What does RAI mean in Dungeons & Dragons?

Rules as intended

In games like Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) and other RPGs, RAI is a term that stands for “rules as intended.” It’s used by players and Game Masters (GMs) to explain how a game action is supposed to work, even if the written rules might say something different.

Think about a situation where a player’s character is trying to scale a cliff. The game rules might detail exactly how hard it is to climb and what the character needs to do to succeed. However, if a player is controlling a character who’s super athletic, they might argue that their character should naturally be able to climb the cliff. They’d say that according to the RAI, there’s no need for a skill check to see if the climb is successful.

On the other hand, GMs who are sticklers for the rules will probably use the RAW, or “rules as written.” They’d make the characters roll a die to see how well they can climb. And you never know, the player might roll a 1 and that’s when the GM’s real fun starts.

Example for using ‘RAI’ in a conversation

Hey, I just had a DnD session and we had a debate about climbing walls!

Oh really? What happened?

Well, I argued that my character should be able to climb the wall without rolling a skill check.

Ah, I see. So you were referring to RAI, right?