#RPG – November Update

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The iconic tarnsman

I’m going to have a little reorganisation. I’m removing most of the individual product Facebook pages and I’m going to replace them with two pages, one for my role as an author, another for my role as a game designer. The Postmortem Studios page will remain, but the new pages will allow me to promote to more specific audiences and to promote works I’ve collaborated on.

I’m going to start putting greater effort into Patreon. At the moment it’s really just a tip-jar, but it’s not getting that much traction. I had hoped my greater Youtube activity might help, but building an audience there is also slow going and hard work. I’m investing in some new video software to help with the quality of that output and hopefully that will pay off. Asking people what they wanted for their patronage didn’t seem to get me too far, so we’ll start with discounts and prioritised video topics.

The next game project I will be working on is a semi-episodic survival game with an emphasis on team work and mechanics to drive players to devote time to doing survival-oriented actions such as improving shelter, finding food, water, and getting better quality of life. It will be an improvement on the system used for Kagai! Think of it as a ‘green apocalypse’ in a ‘Last of Us’ style with a metaplot unfolding over three books in a manner similar to Orpheus (if anyone remembers that). I hope it will do well.

Gor… I’m sick of making promises, still. Every time I do something goes wrong. The art is still, really, the sole thing causing issues and it is coming in. The project is under risk, but no matter what happens backers will get PDF/Print copies even if anything else has to get pulled. Backers are guaranteed. Whatever is complete, you’ll get. If the project should fail you’ll get full disclosure, but until then I am constricted from going into detail. I do not think we’ll fail, just preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. I know we’re massively overdue, I’ve been holding off other work and projects waiting and working on this and it bugs me every day. I won’t let you down, one way or another.

I am available for freelance work:

Currently, my plate is clear and free for freelancing and consultancy after last month. Despite my internet issues I should be able to complete any work, it just may take a little longer than normal (24-48 hours). I’m normally pretty reliable and can offer reasonably fast turnaround.

I am a 16+ year veteran of the tabletop game publishing world with experience in freelancing and self-publishing. I’ve worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Nightfall, Cubicle Seven Entertainment and more. I have also written fiction and worked on social media computer games, packing a lot of meaning into short pieces of text. As a self-publisher, I have overseen every step of the publication process from concept through to publications including writing, editing, layout and modification. I also produce Youtube material and have begun producing audiobooks.

Here’s some of the services I can offer, and the minimum prices offered – though anything is negotiable up or down depending on the client. I will work pseudonymously if that is a concern for you, however stupid that situation is.

  • New writing (raw text): $0.03c/word (minimum)
  • Proofreading/Light Editing/Commentary: $0.01c/word (second and third deeper passes are possible).
  • ePublishing/RPG Publishing consultation Skype/Hangout/Call: $20/hour.
  • Consultation on your game project: $20/hour.
  • Layout (InDesign): $11 an hour.
  • Stock Art Shopfront: Postmortem studios have a huge stock art catalogue from multiple artists and we’d love to add you to that storefront. If you’re an artist who wants to sell your stock art but doesn’t want to deal with the accounts and uploads etc with your own storefront (which would be my first recommendation) then I can do that for you for 50% (I round up your payouts). Even if you don’t want to do this through me I recommend doing it anyway for all artists and can consult on best practice if you need advice.
  • Voice Work: If you find my dulcet tones to your liking, I’m available for voice over work and narration, recording audiobooks and more. Rates negotiable, starting at $11 per hour.

Recent Products

 

Black Mass: A horror scenario for Blood! The adventure plays off the paranoia of the right wing and the naivity of the left to create a hybrid scenario shocking through violence, culture shock and violating various racial conceits. Think of it as an urban Green Inferno.

Sexbots: A supplement for Machinations of the Space Princess detailing sexbots, adding character creation options and fitting them into the implicit setting of MotSP.

Foul Humours: A set of monsters summoned from human excrescence for old school D&D/OSR style games.

Powder Monkeys: A set of black-powder weapon rules for 5e D&D.

Word Wizards: A fun, educational/wordplay RPG that uses letter-tiles and vocabulary as a resolution system. Intended to be lighthearted, punny and to do for English skills what regular RPGs do for mathematics.

Our entire catalogue (other than the newer items) – easier to browse than the online sites can be downloaded for free HERE. http://www.rpgnow.com/product/176399/Postmortem-Studios-Publisher-Catalogue-2016&affiliate_id=50144

Social Media & Contact

I’m always open to contact, discussion, ideas and more. If you have questions, queries, suggestions or feedback – good or bad – please do get in touch.

  • You can comment here on the blog (Postmortemstudios on WordPress)
  • You can find me on Twitter @grimachu
  • You can find me on Facebook (James Desborough)
  • You can find me on Youtube (PostmortemVideo)
  • If you want to ask questions (or troll me) anonymously I have an Ask.fm (Grimachu)
  • If you want to support my writing, games design and other work I have a Patreon (Grimachu)
  • I’m also on G+ (JamesGrimDesborough).
  • I’m on Minds.com as Grimachu

Second Hand Books & Old Stock

I have a number of old books and stock available for sale. £5 for small format books, £10 for large format books + shipping (UK only).

100 Conspiracies
Adventurer’s Vault 4e
Agents of SWING: Agent Casefile
Ant Assault (Cardgame)
Black Rock Bandits (4e adventure & Map)
Bloodlust RPG (French)
Bloodsucker: The Juice
CTG: Isle of the Mighty
Cthentacle (Hardcopy)
d20 Mecha
Dark Conspiracy: Darktek
Dark Conspiracy: New Orleans
Darktown RPG
Desecration (Pathfinder adventure & map)
DK System (French)
DM’s Guide 2 (4e)
DM’s Guide to Immortals (Basic D&D)
Dog Town RPG
Exalted: Return to the Tomb of Five Corners
Hentacle
Inferno (Boardgame)
Legend of the Five Rings LRP Rules
Mantel D’Acier (French)
MET: Antagonists
MET: Book of the Damned
MET: Dark Epics
MET: Journal No 4
MET: Laws of the East
MET: Laws of the Night Camarilla Guide
MET: Laws of the Nightmares
MET: Laws of the Wild Changing Breeds 1
MET: Laws of the Wild Second Edition
MET: Liber des Ghoules
MET: The Masquerade Second Edition
MET: The Shining Host
Monster Manual 2 4e
MTA: Akashic Brotherhood
MTA: Blood Treachery
MTA: Book of Shadows
MTA: Cult of Ecstacy
MTA: Dreamspeakers
MTA: Initiates of the Art
MTA: Masters of the Art
MTA: NWO
MTA: Progenitors
MTA: Sons of Ether
MTA: The Loom of Fate
MTA: Verbena
MTA: Void Engineers
Ninjas & Superspies RPG
Old, Fat Punks (Novel)
Palladium The Mechanoids (Rifts Sourcebook 2)
Player’s Handbook 2 4e
Red Box Basic D&D
The Sting (Pathfinder adventure & map)
Traveller New Era: Fire Fusion & Steel
V:TM 2nd Edition
Victoriana 1st Edition
VTM: A World of Darkness
VTM: Berlin by Night
VTM: Blood Bond
VTM: Blood Magic, Secrets of Thaumaturgy
VTM: Chicago by Night
VTM: Children of the Nightmares
VTM: Elysium
VTM: Ghouls, Fatal Addiction
VTM: Guide to the Sabbat
VTM: Midnight Siege
VTM: Milwaukee by Nightmares
VTM: New Orleans
VTM: New York by Night
VTM: Storyteller’s Handbook
VTM: Storyteller’s Screen 2nd Edition
VTM: The Anarch Cookbook
VTM: The Hunters Hunted
VTM: The Succubus Club
VTM: Thrashing Dragons
VTM: Time of Thin Blood
VTM: Ventrue
WOD: Combat
WOD: Outcasts
WTA: Axis Mundi – The Book of Spirits
WTA: Corax

Comics

I have a near complete run of 2000AD from 315-1386 and Judge Dredd Megazine from 4(1992) to 72(2000) for sale. Entertaining offers on runs or singles, but preferably for the whole lot from someone who can come get them (all packed up ready for transport).

#RPG Postmortem Studios Update: August 2016

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Here’s a quick monthly update on the current state of affairs here at Postmortem Studios.

Personal

After working very hard for a couple of months this last month was a bit slower, unfortunately. My health continues to improve and the summer weather means I’ve been able to get more exercise – but it also makes for more distractions (Pokemon Go and mowing the lawns, for example). All things considered, however, things are on the up and up and hopefully will continue to improve.

I’m still looking for suggestions of what I can offer my Patreon donors – so I can encourage more people to be my patrons – so if you come up with anything you’d like to see, let me know. I’ve improved my home computer setup with a high-quality microphone for better podcasting Youtube videos and recording audiobooks – so that’s something to consider.

Speaking of which, if you want to show me support, there’s Patreon but there’re other ways too. Follow me on social media, subscribe to my Youtube channel, retweet my stuff, leave reviews if you’ve bought anything of mine. It all helps and this kind of publicity (especially social media and good reviews) is the lifeblood of any creative person. If you have a podcast or Youtube channel of your own and would like me to appear on a hangout or similar I’d be happy to and am also available for guest blogging or contributions.

Work Update

This has been a consolidation and expansion month, investing in home office infrastructure and planning out longer term projects for the future – including the next crowdfunded project. I’ve continued to work on the FATE based Mecha/Kaiju game and there’s not a huge amount left to do on it, so hopefully it should be out this month (if No Man’s Sky doesn’t get in the way).

As some of you may have noticed censorship issues continue to be an increasing problem on the Onebookshelf sites. Hentacle and its supplements (and art book) were recently censored due to what appears to have been a malicious report. If you have it in your basket (and possibly wishlist) you may still be able to buy it. I’d suggest buying any adult oriented games you’ve had your eye on while you have the chance.

For two, open projects I’m currently looking for artists to work with. If you have an anime or cartoony art style and are looking for work, please get in touch.

Services

Currently, my plate is clear and free for freelancing and consultancy after last month.

I am a 15+ year veteran of the tabletop game publishing world with experience in freelancing and self-publishing. I’ve worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Nightfall, Cubicle Seven Entertainment and more. I have also written fiction and worked on social media computer games, packing a lot of meaning into short pieces of text. As a self-publisher, I have overseen every step of the publication process from concept through to publications including writing, editing, layout and modification.

Here’s some of the services I can offer, and the minimum prices offered – though anything is negotiable up or down depending on the client. I will work pseudonymously if that is a concern for you, however stupid that situation is.

  • New writing (raw text): $0.03c/word (minimum)
  • Proofreading/Light Editing/Commentary: $0.01c/word (second and third deeper passes are possible).
  • ePublishing/RPG Publishing consultation Skype/Hangout/Call: $20/hour.
  • Consultation on your game project: $20/hour.
  • Layout (InDesign): $11 an hour.
  • Stock Art Shopfront: Postmortem studios have a huge stock art catalogue from multiple artists and we’d love to add you to that storefront. If you’re an artist who wants to sell your stock art but doesn’t want to deal with the accounts and uploads etc with your own storefront (which would be my first recommendation) then I can do that for you for 50% (I round up your payouts though).
  • Voice Work: If you find my dulcet tones to your liking, I’m available for voice over work and narration.

Recent Products

Clipart Critters MEGABUNDLE:  A once in a lifetime offer (at least until September the first) this is ALL of Brad McDevitt’s stock art – up to number 400 – at a HUGE discount. This is basically a company start-up resource which will provide you with plenty of fantasy, horror, science fiction and modern images to kickstart your company into progress with low initial overheads for art. It’s also a fantastic resource for existing companies.

Diversity Dungeons: Despite claims to the contrary from all sides involved this is intended as a fairly serious examination of diversity issues in gaming from a world-building/game design and publishing perspective. It outlines the obstacles and methods to overcome including (or not including) diversity in your games and some material – from bitter experience – on the current febrile atmosphere around games publishing.

The Cathedral of Misogyny: An affectionate piss-take of 4chan, internet culture wars and hyperbole via the medium of a comedic 5th Edition D&D adventure, based upon a scenario I wrote as an introduction for a new player coming in from computer games. Part of the scenario was played online and there’s a Youtube video of it here.

Fistful of Horror 3: A collection of horror scenario ideas in the theme of my 100 seeds. System neutral but geared towards modern horror.

Fifth Fantasy – The Brock: A whole new race for you to use in your 5e games. The Brock are a reclusive, grumpy people with a pragmatic and dogged mindset. Fierce warriors, they protect the forests and occasionally venture out into civilisation – usually to be disapproving. This is a whole new race and culture for you to add into your games and comes with a set of Brock-centred magic items to use as well.

Our entire catalogue (other than the newer items) – easier to browse than the online sites can be downloaded for free HERE. http://www.rpgnow.com/product/176399/Postmortem-Studios-Publisher-Catalogue-2016&affiliate_id=50144

Social Media & Contact

I’m always open to contact, discussion, ideas and more. If you have questions, queries, suggestions or feedback – good or bad – please do get in touch.

  • You can comment here on the blog (Postmortemstudios on WordPress)
  • You can find me on Twitter @grimachu
  • You can find me on Facebook (James Desborough)
  • You can find me on Youtube (PostmortemVideo)
  • If you want to ask questions (or troll me) anonymously I have an Ask.fm (Grimachu)
  • If you want to support my writing, games design and other work I have a Patreon (Grimachu)
  • I’m also on G+ (JamesGrimDesborough).

Second Hand Books & Old Stock

I have a number of old books and stock available for sale. £5 for small format books, £10 for large format books + shipping (UK only).

100 Conspiracies
Adventurer’s Vault 4e
Agents of SWING: Agent Casefile
Ant Assault (Cardgame)
Black Rock Bandits (4e adventure & Map)
Bloodlust RPG (French)
Bloodsucker: The Juice
CTG: Isle of the Mighty
Cthentacle (Hardcopy)
d20 Mecha
Dark Conspiracy: Darktek
Dark Conspiracy: New Orleans
Darktown RPG
Desecration (Pathfinder adventure & map)
DK System (French)
DM’s Guide 2 (4e)
DM’s Guide to Immortals (Basic D&D)
Dog Town RPG
Exalted: Return to the Tomb of Five Corners
Hentacle
Inferno (Boardgame)
Legend of the Five Rings LRP Rules
Mantel D’Acier (French)
MET: Antagonists
MET: Book of the Damned
MET: Dark Epics
MET: Journal No 4
MET: Laws of Elysium
MET: Laws of the East
MET: Laws of the Hunt
MET: Laws of the Hunt Player’s Guide
MET: Laws of the Night Camarilla Guide
MET: Laws of the Nightmares
MET: Laws of the Wild Changing Breeds 1
MET: Laws of the Wild Second Edition
MET: Liber des Ghoules
MET: Oblivion
MET: The Long Night
MET: The Masquerade Second Edition
MET: The Shining Host
Monster Manual 2 4e
MTA: Akashic Brotherhood
MTA: Blood Treachery
MTA: Book of Chantries
MTA: Book of Shadows
MTA: Cult of Ecstacy
MTA: Dreamspeakers
MTA: Initiates of the Art
MTA: Masters of the Art
MTA: NWO
MTA: Progenitors
MTA: Sons of Ether
MTA: The Loom of Fate
MTA: Verbena
MTA: Void Engineers
Ninjas & Superspies RPG
Old, Fat Punks (Novel)
Palladium The Mechanoids (Rifts Sourcebook 2)
Player’s Handbook 2 4e
Red Box Basic D&D
The Sting (Pathfinder adventure & map)
Traveller New Era: Fire Fusion & Steel
V:TM 2nd Edition
Victoriana 1st Edition
VTM: A World of Darkness
VTM: Assamite
VTM: Berlin by Night
VTM: Blood Bond
VTM: Blood Magic, Secrets of Thaumaturgy
VTM: Brujah Clanbook
VTM: Chicago by Night
VTM: Children of the Inquisition
VTM: Children of the Nightmares
VTM: Elysium
VTM: Followers of Set
VTM: Gangrel
VTM: Ghouls, Fatal Addiction
VTM: Giovanni
VTM: Guide to the Sabbat
VTM: Malkavian
VTM: Midnight Siege
VTM: Milwaukee by Nightmares
VTM: New Orleans
VTM: New York by Night
VTM: Nosferatu Clanbook
VTM: Player’s Guide to the Sabbat
VTM: Storyteller’s Guide to the Sabbat
VTM: Storyteller’s Handbook
VTM: Storyteller’s Screen 2nd Edition
VTM: The Anarch Cookbook
VTM: The Hunters Hunted
VTM: The Succubus Club
VTM: Thrashing Dragons
VTM: Time of Thin Blood
VTM: Toreador
VTM: Tremere
VTM: Tremere
VTM: Tzimisce
VTM: Ventrue
WOD: Blood Dimmed Tide
WOD: Combat
WOD: Outcasts
WTA: Ananasi
WTA: Axis Mundi – The Book of Spirits
WTA: Corax
WTA: Mokole
WTO: Risen
WTO: The Sea of Shadows

Comics

I have a near complete run of 2000AD from 315-1386 and Judge Dredd Megazine from 4(1992) to 72(2000) for sale. Entertaining offers on runs or singles, but preferably for the whole lot from someone who can come get them (all packed up ready for transport).

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#RPG #CardGame – Hentacle Now Available for Free

HentbannedCover

As you should already know, Hentacle was taken down from RPGNOW/Drivethrurpg after what I suspect to be a malicious report. As such I am having to make it available free of charge.

This does mean, however, that I cannot adult tag it or place it in safety behind a paywall requiring credit card etc. So by clicking on this link and downloading the attached files you are certifying that you are over 18 and ready and willing to view sexual content. DOWNLOAD. I’m asking for a $10 donation via Paypal (grim@postmort.demon.co.uk) or a small subscription via my Patreon (link on the right) in appreciation of making this content available for free. Half of the funds raised from these donations will go to the Darkzel Scholarship fund (link above).

Given that I suspect further malicious reports in the future, you may want to grab certain games while you can.

Another banned game, the Gamergate card game can be downloaded HERE.

Hardcopies of these and other games (except Hentacle) are available HERE.

We need alternative sales sites dedicated to free expression principles the way Onebookshelf used to be.

#Gor – The Elaine O’Hara Murder

B5XSn1iCYAEk_d_Tragically, in what is going to be a sensationalist story for the press, Elaine O’Hara, a vulnerable woman with mental health issues was killed in Ireland in 2012. With the trial under way details are now emerging and amongst those details it has become clear that she was involved in the Gorean lifestyle and such salacious detail is bound to grab media attention and draw a sneering eye to the BDSM community in general and Gorean lifestylers and roleplayers in particular.

I have it on good authority that this woman was known to be vulnerable and the actual BDSM community had been acting responsibly in relation to her. Unfortunately that appears to be part of the reason she ended up in trouble, looking beyond the community to be fulfilled and falling afoul of someone unhinged.

This is, of course, nothing to do with the Gorean or BDSM communities, there are psychos everywhere and they’re no more likely to turn up in relation to kink than anything else. Indeed some studies suggest that kinksters are more stable psychologically than those who are not.

Needless to say, I take the side of the Gorean and kink communities in the face of another shitstorm.

Mental health issues are also hugely important to me and it’s clear that this poor woman wasn’t getting all the help she needed. I would take this opportunity to appeal to everyone to support mental health provision and the extension of nationalised healthcare, in every country, to provide more mental healthcare.

My thoughts are with Ms O’Hara’s family at this difficult time and I hope people will not fixate too much on salacious detail or use this trial to attack kinksters.

 

Activ8 – Story Seeds

Current events can make good fodder for games, you just need to add a little spice – and perhaps not even that. @ctiv8, now in its second edition, is a game of mine that concerns itself with direct action relating to current events. It’s about making the world a better place, our world, in a real and meaningful way.

The new edition updates with a bunch of new material and ideas, updated from the intervening years that had made the old @ctiv8 a little dated. It also now uses the FATE system – though a little grittier than standard fate.

You can get it HERE.

Inspiration wise…

Immigrant Deaths
Illegal immigrants are taking huge risks and being put in jeopardy by the gangs that bring them into the country. If they are so determined to get into the UK (or any other country) they shouldn’t have to die doing so. Things should be safer and they should be protected from the criminal gangs. An @ctiv8 team made up of former customs and immigration officers, former smugglers, lorry drivers and skilled immigrants could find ways to help people into the country safely, and undermine the criminal gangs taking liberties with peoples’ lives. Though they’re likely to take violent exception to this.

Torture
Revelations about CIA torture and the complicity of other intelligence services has surfaced. An @ctiv8 agent might gain access to a version of the report that has not been redacted and which names names. Nuremberg established that those following orders bear responsibility if those orders are immoral or illegal but these torturers will never be punished or see prison – unless someone outside the government does it. @ctiv8 agents with intelligence backgrounds, ‘enhanced interrogation’ experience or whom have been victims of torture may pursue these lines of enquiry with extreme prejudice. If these men and women can be found and punished, perhaps others will think twice about following these kinds of orders.

Porn Law Protests
People in positions of power are notoriously kinky, especially Conservative politicians. Then there’s the fact that many of those who are the most outspoken against ‘perversion’ are normally rebelling against a part of themselves. It would be a terrible shame if some people began looking into MPs backgrounds, browser histories, affairs and proclivities and found anything useful for blackmail or for discrediting them, wouldn’t it?

#Gamergate the Card Game Update

propaganda-IIProfessional

I still have no word on exactly what is going on with the withdrawal of the game from sale at DriveThruRPG. They’re not strangers to controversial products (one of them a personal attack on me) and hosting, or selling, them and the parent company ‘OneBookShelf’ was founded by former White Wolf people who had plenty of encounters with censors and the ‘moral majority’ in their time. It seems, then, to be an odd position for them to be in.

Complaints about various products have been made before, not just mine, but it has been left to the market and the review system to deal with it. The question must then be asked ‘what’s different this time?’

There’s a few of answers to that, some of which I have alluded to in previous commentary.

Firstly there’s the fact that the whole debate has become much more heated. Not taking a side is now taken as being in opposition to whatever the righteous cause of the moment is and that carries more cost than it used to.

Secondly the lunatics are now running the asylum, much more so in tabletop gaming than in even computer gaming. For all the complaining done about humour that ‘punches down’, the supposedly dis-empowered are now very much the ones wielding power.

Lastly, this time we have a company abusing their position and market share to bully and prosecute their agenda.

Solis

Hanrahan

Both these gentlemen work for Evil Hat and the obvious implicit threat is that they would remove their products, impacting the reputation and profitability of OneBookShelf far more than I could. This is not only unethical, but possibly illegal under competition/antitrust law. Fred Hicks, also of the company, has issued a rather mealy mouthed retraction, misusing (ironically) many words but let’s take him at his word. If Evil Hat is not threatening such action then there is now no justification for removing the product and hopefully we’ll see it back up soon (early next week). I call this a retraction because I do not think it is a remotely unjustifiable deduction from those tweets and other information to see that this was strongarming, even if Hicks himself was not involved.

The game has been submitted to other sites but because its the weekend I am unlikely to hear anything any time soon about those either, as both sites have product review processes before they approve something for sale. We’ll see what happens there.

I am, admittedly, a free-speech radical. I think even things deemed ‘hate speech’ should be allowed as, in my opinion, this merely exposes bad ideas to scrutiny and ridicule. To me at least, silencing is never a good idea no matter what we’re talking about. Pragmatically though I meet people half way and am willing to understand when we’re talking about genuine hate speech, exhortations to violence and so on.

It remains hard, however, to see what any possible objection to the Gamergate card game could be. It’s a – somewhat vicious – satire on the whole situation but it is not in any way illegal, obscene or otherwise something that should trigger anyone’s ire. The sole reason for anyone’s objection seems to be that it is connected to Gamergate and that because people have misconceptions about that movement.

Some have, apparently, decided to characterise it as a hate group and have – on that basis – decided to believe their own press and to act as though it is the KKK or something (a comparison that has been made with all earnestness). This is ridiculous, it’s genuinely a consumer revolt against corruption in games media, censorship and politicisation.

The irony of company strongarming to censor a product relating to a consumer revolt on these issues is obvious.

The implications for any small or micro-publisher of these events are worrying too. Why should anyone else, let alone another company that is your rival, get to decide what is and is not acceptable? If this card game now, how can we be secure that other ‘controversial’ material will not suffer the same fate in the future?

Support and purchase links at the bottom of this post.

Philosophical

Like it or not we are in the midst of a culture war. The hard won liberalisation of media and personal action and accountability won over the last sixty odd years – at great cost – are under severe attack. What’s bewildering is that these freedoms are under attack from people who consider themselves to be liberal and progressive.

There is nothing progressive about censorship.

There is nothing progressive about interfering in people’s consensual sexual freedom.

There is nothing progressive about inciting and sustaining moral panic and emotional thinking over reason to prosecute personal agendas.

America is – somewhat – insulated from governmental censorship by its first amendment, but other countries are not so lucky and American activists find other ways to silence things they don’t like.

In the UK for example we have rarely seen such a huge roll-back of sexual and personal liberty. The most recent ban on the production of certain pornography, for example, is just part of a much more general thrust of censorious culture. For all that these bans have been decried as anti-woman (they include a ban on depicting a squirting female orgasm for example) much of the new attitude stems from modern feminism, in particular anti-porn campaigner Gail Dines and groups like No More Page 3 or Bin the Lad’s Mags.

That these groups’ efforts are in perfect alignment with the moralising conservatism of the ruling Tory party seems to give them little or no pause, as does the thought that they are now working side-by-side with people they used to fight, people who wanted to ban ‘homosexual propaganda’.

This is why I have regarded these conflicts as so important, why I have involved myself so deeply. Liberty and freedom are important to me, especially freedom of expression. The ability to make art, to present ideas, is a fundamental human right as enshrined in places as wide and varied as the US constitution and the UN and EU charters.

Strangely, standing up for free expression, rationalism, skepticism and other values very dear to me I have been repeatedly accused of being conservative, reactionary, homophobic, transphobic, racist, sexist, misogynistic and heaven knows what else, all of which couldn’t be further from the truth.

This is, perhaps, what makes this… neo-puritanical  movement so dangerous. They are willing to betray their own – claimed – left and liberal values, on little to no basis, to silence not only their genuine opposition but also those who disagree with HOW they go about their goals rather than what those goals actually are.

This isn’t a left/right cultural or political conflict, it’s an authoritarian versus libertarian one and one where liberal – in its other meaning – redefinition of terms is used to justify the most terrible actions and to cover up their hypocrisy. ‘It’s OK when we do it’.

My ideals give us a world in which all people are free to express their ideas, whether I agree with them or not. Their ideals give us a grey world of homogeneous, ‘safe’ ideas that exclude a diversity of thought, ideals and even fiction. I still think a stand needs to be taken against this, long enough and articulate enough that the baseless accusations of misogyny, racism etc – so long used as gags to silence opposition on other bases – lose their sting.

One of the biggest problems that I think we have now is private censorship. A topic I’ve talked about a great deal and one which the kinds of people mentioned above seem to excuse – so long as it aligns with their view.

Censorship is not limited to governmental action and free expression is an ideal and a principle, not just a matter of the law.

We live in an era now in which a very few companies have a de facto monopoly over aspects of our lives. If you’re an author and Amazon won’t carry you, you’re in serious trouble. If you need to take online payments and Paypal won’t do it, again, you’re in serious trouble.

These things can and do happen. Amazon will hide erotica and self-published material or make it so you have to be very specific in your searches to find something. Credit card companies will gouge anyone selling adult products or materials under the pretence of risk. Paypal has tried to do similar in the past, refusing services.

When a company is in such a position – and in the tiny niche of gaming OneBookShelf (DriveThruRPG and RPGNOW) holds the same place – they have a degree of responsibility to safeguard the rights of creators and consumers.

Is that far fetched?

I don’t know that it is. The state already intervenes to defend the rights of minorities. A company cannot refuse service to someone because of their sexuality for example, or their race – and quite right too. Given that precedent is it not reasonable to ask that companies in such a dominant position are required to safeguard basic and fundamental human rights, within reason and so long as it does not create undue problems for them to do so?

Why should Paypal, for example, be able to refuse financial services to legal businesses performing legal work? Why should Amazon be free to censor and delist ebooks, whose cost is negligable to them to host?

Why should Youtube not allow the sharing of consensual, legal adult material? Provided it exist behind suitable filtering and protection.

Good questions to ask in my opinion and ones that will be more and more important in the future.

Personal

Despite still believing very much in the Gamergate battle and the longer culture war that I’ve been a part of for about four years, the sheer cost (personal, professional and in terms of health) is just getting to be too much.

I am heartily sick of being accused of every horrible thing under the sun, especially when they go against my core beliefs and my sense of self. I fight so hard because it is hard for me to leave something unjust unchallenged. If I do something I suffer at the hands of bastards and the inevitable flak fighting draws, if I don’t fight I am betraying my core nature and allowing something horrible to go unchallenged.

If it’s a choice between doing something good and feeling horrible and not doing anything and feeling horrible, the grim calculus (pun intended) should seem obvious.

However, that calculus is changing in part for health reasons, in part because of rather unfair pressure from some dear friends, in part for financial and other reasons. This still pains my idealistic heart and seems like poor reasons not to continue making sacrifices and doing the right thing but I’m fairly backed into a corner right now, and I’m not Captain America.

How would you feel if you were passionate about freedom, for everyone? If you believed strongly in progressive and inclusive ideas – but also artistic freedom? If day after day you saw other creative people seeming to buy into a censorious and controlling agenda because it was easier for them than to rock the boat?

How would you feel if people were determined to trash your reputation by calling you homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic, conservative, things the complete opposite of what you are? How would you feel if people began to believe those lies about you? How would you feel if you were constantly questioning yourself already?

The answer is, not good, and after a while it doesn’t matter that you’re right or that these people are wrong, it’s what people believe – and that so rarely marries up to what’s true, which is frustrating as hell for a rationalist and skeptic, believe me.

So, against my will, I’m going to have to withdraw from the fight, not that I want to and not that it will be at all easy. I’m well aware that’s admitting defeat and that’s like swallowing a shot glass of broken glass shards to me. I’ve been let down a great deal in life by many people I have taken as moral exemplars and to fall short in a similar fashion is devastating. I was always determined not to make the same mistakes – an impossible standard for any human being.

Growing up nerdy, geeky, cerebral, introspective is tough. There are few male-identity tags available to anyone in my generation and its worse for the generations following. Some of the few male-identity aspects available to us are duty, honour, sacrifice and endurance and these aren’t always the best paths to what’s good for you as an individual. They open you up to exploitation, attack and self neglect.

Aid & Comfort

If you want to support me there’s a variety of ways you can do so.

In regard to this issue you can email OneBookShelf and express your concerns (do so politely).

You can buy my stuff from RPGNOW, Lulu or TheGamecrafter – there’s free stuff there too. Feel free to leave a review.

As is now traditional, as a victim of harassment and hatred I am obligated to mention my Patreon.

If you want the PDF copy of the Gamergate Card Game, you can still, for now, get it here.

If you want to know what I actually think about anything, rather than relying on what people tell you I think, you’re welcome to ASK and you’ll get an honest answer.

The big thing I really want people to support at the moment is my memorial art scholarship for fantasy and SF art students. If you can donate art to be sold to support the scholarship or can give money, please do!

Premortem Studios 2014

snow_serahThere goes 2013, that was an odd one, like being stuck between dimensions.

I started working for Chronicle City around the end of the first quarter (though it was announced earlier) but have spent a big chunk of the last year wrapping up Postmortem Studios stuff (some of which remains still to do!) and doing work for Chronicle City, much of which hasn’t come to fruition yet. That’s made for a very strange time in limbo between one thing and another.

Things can take a long time to get moving when you shift jobs but hopefully some of the bits and bobs I’ve been working on will get to the front of the queue in relatively short order.

A large part of the year has been taken up with preparing the ground, advising third parties and taking preparatory notes from a huge series of books for a game based upon them. That’s almost done which means I’ll be able to leap feet-first into new, bigger projects relatively soon.

This blog then, aside from the very occasional release, I can use to do the various side things, musing and fan projects that keep me (relatively) sane.

This year I’ll also be at GenCon in the US, which is frankly terrifying as I don’t like travel and the Americas are where the haters live.

We’ll see how it goes though…

Don’t forget the Darkzel Scholarship is open until the end of this month, so let art students anywhere and everywhere know about it.

Want me to blog about something or write something particular for one of our games? Leave a comment with as many suggestions as you want.