RPG Writer Zak S Accused Of Abusive Behaviour
  • RPG Writer Zak S Accused Of Abusive Behaviour


    RPG writer Zak S (aka Zak Smith, Zak Sabbath) has been accused by multiple women of abusive behaviour in a public Facebook post by his ex-partner, and two other women.



    Photo from Wikipedia


    Zak Smith appeared in the video series I Hit It With My Axe, and is known for the Playing D&D With Porn Stars blog. He has also written several RPG books, most recently for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, consulted on the D&D 5th Edition Player's Handbook, has won multiple ENnies, and recently worked for White Wolf. As yet, he hasn't made any public response to the accusations.

    Since then, another ex-partner of Zak Smith, Vivka Grey, has publicly come forward with a further account of his conduct.

    This isn't the first time that Zak Smith has been accused of inappropriate behaviour (language warning in that link). The Facebook post, which was posted overnight, has been shared widely on social media, and takes the form of an open letter (linked above; it makes for unpleasant reading, so please be aware of that if you choose to read it).

    The industry has been reacting to the news. Amongst many others:


    I believe Mandy, Jennifer, Hannah, and Vivka. It must be terrifying to come forward like this. They have been put through horrible ordeals. I will not cover Zak’s work on this site, in my podcast, or elsewhere, and will not provide him with any kind of platform.
    Comments 282 Comments
    1. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
      Well you have three people making a claim. They could all be lying due to some unrelated and unknown matter, but probably they're not. You don't have to apply criminal court standards of beyond
      reasonable doubt in forming an opinion whether something is probably true.
      Not to mention years and years of dozens of people making accusations against him and documented cases of harassment, and even those close to him who defended him in the past have said they were wrong and he’s as awful as others have said.

      But if someone looks at all that and says, “Well, he denies it, so who knows?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I don’t think there’s just any reasoning with them.
    1. Alexander Kalinowski's Avatar
      Alexander Kalinowski -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Conan Trustrum View Post
      I wasn't putting words in your mouth. I was taking your statement regarding standards people should be held to and extending it's logic into the point at hand.
      You made a comment that could be read as sarcastically implying that I think sexual harrassers of women should not be held accountable. If you do that again, I will flag the post.
      "It would just be CRAZY if both the president and Zak S were held up to the standard of not sexually and otherwise assaulting and abusing women."
      If that was not your intention, you now have an opportunity to clarify.

      If Zak Smith commited a felony and it can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, he should be held accountable for it. No doubt.
      But if some people who I do not know make some accusations against Zak Smith and I cannot verify the veracity of these statements whatsoever, I do register these charges and that's it. It's hearsay. It's rumor-mongering. It might be true, it might be not.

      Conversely, if an important public figure like the US president was accused of sexual harrassment, a public investigation would ensue and I could monitor its proceedings, at least. So there is some grounds for determining the veracity of charges. And that even ignores that the fate of the US presidency has probably more impact on my life than the fate of Mr. Smith, so I have way more incentive to look at the evidence.
    1. Whizbang Dustyboots's Avatar
      Whizbang Dustyboots -
      The basic situation here makes me sad. The resulting discussion here makes me moreso. I don't think it's necessary or productive for anyone to try and make decisions about what someone else should do with their money.

      For myself, I don't have any intention of getting rid of my copies of Vornheim or Death Frost Doom at this point, but I will certainly be watching how this all shakes out before buying any more of his work.
    1. timbannock's Avatar
      timbannock -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alexander Kalinowski View Post
      That's a logical fallacy. I do not care about the actual subject because without verifiable evidence it's all rumor-mongering to me. I do care (at least enough to post here) about people not exhibiting the same attitude to the issue.


      There's nothing to be empathic about as I have no way of deciding if the testimony is truthful or a bunch of lies. Without that information who should I be empathic to - Zak Smith or his accusers? Who has been wronged here? I don't know, so I will abstain from taking sides.

      Do you know?
      What is the level of evidence you require for this not to be rumor-mongering?

      There are verifiable accounts of many of the things Zak has been accused of in the past. There are credible allegations by many credible people that can be found with a 2-minute stretch on Google of things he's done leading up to these allegations that would suggest these allegations are not out of character for him.

      Even these current allegations now have folks on various social media -- twitter and reddit, so far, that I can find -- that suggest the allegations are credible, and offer eye-witness statements.
    1. Alexander Kalinowski's Avatar
      Alexander Kalinowski -
      Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
      Well you have three people making a claim. They could all be lying due to some unrelated and unknown matter, but probably they're not. You don't have to apply criminal court standards of beyond
      reasonable doubt in forming an opinion whether something is probably true.
      Can you guarantee that three people (not necessarily women) from your past won't ever come forward publically and make up some false claims about you? I can't and I have been a saint, LOL. If you think back of your life, can you think of 3 people (again, not talking about women) that have been habitual liars?

      But maybe that is the difference between me and certain others in the public: I am not willing to condemn Zak Smith (and I am banned from his blog due to a brief debate about GNS, LOL) because something is "probably true". Imagine it wasn't - would feel pretty bad to do so then.

      To only look at probabilities without looking at the consequences of error is wrong. It's better to abstain. If a crime has been perpetrated, law enforcement should be involved or should have been involved - so that all the hobby sleuths and wanaabe inquisitors out there don't have to. Other than that, the people who actually know the people involed in person may possibly make up their minds in a more informed manner. I can't.

      Also, I have already said too much in this thread. People these days just love to judge and condemn others; they pretend they do so because they have some real or alleged victim's interest in mind. I think they just like doing the condemnation; it feels good for a moment or two. Pointing fingers at the sinner, a secular form of holier-than-thou.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      So you would censor the art because of the artist?
      Is the integrity of an Ennie worth the political statement of retracting one?
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      It is a false dictomy to say that a lck of active denail is a sign of tacit approval, and a sign of arguing in bad faith.
      Disagree.
      Normally, yes, silence does not equal approval. But in this instance, letting someone claim the benefits of an award rather than revoking it is knowingly letting them profit from having said award.

      Just like it is up to DriveThruRPG to decide if they want to continue to sell his books and enable a serial abuser to make money.
    1. Steve Conan Trustrum's Avatar
      Steve Conan Trustrum -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alexander Kalinowski View Post
      You made a comment that could be read as sarcastically implying that I think sexual harrassers of women should not be held accountable. If you do that again, I will flag the post.
      OH NO!

      You'll flag a post that takes your logic and actually applies it to the situation at hand!

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOO!

      If that was not your intention, you now have an opportunity to clarify.
      How magnanimous of you.

      If Zak Smith commited a felony and it can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt, he should be held accountable for it. No doubt.
      But if some people who I do not know make some accusations against Zak Smith and I cannot verify the veracity of these statements whatsoever, I do register these charges and that's it. It's hearsay. It's rumor-mongering. It might be true, it might be not.
      Why am I not surprised that you consider mutliple accusations of sexual abuse, from numerous people, over years, to be "hearsay" and "rumor-mongering."

      I am Jack's total lack of surprise!

      Conversely, if an important public figure like the US president was accused of sexual harrassment, a public investigation would ensue and I could monitor its proceedings, at least. So there is some grounds for determining the veracity of charges. And that even ignores that the fate of the US presidency has probably more impact on my life than the fate of Mr. Smith, so I have way more incentive to look at the evidence.
      Well, it's good to note that how something like this impacts you personally determines how willing you are to give consideration to sexual abuse accusations.

      That confirms a lot of suspicions for people in this thread, I'm certain.
    1. Steve Conan Trustrum's Avatar
      Steve Conan Trustrum -
      Quote Originally Posted by timbannock View Post
      What is the level of evidence you require for this not to be rumor-mongering?
      Apparrently it's got a lot to do with how much it personally imapcts him.
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by kenmarable View Post
      No, I don’t. Imagine whatever you want. If it’s obviously making a hypothetical point like you are, then I’m not worried.

      Are you worried about Zak’s reputation? I thought “literally no one” was showing sympathy for him?
      I am not worried about Zak S's reputation, I am worried about people who think that it is somehow ok to imagine fake situations and compare them to real life tragedies.

      It is just fake news and people like you are responsible for spreading it.

      Stop being part of the problem.
    1. Steve Conan Trustrum's Avatar
      Steve Conan Trustrum -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alexander Kalinowski View Post
      Can you guarantee that three people (not necessarily women) from your past won't ever come forward publically and make up some false claims about you? I can't and I have been a saint, LOL. If you think back of your life, can you think of 3 people (again, not talking about women) that have been habitual liars?
      There's a certain type of man who hears the sort of thing Zak has been accused of, from multiple women, and says something like this.
    1. Jester David's Avatar
      Jester David -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alexander Kalinowski View Post
      Can you guarantee that three people (not necessarily women) from your past won't ever come forward publically and make up some false claims about you? I can't and I have been a saint, LOL. If you think back of your life, can you think of 3 people (again, not talking about women) that have been habitual liars?

      But maybe that is the difference between me and certain others in the public: I am not willing to condemn Zak Smith (and I am banned from his blog due to a brief debate about GNS, LOL) because something is "probably true". Imagine it wasn't - would feel pretty bad to do so then.

      To only look at probabilities without looking at the consequences of error is wrong. It's better to abstain. If a crime has been perpetrated, law enforcement should be involved or should have been involved - so that all the hobby sleuths and wanaabe inquisitors out there don't have to. Other than that, the people who actually know the people involed in person may possibly make up their minds in a more informed manner. I can't.

      Also, I have already said too much in this thread. People these days just love to judge and condemn others; they pretend they do so because they have some real or alleged victim's interest in mind. I think they just like doing the condemnation; it feels good for a moment or two. Pointing fingers at the sinner, a secular form of holier-than-thou.
      So, to be clear, you are calling the accusers liars?
      You are saying they were not assaulted and their claims are baseless?

      Furthermore, despite the fact the FBI pegs the number of false rape claims at 8%, you believe we cannot take women at their word when they claim to have been assaulted.
      Because it *might* damage the reputation of one man.
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alexander Kalinowski View Post
      Also, I have already said too much in this thread. People these days just love to judge and condemn others; they pretend they do so because they have some real or alleged victim's interest in mind. I think they just like doing the condemnation; it feels good for a moment or two. Pointing fingers at the sinner, a secular form of holier-than-thou.
      Yeah, I agree. Three fingers point back at you. You have to work on yourself first.
    1. S'mon -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alexander Kalinowski View Post
      Can you guarantee that three people (not necessarily women) from your past won't ever come forward publically and make up some false claims about you?
      I would be pretty surprised!! Certainly if three people I knew disliked me enough AND
      liked each other enough to make false claims about me. IME the kind of people who tell lies
      are not nice people and don't tend to like each other much either, so conspiracies are quite rare.

      Anyway all I'm doing is not buying his stuff going forward (I only have Vornheim). I probably wouldn't have bought his stuff anyway due to him having demonstrably been a jerk on other occasions.
      I don't need criminal standard of proof to make that decision.
    1. Steve Conan Trustrum's Avatar
      Steve Conan Trustrum -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shasarak View Post
      Yeah, I agree. Three fingers point back at you. You have to work on yourself first.
      Thanks for clearing that up using the same rudimentary, naive logic I use on my 5 year old to teach him the absolute basics of ethics as a starting point for dealing with life. As an adult, you probably should have advanced beyond that a tad.
    1. Steve Conan Trustrum's Avatar
      Steve Conan Trustrum -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shasarak View Post
      I am not worried about Zak S's reputation, I am worried about people who think that it is somehow ok to imagine fake situations and compare them to real life tragedies.
      Actually, I think the English language has a word for this sort of thing ... you know, when you propose a hypothetical situation as a position of comparison to clarify a point.

      I believe it's called an "analogy."

      It is just fake news and people like you are responsible for spreading it.
      *snort*

      Stop being part of the problem.
      Why do you hate the English language so?
    1. Shadow Demon's Avatar
      Shadow Demon -
      Quote Originally Posted by S'mon View Post
      Anyway all I'm doing is not buying his stuff going forward (I only have Vornheim). I probably wouldn't have bought his stuff anyway due to him having demonstrably been a jerk on other occasions. I don't need criminal standard of proof to make that decision.
      Instead of creating this dumpster fire thread, everyone could just agree with the above statement and then move on.
    1. Alexander Kalinowski's Avatar
      Alexander Kalinowski -
      Quote Originally Posted by timbannock View Post
      What is the level of evidence you require for this not to be rumor-mongering?
      That is actually a fair question. The bar is pretty high at this point, for, due to my lack of personal stakes in the case, my interest level is fairly low. (I do take some interest in public reaction to such cases though, which is largely why I am here.) So the requirements would be pretty high. Something that makes this an open-shut case. Or, even better yet, a conviction or acquittal. Because, here's the thing - both Smith as well as these women are more or less random strangers to me.

      Quote Originally Posted by timbannock View Post
      There are verifiable accounts of many of the things Zak has been accused of in the past. There are credible allegations by many credible people that can be found with a 2-minute stretch on Google of things he's done leading up to these allegations that would suggest these allegations are not out of character for him.
      As mentioned I have had a brief run-in with him and was promptly banned from his board. That didn't leave a good impression. But "not out of character " of course doesn't mean he did anything. Doesn't mean he did nothing either.

      Quote Originally Posted by timbannock View Post
      Even these current allegations now have folks on various social media -- twitter and reddit, so far, that I can find -- that suggest the allegations are credible, and offer eye-witness statements.
      Well, then apparently there is an ongoing public investigation. Good! Wake me up when the process has concluded (which requires going beyond rumor-mongering on the internet) and I'll skim over the executive summary of the findings to verify if proper procedures were being followed.
      The great thing about having countries that have law enforcement agencies and courts is that I normally don't have to engage in vigilante-ism, in whatever form.
    1. kenmarable's Avatar
      kenmarable -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shasarak View Post
      I am not worried about Zak S's reputation, I am worried about people who think that it is somehow ok to imagine fake situations and compare them to real life tragedies.

      It is just fake news and people like you are responsible for spreading it.

      Stop being part of the problem.
      Speaking of “fake news”, quote where I spread these fake situations against Zak.
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by kenmarable View Post
      Speaking of “fake news”, quote where I spread these fake situations against Zak.
      This is you supporting fake news:

      Quote Originally Posted by kenmarable View Post
      Well, lets imagine that kenmarble was part of the KKK. How many people do you think he would have killed?

      Do you not see the problem with this?
      No, I don’t. Imagine whatever you want.
    1. Rygar's Avatar
      Rygar -
      Oh look...ENWorld took something posted to a social media site, which doesn't seem to have law enforcement involvment to show whether or not it's accurate, posted it as news, and started a giant politics thread even though the site claims to have a "No Politics" rule.

      One of these days someone's going to sue the bejeesus out of the site owners for their "News" articles.
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