Chinese Government Burns Cthulhu RPG Print Run

The Sassoon Files is a Call of Cthulhu sourcebook Kickstarted by Sons of the Singularity... and printed in China. This week, they reported that the Chinese government had ordered the destruction of their entire print run.


sassoon.jpg


The Sassoon Files
is a Cthulhu mythos campaign set in 1920s Shanghai.

They wrote to their backers on March 22nd -- "We have suffered an unfortunate and unexpected setback with the off-set print run. On March 20th, the Chinese government ordered the destruction of our books. Although the printer returned our deposit, we need to find another printer and this will result in a delay in fulfillment. We are committed to completing the print run and fulfillment."


[video=youtube;G9Urosc-JEY]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9Urosc-JEY[/video]​
 
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Staffan

Legend
In general, China has guidelines on certain tropes/themes that are banned from the country.

The concept of banning something is not inherently wrong--Germany bans Nazi iconography for example--but specific applications of censorship (since this is being performed by the government) are open to criticism.

Without reading the book in question, grounds for destroying the print run might include:

* Depiction of skeletons
* Criticism/Defilement of Chinese culture/traditions
* Promotion of drinking/smoking
* Time travel
* Cleavage
* Homosexuality

Given that the book was intended for export, and that it was about 1920s Shanghai in the Mythosverse, it seems more likely that it ran afoul of political issues (such as showing representations of the Republic of China) rather than aesthetic or moral ones.
 

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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Really? This surprises you?

Let's say that cocaine is legal in another country. Is it okay to produce cocaine in your country, so long as it is only for export to a country where it is legal? Laws rarely consider end-user of illegal activities because it's so hard to actually police who the end-users are. "This is the best of all possible worlds."

Yeah, it does surprise me. You can find connections to print adult (meaning pornographic) magazines in places like Guangdong, China fairly easily on the internet. Clearly, they're willing to look the other way on plenty of products that wouldn't be allowed in their own market, either by being deliberately oblivious or through special license. It's not that different from making Jack Daniels in a dry county.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Yeah, it does surprise me. You can find connections to print adult (meaning pornographic) magazines in places like Guangdong, China fairly easily on the internet. Clearly, they're willing to look the other way on plenty of products that wouldn't be allowed in their own market, either by being deliberately oblivious or through special license. It's not that different from making Jack Daniels in a dry county.
Well, now you're into spotty enforcement, which can be a matter of resources and/or corruption. That it would be done at all because it's intended for export only was what I'm addressung. If you want to go with wondering how this caught the attention of the authorities, that's a different ball of wax than wondering why the authorities would enforce local morality laws on an export.
 

I feel a need to ask... has anyone else besides the Sons of Singularity people confirmed this? I don't know anything about the Sons of Singularity. But I do know that crowd funded projects are notorious for long delays and excuses. There is a chance this is not 100% accurate. Could just be a lie to buy time. Could be that the company printing the books was in legal trouble for something else entirely and this is collateral damage. Could be that the Chinese government thought the books were something that they weren't. Could be that China didn't care at all about the Cthulhu parts, but there was some revisionist history about China that they found highly offensive.

I don't want to call the Kickstarter guys liars. I just would like some more info. All the Googling I do comes back to the same explainer video.
 
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Clint Scott

First Post
I use the same printer, and have a high degree of Chinese based lore and Culture used in my Graphic Novels. And I've never had an issue. The key to this to me is you didn't think what was said or written was offensive or you don't believe anything would be offensive to Western backers.
 

VengerSatanis

High Priest of Kort'thalis Publishing
Didn't this happen to a game supplement of Venger Satanis a few weeks ago here in the US? Though I believe, they just refused to print it. I remember the cover was the back of a woman's legs and a small stream of blood was coming down one leg. The printer thought it was menstrual blood.

While I appreciate the shout-out, that wasn't me. The book you're referring to was published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess, not Kort'thalis Publishing. But it's the sort of thing I would do / publish...

Also, Cha'alt is expected to go to the printers in China this summer. I'll ask my contact about what happened to the Cthulhu project and if there's a risk of that happening to me. BTW, it's not just a couple of bucks saved by using China. Instead of costing $5 a book, it's more like $10 or $15 a book. That's double or triple the printing costs, basically making it impossible to do any other way. Sad, but that's the way it is.

VS
 

cmad1977

Hero
I'm confused... I thought censorship of ideas we don't agree with was good on this site ?

Does the Chinese government not have a right to protect its culture and its people from cultural appropriation by bald white men ?

Man, this marxist fairness doctrine is hard on my brain :p !

Never make INT your dump stat kids.
 

MGibster

Legend
Let's be cool, folks. There's no reason we need to snipe at one another. While the general subject of censorship and the influence of China on the media we consume in the United States is an interesting subject, let's just stick to the topic as it relates to gaming products rather. And treat one another with a bit of respect while we're doing it.
 

I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Let's be cool, folks. There's no reason we need to snipe at one another. While the general subject of censorship and the influence of China on the media we consume in the United States is an interesting subject, let's just stick to the topic as it relates to gaming products rather. And treat one another with a bit of respect while we're doing it.

While narrowing the scope of the subject (printing nerd-stuff in China) may be useful for the discussion, and left vs. right is totally useless; I think there's a risk of making the discussion too narrow.

There are known problems printing in China, beyond government oppression. From copyright issues to moral and ethical issues to market economics issues. Whenever I see a person or a company who has opted to print in China and *something bad* happens to their product. I just SMH.

To reference @VengerSatanis above, suggesting an increase from 5 to 15 on printing costs, I think that's reasonable...when we're talking about a book that costs $10 on retailer shelves. But we're not really talking about those kind of books (and @VengerSatanis if you are, then fair enough), we're talking about books that usually cost $40+. Further, the "costs" of production are almost always borne by the consumer, or made up for in mass-production. Since we're talking about small runs: that means the consumer bears these costs.

But now we're talking about books that have gone from 30/35/40 or 50/55/60. What at first looked like a 300% increase is now only a 30% or less increase. Which is quite frankly, how much many of ya'll outside the USA will pay in shipping, import, or VAT costs anyway.

There is danger in prioritizing "cheap" on the marketplace. I had a discussion recently with an MTG player who laughed at the idea of buying cards locally, in fact, laughed about it in the local store. Saying they always go to online retailers to get the cheapest deals (and online retailers are not innocent in this discussion). But in doing so they are undermining the places that support the hobby itsself. The places to get new people into the game, the places that host games, the places that open their doors to players.

TLDR: if we can leave left vs. right out of it, there's good room for discussion on gaming in the context of global market theory; without losing sight of the larger picture that this issue is not isolated to gaming.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
There is danger in prioritizing "cheap" on the marketplace. I had a discussion recently with an MTG player who laughed at the idea of buying cards locally, in fact, laughed about it in the local store. Saying they always go to online retailers to get the cheapest deals (and online retailers are not innocent in this discussion). But in doing so they are undermining the places that support the hobby itsself. The places to get new people into the game, the places that host games, the places that open their doors to players.

See “enlightened self-interest”.
 

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