Though I am an English teacher by trade, in real life, I don’t drop grammar bombs on my peers. If one of my buddies says “I” when he means “me,” I don’t flinch. When mom talks about how she’s “laying on the couch,” I don’t ask her what she’s putting there. Frankly, I don’t want to know.
But when I am buying print, including RPG books, I expect the text to be well edited. Recently, however, I have been disappointed. I don’t mean that the fluff isn’t good; instead, I am suggesting that the grammar is bad. Sometimes, very bad. Roll for insanity bad, even.
You can come after me for my own sentence-level shortcomings if you like, but I am not getting paid to write this blog. Hell, I’m not even getting free government cheese. Professional writers, though, should be fastidious about their writing, and I’m including RPG authors in that lot. Nevertheless, I keep running into grammar errors and word choice issues that should have been fixed long before I shelled out my $49.95.
“Continue on to page 43.” Just “continue” is fine.
“Often times, two-handed weapon users can do more damage if their attacks are successful.” Well, “often” is a number of times, so “often times” is like “audible noises” or “canine dogs.” Also, duh regarding the extra damage.
“If a barbarian chooses a two-handed weapon, they can wield the weapon in one hand without a penalty.” Who are “they”? A barbarian is a single thug, not a “they.” Pronoun issues and agreement issues abound in recent printings, and I is sick of them. (See?)
I could continue this rant by providing all manner of examples from game books on my shelf. I haven't even mentioned overlong errata lists, yet I am glad they are easily found online. I don’t want to pick on anyone, though, and pointing fingers won’t get me anywhere. Instead, I do want to say that some writers and editors are doing a great job, and I hope they continue. Kenneth Hite, for example, regularly puts out nicely penned games and supplements. He’s a badass writer. Sean Preston tends to impress me as well. In most cases, Paizo products have been carefully edited, too.
Some of the other writers and companies need to be better about their editing. If any of you are reading this (….really…?) feel free to hit me up for some proofreading. I’m not kidding; I’ll do it for nothing or almost nothing.
We gamers are a smart bunch, and we may not want to spend 40 bucks on a rulebook only to find out that it is a half-hearted rush job. For that kind of thing, we just go to the movies.