I repeatedly saw "There are no hidden rules" or "There are no secret rules" being given as a governing principle for interpreting rules in 5e, but was unable to find a question that documents the source for these statements in search -- until recently.

I found that this answer to the question "What is the source of the "spells do only what they say they do" rules interpretation principle?" is giving a perfect answer to this, an answer that is actually broader than just being about spells.

This question is not a duplicate, it is asking about a specific formulation, not just a generalization of the guideline for spells. See also this earlier closure discussion, which concluded this is not a duplicate.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm unsure what the problem is exactly here. What's the issue leading to needing a citation that there's no rules hidden in lemon juice, code, between the pages, etc? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 0:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Let the people who are actually struggling with a question be the ones to ask it so we can help them where they are. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 0:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does this answer your question? What is the source of the "spells do only what they say they do" rules interpretation principle? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 0:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @indigochild Discussed on RPG Meta here: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7523/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 1:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ The extended discussion around this question and duplicateness has been preserved in chat (with what seemed to me the vitals kept above). Any further discussion is probably better put there. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 14:15

1 Answer 1


To quote the lead game-designer, Jeremy Crawford (specifically, this tweet):

Beware of claims that a rule does something mentioned nowhere in that rule or elsewhere in the core books. There aren't secret rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If this is the only source for this principle, and since JC's tweets are no longer official, that means that then officially there are not, not any secret rules? There could, in fact be secret rules, RAW? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 2:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt JC's tweet is a statement of designer intent, not a of rules as written. It's not a ruling, but rather a window into how we should think about the rules when we read them so that we're reading in the same spirit they were written. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 3:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt That doesn’t make any sense. That would mean that secret rules were created when the tweets were rules unofficial, which is silly. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 11:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt If the rules are secret, they must not be written, otherwise they wouldn't be secret. Therefore there cannot be secret RAW. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 1:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Matt They could be written, but not for general distribution. Not everything written is published. However, I feel compelled to say "jk" here, since the intended irony of my first comment has apparently been missed by many. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 3:13

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