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An ability word is a word that thematically groups cards with a common functionality, but has no special meaning in the Comprehensive Rules.


Because they indicate flavor rather than rules text, ability words are printed in italics and are separated from their corresponding rules text by an em-dash. Ability words are used to label mechanics that cannot be keyworded.[1] From a design standpoint, the important thing to note about an ability word is that you can't refer to it mechanically.[2]

Ability words were introduced with Unhinged's gotcha, and were first printed on tournament-legal cards in Saviors of Kamigawa with channel and sweep. Some earlier unnamed mechanics, such as Invasion block's domain, have retroactively received ability words. Odyssey block's threshold was errataed during rules changes in Time Spiral block to be an ability word, rather than a keyword, as was Mirrodin block's imprint with the release of Scars of Mirrodin.

Ability words are distinct from keyword actions and keyword abilities. Collectively, they are described as mechanics.

Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms adopts a very loose approach to ability words called flavor words, which are used to represent themed actions, character feats or magic, or monster abilities, instead of grouping similarly functioning cards.


From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (November 19, 2021—Innistrad: Crimson Vow)

Ability Word
An italicized word with no rules meaning that ties together abilities on different cards that have similar functionality. See rule 207.2c.

From the Comprehensive Rules (November 19, 2021—Innistrad: Crimson Vow)

  • 207.2c An ability word appears in italics at the beginning of some abilities. Ability words are similar to keywords in that they tie together cards that have similar functionality, but they have no special rules meaning and no individual entries in the Comprehensive Rules. The ability words are adamant, addendum, battalion, bloodrush, channel, chroma, cohort, constellation, converge, council’s dilemma, delirium, domain, eminence, enrage, fateful hour, ferocious, formidable, grandeur, hellbent, heroic, imprint, inspired, join forces, kinship, landfall, lieutenant, magecraft, metalcraft, morbid, pack tactics, parley, radiance, raid, rally, revolt, spell mastery, strive, sweep, tempting offer, threshold, undergrowth, and will of the council.


Examples of ability words are:

  • Metalcraft — {Additional or alternate effect} if you control three or more artifacts.
  • Sweep — Return any number of {basic land types} you control to their owner's hand. {An effect based on the number of lands returned.}

List of ability words[]

Flavor words[]

In Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, some ability words are not used to thematically group cards, but to refer to iconic Dungeons & Dragons abilities, actions, or spells.[3] In some cases, these precede triggered or activated abilities on a card.[4] These flavor words contribute to the theme of many individual abilities. In many cases, they identify a particular skill or feat a creature from the Forgotten Realms could have. They were created to capture a sense of being on a D&D campaign.[5] A few modal cards in the set use flavor words to better illustrate your choices.[6] In this, they are similar to anchor words. Flavor words use title case as opposed to regular ability words that use proper case.[7] They aren't traditionally used on multiple cards.[2]

  • Acid Breath
  • Animate Walking Statue
  • Antimagic Cone
  • Archery
  • Bardic Inspiration
  • Beacon of Hope
  • Bear Form
  • Befriend Them
  • Bewitching Whispers
  • Binding Contract
  • Brave the Stench
  • Break Their Chains
  • Charge Them
  • Clever Conjurer
  • Climb Over
  • Combat Inspiration
  • Cold Breath
  • Cone of Cold
  • Cunning Action
  • Cure Wounds
  • Dispel Magic
  • Displacement
  • Dissolve
  • Distract the Guard
  • Divine Intervention
  • Dominate Monster
  • Drag Below
  • Engulf
  • Fear Ray
  • Fend Them Off
  • Fight the Current
  • Find a Crossing
  • Flurry of Blows
  • Foil Their Scheme
  • Form a Party
  • Gentle Repose
  • Grant an Advantage
  • Hide
  • Interrogate Them
  • Intimidate Them
  • Journey On
  • Keen Senses
  • Learn Their Secrets
  • Life Drain
  • Lift the Curse
  • Lightning Breath
  • Magical Tinkering
  • Make a Retreat
  • Make Camp
  • Poison Breath
  • Pry It Open
  • Psionic Spells
  • Rappel Down
  • Rejuvenation
  • Rouse the Party
  • Search the Body
  • Search the Room
  • Set Off Traps
  • Siege Monster
  • Smash It
  • Smash the Chest
  • Song of Rest
  • Split
  • Stand and Fight
  • Start a Brawl
  • Steal Its Eyes
  • Stunning Strike
  • Tail Spikes
  • Teleport
  • Tie Up
  • Tragic Backstory
  • Trapped!
  • Two-Weapon Fighting
  • Whirlwind
  • Whispers of the Grave
  • Wild Magic Surge

Commander Decks[]

  • Astral Projection
  • Berserk
  • Breathe Flame
  • Create Undead
  • Enrage
  • Focus Beam
  • Mystic Arcanum
  • Negative Energy Cone
  • Pact Boon
  • Perfect Illumination
  • Smash Relics

Flavor words have been used before in other Wizards of the Coast TCGs.[8] Their use in future sets is not off the table, but more likely for Universes Beyond than normal Magic.[9][10] If necessary, flavor words may be removed if a card is reprinted.[11] Something being a flavor word doesn't prevent R&D from later using it as a card name or mechanic name. There will probably at least a few years where they won't use it, but after that, Mark Rosewater thinks that the flavor text phrases will be fair game as card or mechanic names.[12]


From the glossary of the Comprehensive Rules (November 19, 2021—Innistrad: Crimson Vow)

Flavor Word
An italicized word with no rules meaning that provides a flavorful description of an ability. See rule 207.2d.

From the Comprehensive Rules (November 19, 2021—Innistrad: Crimson Vow)

  • 207.2d Similar to ability words, flavor words appear in italics at the beginning of some abilities. Flavor words provide a flavorful description of abilities, but they have no special rules meaning and are not listed in the Comprehensive Rules. While an ability word ties together several abilities with similar functionality, each flavor word is tailored to the specific ability it appears with.

See also[]