Thursday, October 15, 2020

Patrick Stuart, Maze First Draft, and the Tale of Helboria

Fans of Maze of the Blue Medusa will probably remember Lady Crucem Capelli, who appears just after you enter the painting:

You might also remember the way that the Maze was written was:

1-I drew the whole Maze

2-Patrick wrote what he thought was in the rooms

3-I edited it and let him rewrite things that we agreed needed to be fixed

4-I wrote new stuff after that to make it all work

5-People on the internet arbitrarily decided whatever they didn't like was written by whoever they didn't like because they are dangerously insane


Patrick's first take on this blue devil-girl was a kind of millennial Elvira:


In the centre of an expansive, yet tatty boudoir, a goth fetish goddess reclines on a black leather couch. As you enter she looks up in surprise, quickly stuffs the crackling packet of a crunchy snack between the sofa cushions and stands up. Chews. Makes the ‘hold on’ sign. Chews more. Swallows, then spread her arms and says 

“Welcome…. Stran-gers…. To the haaallls of the Medoooossaa”

5’9 with wicked ramshorns and little batwings which she will point out to you as being “fucking cool, right?” Helboria has remembered her makeup but forgotten (or not bothered to) brush her hair. The nails on each hand are painted in random individual colours. Nails on the left hand are cracked from casual biting. The straps on her left shoe are undone, leading you to think she is about to become dangerously unbalanced and fall, this never happens. Her PVC fetish dress has forgotten crumbs in the folds. There is a dot of lipstick on one of her upper front teeth. Her breath smells slightly, but not unpleasantly, of cheese and onion. She must be a Succubus as nothing human could stand in those heels. (On examining feet will save to avoid contracting mild shoe fetish)

As a Succubus Helborias job is essentially to be evil. As she is kind of a lazy, flakey slacker, this makes her quite likeable. She will make some attempt to seduce the PC’s, this involves her raising one eyebrow, nudging them and making arch comments. She acts like a cross between a comedy transvestite and a carnival barker. In event that any PC falls for her charms “We’ll have to do it here though, there’s no bathroom, you ok with that?”. The leather couch has numerous packets hidden in it and crackles when in use.

She casts spells by pointing her hands at the target, wiggling her fingers and going “KAZAM!”

Helboria has forgotten exactly why she was placed here. “Maybe to stop people getting in? Or out? Or to make sure people do go in? Or get something? Or not get it?” She has only the vaguest notion of what is inside “like an evil old woman or something? A crone? Oh yeah a Medusa obviously so probably that then” and will alternately threaten/promise things that adventurers would fear/desire. “There’s shit worth money in there. If you see anything important totally grab it dude.”

If Helboria is consistently reminded of the likelihood that she is meant to be guarding the place she may try to fight the PC’s. She is easily charmed, her standards are low.

If asked about the woman in the first room she may say “oh yeah, you defeated the evil Ashen Chan.. oh shit you let her go? That’s pretty wild man, how are you getting out?”

So I wrote:

"Oh Helboria. I follow her on Twitter. And that's the problem.
I feel all NPCs have a kind of entropy of self-awareness and dream-breaking-- they all tend toward Helborism at the table whether or not they are meant to (as monsters tend toward deadness and puzzles tend toward solvedness).

So the trick is to write the NPCs as po-faced as possible so that they slide into a pleasant groove somewhere in the middle negotiated by the GM. That is: the party is funny, the game's job is to be more serious than them.

Also, tactically, if you look at succubus powers (which tend toward deception and quick assassination) she's kind of a tactical waste, as written here, especially if she's not terribly persistent.

"HOWEVER: she's interesting on the page, in details. I think there's probably a sly happy medium."

So then we got the classic LCC:


In the centre of an empty room, latticed with shadow, stands a woman. Her skin glows midnight blue under the bars of shade. She walks deliberately back and forth, weaving through the threads of silhouette. Pauses, looks down at her feet, arms crossed across her chest.

“It would be a shame” she mutters to herself “to burn it all, with nothing left behind”.

Lady Capilli is a Deep Dragon in human form. She has accepted a request from hell. Her mission; to rescue a Daemon from inside a box.  Psathyrella’s father. (See Prince Sheklesh, upper right). 

She is also a highly refined aesthete and connoisseur with a taste for strangeness and original beauty.  She regards the maze, its contents and the relationships inside it as a kind of work of art. 

Her work will be destructive. She wants to put it off. To save whatever fragments she can. Invading the maze would mean destroying it. But… If she could find someone small, and insignificant, to wander round, collecting things and bringing them to her..

Lady Capelli’s first offer will be to buy from you, anything you bring back from the maze. She stores her purchases in a portable hole. She pays well in gems and gold. After the first transaction, roll 2d4 on the below table.

(I think I also nixed the portable hole? Standard D&D item and solves too many fun problems in a dull way.)

No doubt Something Awful /tg is scrambling to form a contrarian Free Helboria fanclub as we speak and all the members will go on to be very good at making games and not ever be taken to court for being idiots.





CJGeringer said...

I searched but was unable to find anything conclusive. Could you kindly explain what "helborism" and "helboria" are?

Zak Sabbath said...

its nothing, just a thing.

patrick may have been influenced by the word “hellebor” which is an abortifacient herb.

Fredrick J. Rourk said...

I once had this player that had a habit of saying " To hell with that or this." One fine game session I had this brilliant idea of when the player said to hell. Well things went there in game. Till one fine game session the Army of Hell now mostly equipped with items that where graciously sent / donate there attacked the PC's World.

Fredrick J. Rourk said...

A little history of Hel from Bok Saga

Kyle T said...

So if I'm reading this right, too much self-awareness in the NPCs is a bad thing?

Zak Sabbath said...

@kyle t
Not exactly, but it is a meter/dial to keep an eye on. Case the NPC is very important they show up very early in the adventure they are very clearly drawn day there a loadbearing pillar do you want to be careful.

Zak Sabbath said...


Your comment was erased because of inaccurate -fact claims- not -opinion-. You don't seem to know the difference.

As for the times Patrick spread misinformation:

If there's even one human being who doesn't know about the bad things Patrick Stuart has done, then they should. Greater good and all that. So:

All of these things are Patrick spreading misinformation. They're either Partick lying or just failing to fact-check by doing any double-checking before typing gibberish that popped into his head:

-Patrick said (or implied) Mandy was telling the truth when she wrote her Facebook post. She isn't.

-Patrick said I was dishonest. He can't find any examples of me being dishonest.

-Patrick said I was an abuser. He can't find any examples of me being abusive.

-Patrick said I couldn't meet my own standards of how to act online. He can't find any examples.

-Patrick accused me of having various mental illnesses (narcissism, aspergers')--I don't have them, mental health professionals agree I don't have them, Patrick didn't consult anyone before making this false diagnosis.

More specifically, from his Mandy-supporting post:

-"Highly intelligent, deeply manipulative narcissist".

Patrick didn't check with any mental health professionals--I don't have narcissism personality. I'm just not a shy depressive like Patrick, so he lack the ability to see why I might, for example, type phrases like "he lacks the ability" when speaking to zillions of nerds who have trouble retaining, parsing, and accurately consistently repeating colloquial speech when telephone-gaming my words to others.

Patrick doesn't even have his shit together enough to say "hey Zak, person I used to play a game with many weekends over vidchat, you do this thing I find unusual--why?"

Could've saved himself a lot of trouble.

-"who rules through a combination of building little systems of control"

Systems of control require coercive power--which I don't have or use. I just leave comments on the internet like everybody else. My "system" (tell the truth, admit when you make a mistake, no first-strike personal attacks, etc) was not "built" by me, it's pretty much standard for professions and situations where people talk to each other about important things (courtrooms, journalism, academia, etc). Shy sad people on the internet are scared of these rules because the internet is a vent space for them and its disturbing to them to be held accountable for their gibberish--but its actually pretty normal for people to expect their colleagues to be honest and to try to stop them from being dishonest.

-"...and absolute sustained aggression for anyone who opposes or steps out of line for even a second."

If someone breaks one of "my" rules all they have to do is apologize and I forget the even did it. Sustained aggression happens if they fail to do that.

-" This guy will say anything to win some fucking internet argument"

Obviously not true. Lots of things I won't say and "winning" an internet argument is never on my mind or even possible--the important thing is that misinformation be contested immediately in the place where it is being spread. You can't "win" an internet argument and anyone who thinks you can is dangerous and irrational.


Zak Sabbath said...


-" never, ever, ever admits wrong,"

I have many times. I was, for instance, wrong to help Patrick. I was wrong to ignore his bad actions when, for instance, he said that he would take action against both people in a disagreement because people arguing around him bothered him and made him feel bad. At that point I should've said "Ok, if you feel like that you need to get offline and talk to a therapist about it, how can I as your colleague help you do that" (well, a more colloquial, chummy version of that lest Patrick mistake me for a "robot" because I'm trying to draw a clear, easily repeatable, universal line)

-"never...recognises the humanity in his opponents."

I always recognize the humanity in my opponents. No other species -but- humans lies on the internet for fun. Just because you recognize someone's motives or feelings doesn't mean it's safe to let them spread misinformation unchecked and not do what I can to make them stop.

Shy, sad, non-Jewish people often fail to recognize that just because you know someone's doing something bad and that you have to stop them doesn't mean you don't understand they are capable of feeling pain. You still have to stop them.

-He states I was angry for making his little "history of the Zak wars".

I wasn't angry--I thought it was nice and helpful since I am innocent and that timeline proved it. It was also a rare example of Patrick standing up for someone instead of being a tedious quietist who benefitted from other peoples' stuff while protecting his own ass. I thought he was making progress as a person and it was heartening. I never said otherwise and I directed people to that post a lot.

(It was stupid of me to have faith that Patrick could become better. In 10 years I've never seen any bad actor online become better.)

-He claims I "impersonated" Shannon Appelcline.

I did not. At no point did I claim to be him nor did anyone else, so far as I know. In his Paolo post he claims I did this in order "to make them look bad;" but... Patrick didn't actually read the comments left to check if that was true. Or, maybe, he did read them and then decided to lie about it.

From his Paolo-and-Zak-are-fighting freakout post:

-Patrick claims my style of arguing provably does not "lead to good outcomes".

Lots of people who lie on the internet have admitted they stayed off various forums, out of various discussions because of my style of argument, which is absolutely a good outcome.

It's not the best outcome: the best outcome is someone, when caught, admits they were wrong and improves. This used to happen a lot--I thought--but the Mandy incident proves they had not actually improved and still wanted to spread misinformation. So while the bad actor just getting offline isn't the 100% best option, it's likely the best realistic option.

Is Patrick "lying" here or just stupid? Idk.

Zak Sabbath said...


-Detail on that last point: "...a shit fight with a neurotic like Paolo, someone who lacks the strength to either disconnect or fight back directly."

This is proving my point:
A person who lacks the "strength" to go "sorry I made a mistake" or even just "sorry, I can't have an argument on the internet, it would be bad for my mental health, I will remove the comment I made since I can't defend it fully" is literally someone who should not be making accusations on the internet and should be in therapy instead.

It's an unhealthy pattern of behavior to be like Paolo or Patrick or Jensen Toperzer or Ash Kreider or Shoe many people and follow this chain of logic:
Im shy and sad and scared of real life so i will go be online a LOT AND I will live an alternate life there, with online "friends" BUT have convictions though, so I will occasionally attack people for doing what I think is wrong, politically or socially BUT since I;m sad and shy I can't handle the conversation justifying those accusations require AND I will then cry

That's not healthy. The person who does that should be off the internet and in therapy. It's not good to constantly escalate arguments about games until they are about sexism, harassment, homophobia, abuse, personal attacks, etc and then use "self-care" as an escape hatch to avoid any substantive discussion of the thing you raised.

If I make that person not be on the internet, I have done a good thing (and, as I've described above, probably the only realistic good thing you can do). They need to be accessing offline medical resources and offline they can do less damage to their victims.

-"Put simply, it is logically impossible for you to look at your own behaviour and say 'I am not an aggressive man'."

This isnt' exactly a lie but it is terrible thinking on Patricks part, equating "aggressive" with "bad".
I never claimed not to be aggressive. Most halfway-decent people are in the face of injustice.

Failure to be aggressive in the face of injustice is being a dick.

-" you enjoy stressing and intellectually dominating people"

No, but like anyone with a conscience I see that you have to stop people from spreading misinformation. It isn't fun or exciting to watch someone who could've been contributing to a collective creative thing be a stupid dick--but if they are, a stupid dick you need to demonstrate it so that people know to stay away from them.

Again, Patrick mis-sees this because he's shy and sad (and not Jewish) so the idea of even being -remotely ok- with having an argument looks to him like enjoying it.

Patrick also doesn't have much sense of helping other people or a community. He just wants to avoid pain for himself or people he sees as like himself.


Zak Sabbath said...


-"then defend your position through invisibly re-defining the original terms of your statement and forcing ever-more-narrow definitions of terms and evidence"

No I don't.
I continue the argument on the original terms. Patrick has no examples of this.

-"You would not survive the rules you impose on others."

Not true, as described above.

-He claims "If the people around you treated you according to your own law, they would have no option but to ostracise you, block you, refuse to work with you and never support anything you did at a minimum."

No the first thing anyone would do if they were following my own "law" (i.e. my way of deciding who to talk to, which everyone has) is ask me to explain myself and then apologize if I could not.

Patrick's whole Paolo freakout is an example of not doing things how I would: step one is always confront the supposed bad actor with what you think they've done wrong and give them a chance to explain.

-Patrick claimed I "stalked" people.

Googling things people say is not stalking. If it were nearly everyone online (and certainly Patrick) is a "stalker" as is anyone trying to make an argument in good faith with reference to facts available online.

-"And again you will not extend the same behaviour to others that you demand for yourself. Your sniping is honourable and decent and dedicated to reminding everyone just how terrible these liars and harassers are. Their sniping and stalking *is* harassment."

This is a lie about how I talk--and about how any reasonable person talks. If someone's claims in their "snipes" are false, their "sniping" is harassment. If their claims are true it's journalism.

This is not only commons sense, it's a universally recognized legal standard in the every country whose laws I've looked at and it.


Zak Sabbath said...

-Patrick makes much of how I am different in real life than I am online and claims it's evidence I am evil or have aspergers.

It totally fails to occur to him that in real life I;m not being accused of various made-up hate-crimes to my face, so, of course I say and do things that I am not called on to do in real life.

If Patrick saw some nerd, irl, walk up to me, call me a Nazi and then run away, you best bet he'd see me act different than I did during that one weekend at GenCon where we met.

-Patrick claims I try to "intellectually dominate and break someone"

No: I try to fact check and do whatever is necessary to prevent bad actors online from doing harm.

Even *just* including the qualities you would admit to, because you think they are good, the aggression and the binary mercilesness, those alone would be enough to reasonably call someone a dick.

Since failing to:
- aggressively address bad actors online and
-create consequences for their bad actions
...leads and has only lead to a bad status quo online then it's child's play to prove what I was doing was helpful.

With large parts of the OSR now acting like honesty is a terrible imposition we have preposterous stuff like the OSR discord removing the rules on lying only to have (repeatedly admitted troll and liar) Cavegirl/Emmy Allen and (serial liar-supporter) Shoe Skogen mutually accusing each other of abuse and Chris McDowall just letting that happen without an investigation because investigation and facts have been determined to be bad, it is obvious my way of doing things was better than whatever other way y'all think things should be done and therefore the people (including me) who support it are the only ones being reasonable and therefore it'd be bs to call them "dicks".

That's not a "lie", but it is very stupid. You don't call someone names for being the only one in the room helping.
I haven't read everything Patrick's posted, so there's probably more. Since he doesn't talk to me and likely doesn't talk to people who know me in real life, any statement he makes about my motives can't really be fact-checked so he's talking out of his ass.

Patrick's in love with the idea of himself as articulate and perceptive, it is his only real source of pride,a s far as I know. The idea of staunching that flow of words with something as humble and earthbound as fact-checking would hurt Patrick's feelings.

As Harry G Frankfurt says in "On Bullshit"

“Someone who lies and someone who tells the truth are playing on opposite sides, so to speak, in the same game. Each responds to the facts as he understands them, although the response of the one is guided by the authority of the truth, while the response of the other defies that authority and refuses to meet its demands. The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.”

Zak Sabbath said...


If you refuse to address counterclaims, you aren't engaging and not rational so you cannot be allowed to comment.

Zak Sabbath said...


1. Burden of proof is on the accuser. So it's not rational to ask me to -dis-prove Patricks' accusations. His lack of proof is enough.

2. So you're saying that if a mental health professional says I do or don't have a condition, you will accept that, publicly apologize for spreading misinformation and stop?

Zak Sabbath said...


You don't get to comment or have your claims addressed until you deal with the stuff above. I already said that.

Zak Sabbath said...


you made a first-strike personal attack—you have to address that. apologize or justify it.

the rules haven’t changed on that since 2009.

Benjamin Cusack said...

So where is the Medusa Maze painting now?
It is still on your fine art of america page for prints and things, and there are old comments saying congratulations on the sale, but I cannot figure out if it is in a public collection or not.
If it was bought by Ken or Patrick, do you know if they have done something with it?
Thanks, just curious, and really would love to know, someday if it is somewhere viewable I want so see it in person.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Benjamin Cusack

The painting was sold to some fancy art collector shortly after it was shown at the gallery that represents me in NYC, somewhere in 2013-15. Fine Art America is just a website where I sell prints and throw pillows for fans--the original is out of the price range of any normal person.

If you contact the gallery they might let you know who has it.

Benjamin Cusack said...

Thank you!

Zak Sabbath said...


No anonymous comments