We have to be better than this!

Update #2: Zak has posted his statement regarding the accusations here

Update: Vivka Grey, a woman, who lived with Zak and Mandy for a while, and who also was featured in the “I hit it with my axe” show, also shared her experiences with Zak on her FB page. 

I’ve struggled with this post for quite some time. Sometimes writing about important topics is incredibly hard. Sometimes you just don’t want to keep quiet, but you also don’t have the right words. At this moment, I feel angry, sad and ashamed. So what is all this about? Mandy, the ex-girlfriend of  the (in)famous Zak S. has written a lengthy post on Facebook about her relationship with him. And as it turns out, he has been abusing her physically and mentally for years.

For anyone who was interacting with him, it was quite obvious that he has an abrasive nature, to put it mildly. He can’t stand being criticized, he’s a bully and a troll. But still a lot of people respected him as a creator – including me. Eventually I got tired of his behavior and openly stated that I am done defending him. But even then I thought that his online persona was more of an act. I believed that behind the mask he was wearing, there was a kind and caring person.

When I read the post about Zak’s abuse, the thing that shocked me the most was that I wasn’t that surprised. At this point I realized that I should have seen it all along. There have been so many signs which a lot of us chose to ignore. We have to be better than this! Damn, I should be better than this! It’s so easy to overlook one’s terrible behavior because we enjoy the product they created for our favorite games. We try to rationalize why we still support someone even though we know we shouldn’t. In a way we help people like this to continue abusing others.

It was extremely brave of Mandy to share her story. She has been living in an abusive relationship for years and her abuser even used her as a shield. At this point there’s not much I can do to help her, aside from believing in her, and sharing her story, so that others don’t have to suffer the way she had to. We also should stop supporting people like Zak. We should not buy his works, invite him to conventions, interview him for our blogs or podcasts, interact with him on social media. Most importantly we should support the victims and believe their stories.

Do I think that things in the RPG community will finally change for the better? No. I am almost 100% sure that there are still many RPG fans who will support their favorite creators to the end, even if they turn out to be terrible people. For some their favorite “elf games” are more important than the lives of other people. That’s the harsh reality. But that doesn’t mean we should stop struggling. We have to try to be better than that!

Zweihänder Collaboration

If you had ever wanted to get into writing RPG supplements but don’t think you could write an entire book then there is an interesting project going on in the Zweihänder community.

I have already submitted a few ideas around the idea of a private collection or menagerie of beasts that escape so you a Rhinoceros in the high street and lions in the formal gardens. I am also quite interested in characters being chased by things. Does anyone remember the Indiana Jones scene with the rolling rock?

I would like to publish a chase along similar lines but with the landscape being torn apart by lava flows.

None of these ideas on their own would really justify their own supplement but as part of a collection they could well inspire another GM.

Anyone who takes part in the project gets a free copy of the finished supplement but they also get paid at roughly ten cents a page.

For the complete rules then you can find them here. http://bit.ly/ZweiGuidelines

Games I’m excited about: Android – Shadow of the Beanstalk

Android: Shadow of the Beanstalk is a new and upcoming setting for FFG’s Genesys Roleplaying Game. Like Realms of Terrinoth it’s based on one of FFG’s preexisting IPs. While RoT was based on the fantasy setting explored in games like Runebound, Descent, or Runewars, this time we’ll get to visit the world of Android, and Android: Netrunner. It’s a near-future science fiction roleplaying game with cyberpunk and transhumanistic elements. And it’s the setting I’ve been waiting for ages now.

nad06_mainA while back they already released a coffee table book called The Worlds of Android, which gave an extensive overview of the setting, but lacked any game rules. I guess you could probably run a game set into the Android universe with the rules in the Genesys corebook alone, but more material is always welcome.

When FFG first announced Genesys many fans were hoping for an Android setting and indeed, one of the included example settings in the final book was in fact Android. The sample settings included in the core rulebook were of course just teasers. So what is the Android setting all about? Let me quote FFG’s product page:

In the not so-distant future, humanity has spread across the solar system, unlocked the frontiers of cyberspace, and created millions of intelligent androids in its own image. At the heart of this progress stands a ladder leading to the riches of the stars—the massive space elevator called the Beanstalk. And at its base sprawls the biggest, meanest, and most exciting city on Earth: New Angeles.

gns04_box_leftThe sourcebook’s 256 pages will include rules on character creation, new equipment and vehicles, game master advice, adversaries, and any information needed to successfully run a game set in New Angeles, the future Earth, or the solar system.

So why am I so excited about this? I love cyberpunk settings. Unfortunately most settings are deeply tied to the 1980s and often have a retro feel to them. This might have a certain charm, but sometimes you are looking for a more modern feel. Android definitely delivers on that front. I am also glad FFG decided to use their Genesys rules for an Android games. It’s easy to learn, simple and fast to run, but it has still enough depth for a long-time campaign.

What are your thoughts on Shadow of the Beanstalk? What other setting teased in the Genesys core rulebook are you excited about? Please share your thoughts below.

A Roleplaying Games blog

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