Monthly Archives: December 2008

Goblin Knifethrower (4e and 3.5)

The goblin knifethrower — keep away from the walls!An an experiment, after designing this in 4e, I tried to replicate it in 3.5.

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Machineguns & Magic

Lizard takes a fond look at a game he found in the bargain bin fifteen or so years ago… ever wanted to be a typical modern American soldier in a world filled with orcs and goblins? Well, here you go.

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Star Ace

Star Ace! A bold game of heroic rebels fighting a galactic empire, with the aid of semi-mystical powers! No, this is the one without the official license! Watch as I read the classic mid-80s rules and create a character!

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Grammar For Gamers

R u a looser? Don’t be — Read Grammar For Gamers!

(Updated 2/20/2012)

Hi there.

This is an attempt to consolidate all of the most common, and most annoying, errors in spelling and grammar seen on gaming boards, and in game chat.

“y shud i care this not skool rofl1!”

Here’s a little secret — you aren’t taught English so that you can do well on English exams. You’re taught English so that when people like me see your resume, we don’t laugh uproariously and then call all of our friends in for a dramatic reading of it. (Then not call you for a job interview). Furthermore, poor grammar/spelling sends one very clear message: “I don’t care about what I’m writing”. If you don’t care, why should we? Why should we read your eight page post on how to “fix” all the problems in your current game if you can’t even be bothered to spell or punctuate it properly? Also, you give people an easy out — attacking your presentation instead of your ideas (if anyone can even locate your ideas in the midst of your incoherent scrawl).

“This is too much stuff, I can’t keep it all straight!”

Look, dude. If you can memorize the optimal configuration of optional advancement for a dozen classes in five different games, and instantly calculate if a +10 to Con is better than a +15 to Dex for your current build — you can learn the rules of English. They are no less more arbitrary and confusing than the rules to your favorite online game — and they get patched a whole hell of a lot less often, so you don’t need to relearn them every week.

Note: It is almost certain this very piece contains some sins, either venal or mortal. It is nigh impossible to get things perfect on the first try, and online communication tends to the informal. Perfection is a nice goal, but it’s not always achievable; it is wrong, though, to conclude that since we can’t get it perfect, we shouldn’t try to get it as good as we can.

So, in no particular order, here’s some helpful advice.

Rogue vs. rouge:
A ROGUE is a thief, scoundrel, or backstabber. In most games, he is a high DPS class.
ROUGE is a type of reddish brown makeup.

Here is a sentence: The ROGUE disguised his face with ROUGE in order to infiltrate the castle.

Loose vs. lose:
Loose can be used as a verb, meaning to let something go:

“The orc LOOSED a volley of arrows at the attacking paladin”.

“The rogue used a skill to break LOOSE from the snare.”

Loose is also an adjective, describing something which is not tight:
“The orc put his armor on hastily, so it was LOOSE.”

Lose means “Not to win”.
“The orc’s armor was LOOSE, causing him to LOSE“.

Looser vs. Loser:
Looser means “More loose than”.
“The Witch Elf’s armor was LOOSER than the orc’s armor.”
Loser means “Someone who has lost”
“If you call someone who has lost a fight a looser, you are a LOSER.”

Your vs. You’re:
Your is a possessive: Your armor, your character, your game. Use it when talking about something which belongs to someone.

You’re is a contraction. It always has an apostrophe between the ‘u’ and the ‘r’. It means “You are”. If you use “You’re” in a sentence, read it out loud, saying “you are” instead. See if the sentence still make sense. Use it when talking about what someone is, not what they have, e.g. “You’re a loser if you don’t know when to use ‘your’ vs ‘you’re'”.

“If you’re not sure, read your sentence aloud.”

Let’s be perfectly clear — the word ‘you’ has three letters, not one. Perhaps when typing fast in in-game chat, you can be excused using the fewest letters possible — but a message board isn’t in-game chat. You’re under no time constraints, so there’s no excuse for sloppiness. Just write out “You”. It raises your perceived IQ 15 points.


This word also has three letters. Not one. Three.

Their, There, and They’re:

Oh, here’s a big one. From reading online posts, you’d think that these were completely interchangeable in all circumstances — sort of like grey and gray (both correct spellings) or disc and disk. You might think this… but you’d be wrong!

THERE refers to direction — “The orc is over there”.
THEIR is a possessive, used when referring to a group, either a real group or an abstract group. Use it when discussing things that belong to someone else: “Their coders couldn’t fix bugs if you paid them!”
THEY’RE is a lot like YOU’RE — note our friend, Mr. Apostrophe? It’s a contraction. It means, duh, “They are”. For example: “THEY’RE over THERE.”
Putting it all together:
THEY’RE over THERE, setting up THEIR siege engines.”

(By the way, you were probably taught “I before E except after C” (I’m assuming some poor, harassed, teacher made at least a feeble effort to pound a few rules of spelling into your granite-like noggin. I may be wrong). This, like the cake, is a lie! It’s “Their”, not “Thier”. The general rule is that if the ei is sounded as “ay”, as it is in neighbor or, well, “their”, it’s ei, not ie. Also, “weird”, which is just weird. Go figure.)

Were, We’re, and Where:
“Where” is used for questions of place:”WHERE were you last night?”
“Were” is used to indicate a past time:”We WERE doing a raid last night.”
“We’re” is a contraction — use it whenever you would use “We are”, as in: “WE’RE going to go on a raid now.”
Putting it all together:
WE’RE going to WHERE we WERE raiding last night.”

Moral vs. Morale:

This one is pretty unique to Warhammer Online, which introduced “Morale” abilities.

Moral  refers to ethics and values:”Killing women and children is not MORAL, unless you are an orc.”

Morale refers to mood and enthusiasm, especially in a warlike context: “The act of killing women and children bolstered the orc’s MORALE.”

Cannon vs. canon:

This is something that comes up more now that I’m playing SWTOR.

Canon refers to the accepted and authorized information about a subject, as opposed to information that is considered apocryphal or unauthorized. “George Lucas has allowed an awful lot of stupid crap to become part of the Star Wars CANON.”

Cannon is a type of weapon that makes a big kaboom.  “Alderaan was destroyed when the Death Star fired its laser CANNON.”

Know, Now, No:

It’s interesting, and depressing, how often I see problems with this. I’m inclined to blame spell checkers and people who just pick a suggested word without knowing which one is correct.

“Know” refers to knowledge (as ought to be evident), awareness of something, and so on. “You ought to KNOW better than to join a guild that issues drive-by invitations.”

“Now” refers to time, specifically, the present:”I don’t want to wait for them to fix the bugs, I want it done NOW!”

“No” is negation, a lack of desire for, or as the LOLcats say, “Do not want!”. “If the best dialog you can up with is ‘NOoooooooo!’, maybe you should go back to designing toys and let someone else do the scripting.”


People rarely (in my experience, I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong soon enough) misuse “have” when referring to possession (“I have epic armor!”), but, as a commenter pointed out, they very often misuse it when referring to actions. This is an easy rule to remember: There are no circumstances when “of” follows “would”. Just don’t do it. Any time you write “would” and then write “of”, you’re wrong. Change it to “have”.  (Well, because I love a challenge, I suppose that if you have someone surnamed “Would”, you could say “Sir Would of the Wood”, and that would be correct. It’s pretty unlikely, though.)

Correct: “I would HAVE won if I’d had epic armor.”

Also Correct: “I WOULD’VE won if I’d had epic armor.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong: “I would OF won if I’d had epic armor.”

I haven’t yet seen someone write “I wood of won…”, but I figure it’s only a matter of time.


Given the monumental self-importance and sense of entitlement possessed by most posters on MMO boards, you’d think they’d have no trouble referring to themselves, but you’d be wrong.

“I’ll” is short for “I will” — once again, Mr. Apostrophe appears, telling us that it’s a contraction. “I’ll quit this game if you don’t fix everything wrong with it right now!”

“Ill”, of course, means “sick”, “not well”, and so on. “The crappy graphics in this game make me ill“.

Also, “I”, when used as a word in itself, is always capitalized. Given how confused people get about words which are capitalized some of the time, you’d think that an “always on” rule would be easy to remember. Nope. Furthermore, because this is such a trivial rule to remember, it’s one of the things that really stands out when it comes to making writing look sloppy and the writer look stupid. Few things say “Moron, please ignore.” as clearly as “this is the worst game i have seen and i quit”


Someone might note English has way too many words which are homophones. First, that doesn’t mean they only date words of the same gender, since English is a non-gendered language. Second, this is what happens when your language starts with blue-painted barbarians who get tromped on by Romans and then invaded by Vikings who are later conquered by French people speaking a debased form of Latin.


“Two” is the number that’s between one and three. It can be written “2”, but only when you’re using it to indicate how many of something there are. “There are two orcs on that ridge.” “We need two more people before we can go into the instance.” Also, while it’s not a hard and fast rule, it’s generally better to write out “two” when you’re not limited to a set number of characters or typing rapidly in-game. It makes you look smarter, and, let’s face it, a lot of you need all the help you can get in that area. I’m just sayin’.

“Too” is used to indicate excess amounts. “This instance is too hard!”  “The latest patch has too many bugs!”. It means, more or less, “over the limit”, “excessive”, and so on. It can never be written as “2”, under any circumstances, if you don’t want to look like you’re too stupid to live.

“To” is used every place you don’t use the other two. If you’re not sure, check the prior paragraphs. If none of them apply, use “to”. Do not write “2” just because you’re lazy, unless you want people to know you’re both lazy and stupid. “I’m going to the auction house, so give your gold to me.” It’s something called a “grammatical particle”. Mention that at a party. It will help you pick up girls. Girls love it when guys have a huge vocabulary.

Phrases And Idioms

This is not so much about correct grammar, spelling, or word choice, but about misuse of common phrases, metaphors, and idioms.I find these especially galling because, most of the time, the incorrect phrase doesn’t make any sense — it’s just random syllables someone strung together that don’t actually convey any meaning, literal or otherwise, becoming a sort of written mondegreen. (Google it yourself, you lazy sot.)

For all intents and purposes: Really, it’s self-explanatory, or should be. Honestly, I’m having a hard time finding an alternative way of saying it. The oft-used alternative, “for all intensive purposes”, really doesn’t make any sense, especially when, in the context it’s used, it’s clear that the correct meaning is intended, and trying to apply any interpretation of the incorrect version is clearly meaningless, leading one to conclude anyone using it really, really, doesn’t care about what they’re writing… so it’s a good sign you shouldn’t, either.


Our Friend, Mister Apostrophe:
And so we come to the end. Apostrophes are a pain, and even I screw up with them sometimes. The first rule, though, is this: An apostrophe is not used to warn the reader that an “S” is coming. Honestly, you’re better off underusing them than overusing them. Here is when you should use them:

a)In contractions — You’re, they’re, it’s. Please note that you use an apostrophe in “it’s” when what you mean to write is “It Is”, for example “It’s a good day for someone else to die.” This directly contradicts the next rule…

b)To show possession: “The orc’s axe”, “The elf’s cleavage”.  However, if you’re using “it” as the thing which has possession, you do not use an apostrophe. “The orc raised its axe.”, not, “The orc raised it’s axe.” Does this make no sense? Yes, it does. Report it to a CSR and maybe they’ll fix it when they patch English.

You do not use it to show plurals! No, no, no! This is wrong:
“There sure are a lot of orc’s.”

To make matters even more confusing, what happens when you want to show a plural possessive? You put the apostrophe after the s!
“The orcs’ axes were caked with blood.”

Confused yet?

There you go. I expect this list to grow as more and more annoying errors come to my attention.