Pronoun usage in BW rule book

I really like the various BW games, have been playing them for over a decade now, but the exclusive use of he/him pronouns in the rule book is alienating. Being misgendered by the text makes it hard to engage with, which for a rule heavy game like BW where you have to read the book a lot makes it hard to recommend.
So if you update the book again this is something that could be fixed

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I agree that Burning Wheel contains a dated presentation. It was written 20 years ago, it was the first game I’d published and I was suffering under the tyranny of academic style manuals when I wrote it.

That said, I should have been more forward thinking. From Mouse Guard onward we tried to reexamine our language for clarity, simplicity and openness. Specifically, we turned gradually more toward the second person address to our readers and players. Which to me feels much more friendly and conversational.

Writing and design is both a process of building an idea and rebuilding oneself. We try to learn about the world and do a little better each time. 20 years into that process, I think the language in Torchbearer 2E and M&M 2E is quite lovely and it shows the progress we’ve made.


Yeah, it’s hard coming from older academic writing. I’ve had this conversation in various workplaces due to that.

Thanks for improving it

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One of my favorite authors—Barbara Tuchman—refers to historians and journalists with the generic masculine pronoun in her book Practicing History (iirc). It’s jarring to read because her perspective is unique in her field and razor sharp—but either she can’t see herself very well or the tradition and language of her contemporaries refuses to acknowledge her. Even so, despite this flaw, it’s a fantastic book. Well worth the read.

Not that I’m comparing us to Tuchman. Hahahaha! Just offering an example of the tunnel vision our institutions can create around language and progress even in our greatest minds.

Thank you for your thoughtful feedback. We appreciate it.



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