Tuesday, February 12, 2019

here's a post

so it's been determined beyond a doubt that zak sabbath is an evil man and should be ostracized from our communities. unfortunately i used to support and admire him. i defended him at times and i'm ashamed of it. certainly his blog and his work is what drew me into the online gaming communities. and in fact, it was his ideas that brought me back into playing dungeons and dragons, and revived my interest in the game. out of all the ideas and theories and writings and books i found, his were the freshest and most intelligent, most usable, clearest, and most aligned with the way i wanted to play the game. and many of his ideas have done well by me over the years, and i use them often.

unfortunately he is also a manipulative narcissist and abuser. i was one of those taken in by him. much could and will be said about the processes by which he manipulated people. for myself, the desire to be cool, to be part of the scene, to be validated and liked by a celebrity, the reluctance to fight, and other more painful insecurities. at times over the past couple days i've felt nausea, anger, disgust, sadness. i take this to be a grief.

finally for me, the decision to break contact with him happened about a year and a half ago, after a long conversation with him, when he failed to follow his own rules, particularly to answer all questions and to assume good faith. and also because of his insane and dehumanizing stated belief that the consequences of a person's actions are inseparable from their core identity. and more than that, his contempt and disdain for the feelings of those he despised and attempted to control, which contempt is the necessary prerequisite for the more serious evils humans perform. i wish i had said something publicly.

others have said this but mandy's post immediately created the feeling of a spell having been lifted. what had been obvious for a long time is simply true. it is a relief.

i do believe that the beautiful things a person makes are separate from them. i was even about to write a review of the immortal zoo of ping feng, which i ran for my new players last month. it was a fun filler dungeon, very engaging and scary for my players, but without the zip of self-created content, and a little bit tough to run due to being disorganized in the writing. however now i can't look at his books without feeling repulsion.

at the same time google plus is dying. for a long time this was my primary way of interacting with other gamers. i've met many people and formed a handful of relationships and done a touch of collaborative work. but to be honest, i preferred the days of blogging. in blog form i found fuller ideas than the brief, social media-y conversations that often happened on g+.

i don't know what will happen with the future. certainly i will keep playing dungeons and dragons. i love this game. i have two gaming groups right now. one is my long-standing group from back in Philly, they're all around level 15 now and digging into a megadungeon i've arranged for them. everything hits like 3-4 times a round, or automatically hits from around corners, or deals damage just for moving, or drains experience points, or permanently poisons, or is immune to and reflects all damage, and meanwhile they're creating a small army and trained their giant wolf to wield a sword in his mouth they've trained their mantis-man to fight with his claws and they've hired a famous cook who's also an ex-mob-leader and they have a diving bell which can transport them to hell and their most used and powerful and often exploited tool is a pair of teapots whose top openings creates a teeny-tiny portal between the two teapots and their potionist can make them potions that cast two spells at once, and they know their rival party "the deadboyz" is somewhere in the megadungeon but they're just not sure exactly where and they're terrified. while my new group in oakland is around level 2-3 and we've had two character deaths so far and they've broken into the royal goblin palace, where david bowie sleeps in a glass coffin in the tallest tower and king nurgle rules over an endless party and communist rats are trying to unionize the anarchist crocodiles who just eat them.

and i've changed a lot over the past year as a dungeon master. more open to the unpleasant feelings the game can create, the fears and insecurities that losing and dying create in people, but which are crucial to the creation of an engaging game. and i'm more explicitly interested in running a game that exists in a zone between easy and frustrating, the zone of pleasant challenge that is unique to every game group.

and i've been working piece-meal on publishing my module, the thrice cursed prison of dendric vast. i'm leaning towards just giving it out for free. finishing the job is better than searching for a publisher and never finishing it or delaying it, i think.

that's all for now.

love, nate