Monday, November 14, 2022

This Is A Cursed Text

Years ago, they hired me to write the 5th edition of Vampire.

Then a bunch of people harassed the company and I got thrown off the game.

Due to these same peoples' continuing harassment, Vampire 5e died.

I took all the ideas I had when working on Vampire and said fuck it I'm making my own game. I hired a diverse crew of the cream of the OSR crop to help write it. People of different backgrounds from different countries straight queer cis trans but all people I knew had ideas that I'd liked over the years.

We wrote and drew our hearts out.

But it turned out that the woman I love--a victim of mentall illness--progressed to the point where she lost contact with reality, my actual life became a horror game, and my wife, the people who harassed me off Vampire, and most of the cream of the OSR crop I'd hired to make that new game got together and destroyed my life.

Throughout this, me and all the people on the game who actually had been around for the last ten years and seen what had gone down kept working on the game. We had to. 

I had said we were going to produce the greatest horror game in the history of RPGs.

The contributors who remained went through a lot during this time:

One got shot in the eye by the police. One tried to help form a health care worker's union and it didn't work but they wrote about it for the New York Times. One got nominated for a National Book Award. Others got divorced, engaged, got covid, lost pets, medically transitioned, dealt with addiction and dozens of other things people deal with. 

And throughout this the comments section for the Kickstarter was a nightmare: the harassment campaign had spread there, of course, the harassers got really mad when told that if they thought I'd done anything wrong they should say that under oath and help the "victims" they were alleging were out there somewhere, and they complained and complained that the game was late. The graphic designer just did what he was supposed to: he took the time he needed to make the game as good as he could.

They aren't complaining any more.

The Demon City backer PDF was released and now it's just:

"Beautiful book, can't wait for the physical copy."

"This game is incredible. Lots of good ideas and a game design masterclass. Wow! If anyone wants to sell a print pledge, I would like to buy it"

"Slayed it guys. Absolutely slayed it. This books is as much art as it is a game. FKING amazing."

"It's magnificent."

"Here is one for the haters: I backed and bought a lot of RPG stuff over the last couple of years. Today a lot of products are just given you some fancy looking bare bones or rushed and untested game material. Demon City took ages to complete but with over 400 pages a lot more stuff then hoped for. For me it was totally worth the time."

"This book looks absolutely... fabulous. That's what it is. Fabulous. Congrats, Demon City team!"

"Wow, this book looks incredible. It's been a long wait, but I've never seen a better-looking TTRPG book, period. Can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy and keep it out as a coffee table book. Just starting to dig in and I love the idea to use examples of play to demonstrate what each section of the rules is going to talk about. The quick guide for character creation will also be super useful to reference."

"You all utterly, utterly nailed it :-D I've been poring over it for a day or so now and there's so much good stuff. I like how initiative is done, it feels really novel. Killer art and design too."

"This looks amazing. Just taking in the artwork and the page design, it's incredible. Well worth the wait. Looking forward to diving in and getting a game going. Thank you all for what was unquestionably an enormous amount of work."

"omg its F****ing glorious"

I hated a lot about this process. 

What I maybe hate most of all is that this game is really, really, good and I hate that we had no choice but to make it really really good.

Fuck this.

Fuck this cursed book.

Fuck this community.




50 comments:

Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

Sorry:

1. No anonymous comments.

2. No misinformation allowed in the comments.

3. No first-strike personal attacks allowed in the comments.

Simon Tsevelev said...

I think it is a good example of what one of the hatemob's problems is. Whenever they have to face facts, their claims shatter.
And not just when they're harassing Zak. Basically everything I've seen, for example, Olivia Hill do went down the similar way (the genocide support comes to mind first, since it's personal).

Matrox Lusch said...

August 21, 2018 I printed out the backer's draft of Demon City (455 pages with no art, btw). The beforetimes to the Beforetimes.

Becami Cusack said...

I have spent about a year compulsively checking in on the Demon City Kickstarter comments - waiting for updates, watching what people said - downloading every single test page or spread I could find and trying to read the low pixel count text.

The amount of unbelievably evil commenters there who repeatedly talked smack was truly horrible - especially since Zak was pretty much the only person making any attempt to curb or curtail the horrible people and their misinformation and lies.

Then once the PDF was done - they all shut up and the people who said nothing, but stay idly by saying nothing have been asking for copies, wondering where their email is, and praising the book.
It's no wonder you think the book is cursed Zak.

After reading every comment multiple times, looking at times and names and long threads in the KS comments, and looking at any and all art you have put out that made it into this book (some from road of knives and obscure blogposts and gallery websites) it truly is a special book, and from what I have read and seen of it, it deserves the praise : but it is truly disheartening that people don't understand that support is what makes things happen, not praise.

When you need help, and want advice, or are overcoming adversity - that's when people should step up and act - not when it is over and done with and they can just say, "good job"

I wish I had been around to back Demon City, I wish I could have been in the comments trying to affect change.
All I can say is that I've been watching and trying to do what I can to help Demon City be less of a burden, and I sincerely hope that after a few weeks, when I am out of school, I can find the time to go out and make things happen, I have places and ideas to go to and make things for.


Good things do not always happen to good people : but good people can make good things happen.

I hope Shawn Cheng is taking some well-deserved rest too.

Richard Pratt said...

@Cusack - This is unfair. (granted, in an even more unfair situation)



I have bought six of Zak’s book (sometime multiple editions … seven including Demon City), I have enjoyed his memoir ”We Did Porn” and his podcast “We Eat Art”. I have purchased his Cube projects 1-36 … Zak is smarter, more creative, and has a better visual sense than 95% of the world. He has been and could be very successful at any number of things.



Zak, that you choose to continue what I see as your righteous fight online is noble, but it is possible to get by without an online presence as many do. Will it be in any way the same as it was, probably not? I’m 50+ year old, I meditate daily, I have no interest in having arguments with people who draw out and prolong feelings of disgust and anger. I boycott social media on principle. That you want to engage is fine, that is you, and I hope you can deal with it better than I can … but that I don’t is also fine. I will support you in my way, and I’m good with this even if others are not.



Is this whole situation fair, hell no … but I’ve also come to terms with that through out life.



Why am I bothering to post this now? Because I actually think the people here are persuadable, while the vast majority of Zak’s critics are not. 



Zak I’m happy to continue this discussion via email. Thank you again for your wonderful book.



Zak Sabbath said...

@Richard Pratt

You don't seem to understand the situation at all.

You refer to "getting by without social media" and "interest" in arguments.

This isn't about that at all in any way:

Social media affects peoples' real lives--for example. you--in real life--are getting a copy of Demon City because someone found out about it online.

You may one day -play- Demon City in real lfe because someone found out about it online.

Things that have been spread on social media about me -are likely going to result in my death-, whether or not I myself am on social media.

As you say:

this isn't fair.

The fact you don't think you'd *enjoy* trying to fix this desperate situation happening to this person whose work you like doesn't change the fact that my choices are to fix things online or die.

---

You also refer erroneously to "persuasion"--persuasion is not the issue here.

The people who did this are not persuadable--but the better people who did nothing or who have the erroneous ideas you do -are- persuadable: I have seen them move from inaction to action.

They need to act or there won't be a me any more.

---

Please address these issues.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Richard

-"Then what is the ask here?"

To contact me: zakzsmith AT hotmail dawt calm if you actually want to be helpful instead of posting comments here.

-"Countering erroneous and hateful comments on Kickstarter appears to be about either persuading the commenter, persuading the generic audience, or to communicate support to the wronged individual."

Not at all in any way.

It's about _preventing the spread of misinformation_ both by countering it immediately in the venue where it appears.

- I assume the later is done by actually purchasing the work?"

Not at all in any way.

Sending some money does not do anything to prevent the spread of misinformation. That is worth 1000 times more than money.

Again: I could win the lottery tomorrow and the problem would not change.

--

-
-
"
“You don't seem to understand the situation at all.”



– I agree"

Then email and ask how you can help then instead of posting comments here.


"

If you had the money to move, to “start over” then … while a drastic life change … it is better than suicide."

Not in any way I can see.

It may be better -for the aggressors- because then they don't have to address any culpability for having destroyed a life int he most literal sense, but it still leaves me with a life not worth living.


" People change careers..."

If you think the problem here is mainly about _careers_ then you haven't sat and thought about what happens to a person who's been publicly smeared at all. Not even for a second.


So, please, for the fourth time:

If you are concerned, use email to communicate about this.

If you are not, please stop talking.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Blergius

Erased.

Misinformation is not allowed in the comments.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Blergius

You can't comment until you apologize for attempting to spread misinformation.

If you believe your claim was erroneously identified as misinformation, then email zakzsmith AT hawtmayle dawt calm .

Zak Sabbath said...

@Anthony Rayearth

Sorry, trolling comments get deleted.

Anthony Rayearth said...

How is any of this "trolling"? And why did you delete your post? What is happening?

Zak Sabbath said...

@BorgBorg

No.

When did you decide you loved us together?

BorgBorg said...

In those "I hit it with my Axe" videos you guys were so cute together ^_^

Zak Sabbath said...

@BorgBorg

And where did you first see them?

BorgBorg said...

On the Escapist. They got taken down tho lmao :'(

Zak Sabbath said...

@BorgBorg

Yeah I ended our relationship with the Escapist when they hired some gamergate transphobe

https://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2015/02/were-not-playing-d-with-escapist-ever.html

Rob said...

Is this curs├Ęd text available to buy in print form, or are the Kickstarter copies going to be the only ones?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Rob

The Kickstarter said there's gonna be a print book so there's gonna be a print book.

I'm not in charge of that, though--the person to ask is Mike Evans over at DIY RPG.

Rob said...

Cheers

Jerome Fleck said...

Are you willing to sign an affidavit saying he abused you?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jerome Fleck

Of course, Jerome. When you're talking about something this serious anyone honest would be willing to swear in court that it happened.

If I wasn't willing to do that, that would pretty much be proof I was lying.

Jerome Fleck said...

Why aren't you taking legal action against him for abusing you, then?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jerome Fleck

I never said I wouldn't

And, also: suing people is not the only way to achieve accountability and achieve restorative justice, it's not the only tool in the toolkit.

Rob said...

What kind of tools are we talking about?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Rob

The most obvious and overlooked one online is simply -talking- .

You asked me a question--I answered it.

That's how 90% of conflict gets solved irl.

But: most harassers are chronically online and they're nerds and they are anxious or afraid of talking to people not like them and so they -like this platform because it allows them to avoid that- .

The ideal situation for them is: attack someone and then have all their friends pat them on the back for their attack.

What they genuinely don't want it: the person they're complaining about talks to them and together they solve the actual problem.

So, for example, if you had an issue with anything I said or did, ever and I go: well email me let's talk, or do a zoom call, then the response I'd expect was "But I don;t WANT to talk to you" (I just want to complain online).

So, that's a pretty obvious tool most of these folks don't use--they block and avoid instead.

Zak Sabbath said...

@konosuba

Erased. Trolling is not allowed in the comments.

zak said...

@rob
yes Rob, that is exactly the problem: you don’t like someone and so you don’t wanna talk to them and you think that that’s a strong enough reason to not talk to
it isn’t:
adults do things that they don’t wanna do all the time because of the long term that’s way better for everyone.
The momentary discomfort of talking to someone you don’t agree with or don’t like is absolutely worth the long term problem solving power of actually voicing your grievances to people and then them responding like adults.
as long as you’re like “I have an issue with you but I don’t want to talk about it” then all of this bullshit goes on forever and it’s entirely the fault of the people who don’t want to talk about it.

Jeremy Pho said...

Non of the actions you have taken over the last 3 years have reversed the majority community position that you are a pariah. What do you envision your actions over the next 3 years will be and what impact do you plan to have on your reputation.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jeremy Pho

I don't plan three years ahead, Jeremy.

The plan I have is: complete reversal of this bullshit. The people responsible are held accountable, publicly.

It probably won't work and I'll die, but given that the only other option is death, I have to try.

Jeremy Pho said...

Sorry to correct you but those are not plans, they are goals or desired outcomes.

And for the purposes of my own humanity (suicide is no joke) am I correct in believing you mean you will continue to pursue those goals for the remainder of your natural life?

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jeremy Pho

I understood your phrase "what impact do you plan to have" as a question about my goals and desired outcomes.

If that phrase doesn't mean that, please help me out and rephrase so I can answer the question.

-

"I correct in believing you mean you will continue to pursue those goals for the remainder of your natural life?"

No.

If i succeed, I won't have to pursue these goals for the remainder of my natural life--I can just go back to living my life.

If I fail, there will be no natural life to have.

Anonymous said...

Apologies, my wording could have been clearer- what actions do you intend to take .. and what impact do plan for those actions to have.

I can safely assume the outcomes to be as you have already answered - the missing piece of information for me, is the nature of your actions, if the last 3 years of actions have not yielded the results you desire, do you expect repeating them for any given period of time going forward to yield different results?

Jeremy Pho said...

(Previous comment mine)

Zak Sabbath said...

@Jeremy Pho

1. What actions do I intend to take?

First: Circumstances evolve--for example, people who accused me keep getting cancelled and revealed as abusers themselves-- so my specific actions will involve some improvisation. I cannot predict all of them.

Second: To the extent -some- of what I'm working on is legal strategy against people who are reading this message right now and screencapping it to show their clients, I'm not gonna tell them ahead of time what I plan to do. I apologize to the general public for not being able to share those plans but, yknow, exposing my abusers and getting my life back is more important than random people knowing that specific information immediately.

Second: what impact do plan for those actions to have.

Again: I don't know how to answer this other than to say I -hope- for them to be successful in exposing my abusers and saving my life and I -expect- that they won't.

I don't mean to be cagey about that, if that's not the kind of answer you're looking for feel free to rephrase.

--

"the missing piece of information for me, is the nature of your actions, if the last 3 years of actions have not yielded the results you desire, do you expect repeating them for any given period of time going forward to yield different results?"

You're never "repeating" actions in situations like this since dozens of important factors that determine the context are always moving forward and changing.

If you set up a chicken stand and sell no chicken every day people might claim you're repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different result--but then someone randomly builds a bar next to your chicken stand and now you're making money hand over fist because drunks like chicken.

Zak Sabbath said...

@evil lyin goons

Sorry, erased.

Harassment is not allowed in the comments.

It is added to the evidence folder though.

Mandy said...

I won.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Mandy

Not in court.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Mandy

And, what do you think you won, Mandy?

Mandy said...

Who cares about the court. I ruined you and you can't do fuck all about it.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Mandy

That's not what you said under oath, Mandy.

You're contradicting your own sworn deposition testimony.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Mandy

I do have the receipts, Mandy.

Will you sign a document saying that -if- I hand over to you the place in your testimony where you said that you will:

1. Agree that you asked for and received said document

2. Agree that if you receive the document and it does back up my claim, you'll stipulate that you'll admit that you spread misinformation both here and in all other venues of my choosing?

3. Agree that if you receive the document and it -doesn't- back up my claim then you'll withdraw any claim in court that your statements did no harm to me and that it is now your express position that you "ruined" me? And that it is now your claim that now "everyone" hates me?

Mandy said...

No, I won't do any of the crazy scummy things that you ask for. And your reputation will still be in the garbage.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Mandy

So:

1. You're not standing by the claim you made?

and

2. You're calling me "crazy"?

and

3. You're reiterating that it is now your assertion that, thanks to your attack, my reputation is "in the garbage"?

Zak Sabbath said...

@anon

no anonymous comments allowed

if you wish me well, get in touch instead of leaving anonymous comments

zakzsmith AT hawtmayle dawt calm

Zak Sabbath said...

@YL

Erased. Misinformation is not allowed in the comments.

Zak Sabbath said...

@anonymous

Erased. Sorry, no anonymous comments allowed.

Zak Sabbath said...

@Fargo

Erased and banned. You were asked a question and didn't answer.

As for the "I post for FUNNN" thing:

If you want to post for fun, then you can't raise the stakes to the level of accusations against other people.

Zak Sabbath said...

@anon

Sorry no anonymous comments.

Zak Sabbath said...

@anon

Sorry no anonymous comments.

Zak Sabbath said...

@T O Y F

Sorry, erased.

While switching to a persistent identity allows people to be held accountable for their actions and statements, misinformation and first-strike personal attacks are still not allowed in the comments--for the same reasons they're not allowed in any other reliable news source.