Is there a definition for what constitutes a special ability?

For example, undead “use their Charisma score in place of their Constitution score when calculating … any special ability that relies on Constitution”. The special abilities section describes several types of special abilities, but does not appear to actually say what counts as a special ability. Are spells special abilities? Is the ability to cast spells a special ability?

What exactly constitutes “using” an ability for an attack?

I was having trouble finding a clarification on what exactly an ability needs to apply to to be "used" in an attack. Just for example, would a magic longsword that lets you add your wisdom modifier to your attack and damage on top of your strength mod "use" both wisdom and strength? Or what if the bonus is to only one of attack or damage but not both, is that still "using" the ability for that attack? The ranger’s Foe Slayer feature might be an example of the latter case, I think.

What constitutes a suicidal command?

The succubus has an ability called Charm. In it there is a clause that states a suicidal command results in the charmed creature rolling a saving throw to resist the command.

If the target suffers any harm or receives a suicidal Command, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on a success.

But what is a suicidal command? Is it only a command that kills you 100% of the time? Is it any command that damages you? How about indirect damage?

Jumping off a 1000ft cliff sounds pretty suicidal, but at level 20, most characters could survive that easily, since the damage caps at 20d6. There is almost nothing in the game that could consistently one-shot a level 20 character, so does that mean nothing is considered suicidal to them at full health?

I have considered maybe a percentage damage. 50% of max health could be considered suicidal, but the problem is that any set percentage would be arbitrary, and that sounds very much like a hidden rule, which D&D tries to avoid. Any damage could mean lethal consequences if you only have 6 HP. Every hit point is extremely valuable, so unless the percentage shifts according to max HP and other weird stuff, this version wouldn’t really make sense.

Maybe if it DOES kill you, it is considered suicidal? Problem is you cannot know whether something kills you until you roll the dice, and you cannot roll the dice until it is your turn, since plenty of stuff could happen in between getting the command during the Succubus’ turn and yours. And since a successful save means you resist the charm, and the saving throw is supposed to happen when you receive the command, this isn’t really possible.

The best option I can find is counting all damage you do to yourself through environment or actions as “suicidal”. Is there any official rules on this?

For purposes of the Erudite, what constitutes a Psionic class for PrCs?

The Erudite has the following exception posted in its class description:

Exception: If a character with erudite levels gains at least as many levels in another psionic class as he has in his erudite class, he permanently loses the ability to add additional powers (above and beyond the two gained at each new erudite level) to his repertoire of powers known.

So, if I’m a Spell to Power Erudite for example and I decide to take The Metamind PrC at level 5 (ignoring the fact that that’s a bad choice for the loss of the bonus feat) so I can sequester any powers or spells I don’t care about and then level to character level 10, suddenly I can’t progress in my main casting class period.

What exactly defines a class as “Psionic” vs “Arcane” per the RAW?

Either I’m blind to the parts that make it clear to me or there’s not a clear statement that covers it and it’s meant to be taken as “classes that involve Psionic powers, abilities or class features in some way.”

The point of asking this is essentially to build up a line of reasoning to give to the DM for a house rule. I’d be fine with it if it said other manifesting classes, or something along those lines that refers to classes that explicitly give you the ability to manifest powers, which PrCs usually don’t.

What constitutes a minimal-sum section of an integer array

I’m having trouble understanding what constitutes a “minimal sum section” of an integer array. My book defines it as the following:

Let $ a[0],\dots, a[n-1]$ be the integer values of an array $ a$ .
A section of $ a$ is a continuous piece $ a[i],\dots,a[j]$ , where $ 0\le i \le j < n$ . We write $ S_i,_j$ for the sum of that section: $ a[i] + a[i+1]+\dots+a[j]$ .
A minimal-sum section is a section $ a[i],\dots,a[j]$ of $ a$ such that the sum $ S_{i,j}$ is less than or equal to the sum $ S_{i’,j’}$ of any other section $ a[i’],\dots,a[j’]$ of $ a$ .

My confusion comes with one of the examples that follow this definition:

The array [1,-1,3,-1,1] has two minimal-sum sections [1,-1] and [-1,1] with minimal sum 0.

But, wouldn’t the minimal sum section be $ [-1]$ ?

In a later example they give:

array $ [-1,3,-2]$

Minimal sum

section $ [-2]$

So, in the last example they definitely counted one element as the minimal sum section, but not in the first one. Any clarification on why this is so would be greatly appreciated.

What constitutes the appearance of a male medusa in the Forgotten Realms in 1492 DR?

In 1e MM 248, maedar was a male subrace of the meduse.

In Dragon Magazine #355, maedar were added to the creature catalogue (3.5e).

In 4e MM 187, male meduse are inferior to the female meduse of the matriarchal race due to their weaker gaze abilities.

In 5e MM 214, a medusa is female or male without any difference in statistics (they also use the plural medusas instead of the etymologically correct meduse).

So male meduse are an established part of 5e-lore that are no longer inferior or have statistics different from female meduse. When I search for images of 5e male meduse, I do not find a single WotC published depiction of a male medusa.

The only descriptions that the 5e MM 214 offers for a medusa after their transformation is:


monstrous form and caprice.

and the depiction of a female medusa.

Is that all material that 5e offers for me to make my description of male meduse in the Forgotten Realms?

I am creating an encounter chain that relies on the description of five separately occurring male meduse. The setting is the Forgotten Realms (after the Blue Breath of Change, in 1492 DR if that is relevant). I am fully aware that I can make up the descriptions as I see fit, but I want the description to be as close to canonical as possible.

I am not interested in answers along the lines of “you are the DM make it up.” I am interested in incorporating specific lore into my game.

What constitutes ‘safe route’ in the Fear spell?

Fear description says:

While frightened by this spell, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from you by the safest available route on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move.

Imagine these scenarios, where all happen in a narrow corridor and the caster is at front of you:

  1. Behind you is a deep pit of 10 ft wide. You could jump, but if you fail your Athletic roll you fall to the pit and die.

  2. Same as 1, but you won’t die but take a lot of damage.

  3. Same as 1, but you have fear of height.

  4. Behind you is a flaming corridor, which deals damage for every 5 ft you move.

Those represent uncertain situations where it might or might not be safe to cross the escape route. The fourth scenario represents a certain situation where you will take damage, but not necessarily kills you, if you try to escape using that route.

What is the treshold of ‘safe’ in the spell description? Must the victim run through the route even if there is certain danger? What if the danger is highly probable, but not certain? Do those routes considered available, but safest?

What constitutes a travel warning?

My travel insurance has a standard travel warning exclusion that reads:

We do not insure you for any event that is caused by or arises from you failing to follow advice or take heed of a warning from:

− any government; or

− any official body; or

− any publication or broadcast by any member of the mass media; or

(This seems like overly broad language. Couldn’t they just point to some fringe government that recommends never travelling anywhere ever to void any claim?).

As a result of the Easter terror attacks in Sri Lanka, the Australian government has issued a ‘reconsider your need to travel’ advisory.

I understand that I can’t recieve specific legal advice here – but is there a framework for understanding/interpreting travel warnings and travel insurance?

Research on formalization of what constitutes a good theorem

This question is about automating theorem proving. Now automated theorem proving, as currently understood in CS literature, has little to do with pure mathematics as practiced on this site (I believe the former tends to be about statements of low level of abstraction such as some theorems of Euclidean geometry; the question is not about such statements).

So let me clarify what I mean by automating theorem proving: this means (a) to be able to formalize the proofs of deep results in pure mathematics (e.g. V. Lafforgue’s results on Langlands) (b) to have a machine that is capable of producing “interesting” results of equal/higher depth on a consistent basis. The progress on (a) tends to be by current or former pure mathematicians (e.g. Kevin Buzzard) which, I believe, makes this question appropriate to MO.

Of course, if you have sufficient computational power, you can just try all possible ways to adjoin axioms and syllogisms, and you would produce a lot of theorems. If you are persistent enough, you will produce some number of interesting theorems but the percentage they would make up would be vanishingly small, I believe. Therefore, to do (b) you need your machine to know what is an “interesting” theorem.

Different people tend to find different things interesting but I believe that if you fix a particular area of mathematics, there do exist theorems which 90% of mathematicians working in this area find interesting, so the set of “interesting theorems” is not empty. The question is: how do we formally define it? Are there any papers on this subject? If not, maybe some people who have tried hard to do this could share their insights?

One concern I have is that if you tried to explain what humans mean by “interesting” to a machine, it might look pretty arbitrary (and reflect certain pieces of intuition hard-coded into our brains by nature/evolution). As one homotopy theorist puts it: “studying something like mathematics is essentially understanding the way the human mind thinks.” Maybe that homotopy theorist is right (i.e. you could learn something about an alien civilization just by looking at the pure math section of their arXiv).

I do not know but for some reason, whenever I look at the definition of etale fundamental group, I feel like it was always a part of the primate geometric intuition, it just takes some time to write it out explicitly. But let us see what research says about this.

What constitutes the “completeness” of an app for eligibility in testflight?

I am trying to get my app into testflight for testing with “external” beta testers. The app is nowhere near complete, it is totally non-functional, and is intended as a starting point for my team to discuss UI elements.

Is my app ineligible for test flight until it constitutes a certain level of “completeness” by Apple’s standards? Does anyone know what those standards are? Do they differ from the requirements of completeness for an app on the store?