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Rule As Tweeted (RAT) is ironically used when a tweet from a the game designers contradicts RAW (rules as written) or (perceived) RAI (rules as intended).

Who used it first? Did it originate here on RPG.SE?

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It's more like a recurring joke than an actual term and its origin is unclear

There appear to be smatterings of the term across Giant in the Playground (example) and Reddit (example) around 2015/2016 that arose to categorize in a joking and sometimes derogatory manner the rulings of D&D 5e Lead Rules Developer Jeremy Crawford which he often makes on Twitter.

The first mention of it on RPG.se that I can find is this answer from 2016. It reemerged in late 2018 in an answer here and a (now-deleted) derisive 2019 comment on this question (which seems to have been the impetus for this question). It is unclear if the later answer was referencing the older answer or came to the same joke/reference independently a few years after the fact.

In fact, it is unclear if the term actually "originated" anywhere or if people on different forums and communities are simply coming to the same joke independent of each other (or unconscious of the previous usages). After all it is a really easy jump from RAW/RAI and people play around with those terms a lot in joking ways.

At this point, it doesn't seem to be used enough to even really deserve the honor of being considered a term. More like an occasionally recurring joke.

RAT is redundant and not useful, and is harmful to answer clarity

We already have enough "Rules as..." terminology and they already cause quite a bit of confusion both among new and experienced users. The fact is, RAT is not a useful designation. All of Crawford's tweets already fall under either his opinion/interpretation of RAW (rules as written)1 or RAI (rules as intended) and occasionally RAF (rules as fun). Each of these terms have formal definitions and accepted community usage and, more importantly, make useful distinctions between different types of rules analysis.

Lumping all tweets together as RAT tells us nothing about the type of analysis being done and actively removes all the clarity and meaning of the other terms. It also seems to imply that the tweets are actually rules which is incorrect. The only thing it adds is a joking derisive tone (which a lot of people unaware of the history might miss completely and take literally).

A much better way to handle critiquing rulings would be to correctly (to the best of one's ability since Crawford often doesn't make it easy to distinguish) identify the type of ruling Crawford was trying to make (RAW/RAI/RAF) and then state how it disagrees with the rules/common sense/is otherwise undesirable or bad in your view (and backing it up with the proper support of course).


1 - These can be very tricky distinctions, but it is important to note that JC tweets are never considered to be RAW themselves, though they might oftentimes offer up an interpretation of what RAW is (much like answers here do). Crawford's tweets are also not all RAI (by his explicit definition). I recommend reading this Q&A and Q&A for more on this train of thought since it is beyond the scope of this question.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yakk Please don’t start arguments in comments. You had your say, its suggested change been rejected; getting into an argument over it isn’t needed. Now the comment and all following are deleted as no longer needed. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 10 at 16:18
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Since I appear to be the first user we can find on RPGSE, I'll just throw in my two cents:

  • I certainly didn't pick it up on other forums, since SE is my primary social network. I occasionally read a GitP guide if I'm linked it (usually from a post here), have asked a question or two on rpg.net, but usually within a day I get frustrated with other spaces' characteristics and I'm back "home," so to say.
  • I may have picked it up in conversation here. Searching main chat's log doesn't reveal a conversation using the term before the posting of that answer, though.
  • I don't believe I used it ironically, but I suppose irony is in the eye of the reader, eh?
  • My thoughts on the utility of rulings being tweeted out by the game's lead designer are well-cataloged in this post on 5e's "official" rules; in short:

    There's no way for one reading even Jeremy's tweets to know whether they've (a) already been contradicted officially or (b) whether they already contradict settled rules.... [A] tweet from Jeremy might be official, and no others could be. I have yet to see a tweet where Jeremy has said "this one's official" and have (personally) adopted a stance of being skeptical of all of them.

  • I express no opinion on whether we "should" be using the term around here; I'll leave that to each user to decide whether they think it clarifies or obscures meaning. When I used it, I meant to call attention to the fact that a ruling was tweeted, and thus should be looked at very closely.

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