Short But Random

The SPLINTER RPG actually has two firearms, one called a Blunderbuss, and one called a Blunderbus (sp) in the upcoming Sometimes Little Wondrous Things sourcebook. This isn’t an error or an accidental duplication. These are two conceptually and mechanically distinct guns. The Blunderbus with one s is a sawn-off single shot 10 Gauge shotgun affectionately referred to as a “Blunderbus”. The correctly spelled weapon is the real thing, circa the 1800s or whatever.

Just, y’know, in case you were wondering.

Open Letter(s) to


RPG Net Administrators:

I have been actually persecuted due to an issue with your site’s Rule 2. Specifically, with the last sentence of your site’s Rule 2 which has actually drifted very far from the first sentence of Rule 2, a very reasonable and laudable prohibition against making attacks against other gamers. The final sentence of Rule 2 is a horse of a very different color:

“Support of Gamergate, Stormfront or any other hate group is not tolerated and will result in banning.”

Gamergate is not a hate group like Stormfront and lumping it in as one, in list form, as though it was a given, is patently ridiculous. The unsupported statement that Gamergate is a hate group is what is known as a false premise. It’s also a very radical, extremist hardline stance to take. Even if you guys don’t like Gamergate, not everything that you guys don’t like is a hate group.

Anyway, if we were to accept for one second the premise that Gamergate is a “hate group”, who is it that this group hates?

Please take the time to watch this video, just slightly over five minutes. Can you please tell me what is the group that the people shown in this video hate?

In the interrim, until this rule is changed, I am willing to follow your unfair and unjust rules and restrict my protestation about them to channels other than Please do consider this matter separately from my appeal.


RPG Net Administrators:

Sending a second appeal e-mail because my first was lost in transit or ignored. Please acknowledge receipt of this e-mail upon receipt of this e-mail so I will know that it was not lost in transit or ignored.

The substance of my appeal is as follows:

The mission statement of the RPGNet forums appears at the top of your rules and guidelines page, and since it is relevant, I feel that it should appear at the head of this appeal as well:

“To keep the forums friendly and welcoming to as wide a range of gamers as possible.”

It will be most clear how this is relevant in the closing paragraphs below.

I have absolutely not demonstrated a “consistent and determined effort to display simmering hostility and contempt for fellow RPGnet posters”. This is, I must suppose, projection on the part of the person writing it or at the very least an incredibly uncharitable analysis of my behavior. It is not clear from either my posts or my signature that I am doing this deliberately, because I am in fact not doing any such thing.

I know with total certainty that I have not demonstrated any such thing because I do not feel any such “simmering hostility and contempt” for fellow RPGnet posters. What I have demonstrated is a consistent and determined effort to add value to RPGnet through my membership and contributions, and to participate in discussion of RPGs there, because that is my actual goal.

If I had been banned for one month, I would not had felt persecuted. If you had asked me directly at any point to change my signature–which, for the record, did not refer specifically to #Gamergate but to larger issues of censorship, freedom of speech, political correctness that #Gamergate is caught up in–I would not have felt persecuted.

But what happened is this: I noticed that there was a climate of hostility towards pro-freedom of speech arguments on the forums. I noticed that I was red-texted several times for simply expressing my honest opinion in what I genuinely thought was a civil and non-controversial way. Innocent, friendly, and light-hearted comments were read as contemptuous and hostile even though to my mind they obviously were not. Meanwhile, users taking the opposing position responded to me in a way that seemed much more overtly and clearly catty and hostile, and did not receive red text. It seemed to be from this pattern of unfair moderation that it was not my conduct was at issue, and that it was my opinion which was getting me “in trouble” with the site staff when I voiced it.

As a result, I changed my signature. I did this for what I thought were reasons of transparency and honesty as much as self-preservation. I did not want to continuously be drawn into arguments where I would get infracted for having the “wrong opinion”, but I also did not want people to assume that I agreed with some of the toxic fascist bullshit I saw being flung around casually just because I said nothing. So I changed my signature to state basically: “There are topics on here I won’t discuss because I’ll get in trouble for having the “wrong opinion”. That doesn’t mean I agree with you.” And I solicited productive discussion via PM. Because I actually enjoy discourse with people who disagree with me. I think that opening yourself up to other people’s viewpoints is how you learn things and evolve your own perspective.

Over the several months that this was my signature, I was not once directly asked to change it. I inferred from a few people’s comments that it might be taken as surly or confrontational, so I modified the wording to be less so and assumed we were good.

Then, a duplicitous and self-righteous weasel conducted what you correctly define as a “personal inquisition” with me as its target. Nezumi instigated a discussion with me about #Gamergate under what I foolishly assumed was good faith. In good faith, I had a discussion during which I did not so much as “advocate” for #Gamergate as I laid out the reasons I did not believe it to be a hate group. Incidentally: #Gamergate is not a hate group, and your definition of it as such in Rule 2 is extremely problematic, but this has been reserved for a separate e-mail.

At several points during this conversation, which had a long and awkward silence during the middle of it, I made sure that the other person still wanted to discuss this, still felt that this was productive, and so on. My conduct during this private discussion was as you can see for yourself what I can safely describe as exemplary. The exact opposite of harassment. In the end, I was the one who ran out of steam and willingness to debate this: the ideological gap just seemed too far to bridge. Some weeks later, this person asked me if they could share our conversation elsewhere. I asked them why and for what and told them that no, I felt very uncomfortable about that. They then publicly posted my private message of withholding consent of the conversation being publicized as though I was somehow the asshole.

Shortly thereafter, presumably as a result of this incident, I was banned from Permanently banned. Prior to this, the harshest infraction I had received was a one-day suspension several months ago. I had absolutely no idea that discussing #Gamergate or any “banned topic” via PM was against the rules, as several posters agree here that they never would have assumed that. I had no chance to correct or remove my signature. The last red text I received, chronologically, was a request for more substance to a post about why I don’t think that *World games are very good, which I had no chance to provide, because I was permanently banned. 

Let me repeat something here: “I had absolutely no idea that discussing #Gamergate or any “banned topic” via PM was against the rules, as several posters agree here that they never would have assumed that.” I was also confused by the fact that it had been pointed out to me that #Gamergate was not on the Banned Topics list associated with Rule #3. This made me think that open discussion of #Gamergate was fair game anywhere, let alone via PM. I will admit that I am used to online spaces that are less heavily moderated than, and while I have made the effort to read’s rules several times, it seems I have also managed to misread them several times.

Several posters–in fact most posters– in your recent trouble tickets thread on this topic interpreted the rules the same way. To quote one user “I would have never guessed from the rules that banned topics are banned in PMs too, because I expected they are banned because they make thread explode, not because they are “literally verboten”.”


“As you note in your own sig, you don’t feel you’re a good fit here. We concur, and as such, you are permanently banned under rule 10.”

I am assuming here that Holden is being facetious. I am assuming that the reason for my being banned does not come down to the fact that you don’t like me and you don’t like what I think. If that were the case, this entire appeal process would be a ridiculous waste of my time. More importantly, it would be eminently clear that you were interested only in creating an echo chamber for people who agree with each other to preach to the choir, not in an online community where diverse people of diverse opinions are welcome to flourish.

Let me be absolutely clear: it does not escape me that there is a serious culture clash between my values and the values of’s moderation team. This culture clash is not enough to motivate me to accept my ban, let alone to voluntarily post elsewhere short of a ban.

Sometimes my rhetoric can get a little heated, so I want to restate that while I do not approve of’s policies or its attitude, I still want to add value to the community as a member. The reasons for this are simple: is two hundred times larger than the next largest general RPG discussion site, making it valuable to me for both personal reasons (as a gamer that wants to discuss games with other gamers) and professional reasons (as an independent publisher of RPGs, one who has supported with thousands of dollars of ad revenue over the past year, as a matter of disclosure). This might seem like a novel idea in this age of “safe spaces” and balkanized internet culture, but a fundamental disagreement with the leadership of a community is not enough to make me want to avoid that community and post elsewhere, nor does it render me incapable of participating in productive discussions in that community.

As you can easily infer, I do not think that the rule against support of #Gamergate on your site is fair. However, as a US Citizen, I am very used to the idea of having to follow rules and laws that I think are unfair. I am willing to avoid all discussion of #GG on until such a time that the rule is changed. I am willing to modify my signature to remove the invitation to discuss controversial topics via PM: clearly, this was too much good faith on my part in any case. I can accept never mentioning #GG on again. There are many, many other avenues for me to discuss it.

At this point, it seems clear that if you uphold my permanent ban, you are doing so not because you are concerned about me discussing #Gamergate in topics nor because you are concerned about me discussing #Gamergate via PM, but because I privately hold the personal opinion that #Gamergate is not a hate group. (To state the obvious: if I am lying about my willingness not to discuss GG on, it would hardly be strenuous for you to reinstate my ban.) I would hope that you are just as deeply uncomfortable as I am with the idea of banning someone for your site just because you disagree with them. 

– Devon Oratz

Full Tilt SJW Crazytown (or: Fuck My Entire Life)

Jesus Christ do I hate having to make this blog post. I hate politics and I have tried my entire life to avoid the discussion of or involvement in politics. But this turned out to be impossible. Politics in life. On top of that, this is post is a heaping helping of nothing but capital D Drama. Something else I have striven to avoid at every turn. Something else.

0. Foreward. Almost no one reads this blog, and I know that no one reads this blog. If my regular readership were to be counted in the 10s, I would consider myself lucky. Due to the events that precipitated this blog-post, that readership is even more unlikely to go up than it was before. A concentrated effort on my part will be necessary to spread and signal-boost this post so that everyone even remotely interested in the online tabletop roleplaying community has a chance of seeing it. Even thinking about this endeavor makes me feel incredibly tired.

I. #GamerGate. Maybe you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t heard of it: this is not an adequate introduction or summary, and if you’re at all interested in the changing shape of the internet, you should do some research, and be omnivorous in that research, sampling all sides.

#GamerGate, a little over a year old now, is an online hashtag movement with an unbelievably bad reputation. No, strike that, it’s such an understatement that it’s inadequate to the point. By late 2015, #GamerGate’s PR situation and public-facing reputation is the worst you will ever encounter outside of the public launch of the “Baby Rapists and Puppy Murderers Club”. The reason for this is primarily that the mainstream media has flawlessly and ceaselessly controlled, curated, and simplified the very simple and unchallenged narrative that describes #GamerGate to the general public. If you are not in #GamerGate, and you’ve heard of it, chances are you perceive #GamerGate as a misogynistic hate-group that targets women. In the interest of fairness, what doesn’t help this terrible, terrible, terrible public image is that early in #GamerGate’s history, some asshole misogynists did use the hashtag to harass women online, thereafter poisoning the movement’s image forever. Since then, even if it’s members’ behavior has improved, its image has only gotten worth via the snowball effect.

#GamerGate portrays itself as a “grassroots consumer advocacy movement advocating for better ethics in game journalism” and is nearly universally reviled as a “misogynistic hate group”. The truth in my opinion lies somewhere in-between. I call bullshit on the idea that #GamerGate came into existence purely out of some noble drive to improve ethics in game journalism. Otherwise it would have been born in 2007 when Jeff Gerstmann was fired for giving forgettable turd Kane and Lynch: Dead Men a less-than-glowing review, rather than being born in 2014 out of the Quinnspiracy. Since I began following the movement in late 2014, after the shitstorm’s apex, I have seen basically no evidence of misogynist behavior. #GamerGate’s leading lights certainly hate the shit out of CERTAIN WOMEN, but not because they are women, rather because those particular women are assholes spreading genuinely toxic ideologies. I myself am certainly not a fan of these particular women: I have said unkind things about them on multiple occasions. That is because I think they are terrible people and that they ideology they represent is a cancer. Not because they happen to represent as women.

Instead, I would describe #GamerGate as a reactionary force against the equally reactionary trend in the gaming community of shrill, perpetually offended social justice warriors that openly favor censorship, enforced political correctness, and overt politicization of videogames.

This is a chart I whipped up of what kind of reaction you can expect online should you make a positive or neutral mention of #GamerGate now in late 2015 based on your political environs in the digital sphere. I make no guarantees to its accuracy, so you’ll have to rely on your own judgement.

#gg chart

II. Active since 1996, RPGnet is one of the oldest and largest online websites for discussing, reviewing, dissecting, and enthusing over tabletop roleplaying games, not just the heavy hitters like D&D, Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness and Shadowrun but with a special focus on fringe indie games much like the ones that well…that we make. Referred to as “the big purple”, with over half a million threads teaming with 16 MILLION posts by 115,828 members nearly 10,000 of which are presently considered active, RPGnet is 200 times larger than its next largest competitor among general Tabletop RPG discussion sites. Obviously, RPGnet is an invaluable place to have access to if you are a person who likes to engage in open and vibrant discussion of tabletop RPGs (I am just such a person) and especially if you are one of the intrepid souls involved in the creation of indie RPGs.

As of this post, I have been permanently banned from RPGNet. Before I discuss this revolting development in any more detail, let me write my second paragraph about RPGNet.

I joined RPGnet extremely late in its history, maybe…three to four years ago? I didn’t begin posting with any degree of regularity until the past year. I noticed almost immediately that RPGnet was the most heavy-handed, heavily overmoderated forum I had ever seen on the entire internet, to a comically over-the-top degree. Without getting into the inherent bias of this over-moderation, the over-moderation itself was a serious problem. Disagreements basically were not allowed. As soon as anything got the slightest bit heated, moderators swooped in heavy-handedly handing out “infractions” and warnings. Two new concepts were really hard to get my head around. One was that there were “[+]” or “[-]” threads where only negative or positive perspectives on a topic were allowed. This was a huge red-flag to me, because to me, echo-chambers are something to be avoided, and something I’ve never seen consciously purpose-built before. Who would want to create meaningless threads where posters were only allowed to agree with each other and preach to the choir. The other incredibly toxic policy I saw was something called a “thread ban”. If you said something in a topic that the moderators arbitrarily decided was “out of line”, you would be banned from posting to that topic. Other posters still in the topic could rebut you, insult you, mock you, and misunderstand what you had said, but you were not allowed to respond or to clarify what you had said. The other thing I noticed when looking through older threads that I thought was kind of odd was that at least half of the usernames I saw there had the word banned under them.

RPGnet is full-tilt SJW crazytown. The moderators are the actual, literal Social Justice Gestapo. If you fail to think and say the “right” opinion, if you fail to toe the party line, they will break down your proverbial door and drag you off to be disappeared. It is the single most insane fucking thing I have ever seen in my entire lifetime of bouncing around the internet. SJW if you didn’t know stands for “Social Justice Warrior”. There is a subset of people on the internet (let’s call them “reactionary jerks”) who use “SJW” as an epithet to describe anyone who doesn’t believe, for instance, that racism in America is over. As a liberal democrat, I am not part of that subset. When I say SJW I am talking about perpetually-offended reactionary bigots who parrot insane things they read on tumblr like “there is no such thing as racism/sexism against white men”, about people whose psychotic zeal for “social justice” supercedes for them all of the basic principles of liberalism such as freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, freedom of dissent, freedom of thought. These people are dangerous. Their ideas are toxic. They are crazy extremists. They are in total, unsupervised dictatorial control of the largest open tabletop RPG discussion site on the planet.

This brings me to my ban and Thank God, near to the end of this incredibly arduous and draining and upsetting post. The condescending and hostile explanation of my “permanent” ban mentioned a few infractions I’d received in the past. Most of these “infractions” amounted to me discussing why I personally didn’t like certain roleplaying games, or why I personally did not think that they were very good. Any reasonable person would expect that on a site for discussing roleplaying games, this would BE ONE OF THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF DISCUSSION, let alone something that would be moderated. The fact that I did not like certain games or did not think they were good was somehow construed as “simmering hostility and contempt for fellow RPGnet posters”. This of course could not be further than the truth. I think the Twilight franchise for instance is nothing more than terrible, worthless dreck. That doesn’t mean that I hold “simmering hostility and contempt” for its millions of fans. I happen to know that the–again, extremely heavy handed and in-depth–moderation system allows for, besides warnings and threadbans, three-day bans, one-week bans, one month bands, three month bands, and so on and so forth. I had never received any of these disciplinary measures and immediately went from zero to a PERMANENT BAN. Why did that happen? Well, guys, I’ve kind of pulled an H.P. Lovecraft and saved the punchline of my entire story to put in one sentence, the entire fucking point, at the end, in Italics.

The other two things mentioned in my permanent ban infraction were that I had “advocated for gamergate via private message”  and that “you don’t feel you’re a good fit here. We concur, and as such, you are permanently banned”. In other words, the key reasons for my ban were that a) when someone asked me via PM, I told them I did not think GamerGate was a hate group and b) that they basically just didn’t like me, nana nana poo poo. Leaving aside the ridiculous childishness of the latter, let’s reflect for a second on how disturbing the former is. In the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, thoughtcrime is the criminal act of holding unspoken beliefs or doubts that oppose or question the ruling party. In the book, the government attempts to control not only the speech and actions, but also the thoughts of its subjects. To entertain unacceptable thoughts is known as crimethink in Newspeak, the ideologically purified dialect of the party. In the end, I was banned because the moderators went into my private messages, or I was ratted out to the Gestapo by the person I was privately conversing with (I’m not sure which is more disturbing), and punishe dme for the thoughtcrime of secretly holding the wrong opinion.

I did not harass or abuse anyone. I did not publicly advocate for #GamerGate in any forum or topic. I privately responded–when I was ASKED–that I believed #GG was not a hate group. For that I was permanently banned.

The Orwellian idea of crimethink is alive and well on

– Devon


Strawman Says: Devon, if you hate and are sickened the insanely draconian, Orwellian moderation policy at and their unbelievable hypocrisy, why do you even want to be a part of that hellish toxic shithole?

Answer: I’m glad you asked, Man of Straw. The problem is, those free-speech hating Social Justice Gestapo reign with an iron fist over the largest open tabletop roleplaying discussion forum on the planet, two hundred times larger than its next-largest competitor. As someone who loves to talk and think about roleplaying games, for my sanity, I need to have access to that vibrant and lively discussion. As someone whose entire livelihood comes from publishing indie roleplaying games, I need to have access to that marketplace. I am a person who has done nothing wrong, nothing that could be construed as harassment or abuse. I am literally and actually entitled (ooh, there’s that dirty word!) to access to this forum for discussion. For these reasons, I am not going to take getting permabanned by SSJWs for crimethink lying down.

Everyone Loves Free Spaceships, Right?

I made some new spaceships for the Singularity System. Specifically, the Systems Malfunction campaign setting of the Singularity System, which some of you may know from the about-to-turn-ten-years-old LARP of the same name. I figured I’d share them here for free. I’ve written up stats for two small craft,  three capital ships, and a space station (!!) plus a new Starship Bay Weapon that starships can’t actually mount, only space stations can. These should make for a neat add-on for any Systems Malfunction game, and nearly any ongoing Singularity System game you guys might be running.

Singularity System stats are provided but you could also adapt any of these ships for Traveller, Eclipse Phase, Star Wars, or whatever really, if you were so inclined.

The Singularity System didn’t really have rules for space stations, and I’m not formally writing them here. But they are basically what you would think. Immobile objects in space can’t use the Change Range and Facing action, can’t do Evasive Maneuvers, and they can’t Disengage from star combat. They effectively don’t have a Helmsman role or an Auto-Pilot subsystem or a Bridge to shoot at. They’re also sitting ducks to long-range weapons platforms unless they mount Extreme range weapons, so they almost always do.

The formatting is going to be really wonky for this stuff because WordPress doesn’t allow tables and tables would be a pain to set up so these will just be big sloppy lists. Sorry about that, maybe Mik can clean it up into a PDF later on.

Continue reading

SPLINTER’d (Kickstarter Campaign Ongoing)

Not gonna lie, I wanted to make an ETG post quick to get the taste of the last post out of my mouth. I certainly don’t regret anything I said, as such, but let me say this: having at-all controversial opinions and a crippling anxiety disorder is a really tough combination to live with. Hell, having an anxiety disorder doesn’t pair especially well with having principles, period. I’m eager to get back to discussing games I actually like, and of course that includes the ones that I invented myself.

So, SPLINTER. Our Surprising Things Kickstarter has been live for about a week now. It will be a full week tomorrow. So far we’re about 30% funded with about three weeks to go. That’s not terrible by any means but of course I’m already worried we won’t make it: see again, anxiety disorder making life more difficult than it should be.

This also has to do with the fact that this KS is very much necessarily our litmus test for the future of the SPLINTER game line going forward. If this KS funds, obviously SPLINTER has enough public interest to support in full. If it doesn’t, that would be a clear indicator that SPLINTER is just too niche and weird a project for the adventure games market. So the stakes are scary high. If you’re reading this and you haven’t backed and/or put in your 20 hours on social media pestering all your friends to back, please help me out and do so. (To those of you who’ve already given, the vast majority of you have given AMAZINGLY generously, so thank you all so, so much!)

Some exciting news, though, in the field of…actual news. I’m happy to report that our KS has been featured on the frontpages of Tabletop Gaming News (TGN) and Roleplayers Chronicle. That’s super groovy and hopefully it will bring us to a larger audience.

When we hit the 50% funding mark, I’m going to reveal some of our stretch goals which I’m pretty stoked about. This isn’t quite a preview, but it verges on one.

So the SPLINTER Core Rulebook is the very first product End Transmission Games ever published (not the first game I designed by a long shot, though, as both Phantasm and Psionics are older than it by five years or more, but that’s neither here nor there). Anyway, as our oldest product SPLINTER is obviously the one I most wish I could go back and change, since I’ve learned so much about this game design business since its release.

Mostly, this is a production values thing. Mikaela has grown by such leaps and bounds as a layout artist that the difference in visible production quality between SPLINTER (her very first layout project) and Psionics is obviously a difference of several orders of magnitude. Likewise, some of the art that we included in SPLINTER is not up to our current standards (although don’t get me wrong, some of it is just as great as anything in Psionics: I really dig black and white art in general.).

But there are also some things in SPLINTER’s rules that I’d like to change. Traditionally, this is why roleplaying games have second (and third and fourth and sixth) editions. It’s too early for a new edition of SPLINTER, though, by every conceivable metric. For one, it simply hasn’t been enough years. For another, we haven’t sold anywhere near enough copies to justify launching a new edition as any kind of sound financial decision. Finally and most importantly, we haven’t received nearly enough actual play feedback to have a truly informed perspective on the issues with the rules that would be needed to make the targeted changes for a new edition.

When it comes to the SPLINTER rules, I’m fairly happy with the rules governing gameplay in the Splinter itself (both the core dice pool mechanic and its particular interactions). But the “real world” rules for “playing your Player” Earthside use a primitive primordial ancestor of the DicePunk System that I’m not entirely proud of. I’d love to upgrade the Earthside rules to use the DicePunk System proper (at the Realistic/Literary Campaign Power Level), since it’s better than its prototypical ancestor in pretty much every way. This would have the added benefit of making our roster of supported coherent games that much more coherent. We’d be supporting DicePunk, Singularity, and Splinter which as one game with two systems would be DicePunk/other, as opposed to not-quite-DicePunk/other, which is even sloppier and more confusing. Fans of DicePunk games like Psionics could logically have their attention drawn to Splinter, and vice versa. Finally, since EarthSide stats influence Avatar stats, using the modern incarnation of the DicePunk system for Splinter’s Earthside play would improve upon that two-systems-in-one-game interaction.

A chance to overhaul the SPLINTER core rules would give me an opportunity for lots of other little tweaks too–while writing this, for instance, I noticed that many of the SP awards in the Subscriber Point Reward table on page 59 are a bit low for my tastes–but I’m not looking to make any major changes to the core “in-the-Splinter” gameplay. Except for the massive influx of new content that’s the entire point of the Surprising Things project.

So, at this point I’ve basically come around to revealing that our first stretch goal will be some kind of overhaul of the SPLINTER core rulebook. Which is an idea that really excites me, so here’s hoping.

On Censorship and Principle

The internet has made the venerable epigraph “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” (Evelyn Beatrice Hall, if you were wondering, but traditionally and wrongly attributed to Voltaire) seem a rather tired and worn-out bit of rhetoric. But overused or not these are words I have always tried to live by, as best as I can.

I disapprove of “Tournament of Rapists” in the strongest possible terms. It is a benighted piece of grotesque wrongheaded filth that should have never existed. I seriously question the character of the people who created it and who sought to publish it. I cannot overstate the fact that I am not a fan.

But censorship is always wrong. When a monolithic distribution channel like One Book Shelf, a self-acknowledged de-facto monopoly, bans a product, that is tantamount to censorship, and they know it. And they very nearly did so, not because it was in line with their principles, but to satisfy the demands of a screeching hate-mob of perpetually outraged social justice harpies who for some reason did not think that not buying the product and/or leaving it one star or less reviews would be enough to let the market sort itself out. This is shameful.

At DriveThruRPG, we trust publishers to upload and activate their own new releases without anyone at DriveThru reviewing the product before it goes public. Because this system worked so well for the past 14 years, we had no need to create an “offensive content guideline.” To avoid anything approaching censorship, we simply adhered to an unwritten policy of not banning any RPG product.

There is, however, a growing problem. Sometimes, RPG creators design content that goes beyond disturbing. For example, we recently — and rightly — received criticism for selling an RPG supplement called “Tournament of Rapists” for four days on our marketplace.
In hindsight, we realize that we should have suspended that product from sale immediately, pending further internal review and discussion with the publisher. For a variety of reasons, we relied on our standing policy of not banning RPG titles, even in the face of a product so offensive that the policy was inadequate. We understand that we were wrong to do so.

A New Policy

It is time to change the approach we have used on DriveThru. Our prior stance, that “censorship is unacceptable,” was tantamount to shirking our responsibility. As market leaders, we are in a position that requires us to be leaders also in keeping the RPG hobby inclusive and safe.

I have actually been hoping to try and strengthen our working relationship with DriveThru RPG in the future. And in the interest of being fair, I will acknowledge that OBS did not actually ban this product. They did ban another product, nearly a year ago, that was far less offensive by any reasonable human metric, for even more tenuous reasons, but that is neither here nor there. In this case, they spoke to the author and publisher who agreed mutually to pull the product, so that is alright. What is not alright is that DriveThru has changed its policy AWAY from a policy of “Censorship is uancceptable”. This is not a good change.

I don’t know a lot about James Raggi. He’s the designer of an RPG called Lamentations of the Flame Princess that I also don’t know much about, but that looks pretty cool and which is, while WAY BIGGER than anything End Transmission publishes, not exactly SUPER-WELL-KNOWN. Anyway, my point is, he recently said this on Google+. And while I’m not a Google+’er, I couldn’t + this enough. I don’t know what political baggage agreeing with him might entail, but I agree with what he had to say:

I checked my stats and according to the ranking function they have in the Publisher tools, I am a Top 2% seller on OBS. (which says more about how small the 98% are more than how big I am) I have done over $100,000 gross sales over the six years I’ve sold through the site, which isn’t nothing.

If one of my products gets pulled, or if the products of my peers are pulled without their consent, I am taking every LotFP product off of that site, which will be something of an economic armageddon for me and a hardship from everyone on my roster getting royalties from sales. I’ll also have pretty much no mechanism for conveniently delivering PDFs to people. (even reinstating PDF sales on my site would leave me no mechanism to provide access to people that do not purchase the title; I have rather cheap software and investing in more sophisticated software will be quite impossible without OBS sales money coming in.)

This past weekend a brainless howling mob showed they were in charge of this industry and have the power to disappear ideas and products they disapprove of. Whether this is the majority or a very vocal minority doesn’t make much difference to me; I consider myself at war with them. That this is within our industry feels like an intense betrayal; I have been literally shaking mad over the past several days. Simply shitting out pieced-together cheap crap POD versions of what I owe people and simply quitting has crossed my mind.

Without the ability to freely create, and freely reach people who might be interested in those creations, participation in this hobby and this industry is simply not worth doing.

Anyone who would restrict that creativity, or make it more difficult to find people who are creating things you might enjoy, anyone who restricts imagination and works of fiction, anyone who works to ban any work, is simply evil.


We have lost a great deal over the past several days.

While I appreciate his turn of phrase (“brainless howling mob”), I think he’s going a bit far in calling this impulse to destroy art that offends you, and the business based decision to give in to that impulse, “evil”. But it’s sure as hell not good. A lot of social justice berserkers argue that censoring this product somehow makes tabletop gaming a more inclusive, safer space for women and minorities. That is so much bullshit. Censorship rearing its ugly head in this industry makes the space of tabletop games feel that much less safe for my girlfriend, just as one example. Because fuck censorship.

We are, of course, not actually pulling our products from DriveThru, for the same reason that End Transmission games, if it were a person, would not light a stick of dynamite and then swallow it: it would be EXTREMELY. FUCKING. BAD. FOR US. I am in no position to commit principle-based financial seppuku when we are trying to support our family and we are trying to do so through our games. Above and beyond this, a repulsive shitshow like Tournament of Rapists is not the hill my company is going to die on, thank you very much.

But I do need to shake my head at DriveThru caving to this kind of pressure. Censorship is always wrong. Answer speech you find distasteful with your own speech. Not by silencing it.