Saturday, September 30, 2017

Guest Post by Greg C re: The Current Drama on G Plus in the OSR - A Must Read IMHO

Note - this was originally posted on Google + this morning. I read it and immediately asked +Greg C if I could share it here at The Tavern. He agreed and here it is - Tenkar

We all want to be somebody. We want to be recognized. We want to be popular and have lots of friends. We want to be pursued by the opposite sex (or the same sex, whatever the case may be). We want fame and power and money.

They call out to us like whispers in the dark.

But you have to keep your ego in check. You can't let your self-worth get wrapped up in the delusions in your head. You need to stay grounded.

I remember when I first joined Google+. I remember the rush of going from a blog where 3-5 people commented per day to G+ threads with a few comments per minute. It was a wild time. It felt good to grow the number of people following your words, your ideas, your passions, your feelings. It was amazing.

But this world, this social media landscape, it can't become your reason for living. It can't come to dominate your life. You can't spend all your time thinking about what other people are thinking about you. We used to have social norms to keep this in check. As the Devil (or Al Pacino) famously said.... Vanity is my favorite sin. Those norms are washing away.

But in the social media world, there is no one holding you back. No one saying "maybe you are going too far here." Quite the contrary, there are hordes of people pushing you to go further because it entertains them.

What we need now, in our political leaders, in our communities, in our lives is humility. Have the humility to know that you don't have all the answers. Have the humility to know when to stop obsessing about something. All the fiction that we read and discuss speaks to these values. The Jedi from Star Wars, the Prime Directive in Star Trek, the Ring of Power in Lord of the Rings... what is the lesson? Power corrupts. It destroys everything it touches, especially those that wield it.

This week, those of us in the RPG community have watched Zak Sabbath/Smith experience a full-scale nuclear meltdown. We have watched as his own creative collaborator, someone who knew him well, deliver the most eloquent point-by-point breakdown of exactly the kind of toxic behavior that Zak had engaged in. We have watched tonight as word is leaking out that he is sending private messages to people who have done the simple act of Plussing a post that shared this information.

Zak is after a Holy Grail. He wants to be the King of Kings. He wants the power to decide who is good and who is bad. Who belongs here and who doesn't.

He has laid out the philosophy of how to achieve this on his blog ( and in a recent public thread by Arnold K. He believes that there needs to be an organized effort to find and purge people from the community that are deemed undesirable. Unfortunately, what he fails to see is that HE is no different from the demons that he believes himself to be fighting. Like Robespierre before the gallows, he now finds himself hoisting his own petard.

I am not a religious man, but I know that pride cometh before the fall

In the pursuit of the Grail that he seeks, Zak has become precisely the wrong person to hold it.

It is somewhat fortuitous that the man who played Indiana Jones was himself able to resist these forces. He is a humble man. He doesn't throw wild parties. He doesn't try to have sex with every woman in Hollywood. He lives a simple, humble, and rewarding life. So when Harrison Ford resists the allure of the Grail at the end, it is authentic. He doesn't want the fame and the stardom. He avoids it whenever he can. He truly doesn't want the power of the Grail.

If you want peace in your life, if you want to be truly happy.....

Indiana...... Let it go......

I would like to ask anyone reading this to please, stop focusing on the people that you hate in the roleplaying game community. Stop suggesting ways for people to be punished. For voices to be silenced. Stop spending your time discussing who to exclude and what to defame. Build something. Draw a map. Write a piece of game content. Make some miniature terrain or paint a goblin. Do something fun.

Walk out of the temple with empty hands and live your life.

I'm going to cut my grass tomorrow, visit with my neighbors and their new baby, and design a dungeon for my kids to explore the next time that we play D&D. My son told me that he was tired of playing video games, he wanted to play RPGs with his family. He is the future of roleplaying games. Not me. Not you. Not Zak.

Let's move past this shit forever. The time has come.

If you plus this post, or you share it, Zak may block you or send you a private message telling you that he cannot associate with you any longer. I can't protect you from him. But I shouldn't have to. And that is the larger lesson.

Everyone must make their own choices. I choose to reject the Grail. No one should have it. We must all be free to do as we please.

I hope you will join me in this rejection and in the tolerance of others.


  1. tl;dr

    j/k... I've been quietly watching the OSR in- and out-fighting for years now and came to the same conclusion. I hope people who need this message read it, accept it, and adopt it.

    The point of the game, the point of the hobby... is fun.

  2. I don't know Zak Sabbath well, so I can't really comment on him, but I think that Greg C is completely spot on with his comments. Thank you for amplifying them.

  3. I miss the days when this Community that I have grown to love didn't care who you were, what you believed or who you liked. All that mattered was you had a mutual shared interest in the love of Games. Nothing else was factored in, there were no Politics or Cliques. Because we were in the vast minority, we were the outsiders who played the weird games and our Social circle was shockingly small.

    Now that we have the breadth and width of the Internet at our fingertips we have lost that. We have 'Celebrities' in our own Hobby, we don't have to gather together around a Kitchen Table to play our Games, we have Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, Discord, Skype and Teamspeak to let us play. We have Screen Names and Avatars instead of faces and names. It allows us to leave our accountability at our Keyboards and to say things with no repercussions because we don't have to look each other in the eye.

    Now that Gaming has become the acceptable norm that sense of Community is almost gone. We don't have to get to know the people we play with any longer, nor care about them as people. There are 'cliques' everywhere and the sense of openness among the Community is all but gone now. Joining a new Group is practically an Audition process now and the Members of most Groups are standoffish at best when a new Person arrives.

    We need to get back to the Days when it was about a mutual love of Gaming and not a Popularity or Pissing Contest.

  4. I feel like we're only getting half the context here - that's what I'm getting from statements like "We have watched as his own creative collaborator, someone who knew him well, deliver the most eloquent point-by-point breakdown of exactly the kind of toxic behavior that Zak had engaged in."

    Is there a handy link to the post where this collaborator lays this out for everyone? It sounds both like necessary context for Greg's comments and important stuff for the community to know in its own right.


    2. Thanks Pontifex, was just about to post that I'd found it.

      For those missing who False Machine is: that's Patrick Stuart, who collaborated with Zak on Maze of the Blue Medusa and went to bat for him back during Consultantgate and generally has every social and business reason not to burn this particular bridge without exceptionally good reason.

      His followup post announces that he is stepping away from G+ and the OSR in general, and that he'll be getting in touch with anyone he has an outstanding collaboration with to talk about what is and isn't possible in terms of getting it done.

    3. This is a huge loss for all of us...

  5. I wrote an eloquent reply to this post but my smartphone lost it. Perhaps it's best I quote C.S. Lewis: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."

  6. Well said. No one should have to walk on eggshells. Let freedom reign!

  7. I came to this conclusion a long time ago.

  8. Only the dead know the end of petty RPG squabbles.

  9. I sometimes wonder if fly fishing and curling forums have the same behavior patterns? Something universally encoded into groups with shared interests? The web's legacy may very well be the lessening of civil discourse and fragmentation of society.

  10. Oh well. I'm still gonna think up ideas and make blog posts and play D&D

  11. This made me think about time and how its a non-renewable resource.

  12. Honestly, people give a shit what Zak Sabbath thinks...about anything, let alone who the cool kids are?

    Here is a hint: Give no fucks about his opinion. Find people you enjoy discussing games with. Have fun.

  13. None of this affects my gaming in the slightest. Does it affect anyone's gaming? How is any of this even a thing?

    1. Rob for 2 or 3 years I tried to figure out how ANY of these people informed my gaming. Any of it. And as it turns out none of them do.

  14. I have seen this play out before with James Maliszewski. Just because some guy is a zealot or does not have a regular haircut, because some dude shares his dreams, fantasies and freakshow with less able gamers, because some regular Joe with a bible or a 2000AD tonsure is trying to help gamers who can barely read TSR modules without moving their lips, suddenly, out of the blue, the mob will cease paying their respects and turn with ungrateful ingratitude on their instructors, just like a doomed dirty-peasant revolt in the Middle Ages.

    Let me tell you, before it is too late, think of all the amazing things Zak Smith (like James Maliszewski before him) has done for you. Things you don't deserve on his blog and in the Amazing Medusa. You can't help it, you are easily swayed because you are kind americans with big hearts like balloons hurtling willy-nilly at the direction of the well meaning buffoon Tenkar.

    1. Ah, I knew YDIS would make an appearance.

      Zak has done nothing for me except block me years ago. Vornheim is not worth the praise and Blue Medusa was as much Patrick Stuart as it was Zak. Zak has talent combined with a toxic persona.

      As for "well meaning buffoon" the proper insult is "Poo Poo Face" - just ask Ken...

    2. YOU AMEREAKANS, WITH YOUR BALLOON HEARTS! silliest thing I've read all day. Gave me a giggle.

    3. Ungrateful ingratitude? That's the worst kind!

  15. No post from YDIS despite this massive trainwreck. Maybe YDIS is Zak.

  16. Mentzer and Zak join forces to create the dynamic duo of D&D whackjobs. Please Lord, let it happen.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Wait, I know what happened... it's so obvious! Whoever hacked Mentzer's account must have also hacked Zak's!

  19. Stuff like this is why I only visit forums to search for product reviews.

  20. I do not get it. I do not understand how you can take this game and treat each other with any thing but respect and with eloquence as fellow human beings . their is never a reason to hate! their is never a reason to harm! and there is never a reason to attempt nothing but concern, lover and respect for one another, we are all Human! we are all deserving each other care and concern. no matter how hateful a person can be, we are running out of chances to show we are worthy people.

  21. Oh so Zak S. is exposed to be an asshole...I've known this for years.

  22. Wow, what a bunch of babies. Put on your big boy pants and go do something useful. In other words who gives a flying crap?

  23. I won't pretend that I know much about what's going on here. I don't even G+ or Twitter or know who Zak Sabbath is. I do know one thing though. I spent years helping to develop a 1E AD&D sandbox that wasn't about making a buck. Did the sandbox give me power? I don't know that it did. It's only a sandbox, after all. It's not even a product that's available on the market for purchase. I've been asked several times if it was. No was always my answer, and it still is.

    If the sandbox did give me power though, the power never corrupted me, and I never once forgot how much I connect with the hobby on a spiritual level. If it didn't give me power, that's fine too. But this thread isn't about me. Power can still corrupt. It's the human condition. We all know that.

    I no longer DM that old sandbox but I sure do hope that people just keep on finding ways to enjoy the hobby for the right reasons, without power trips.



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