him before the game, and gotten a consensus.

RAW get's lambasted, but to be honest it's really not going to be a huge factor in most gamers lives. They play in clubs or shops that will quickly develope house rules to cover disputes, and then move on.

RAW is very important for people that plan on leaving that little nest, and present issues that potentially be disputed. Remember, nearly all rules disputes are handled easily and quickly if handeld outside of a game!

Simply ask your opponent what he thinks about Bolt Pistols shooting, or psycannons vs. turboboosting bikes, etc.

I defend RAW for what it does, which is to provide the only bedrock on which to interprete the rules. I do not advocate blindly playing that way, nor do I advocate using rules for personal advantage. It is, however, important to always be aware of what is out there.

Grazzy
16-11-2007, 18:34
Do you know any of the stupid rules in the game? Heard of the unassaultable formation for example? How about the space marines with bolters and pistols that can't assault after shooting their pistols? This is RaW. The majority of normal players will not play the rules this way, but play in the generally accepted manner of RaI (rules as intended).

paddyalexander
16-11-2007, 18:40
What it means is that those players that search the rule books & codexies for vauge, broken or poorly writen rules to exploit in their games are officaly validated by GW and combined with a lack of support & errata from GW are the main cuase for the removal of fun from this hobby.

Calistarius
19-11-2007, 15:31
Rules as Intended for Fun = RIF

ChaosMaster
19-11-2007, 15:55
RAW is Rules As Wrtten. What it was supposed to mean is that if there is a question about an ambiguity in the rules, simply do exactly what they say. What it has come to mean for many people is Rules That Are Not Written, which is to say that if the rules don't say you can't do something, they argue they can do it, which opens up all kinds of ridiculous and clearly unintended possiblities. This is why tempering RAW with the intended spirit of the rules is often needed even though it still leaves things ambiguous at times.

If you want to see an example of this bad behaviour, check out the threads in the Rules and Tactics sections about Fire Frenzy for Chaos Dreadnoughts. I'm a Chaos Marine player myself and I have to say it's a worst-case example of people twisting the rules to avoid a rule they don't like. Grrrr...

Calistarius
19-11-2007, 16:01
If people disagree on what the rules say, how are we supposed to objectively know what the intended spirit of the rules is supposed to be?

ChaosMaster
19-11-2007, 16:20
If people disagree on what the rules say, how are we supposed to objectively know what the intended spirit of the rules is supposed to be?
Exactly. That's why personally I generally play with only a few select people. It is just too irritating to me to have to negotiate over what the rules mean each time I play with someone I don't know very well and so many people have so many different interpretations of the rules it can be like playing a different game with each person with whom you play. While most people are friendly and reasonable, there are just too many odd interpretations out there to make playing pick-up games with strangers fun to me.

Polonius
19-11-2007, 16:33
If people disagree on what the rules say, how are we supposed to objectively know what the intended spirit of the rules is supposed to be?

Well, that's the rub with RAI, isn't it? Ok, a lot of the time it's not horribly difficult to figure out what the intent was. Why give bolt pistols to somebody who can never fire them?

the problem with RAI is that generally (not always) RAI really means "rules as I wish they were."

If RAW gets lumped in with filthy powergamers, RAI belongs to the soft fluff heads who "just want to have fun," which apparently means getting their way..... (I'm teasing of course, but the hostility against RAW is a bit out of line, IMO, and most people who oppose are the sort of guy who brings a lousy army to a tourny, gets swept, and instead of trying to be a better player dedicates his life to deriding powergamers on the internet.)

Calistarius
19-11-2007, 22:06
So what's the use of something that just works some of the time and then only on ordinary cases and fails on problem cases? I mean isn't the point of some interpretative framework is that it solves the problem cases? If I need to bash a nail, an apple will be as useful as an orange for the hammering that needs doing.

insaniak
19-11-2007, 22:21
So what's the use of something that just works some of the time and then only on ordinary cases and fails on problem cases?

RAW is the most objective way of determining what the rules mean. It gives you a framework from which you can determine how you are going to play.

It doesn't work in a lot of cases because the rules are poorly written, creating ambiguity or multiple possible meanings... but it's still the most consistent, and therefore the best, method available of determining what the rules mean.


RAW in itself is nothing to do with 'rules lawyering'... it's simply a tool for determining what the rules mean. How it's actually applied to the game as played is entirely up to the individual.

Calistarius
20-11-2007, 00:23
According to a poster named Meriwether in another thread RAW can't be the most objective way of determining what the rules mean. I agree with him, and suggest that most modern linguists would sneer at the idea. The fact that how it is applied is up to the individual, rather than either being rightly or wrongly applied pretty much rules out objectivity. Just pointin' that out...

insaniak
20-11-2007, 00:52
According to a poster named Meriwether in another thread RAW can't be the most objective way of determining what the rules mean. I agree with him, and suggest that most modern linguists would sneer at the idea.

And the alternative is...?

How exactly would you recommend we determine what the rules mean, if not by reading the rules?

azimaith
20-11-2007, 01:08
Well as RAW is essentially rules literally, so theres no interpretation there. That means if a book leaves out terminator armor for a space marine terminator, guess what, he doesn't have it, he just happens to have a 2+ save (but no other benefits) or if it says a necron is denied WBB by a weapon of strength double its toughness then a necron hit with a weapon of more than double toughness is still allowed its WBB.

It certainly causes problems in many cases. However, do not be fooled into thinking you should never read rules as they are written, just do so with a spirit of fair play and common sense. And if that fails, dice off.

RAI is basically a catch all meaning Rules as Intended. Now sometimes rules are intended exactly as they are written, in other cases its glaringly obvious they are intended in a way different than written due to omission or poor wording.

I wouldn't get caught up in RAW and RAI too much, you don't have to be on an extreme. Just play without being an ass and it probably won't be an issue till you hit a far RAWist(rules lawyer) or an extreme RAIist(cheater).

TheNZer
20-11-2007, 04:08
Thanks for posting this up Scottrobinson I'd been wondering what it ment.

Calistarius
20-11-2007, 17:46
How exactly would you recommend we determine what the rules mean, if not by reading the rules? Whoa there, I'm not suggesting that we don't read the rules. The text conveys the rules, but alone it leads to false positives about what those rules are. That's because the rules are encoded in the text. Like any other code you need a truth-functional method of interpretation to decode statements made in the text from the text in question. We need more than just the rules, we also need a 'machine' or system for reading them.

Polonius
20-11-2007, 19:19
Whoa there, I'm not suggesting that we don't read the rules. The text conveys the rules, but alone it leads to false positives about what those rules are. That's because the rules are encoded in the text. Like any other code you need a truth-functional method of interpretation to decode statements made in the text from the text in question. We need more than just the rules, we also need a 'machine' or system for reading them.


Yes. It's called the English language. I've seriously underestimated the posting population here, because there are lot of folks who really know their stuff when it comes to linguistics, semanitcs, etc.

Those persuits are very important, because they show how words and other symbols we use have meanings that vary wildly based on context, culture, and idiom.

Very little of that, however, is relevant with the 40k rules. They're written in modern transatlantic english, read by modern transatlantic english speakers, and are large enough to establish certain conventions and definitions.

I had a professor do a great mental exercise based on a sign that simply said "no vehicles in the park." We spend 10 minutes trying to figure out what it meant, and pretty much failed. We all agree it meant no cars, but what about bikes, strollers, wheelchairs, etc?

The point of the exercise is that rules need context, and when interpreting the rules, it's important to know how they fit in with the rest of the rules, and also why the people who made the rule implemented it.

Now, this shores up the argument that the text alone isn't all you need, but it also explains what else you need (which Meriwether has either not done or I've missed it... both are highly possible). I would argue that a native english speaker, having read the 40k rulebook, the FAQ's, the codices, and what few scraps of public statement the designers have made possess all the information necessary to interpret the text. Obviously biases will creep in, and no reading is purely objective, but anything else added to the interpretation is at the discretion of the reader, and will result in a flaw reading.

The argument for RAI is that it bypasses the flawed results of RAW and replaces it with a "common sense interpretation of the rules to read as the authors intended." If this is an incorrect summation of RAI, please let me know.

Setting aside the difficulty any two people have in reaching the same common sense conclusion (anybody whose ever sat on a jury can back this one up), there is a certain danger in attempting to discern what the authors intended. Did DA's get bolt pistols so they could shoot something and then charge, or did they get Bolt pistols because the fluff and models all show marines to have pistols, and so heavy weapon troopers have a weapon to fire on the move? there are two possiblilities when it comes to intent:
1) the designers were aware of the rule, wanted to give them bolt pistols anyway for the reasons mentioned, and didn't charge the marines for it.
2) The designers never thought anybody could interpret the rules that way and/or never though about it.

As you can see, the above options restrict the designers to being either 1) odd and obtuse, or 2) naive and sloppy. The conflict is made worse because we know, for a fact, that they are usually both!

Even for what's seemingly a slam dunk case, there is no way to know what the designers intent was until he opens his move. Barring that, we either need to assume he meant what he wrote, or ignore he wrote.

Since both recent threads on RAW have been a playground for the well read, I'm going to ask that those with a tighter grip on semantics than myself explain, slowly and carefully, why my above points are incorrect, and why RAW is really so awful. As much as I love a wikipedia link, it's not horribly relevant to the current topic, and part of being the smartest guy in the room is applying a theory to the current problem.

Calistarius
20-11-2007, 19:37
Yes. It's called the English language. I've seriously underestimated the posting population here, because there are lot of folks who really know their stuff when it comes to linguistics, semanitcs, etc. Sorry, but the English language isn't the system we're looking for. When we consider a language we can consider it to have several parts. A language has a set of symbols, a grammar, a deductive apparatus (or syntax), and a truth-functional interpretation (or semantics).

The text of the rule books is in English. That gives us a set of symbols (the English alphabet and punctuation symbols), a grammar (really a choice of grammars, but so long as there's one it doesn't matter), and a deductive apparatus (the structure of the text). What we don't have is the corresponding semantics that will allow us to say that "Rule A means X if and only if Rule A is expressed by the text of Rule A". Actually we do have this semantics, but the problem is rather that it is indeterminate rather than an actual lack (but since one isn't specified it's the same as not having one in the first place).

Now, given that a language has at least one semantics such that there is at least one interpretation by which at least some of its sentence-strings are true, doesn't using applying the system of the English language give us that semantics? No, because just like the text of the rulebooks we're concerned with there is no 'true' or 'official' semantics for English. That's would be begging the question because neither system (English) or sub-system (Warhammer) has a specific semantics.

Seriously, read the wikipedia link and (more importantly) followed the citations and read the original research. It'll give you some very important perspective on the problem of deciding exactly what some text says.

Meriwether
20-11-2007, 19:43
I don't really intend to reply much to this thread, because I only have so much time in the day and am busy with the thread I've started on a very similar topic (RaW is Cooked).

I don't know how to make that into a link, because I am a quasi-Luddite. Something about href something flag something that I've been taught before and keep forgetting.

As for my thread, I haven't said that RaW is awful. I have in fact argued that RaW is useful as far as it goes, and that many of those who seek to determine RaW are not cheese-monkey powergaming freaks who want to suck all the fun out of the game as long as they win. Insaniak being the most vocal RaW proponent on the 40K Rules Forum lately, I've been careful to come to his defense whenever some schmuck comes up with a stupid ad hominem attack such as these -- even though we apparently disagree on just about everything on this issue!

Polonius: I went through some steps showing a little on why RaW is illogical in the other thread. I don't really feel inclined to go through them again. If you read them and want clarification and/or wish to disagree, I'll answer you there!

Cheers,

Meri

Polonius
20-11-2007, 20:18
Seriously, read the wikipedia link and (more importantly) followed the citations and read the original research. It'll give you some very important perspective on the problem of deciding exactly what some text says.

I think I see what you're saying. I'll admit when I'm outclassed, because frankly I don't have the inclination to learn much about semantics right now, and so I'll have to bow to your wisdom on the matter. Is there a particular rule dispute that you can think of that illustrates the problem between varying semantics?

Likewise, and we've got a great discussion on this topic over in the thread RAW is cooked, I was wondering how a person aware of the impracticality of textualism goes about interpreting the rules, especially given the limited information we have on what the designers actually wanted to accomplish.

Calistarius
21-11-2007, 04:04
You don't have to learn much about semantics to understand why having an ill-defined or undefined semantics is a non-starter, and hence why literalism (Biblical, RAW, or otherwise) is a naive (in both the descriptive and pejorative sense) approach to reading and communication.

I think that the arguments about how various weapons roll penetration against Monoliths are examples of the problems that occur when no specified semantics exists and the interlocators neither agree on a semantics nor specify the semantics they assume fix the meaning of the text governing Monoliths and armour penetration (or even the semantics that fixes the meaning of their arguments to that effect!) Hence you end up with people arguing without well-defined terms and there can be no effective resolution to such arguments. It's just bickering.

A person aware of the impracticality of RAW, and motivated to do the serious work required by decoding, does not require any information about the intent of the designers. After all we're interested in the rules, the meaning of the text, not what the designer intended them to be, the way they play their games. That person selects an English grammar, an English dictionary (words here count as symbols), and a deductive apparatus and extracts that information from the text of the rules. What they have left will be the semantics of the text, which one can imagine will be a mess. Then they use that mass of information to build a semantic model with the virtues one would want, such as consistency, truth-functionality, well-foundedness**, etc. It's rather like resculpting a miniature so that the detail is crisp, one can easily see where the model ends and the flash begins, any parts fit snugly without excessive need of green-stuffing, and so on.

Incidentally it's interesting to see people citing so-called 'obvious' cases of rules being interpreted literally as examples cases that are not problematic for rules. In semantics those cases are often cited as examples of problems with literalism. Take the sentence: "The snow is white." Does this sentence indicates that there is snow and that the snow has the property of white-ness? It could. It could equally indicate And that's just supposing that the sentence is indicative or declarative, and indicates state of affairs. It could be dative, genitive, vocative, or whatever. One could imagine it being used as a war-cry, for example.

*I'd argue that this is the cause of the Internet meme about why one shouldn't argue on the Internet. It's because people generally don't employ a well-defined public semantics, and yet act as if under the assumption that the people they're arguing with do. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

**Well-foundedness is over-rated and somewhat counter-intuitive, particularly where you want to model self-reference such as that used in English languages senses like this one.

AgeOfEgos
21-11-2007, 04:15
Sorry, but the English language isn't the system we're looking for. When we consider a language we can consider it to have several parts. A language has a set of symbols, a grammar, a deductive apparatus (or syntax), and a truth-functional interpretation (or semantics).

The text of the rule books is in English. That gives us a set of symbols (the English alphabet and punctuation symbols), a grammar (really a choice of grammars, but so long as there's one it doesn't matter), and a deductive apparatus (the structure of the text). What we don't have is the corresponding semantics that will allow us to say that "Rule A means X if and only if Rule A is expressed by the text of Rule A". Actually we do have this semantics, but the problem is rather that it is indeterminate rather than an actual lack (but since one isn't specified it's the same as not having one in the first place).

Now, given that a language has at least one semantics such that there is at least one interpretation by which at least some of its sentence-strings are true, doesn't using applying the system of the English language give us that semantics? No, because just like the text of the rulebooks we're concerned with there is no 'true' or 'official' semantics for English. That's would be begging the question because neither system (English) or sub-system (Warhammer) has a specific semantics.

Seriously, read the wikipedia link and (more importantly) followed the citations and read the original research. It'll give you some very important perspective on the problem of deciding exactly what some text says.


I hated English and I'm still impressed.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v694/AgeOfEgos/theclapgy0wl5.gif