Wednesday, August 26, 2015

3 Dozen Psychotics Agree: Go Buy Vornheim

EDIT: If you were sent here because of the people harassing Mark Diaz Truman about working on Monsterhearts, a disabled queer woman lays it all out with facts and links here. Now back to the original entry, where I call all the members of the hatemob who attacked her and Mark (and me) psychotics. Mostly because they are :)

Vornheim: The Complete City Kit is back in print. Get it here.

The rest of this entry is for those of you who still need convincing. Here's the thing about Vornheim:

Sure it's going for 170$ on ebay...
Sure it's beloved by both veteran GMs and people coming to games for the first time...
Sure it received critical acclaim from famous and respected contemporary writers inside the game industry and out (like Red & Pleasant Land)...

But there's no need to trust the judgment of these pretentious book collectors, clueless newbies, gaming-adjacent gadflies and OSR lickspittles--why not ask people who fucking hate me what they think of Vornheim, its author, and the ideas in it?

You want it.
It is a fascinating city that takes the approach of making a fantasy city actually fantastic. Why yes the crazy lady in the spooky house is a medusa...and everyone knows that and its just a thing that exists.

Its stupidly full of little color bits that could grow into full on plot hooks. And it has some clever mechanics, like the cover doubling as a table that you physically roll dice on and the position the dice lands tells you stuff...solidly in my category of 'things I'm very glad I bought...

-Ralph Mazza

I've heard good things about Vornheim and have no reason to believe that the game design used there is anything short of excellent, for those for whom it is well-suited. I've never put forth any notion that Zak doesn't make good game stuff. A lot of people I respect respect his work.

-Fred Hicks

Hell, he’s a good artist

-Anna Kreider/Wundergeek

I just started reading Vornheim recently and am pleasantly surprised…Just off the top of my head, Vornheim itself includes things like the God of Rain and Rust as the city's patron deity, the palace and grand cathedral shaped like hands with the spires as fingers reaching for the sky, lists of bizarre superstitions, decadent nobles who walk pet snails and turtles to show off their idleness, and creatures like a "La Llorona" style vampire bride who is really essentially a bodiless penanggalan fastened to the top of an empty dress.

....Vornheim is a good example of fantasy that is focused on the fantastical rather than world-building, something that is rarely seen today. For example, the palace shaped like a hand, with tower fingers reaching toward the sky, the gardens of black flowers, and the fact that all snakes are secretly books.

-Halloween Jack/Keith Robertson

But his shit is good shit. I actively enjoy everything he's made. I played in a Red and Pleasant Land campaign. I use Vornheim:TCCK every single time any party goes to a "big" city, and so far none of them have caught on, which is cool. I just ripped through Frostbitten and Mutilated and it's all I want to run now. gently caress, I want to PLAY in this setting, man! 


I thought his Vornheim book was fucking amazing


...if you are a fan of random tables and like the particular style of art in the book then the ideas here make it worth the price of admission. Any one of the pages in this book has enough ideas to become the seed of a memorable session...

-Ash Law

Vornheim is fucking brilliant too

-4chan anon*

It's really good stuff. Very idiosyncratic, very weird, but every page has a bunch of little details that scream PLAY ME!

-Jack Shear

...I like his art and RPG's…


Vornheim was so fucking based

-4chan anon*

I don't dispute Zak's writing. A Diana Jones nom is nothing to sneeze at.

-Mark Carroll

There's also the fact that he seems to be genuinely intelligent and articulate.


…but Vornheim owns

-4chan anon*

I've heard good things about Vornheim as a product...

-Jussi Marttila

....he's an awfully good artist.

-Malcolm Sheppard

He’s a solid artist in a number of fields…a solid artist

-Fred Hicks again

Zak is a person who appeals to a lot of decent folks because he has a lot of good ideas and qualities and is tremendously creative

-Pope Guilty

I'm quite impressed with Vornheim. I was surprised to discover that Zak's a actually good writer…It's very evocative.


Zak S Vornheim was an amazing piece of work, so borrow it or whatever if you don't want to pay him for it, but it's very worth reading.


...has produced good work in the past, including several supplements that have garnered awards and near-universal acclaim.


There's a lot of decent material in Vornheim. For what it is, it's a good product, and I'm prepared to assume that the latest work of Mr S is also pretty good.

--Potatocubed / Chris Longhurst

I have no doubt that his actual RPG products are good

-Guilty Spork

He can write well, therefore the reason everyone hates him is because he's a genius that embarrasses lesser men.

-A Plague of Hats

I want to add that Vornheim is a really great "little" supplement and I would buy a lot more things like that if there were a lot more of them to buy.


Agreed. Additionally, unlike other city setting books, it's not filled to the brim with "Street Name #9" or "Bjorn's Wine Company" details. Zak views such things as unimportant details the DM or PCs can come up with during the game session or for their own games. Instead he relies upon quick and easy table generation for encounters, streets, etc.


It's a testament to the quality of Vornheim that some of its most vocal proponents around here tend to be the posters who've been most critical of the author's... distinctive online persona


He's a guy who's generally smarter than those around him…Vornheim…is the distillation of everything that he does that's awesome.


 Vornheim is okay...


I do like a lot of his ideas.


It's worth looking at and bits are useful. Different bits to different people.


I always thought the "snakes are books" thing from Vornheim was pretty cool.

--Inklesspen / Jon Rosebaugh

One of the best ideas I've seen in a long time. Definitely goes into the next D&D game I run. 

-Frank Trollman

Must play with this now!


That's a really cool idea.


It's a really nifty idea

-Ancient History

Honestly, awesome.

-Judging Eagle

Very cool.


Dude's book looks wonderful

-4chan anon*

Zak is the gift that keeps on giving

-Ryan Russin

He's a genius. And he's really funny, too.

-Ed Dove

Zak, you're a wonderful, talented artist and you have some fun ideas.

-Ancient History

*at least one of these 4chan anons was Jon Rosebaugh aka Inklesspen from Something Awful. Or at least that's what he says.

So if this collection of knuckle-draggers, edition-warriors, and sociopaths who have been trying to us run out of games forever still managed to get something out of Vornheim, just imagine how much you--an individual well-adjusted and intelligent enough to be reading this blog without typing out paranoid conspiracy theories that dirty sexwomen are going to break into your house and force your children to play Old School dicegames about elves against your will--will enjoy it.

Now available again in hardcover for the first time in years from Lamentations of the Flame Princess and wherever unusually good cottage-industry RPG books are sold.


Burk Diggler said...

However good you are at writing, calling broad swaths of the people who disagree with you psychotics is a shitty thing to do.

Zak S said...

Unless they actually are psychotics, in which case it is simply reportage.

Which it is.

Also "disagree with you" is not what happened here.

It's not like I went "My favorite color is green" and they went "My favorite color is cerulean blue"

It's more like
"My favorite color is green"

mattruane said...

Jack Shear has issues with you? I think some of his stuff is quite intriguing. I'm surprised the two of you have any sort of beef.

Zak S said...

Yeah, it's weird--he was the biggest Zak S fan in the world for a long time but then he also had this bizarre urge to court this sort of weird grumpy faction of old schoolers whose main entertainment is complaining that anyone else had done anything anyone else liked.
Sort of some kind of contrarian clusterfuck

Robert F. Mason said...

I've no idea whether I'd fucking hate you if we met, but I'll be ordering my copy of Vornheim today, on the strength of Red & Pleasant Land alone.

Glad to see that at least some haters in the world maintain an ability to separate art from the artist, and judge it on its merits rather than on the (perceived) demerits of the creator.

mattruane said...

I think his Gothic take on LotFP was inspired and pretty darn OSR. I'm not sure where the things went off track with the two of you, but I am glad he isn't necessarily one of the "I hate Zack S" people for the usual stupid made up reasons that have plagued you for the last year or so. At least I've never seen anything on his blog referring to you or your work in a negative way.

littlemute said...

About time this got republished!

Unknown said...

When you meet Zak, it has been foretold, he will be totally polite, offer to autograph your stuff, and draw a doodle of your favorite character. Basically, the guy's a mensch unless you accuse him of hate-crimes, or tell him that there's only one "correct" way to play imaginary elf games.

Robert F. Mason said...

I've long had the suspicion that the hate for Zak has less to do with how he plays imaginary elf games than who he plays them with ("dirty sexwomen," which really should be a new monster or something...)

Burk Diggler said...

You can prove everyone you've quoted here is psychotic?

Zak S said...

"Delusional disorder, previously called paranoid disorder, is a type of serious mental illness called a "psychosis" in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, which are unshakable beliefs in something untrue."

Zak S said...

Your last post has been deleted as it contains a personal attack with nothing backing it up.
You are --OF COURSE-- allowed to ask for evidence or clarification. For example: if I have evidence of each person named above claiming to unshakably believe something untrue.
However, you are not allowed to:
-assume I have no such evidence
-call people names who've done nothing wrong

As for pejorative--of COURSE "psychotic" is pejorative. It's also true. If someone robs a bank you're allowed to call them a bank robber.

You, however are not allowed to call me anything, as you have not established my guilt.

You will not be allowed to comment again until and unless you publicly apologize.

SC78 said...

Had it ordered before my reminder went off yesterday. Looking forward to it and a copy of LotFP (yay free shipping coupon code).

Thank you for having this reprinted so that those of us who were late to the party can have one.

Christopher Kubasik said...

I missed the print version last time around.
Just this week I was poking around the LotFP site wondering, "When will VORNHEIM be back in print?"
And here it is!
Buying it now.

Sean McCoy said...

Man, I had to scour and scour for this on BGG and reddit when it was out of print. I literally use it at almost every session of play. Insanely good. I wish more products were like this.

The Duke of Arkansas said...

All Games Considered mentioned the Ennie kerfufle about midway through their last podcast:
Sadly, while they mention the walkout, they don't really do anything to tell the listener the rationales behind the kerfufle. They probably don't want to really do a whole show on the topic, but it seemed unfair to basically just give the impression that quite a few people dislike Zak because he's viewed by some as being difficult on the Internet. Maybe you can ask them to provide some links for the background of the issue? Ask for both sides, Zak's side in this wins anyways.

Robert F. Mason said...

Dirty sexwomen are a degenerate off-shoot race of the succubi, just as alluring though far more subtle in their abilities. They specialize in driving male aficionados of strategy and war games into apoplexy by corrupting their children into cults dedicated to obsolete rules sets and freeform narratives. Dirty sexwomen know if they can get the children at their game table instead of Daddy's, the world will be theirs for the taking.

Their magic is, as noted, subtle, though. Most enemies of dirty sexwomen will convince themselves that what they object to is the women's focus on "girly" expressions of gaming, or their dedication to some cock-snot artist game referee with a chip on his shoulder; when what they actually hate is the fact that they've always wanted their own dirty sexwomen at their own gaming tables, and just haven't been able to glean the right sorcery for the task.

Not that the dirty sexwomen care, or should. They're just here to have fun.

Sexwoman, Dirty

HD 4, HP 27, Speed: Human
Armor: Leather (high Dexterity)
Intelligence 18, Reference: 4th level Thief/Rogue/Spec

Attack: Luxurious fucking fingernails +2 to hit d4, fabulous studded sex toys (as mace) +3 to hit d6

Defense and Special:

Dirty sexwomen are immune to any charm magic used by male neckbeards and/or edition warriors.

Their presence at the gaming table forces weak-willed male gamers into denial about their own motives for hating the dirty sexwomen (save vs. paralysis effects negates).

Zak S said...

If you think it's important, you can do it

Gregor Vuga said...

I thought you were on ok term with Ron.

Anyway, Raggi missed the opportunity to put "Vornheim is fucking based" -Anonymous on the cover of the reprint.

Zak S said...

I was but Ron went insane last week--or revealed a latent insanity.

V. A. said...

Eric F has some nice things to say, as well.


Invincible Overlord said...

Bought! A day or two after I snagged the last hard copy of Red and Pleasant Land in Berkeley. Very good work, thank you.

Johann said...

The link seems dead. Could you perhaps fix it?

Zak S said...

Nope, link is live. You probably have to be in Wayne Snyder's circles on Google+ to read it

Virgil Clemens said...

I'd like to see proof for each and every one of the people you have claimed to have serious mental illness. That is a harsh claim, and doing such without preemptively providing evidence is rather problematic (at best) behavior on your part.

Zak S said...

Since I have no record of ever lying on here, the thing to do when I make any claim is simply ask and then evidence will be provided.

The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, which are unshakable beliefs in something untrue."

Ralph Mazza claimed I was a "one true wayist" (i'm pointedly not) and that I gave Seclusium of Orphone a bad review for some unerhanded reason (I didn't and it was a mixed review). So:

Mark Carroll said I supported ad hominem attacks. I do not. (Insulting someone after they've said something stupid isn't the same as saying its stupid BECAUSE of the insulting characterization)

Ron Edwards being psychotic is linked above.

Prak falsely claims I don't answer questions when asked.

Frank Trollman, Krakatoa, Ancient History, Judging Eagle, and Lokathor have all made false allegations on The Gaming Den claiming their way of playing D&D is objectively better but have no evidence.

The others all supported the proven false harassment claims during the 5e thing.

So, three options present themselves:

-these people believe these things (in which case they have unshakeable belief in untrue things, which is a delusion. Evidence of psychosis.)

-these people do not believe them but decided to lie on purpose (which shows a sociopathic lack of empathy and understanding)

Zak S said...

If you need more details, ask.

Zak S said...

Oh, and Mark Carrol also supported the false claims, so that makes him psychotic even if the ad hominem thing was an honest mistake.

Zak S said...

@Bobby Dee

Of course not:

The post says "why not ask people who fucking hate me what they think of Vornheim and the ideas in it?"

"Snakes are books' is one of the ideas in it.

Zak S said...

Oh I forgot Jack Shear (I don't know if he supported the false claims)--among _many_ other crazy things though. Shear supported a website which regularly launches misogynistic attacks against the women in my game group.

Zak S said...

@Bobby Dee

You long ago chose to lie, troll and otherwise behave badly on the internet, your opinions on things do not matter.

Zak S said...

@Bobby Dee

If you have any evidence of me lying or trolling, please link or quote it here.

(This is the point where these conversations typically end. because y'all never manage to produce any evidence.)

Zak S said...

@Bobby Dee

Trolling is when you say things (often things you don't believe or that aren't true) in order to upset people, not when you say things you do believe that stupid people happen to disagree with.

Zak S said...

I believe that, combined with the praise from more reliable and intelligent sources, the fact that even people as stupid and evil as you can't help but acknowledge how good the work I do is does _indeed_ militate for the quality of Vornheim.

And I think potential customers may believe the same.

So: no trolling here. If your own words upset you, that's an unfortunate and minor side effect.

piles said...

Last time I was too late for the show, but now I have secured my copy in time. Really looking forward to the book!