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. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Conan Trustrum View Post
      Again, because you seem to somehow keep missing this point:

      The ENnies are voted on by fans. These fans are not sampled by the awards process itself so that the voting base is demographically vetted in any way, including which of the products they've been exposed to.

      It is literally a popularity contest more than it is a merit contest. Merit comes in to play with the hope that it is the reason why the products being voted on became popular in the first place.

      The votes are being made by people who are voting for what they personally like best from among a selection of products that, in all likelihood for most voters, are not all possessed and have even been looked at in their entirety (or at all.)
      The the Ennie is worthless anyway, and it's removal or not does nothing. (In which case sure, remove it to distance yourself, there's no integrity to keep.)

      And in response to other posts: Yes, I'm a firm believer that a rapist who is a renowned artist should be remember as both a rapist and a renowned artist. There should be no censoring because of morality. People should be known for their acts, both good and bad.
    1. Gradine's Avatar
      Gradine -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      And?
      None of what I've argued affects how anyone treats him one iota.
      I'm not arguing against reprisals, I'm arguing against reprisals against the wrong thing (his works).
      You cannot separate the man's works from his person, especially because support for his work directly supports him personally. This includes:

      *Buying his work (money goes directly to Zak)
      *Promoting his work (convinces others to buy his work -> see above)
      *Reviewing his work (convinces others to buy his work -> see above)
      *Celebrating or awarding his work (you get the picture)

      Again, as much as you'd like to pretend that you can, you simply cannot separate the man from his works.
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gradine View Post
      You cannot separate the man's works from his person, especially because support for his work directly supports him personally. This includes:

      *Buying his work (money goes directly to Zak)
      *Promoting his work (convinces others to buy his work -> see above)
      *Reviewing his work (convinces others to buy his work -> see above)
      *Celebrating or awarding his work (you get the picture)

      Again, as much as you'd like to pretend that you can, you simply cannot separate the man from his works.
      I guess we shouldn't pay our politicians then.
    1. Gradine's Avatar
      Gradine -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      I guess we shouldn't pay our politicians then.
      ...what?
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gradine View Post
      ...what?
      What? You just said that you can't separate a person from their works, and that we shouldn't support people if they behave in a manner that doesn't agree with our morals.

      Therefore we shouldn't pay politicians.
    1. Gradine's Avatar
      Gradine -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      What? You just said that you can't separate a person from their works, and that we shouldn't support people if they behave in a manner that doesn't agree with our morals.

      Therefore we shouldn't pay politicians.
      I very much do not support politicians who behave in a manner that doesn't agree with my morals. Do you often find yourself donating to the campaigns of politicians whose values you disagree with and whose morals and ethics you find questionable/objectionable that you think that this is somehow a counter argument?
    1. Immortal Sun's Avatar
      Immortal Sun -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      I guess we shouldn't pay our politicians then.
      Well, from a political perspective, governmental service should be a service similar to jury duty. It's generally unhealthy for society to make being a politician a "job" especially a well-paid one.

      But beyond that, your argument doesn't really track.
    1. Steve Conan Trustrum's Avatar
      Steve Conan Trustrum -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      The the Ennie is worthless anyway, and it's removal or not does nothing. (In which case sure, remove it to distance yourself, there's no integrity to keep.)
      If it's removal or not does nothing, why are you so concerned about its removal?

      And in response to other posts: Yes, I'm a firm believer that a rapist who is a renowned artist should be remember as both a rapist and a renowned artist. There should be no censoring because of morality. People should be known for their acts, both good and bad.
      If he has his award taken away, he'll still be known. Hell, he'll even be known MORE because he'll be the guy who had his award taken away. Increased exposure for him, hurray! You should be happy for that, no?

      The difference is -- and the place where you're having both a logical and a moral disconnect (for increasingly clear reasons) -- is that letting him keep the award sends a positive message about Zak's negative actions.
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gradine View Post
      I very much do not support politicians who behave in a manner that doesn't agree with my morals. Do you often find yourself donating to the campaigns of politicians whose values you disagree with and whose morals and ethics you find questionable/objectionable that you think that this is somehow a counter argument?
      I often find myself without a choice as they seem to be the ones in power.

      And no, it's not a counter-argument, it's an attempt to inject humour.
    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
      And?
      None of what I've argued affects how anyone treats him one iota.
      I'm not arguing against reprisals, I'm arguing against reprisals against the wrong thing (his works).
      The award doesn’t affect his work.
      His work is still available. He can still make money from those people when wish to directly support a rapist and spousal abuser.
      It is not being altered or revised or changed. People who own it can continue to use it.

      This solely affects the prestige given to him. HE no longer qualifies to win the award for his work.
    1. Gradine's Avatar
      Gradine -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      I often find myself without a choice as they seem to be the ones in power.
      Wouldn't you like very much to do something about that?

      And no, it's not a counter-argument, it's an attempt to inject humour.
      As was my immediate confused response
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Conan Trustrum View Post
      If it's removal or not does nothing, why are you so concerned about its removal?
      Because I choose to believe that the majority of voters are not so shallow as to just vote based on author.

      If he has his award taken away, he'll still be known. Hell, he'll even be known MORE because he'll be the guy who had his award taken away. Increased exposure for him, hurray! You should be happy for that, no?
      Not at all, as it means that the work is being discredited for the actions of it's author.

      The difference is -- and the place where you're having both a logical and a moral disconnect (for increasingly clear reasons) -- is that letting him keep the award sends a positive message about Zak's negative actions.
      I am having no disconnects, thank you very much.

      And your logical disconnect is that his actions (for which the award is not for) has anything to do with his work.

      Keeping the award sends no positive message about his actions. It sends a positive message about his works. Send all the negative messages about the person as you want, I'll completely agree with you, but taking away the award is a sins of the father fallacy.
    1. Steve Conan Trustrum's Avatar
      Steve Conan Trustrum -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      Because I choose to believe that the majority of voters are not so shallow as to just vote based on author.
      What does your belief have to do with anything beyond your singular vote?

      Not at all, as it means that the work is being discredited for the actions of it's author.
      Not at all.

      Are you assuming that, were this to happen, ENWorld wouldn't release a statement along with the retraction that would leave no doubt as to why the award was being taken away?

      I am having no disconnects, thank you very much.
      No. You do. By definition, based on the point you're arguing, the reasons you're giving, and the cause you've taken up. You really do. Your entire point is based on the "need" to disconnect the gaming community's morals from an author's work with regards to an award that is a popularity contest, of which public opinion of the author plays a key part.

      And your logical disconnect is that his actions (for which the award is not for) has anything to do with his work.
      Which would be a fine point ... if I'd ever made it. Indeed, I've said quite the opposite. More than once. With clarifications.

      Thus your disconnect.

      Keeping the award sends no positive message about his actions.
      Again, says you. Myself and a whole lot of other people (including, it's beginning to turn out, people who have paid him for his work or otherwise worked with him) believe differently than you.

      It sends a positive message about his works. Send all the negative messages about the person as you want, I'll completely agree with you, but taking away the award is a sins of the father fallacy.
      Okay then, person not participating in reality with real people along with the rest of us!!!

      How is it an issue of the sins of the father when one half of the point is ZAK's award and the other half is ZAK's actions. He's not inheriting squat based on someone else's earlier actions he had no part in, which is what "sins of the father" means.
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      Umm what?
      They win awards for their work. That's why they are given the award, because the thing they own won it. The author doesn't matter for who wins.
      Oh, bless your dear sweet little heart.

      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      Ummm no.
      Celebration of works is not celebration of person, get off your high horse.
      It's a fan-based celebration of the product brand, which includes the author's brand. This is why these awards are awarded to people and people get excited that people won and were acknowledged for their work. And people vote for these products. Companies inform and direct their fans to voting. Fan groups organize people to vote. Authorship is part of the brand identity and it is inseparable from the content, which can work for and against a person (and their works).

      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      And in response to other posts: Yes, I'm a firm believer that a rapist who is a renowned artist should be remember as both a rapist and a renowned artist. There should be no censoring because of morality. People should be known for their acts, both good and bad.
      Stop gaslighting. This isn't censorship.
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Steve Conan Trustrum View Post
      What does your belief have to do with anything beyond your singular vote?

      Not at all.

      Are you assuming that, were this to happen, ENWorld wouldn't release a statement along with the retraction that would leave no doubt as to why the award was being taken away?

      No. You do. By definition, based on the point you're arguing, the reasons you're giving, and the cause you've taken up. You really do. Your entire point is based on the "need" to disconnect the gaming community's morals from an author's work with regards to an award that is a popularity contest, of which public opinion of the author plays a key part.

      Which would be a fine point ... if I'd ever made it. Indeed, I've said quite the opposite. More than once. With clarifications.

      Thus your disconnect.

      Again, says you. Myself and a whole lot of other people (including, it's beginning to turn out, people who have paid him for his work or otherwise worked with him) believe differently than you.

      Okay then, person not participating in reality with real people along with the rest of us!!!

      How is it an issue of the sins of the father when one half of the point is ZAK's award and the other half is ZAK's actions. He's not inheriting squat based on someone else's earlier actions he had no part in, which is what "sins of the father" means.
      Because it's not ZAK's award. It's his work's. Retracting the award from the works becajse of the author is punishing the child for the sins of the father. The work has nothing to do with his actions, and thus would be unfairly inhereting the stigma.

      I'll also thank you to quit with the personal attacks, as this is the second post in succession where you have made them. It's almost... abusive.
    1. TwoSix -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      The the Ennie is worthless anyway, and it's removal or not does nothing. (In which case sure, remove it to distance yourself, there's no integrity to keep.)

      And in response to other posts: Yes, I'm a firm believer that a rapist who is a renowned artist should be remember as both a rapist and a renowned artist. There should be no censoring because of morality. People should be known for their acts, both good and bad.
      Since you're getting a little dogpiled here, I'll voice my agreement for this. The Usual Suspects doesn't stop being a great movie simply because Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey both turned out to be pieces of s**t.
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
      Oh, bless your dear sweet little heart.

      It's a fan-based celebration of the product brand, which includes the author's brand. This is why these awards are awarded to people and people get excited that people won and were acknowledged for their work. And people vote for these products. Companies inform and direct their fans to voting. Fan groups organize people to vote. Authorship is part of the brand identity and it is inseparable from the content, which can work for and against a person (and their works).
      Tell that to everyone who's ever worked under a penname.

      Stop gaslighting. This isn't censorship.
      Right, retracting "this was good enough to win an award" isn't censoring the fact that it was good enough to win an award, got you.
    1. doctorbadwolf's Avatar
      doctorbadwolf -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      doesn't affect the merit of his work.
      Yes, it does.

      Quote Originally Posted by DQDesign View Post
      @Jester David

      please don't compare private crimes with Nazism.
      abusing multiple people is disgusting, no doubt about it.
      but here there are people whose relatives were in concentration camps, and private crimes are not even far comparable with Nazi approach to evilness.
      please use something else for examples.
      thanks.
      I just want to point out, because it is very important, that "neo-nazi" marches do not reference the German Nazis of the 20th century, except as they are the example after which neo-nazis model themselves. The reference was to marches full of neo-nazis, which are an actual current American issue. People literally tattooing swaztikas on themselves, and doing the nazi salute, and using lame numerical codes to reference Hitler, etc. It's a topical example, because neo-nazis are more in the news in the US than they've been in decades.

      Quote Originally Posted by Gradine View Post
      I have zero respect for those that for some reason feel the need, in this moment, to express sympathy for the man.
      I have more sympathy for people like Satine Pheonix, who had to wake up to find out that she was very wrong about someone she called a friend, than I do for zak the scumbag or anyone who defends him or expresses sympathy for his "plight".

      I can't believe any of this even needs to be said...


      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      Ummm no.
      Celebration of works is not celebration of person, get off your high horse.
      I literally, unavoidably, is.

      Quote Originally Posted by mjsoctober View Post
      Whether ENies are given to the creator or the work, rescinding an award because of behaviour we wish to censure is a legitimate means of ensuring better behaviour in the community.

      If you want to work in this industry (or any industry, really), and hope to be recognized, respected, and awarded for your work, you better not behave in ways that are not acceptable.

      As for being political, ENWorld is a private company. They can make any statement they want by their actions, they have no obligation to any of us. The community will react to those statements accordingly. If the award is rescinded, and more people support that than don't, ENWorld will know which way to move forward.
      Yes, this.

      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      I guess we shouldn't pay our politicians then.
      When they are revealed to be rapists, yes. They should be fired and never allowed back into public office.

      How is this complicated?
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Quote Originally Posted by Yunru View Post
      Tell that to everyone who's ever worked under a penname.
      I think that they are well aware given how pen names are a crafted part of the authorial brand that increases product recognition.

      Right, retracting "this was good enough to win an award" isn't censoring the fact that it was good enough to win an award, got you.
      You're correct that it isn't the same.
    1. Yunru's Avatar
      Yunru -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
      I think that they are well aware given how pen names are a crafted part of the authorial brand that increases product recognition.
      Except you were just arguing that an author's actions were inseparable from their works. Something provably false by the existance of pen names.

      You're correct that it isn't the same.
      That was sarcasm. They're exactly the same.
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