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 It is not being withdrawn from sale, it is being allowed to lay fallow – which was almost certainly going to be the case anyway.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.

Gamerati Interview

I talked to Ed Healy and while it was suggested, I didn’t know it was a debate at the time 🙂

Still, I think I came out pretty well here.

I’m still waiting to hear from Mongoose, but in the meantime:

Tentacoo Wape taken off Kickstarter?!? IMPOSSIBRU!

Is FATAL Redeemable?

FATAL is legendary, as is this review of it. More legendary than RaHoWa and probably even Synnibar for being an unplayable, rubbish, obnoxious, even ‘evil’ game. This loose series of articles is about examining these supposedly irredeemable games and seeing if there’s anything of worth to be salvaged in them.

It doesn’t hurt that one of the reviewers who savaged FATAL is epic level cock-mongler Darren MacLennan. He’s such an irredeemable fuckwit that the instigator of FATAL, Byron Hall, can’t help but come off more favourably for the fact he was savaged by a helmet.

Actually one of the better racial comparison illos I’ve seen.

What’s the Problem With FATAL?

FATAL has a shitload of problems and there’s no getting away from it. Even if it were the best game in he world, at nearly 1,000 pages it would be unwieldy even if the game were perfect, wonderful and without flaw. It isn’t.

FATAL is most notorious for three things. It’s obsession with a level of detail that most games wouldn’t bother with, it’s obsession with sex and rape and – coming in third – the puerile nature of a lot of its spells.

Taken as a whole it’s an obsessive mess but without the sexual element it probably wouldn’t have drawn the comment, ire or infamy that it does. Because it’s so infamous for being shitty I think people are afraid to admit that there’s anything that might be of value in there. I think there is though.

Art Redemption

The few bits of art that were commissioned for FATAL really aren’t that bad at all and while there are nipples, wangs and muff galore it’s really not that shocking at all. It seems to fit, overall, with the Heavy Metal aesthetic that bleeds out of the few bits of readable text. I’d use much of this art without any sort of compunction and it wouldn’t be out of place, at all, in games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess or anything with a weird fantasy or horror BDSM style. Other pieces of art are good enough to be used in just about any fantasy game and it’s a pity the artists involved didn’t get more work and more exposure.

The art definitely speaks to Lotfp or even Barbarians of Lemuria. Going on the art alone, this is something I might want to play. Shame about the rest.

Setting Redemption

FATAL’s setting is just your bog standard fantasy setting, pretty much. Much of what’s there is nothing new, it’s just often ‘nasty’ and much of it is inferred from the monster descriptions and spells. Many of these are pretty puerile and childish but the idea of taboo things having power isn’t exactly new or controversial. FATAL just doesn’t shy away from laying it out directly, rather than hinting.

FATAL’s content seems to describe more of a medieval fantasy setting, a dark and more urban oriented set of ideas that aren’t worlds different to those found in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There’s a disconnect between the presentation and thought and the career/role options but the second set aren’t so terrible, really.

System Redemption

Quadratic equations? Penile thickness tables? Anal circumference? There’s virtually nothing redeemable about the system. Although…

Much of the game is based around a d1000, rolling 3d10 in much the same way as you would with 2d10 to produce a d100. This is unwieldy and mathematically would slow down games but the level of granularity it opens up in a rules system is potentially a good thing.

Gamers who like their mathematics and granularity aren’t particularly well served at the moment though, for some people, it’s definitely an appeal of the games. Millenium’s End, Rolemaster and others have been extensive and comprehensive and have taken an intensely simulation-oriented viewpoint. A d1000 would certainly allow gun-fetishists to tweak each and every fraction of a percent out of every modification and bolt-on. It allows little things to make a real, statistical difference and while that may not be to everyone’s taste there’s definitely a wing of the hobby that loves the crunch.

The one thing that FATAL does really well – and is probably taken from someone else’s work – is in its career/occupations section. There’s a really comprehensive list of medieval occupations and guilds that are easily portable to other games and systems and saves you hunting down an old copy of Central Casting.

Conclusion

Even FATAL has some useful stuff you can drag out of it. A more savvy look at a d1000, simulationist system might be worth doing as an exercise (though I think I’d approach it as a d100.0 system). Much of the research/desperate justification is useful, as are some of the tables and lastly, the art that had been commissioned was of a generally good quality and would be worth rescuing, or finding the original artists to give some employment.

Speaking of which, if you know: Adam Briggs, Andrew Dobell, Kimon, Lazar Stojkovic Steven MnMoorn or Steve Willhite, feel free to send them my way.

While FATAL’s approach is obsessive, self-contained and troublesome there’s no doubt that there’s a desire for more adult oriented media. Game of Thrones, Spartacus, the rise (again) of the erotic novel into public conciousness, these are all things that are heartening to see in a time when we’re also seeing a lot of financial and social censure and prudish pressure.

Maybe it is time for a genuinely adult game.