Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Hey, You Want To See Something Heartbreaking?

If you don't follow gamer drama, lucky you--here's a free dungeon by many of the most well-known authors in Old School gaming, and it's pretty good, too.

If you are up on gamer drama then most of the names will be familiar so, like I said in the title, heartbreaking.

Original post from 2016...

So here's what we did:

You know that old TSR module Palace of the Silver Princess?  Y'know...

When she came it was as exile, descending from tempestuous night in a silver ship. She fled the collapse of her shining principality in the Immeasurable Abide, an implausibly vast agglomeration of paradisiacal cosms beyond the outer void. All she loved of her glittering homelands was consumed by the tyranny that lurks behind all tyrannies: by the Manifest Density which waits at the end of time. An agent of that creed, the Hegemon Ankylose Dysplasia , driven by colossal lust, sought pursuit beyond the Abide but was prevented by his preposterous gravitas and the girth of his pride from passing through the furled dimensions and on to the lesser cosms where the world hangs.

...that one?

Anyway, I farmed out every page to a different DIY D&D Blogger and we rewrote it--I'm shocked with how well it came out. You can use the old maps, but the key has been completely renovated with all new stuff.

Tom Middenmurk wrote a brand new freaky princess legend, Kelvin Green gave us some sweet picture map rooms, Stacy Dellorfano made the Princess' chambers seriously fucked up, Raggi dreamed up some incredibly elaborate ways to screw (or at least frustrate) your players, Humza invented some classy ghouls, James Mal made one of my favorite new trick rooms, and a whole lot more.

Free of course.

So check it here:
Princess of the Silver Palace
Tom "Middenmurk" Fitzgerald
David "Yoon Suin" McGrogan
Zzarchov "Neoclassical Geek Revival" Kowalski
Barry "actual Cockney" Blatt
Natalie "Revolution in 21 Days" Bennet"
James "I invented the phrase Gygaxian Naturalism. Sue me" Maliszewski
James Edward "Lotfp" Raggi IV
Trent "New Feierland" B
Humza "Legacy of the Bieth" Kazmi
Ramanan "I make all those cool online generators" S
Reynaldo "Break!" Madrinan
Kelvin "Forgive Us" Green
Daniel "Basic Red" Dean (thanks for picking up the slack on the folks who didn't have time to finish their pages)
Anthony "Straits of Anian" Picaro
Jensen "I talk to Paizo" Toperzer
Logan "Last Gasp" Knight
Kiel "Dungeons and Donuts" Chenier (thanks for the layout!)
Stacy "Contessa" Dellorfano
Patrick "Deep Carbon Observatory" Stuart
Scrap "Fire on the Velvet Horizon" Princess
Ken "Satyr Press" Baumann
and me a little bit

Oh and ps: the ghouls in Trent's last room were invented by Humza, the credits are a little wrong.


Zak Sabbath said...


No anonymous comment allowed, though, to address your concern:

More than one "competent therapist" has been involved with Mandy's case over the years. I've spoken to them.

Like every other professional adult from outside the gaming scene, the unanimous verdict of therapists who see these internet dust-ups is the same as mine: you guys are assholes with toxic, evasive internerd social norms from mars and it's hard to think what I should've done -other- than call y'all out for your bad behavior. People shouldn't behave like Paolo did, like Patrick did, like Ettin did, etc.

It's very strange that you think your behavior is justifiable outside this tiny world.

Zak Sabbath said...


Deleted. Same rule you just ignored.

...and, hey, since you're reading let's take this opportunity to give an example:

You said you "care about me" and want me around but also said that a couple of my books "should never have been printed".

It's not insane or toxic to believe that.

But when presented to a therapist, they'd instantly say this:

If you care about someone and want to interact with them and you feel like they've made a bad personal or creative decision then you




about the reasons that you think that. You begin with the assumption you may be wrong or that the other person may have information or motives you aren't aware of. You begin that conversation with questions, to make sure.

If you can't do that a "competent therapist" would say you fucked up.

Every "competent therapist" who looked at that would say you either:

-don't really care and don't really want to interact with the person (in which case, for everyone's mental health, you shouldn't be lying to the internet or yourself)


-are exhibiting toxic avoidance behaviors (and you should see a therapist about that)

...the fact that leaving anonymous snipey comments on the internet that you would never use irl is -ordinary- does not free it from being a bad thing that you did, that you should get fixed.

And everyone I called out or upset is in the same boat: they did things grown-ups shouldn't have done.

If you have some reason to believe otherwise: be specific and say what that is. A "qualified therapist" would say that attempting to get someone to come around to your worldview despite the fact that when they ask for evidence or details you change the subject is...not a good sign for your mental health.

Please do share that with whatever part of the internet you're from.

Zak Sabbath said...


Erased for the same reason as usual.

See above.

Fredrick James Rourk said...

I hear they are trying to cancel Mozart now.

Meanwhile Kanye is running for President!

Man is truly his own worst enemy.

Hang in there Zack! Perhaps you will get a chance to save a mixed race polka dot bi cross dressing baby from drowning in a burning well of fire? Could happen.

Zak Sabbath said...


A baby can't cross dress, I don't think.

But, yknow, I went to county jail for Black Lives Matter (note: briefly), I hired more trans and marginalized people for Demon City than likely anyone else in the industry, I gave up 5 figures to tell gamergate to fuck off, they don't care.

This is not and has never been about right and wrong or helping people--these are nerds who want to make themselves look good by making the person who called them out look bad.

Chris Lawson said...

This is great. I’m curious what prompted you to post this right now? I’d have imagined you’d have no incentive to promote anyone else’s work at the moment, even if no one makes money.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Chris Lawson

It's a good adventure and I realized a lot of fans weren't around back then. And the poignant Stark-Children-In-Episode One depressingness of that contributor list struck me pretty hard is all.

Many of these designers can, indeed, go fuck themselves after how they behaved this past 18 months but I'm not real worried they're going to somehow become creative billionaires because I mentioned them. Most of them don't really produce anything and the ones who do--their audiences don't read this blog or care what it says.

Zak Sabbath said...


erased. no anonymous comments

teamslope said...

Is Ken Baumann part of that whole cabal of suddenly Anti-Zakkers or is he ok?

Zak Sabbath said...


Total Anti-Zakker. He jumped ship without a -word- as soon as the accusations were published.

teamslope said...

Ergh. Is anyone on that list still on good terms with you?

Zak Sabbath said...


All the good people.

teamslope said...

offtopic but it was nice to see that you'd repaired(?) your relationship with James. Very disgusted to see how people torched that person for the "Zak Has Nothing To Do With This Book" nonsense.

Zak Sabbath said...


It's weird you assume so much.

This isn't a movie: you don't have to read subtle signs and listen to lines to understand what's going on, you can just ask the people.

We're people, not characters.

My "relationship" has been pretty much the same all along. He's the least bad of a group of colleagues who did bad things. And, for better or worse, we will have a business relationship for a long time to come.

Fredrick James Rourk said...

Just outlive them! Political climates change. Belief's Change. Morality Changes. You know what does not change games!

So Keep on Producing!

Zak Sabbath said...



I have absolutely no desire to let the next few years of my life be stolen from me just so some fans can have some games I made when I’m old or dead. I'm not a toy factory, I'm a human being with things I need to do.

That is no kind of life and I pity anyone who would take that deal.

EoN said...

As much as I love your content, it is best that you focus on yourself. You do you, fight to get your name clean, make games if you feel like it, but don't let any of that crap consume you. I know it's not really my right to say anything when I'm not in your shoes, but to me it seems that the silent crowd is somewhat starting to move in your favor and there are still many who support you.

Bottom line, you don't owe anyone anything.

Zak Sabbath said...


language like “Consume you” implies you’re making dumb pop psychological assumptions.

Fixing the problem—including clearing my name— involves interacting with all of this shit.

I’m not a scared 8 year old—I can think about reality while interacting with it. Keep an eye on your own self.

shanepatrickward said...

This has been on my list of adventures to run. I actually just reread it lately. Maybe when summer is over I'll get a new game going. I only get three decent months, so I try to make the best of them and comune with nature whenever possible.

Zak Sabbath said...


you’re a liar, a harasser and an online abuser.

you don’t get to comment until you apologize and take steps to undo the harm you caused

Zak Sabbath said...


maybe move?

shanepatrickward said...

One day maybe. Lots of family here

teamslope said...

What did jojiro want?

Zak Sabbath said...


Clarification of a straw position. Getting on Discord and ask if you’re really curious

teamslope said...

The discord is kind of imploding at the moment, there's a shitload of really bad drama, people forming factions, etc. There's so much finger pointing and it's a little overwhelming since I don't know who 90% of these people are, if you recall I didn't even know who Erika was until this month.

Zak Sabbath said...


I mean if you go out of your way to -get rid- of a "no lying" rule and an "accusations need evidence" rule then you can't exactly be surprised when (1) you attract shitty people (because they love to make accusations without evidence) and (2) the arguments become unresolvable (because everything's a "judgment call").

teamslope said...

i guess its just easier to have a blog people can comment on than a shitty chatroom

Zak Sabbath said...


As I said in a recent post, Jeff literally started the gameblog (and thus, arguably, the entire Old School Renaissance scene) because forums suck:

Moderators don't want to moderate so the only option then is...

-end discussion as soon as anything important (that is: controversial) comes up
-unilaterally decide one side is right and ban people who disagree


The discussion on blogs is better, but it reaches less people, so if you're selling something or trying to fight misinformation they're less useful.

shitpostingsam said...

Fuck it, what's your take on the RLM v Shatner debacle? I think Bill's in the right, they're a bunch of down-punching pissy fucking nerds who are exactly like the people they claim to be.

Zak Sabbath said...


i don’t know what that is

i don’t know why you’d ask me

and i suspect that if you know what that is, you feel the need to ask me, you can’t use your real name and the internet handle you chose has “shitpost” in it those are are red flags you l spend to much time on the internet

shitpostingsam said...

my name is literally sam man

Zak Sabbath said...


unrelated. don’t dodge. address the points made or don’t post.

Trent_B said...

I forgot how good this was!

I have a new group forming for more New Feierland playtests - I think I'll run this.

Zak Sabbath said...


Trent_B said...

So many themes are consistent between different contributors' work! Music, libraries, undead, keys, lost/trapped beings, enchanted statues, awful bedrooms, cursed meals, kittens.

There's lots of nice little deliberate stories in there, and a few interesting kinda accidental emergent ones implied.

Amazing considering there was no conversation between the people about their work, right?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Trent B

Yeah, though I do think there was some nudging done here and there by me and by Basic Red writing in all the cement holding it together. Plus everyone was working off the same original module

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about this specific post a lot lately. There were a few times back in the G+ days when I was able to participate in some of these collaborative "game design" sessions - Luka would post a hex map and people would fill it in, etc, etc - and they were always so fun. It was an amazing opportunity for people like me (people who have no blog, and no "standing" in the greater RPG community) to get to work firsthand with all the designers we respected and looked up to. Yeah, there were cliques even then, but it felt as though all the different little sub-factions of the OSR were talking to each other and at least *generally* working together (even if not everyone liked everyone else). Like, there were several times when you (Zak), or Patrick, or Noisms, or Luka, or Scrap or whoever would answer direct questions from me, and then in the same thread, Tenkar would post a response, and then Venger, and then someone else that didn't get along with the previous few (I can't remember everyone nowadays). The community just felt .... I don't know, *functional*, even if it wasn't wholesome and great. I understand now that from my vantage, I was at least a bit deluded, but even so, the community still felt like a place where you wanted to be involved with everyone else in some fashion. I really wish there was a way to put something like this together again.

I know the Coins & Scrolls dude recently did something similar to the collaborative dungeon, but I couldn't make myself get involved and post on it, because I knew that it was just a tiny-subset of the people that used to do these things, and it just felt cheap.

If you were to ever try something like this again, I bet you have enough people that would be willing to participate to make something good - it may not have the balls/gravitas/amazing-weird-psycho-purple of what would have been done years ago, but maybe there's something worth pursuing?

And somewhat off-topic (but not really), but because I don't know where else on your blog would be a good place to put this right now:

I follow a blogger/author and he was talking about a new research paper that explores the nature of friendly and "non"-friendly teachers and their relationships with their students, and then those students' performance later on. And it turns out that basically, the nicer the teachers, the worse-off the students were in the following years. Turns out that having a mentor/teacher/supervisor/person-in-higher-position-of-power-than-you-that-is-also-providing-some-sort-of-mental-stimulation who *ONLY* acts nice to you and provides that great, positive life experience of patting your head and encouraging all your faults actually makes you perform at lower quality later in life, because you have missed out on the important skill of being able to accept criticism and use that knowledge to move on and improve yourself. Go figure.

Anyway, seems somewhat relevant to things you've talked about here in the past W/R/T the people who threw you under the bus because they didn't like the way you debated with them.

Zak Sabbath said...


Well, in that same vein Buffwalk:

That collaborative world went away because when Patrick and Noisms and Luka and Scrap and Tenkar and Venger and Skerples lined up to throw me under the bus and trash the supposedly terrible atmosphere I fostered, nobody did anything to stop them.

You want something like that world back: stop letting them do that.