Chronicles of Gor – FAQ

FAQ

FUND IT!

THE CAMPAIGN

Do you have permission from Jon Norman?
This project is being completed in partnership with Open Road Integrate Media: E-book edition of Gor and all other John Norman titles are available in the United States via Open Road Integrated Media and the United Kingdom via Orion Gateway Editions. Print editions are available in the US via Amazon or in the UK at Amazon UK. Short answer: yes, via his agent and publisher. I’ve had no direct contact however, manuscripts have been made available to his agent and publisher.

Just what is this ‘Gor’ thing?
The Gorean Cycle (Or Gorean Chronicles) are a series of 33 books published by the author John Norman since 1966, starting with Tarnsman of Gor and ending – so far – with Rebels of Gor. Gor takes place on the ‘Counter-Earth’, another world like ours, in the opposite orbit, shielded from us by the sun. It is kept in a relatively primitive state by its mysterious and hidden rulers ‘The Priest Kings’. The world is full of savage beasts and constantly under threat of war between its cities and against the Kur, an enemy almost as mysterious as the Priest Kings. Gor’s cultures have institutionalised slavery and this state – strong over the weak – is seen as the natural state of affairs.

Why didn’t you use Kickstarter?
IndieGoGo allows for Paypal payments and isn’t involved with Amazon, who are controversial in the UK on tax issues and have censored a couple of projects in the past. I prefer IndieGoGo’s ethics, have worked with them before and given that the project may well involve nipples and a degree of kink – given the source material – I’d rather be safe.

Why is this flexible funding?
The books are already written, one way or another they are coming out. I just need money to do them justice and to hire the artist/s I want to hire. I want to leave a legacy product that fans of Gor will love and cherish. I used flexible funding before, for Machinations of the Space Princess and used fixed funding for ImagiNation, both of which funded and delivered their projects.

This Depression thing worries me!
Believe me, it worries me too. However, the writing is done, the books are pretty much ready to go so far as my involvement with them goes. I could be  hit by a truck tomorrow and the files could be retrieved and ready to go anyway. There’s very little I could do to fuck things up at this point. I’m in a fairly good place with my illness at the moment, in therapy, taking medication, managing to pull full working days. It’s unlikely that my depression will cause any issues in the extreme, but I wanted to be up front about it.

Why isn’t there information on X,Y,Z?
It’s coming. I’m holding things back – like details, to bring out bit by bit. I’ll update the FAQ with new information as we go along.

Will there be print?
Yes there will be. Ideally there’ll be a proper print run of the books to put them into distribution. Past experience suggests that despite there really being nothing more suggestive here than there would have been in, say, Conan, that some distributors can be a bit jumpy. I’m not sure how this will shake down yet, but there’ll definitely be Print on Demand.

Why isn’t print on offer as a perk?
A lot of projects get scuppered at the execution stage because of underestimating print costs and shipping, both of which have been quite volatile over the last couple of years. I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep and I have no real way of knowing what the final size, cover price and shipping cost of the books will be. What will likely happen is that once the books are complete and fully priced up I’ll give contributors the chance to get physical copies at a reduced price.

Is this about that AWFUL film on MST3K?
No. While the two ‘Gor’ films are very, very loosely based on the books they’re not really a good reflection of the books, the world, or the game.

MISOGNY/SEXISM/ETC!
It’s fantasy, it’s not real. The books and the world described in them has been incredibly and persistently popular for many years and a huge number of those fans are women. While the Gorean world, as presented, is undeniably strict in its gender roles and (arguably) misogynistic this is only in the same sense that BDSM role-play, D/S relationships etc are and this need not be the focus of the game. There’s plenty of other stuff going on, from the intrigues between cities to the machinations of the Kur.

Why two books?
Not everyone who’d be interested in a Gorean world guide would be interested in a roleplaying game. Splitting the books this way will allow fans of the books to get the World Guide without having to buy the game, while roleplayers can get both. The RPG book will have a basic primer on Gor and its cultures but the greater majority of information on the world will be in the guide, indexed like an encyclopaedia. If we meet the target we should be able to lavishly illustrate both and bring the Gorean world to life.

What is a Role-Playing Game Anyway?
You know what Dungeons & Dragons is? Like that, but with different rules and set on Gor. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a game where you and your friends create a story together, based around your characters and using dice to determine what happens if it comes down to luck or skill.

ME, MYSELF & MOTIVATIONS

Why do this?
Personally?: I want to? I’m a fan of the books and its an opportunity to finally write something game and sex related in a grown-up fashion without having to nudge and wink all the time.
Professionally?: It’s a challenge and an opportunity to – further – put my money where my mouth is and show my commitment to free expression and different ideas. A way – further – of challenging the acceptance of violence and the disgust towards sex that is so common in games.
Commercially?: There’s, potentially, a huge and untapped market here. Gor has been consistently popular online since the 90s as a roleplaying setting and if we can engage the people that do that (not just related to Gor) then we can expand the hobby. We’ll see if tht works out.

You’re just doing this or the oppression-cred and to get attention!
I’ve been sat on this in virtual silence, working hard, for some 18 months around and about other projects. There’s easier ways to get attention than that. The publicity from people’s inevitable outrage can’t hurt but honestly, it’s just wearisome at this point. I’m taking my own advice and making things that I like and want, other people should do the same. Attention might help the project, so I’ll suck it up.

Your Comparison to 50 Shades isn’t hopeful!
I’m just trying to point out that kink (albeit horribly misrepresented kink) isn’t the marginalised, out-there fantasy it might have used to have been. Gor is – in many ways – much more coy than 50 Shades. I hope to include some sort of sidebar to avoid the same sort of problems found in 50 Shades, to emphasise the importance of consent in the BDSM scene and to head off some of the kink-shaming.

Are the books full of lecturing and gender theory?
Other than some explanation on what Goreans (tend to) believe and think on these subjects, no. Long internal monologues don’t make for fun and interesting games. Swooping in on tarn-back, smashing into the locked chambers of a high cylinder and making off with the Ubar’s daughter into the night do. I’ve tended to skip over that stuff as much as possible in order to concentrate on the flying, intrigue, paga taverns, dancing girls and stabbing people with swords.

Postmortem Studios Revised Statement

Mongoose Publishing just updated their statement with regards to the recent hullabaloo as follows:

We have been approached by several parties asking if we could make a statement that they feel will give our position on this matter a more fair and balanced perspective. We are more than happy to do so. We know James personally and professionally and do not believe him to be the misogynist, rape supporter or rape apologist that he has been labelled. As we said above, James and his own company, Postmortem Studios, have been moving in a different direction to Mongoose Publishing for some time now and we had no plans to work together in the future in any case. Existing stock of the book in question will be allowed to lapse out of print.

Which hopefully redresses some of the things that are being said and have been said. I wish this had gone out sooner but one thing or another kept meaning it got pushed back.

To be as clear as possible then:

Mongoose did not ‘fire’ me. We have not worked together for some time and the last thing I did for them (Sex, Dice & Gamer Chicks also known as Origins of the Specious) was a compilation/edit/expansion upon the various comedy Slayer’s Guides. This was also, substantively, a Flaming Cobra release in the way it was done, rather than a regular Mongoose release. It is not being withdrawn from sale, it is being allowed to lay fallow – which was almost certainly going to be the case anyway.

Mongoose has been moving much more towards miniatures, board games, card games and so forth. While I have an unquenchable Dust Tactics addiction, these things are not so much in my sphere of interest, or my history of writing and most of the rest of what Mongoose does is open source and I make more money working for myself most of the time.

Mongoose do not believe or support the accusations made against me. The previous works that people appear to have issues with are works of comedy and fiction and were commissioned, edited and produced by Mongoose without issue (barring the ludicrous thought that some had that the ‘Slayer’s Guide to Female Gamers‘ was actually about killing women, perhaps a warning sign of the silliness to come).

In short, the net effect of this entire brouhaha has been…not much.

I’ve been stopped from working effectively for two or three weeks.

Myself and Ms Cooper have been subjected to a horrible amount of opportunistic trolling and awful behaviour.

I’ve been libelled and people are very fortunate I haven’t taken legal action.

Two ‘sides’ have been polarised even more than they were already and any form of civil or intelligent conversation or negotiation has been pushed back by a huge amount and made less likely.

From my point of view this whole blow up, in combination with others past and present, has only confirmed what the original blog post that started all this was about. Namely that people react without thinking, they want to censor content without examining it. People go on what other people have said, rather than checking up on the original sources for themselves.

We all need to watch against that.

The rest of this post will be an FAQ on any particulars which I’ll update as I get questions. Otherwise – hopefully – this whole stupid fuss is now over and we can move on.

I have games to write.

FAQ

Submit questions on Twitter, Facebook, Email or in the comments.

Q: Are you a misogynist?

A: No, I do not hate women.

Q: Are you blacklisted?

A: No.

Q: Has this affected your business?

A: Not discernibly. A lot of blog hits and a slight uptick in monthly sales from supporters, otherwise no.

Q: Some have suggested boycotting Mongoose since they appeared to drop you. What do you think about that?

A: I think we need as many game companies as possible being as healthy as possible. I did not agree with the way things were handled, but as we can see now it was mostly a matter of perception. I would rather not see any game company boycotted for any reason. If games are good, buy them, if they’re not, don’t. That’s all we need. Follow your own conscience.

Q: Do you regret the books you wrote?

A: No. They’re a product of the time and place and in many places are still funny and I still get asked to sign them at cons from time to time.

Q: Do you regret the blog post you wrote?

A: No. Indeed I think this whole blow-up made the point better than the blog post did. Keep in mind I wasn’t even talking about RPGs in the original post and I was talking about both kneejerk reactions and how rape is one of many ‘bad things’ that can happen to characters in stories – and indeed make for good stories.

Q: Doesn’t that article excuse rape?

A: No. It’s defending rape as a plot element, a building block for stories.

Q: Are you sure you mean libel?

A: It’s academic since I’m not taking it to court but yes. There could have been financial damage – it wasn’t clear at the time – but libel also covers reputation damage and emotional distress.

Q: How can we support you?

A: Don’t buy my stuff to ‘get one over’ on anyone, or to back me up. Buy my stuff because it’s good and because you want to. More importantly, play the games, review them (whether you liked them or not) and don’t forget the other stuff I do, like fiction. Most importantly of all, before getting in on an internet hate mob, check the source and be sure of what you’re outraged about.

ImagiNation Update and Open FAQ

See how it’s going HERE

I’ll limit myself to one post a day on this after today but as I’m writing this I’m already over 50% to target. This FAQ will be a living post that I’ll add to as people ask things about the project. I’ll let you know when I update it.

Q: Didn’t you say you didn’t like these crowdfunding things?

A: I still don’t really. A lot of these projects seem to ask for a shitload more money than I think they actually need, I’m not comfortable with ‘begging’ and I’ve done OK without chugging up to this point. I changed my mind purely because I’ve seen the success elsewhere that people have had and because this is, in effect, a ‘charity’ project. I still don’t think I’d be comfortable using this method for a straightforward project – though I may give it a go later on.

Q: Why IndieGoGo and not Kickstarter?

A: KS is America only. I’m British. It sucks and I know KS has a higher profile and many people are more comfortable with it, but I don’t have a choice. IGG is the 2nd best of these services IMO and the second most popular… so that’s why.

Q: What if you go over target?

A: I didn’t think I had a chance of hitting my target, let alone exceeding it. Now I don’t really know. As much as possible I will put money into the project and into other creatives – artists, layout people – who suffer from these problems as they contribute.

Q: Why are you taking money for yourself if it’s a Charity project?

A: This was going to be a commercial project originally, but I would rather it not be. Working is hard when you have depression and the truth is that I simply cannot afford to spend the time on it if I’m not going to be paid. I’m sacrificing the ‘Long Tail’ money for an up-front lump sum. I’ve already spent around $300 of my own money on the project already, so really I’ll just be recouping my loss and paying other creatives – with issues similar to my own – taking some pressure off all of us to get this done.

***

Ask questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them in this FAQ.