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General Critical Role Investigation Into Complaint

A couple of weeks ago, Critical Role was accused of commissioning work from one of their community members, but of not paying for that work. The company immediately undertook to investigate the claim, and made this statement, indicating that no work was commissioned or received from the person in question, and no such agreement was in place.

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The person who made the complaint referred to online bullying within the Critical Role fandom.

The full announcement reads:

 PRESS RELEASE


A couple weeks ago, an individual made statements online claiming that he provided work for Critical Role without payment. Critical Role took these allegations seriously and immediately sought to investigate the situation. After an extensive investigation directed by outside counsel, it has been concluded that Critical Role never established, or intended to establish, any employment, independent contractor relationship, consulting arrangement or any other type of work-related contract with that member of the community.

This individual voluntarily reached out to Critical Role with concerns around his own experience with online bullying. Critical Role does not condone online bullying or harassment of any kind, and an employee within the company listened with the sole purpose of being an understanding ear. The correspondences on Discord reflect an empathetic dialogue with a concerned member of the community and not the providing of any professional services to Critical Role by this individual. Nothing in the communications established any professional, employment, or contractual relationship with Critical Role. After months of casual interaction, the individual made an inquiry to the Critical Role employee about possibly being engaged by Critical Role as a consultant to the company. Upon receiving this request, the Critical Role employee immediately and clearly declined the request.

The importance of helping cultivate and encourage positive and inclusive spaces for Critters has always been a huge priority for us well before this interaction. Although we understand that there is only so much we can control within unofficial online communities and platforms, Critical Role has been working on new policies to ensure that we’re clear with you about what we stand for, and more importantly, what we do not stand for. You’ll hear more about this in the coming months.

Thank you for your ongoing support. Harassment of any kind is unacceptable, so please be kind, and don’t forget to love each other.

Critical Role
 
Russ Morrissey

Comments

jgsugden

Legend
If we cover every contractual/business dispute between companies related to D&D and individuals, we're going to be discussing a lot of boring things.

It sounds like a misunderstanding, likely caused by vagueness in a mutual discussion, which is not terribly uncommon. I'd be surprised if that were not the case.
 

If we cover every contractual/business dispute between companies related to D&D and individuals, we're going to be discussing a lot of boring things.

It sounds like a misunderstanding, likely caused by vagueness in a mutual discussion, which is not terribly uncommon. I'd be surprised if that were not the case.
If the claims got a lot of attention online then yeah, they might feel the need to publicly address the complaint AND get it announced on forums where they know the show is popular and discussed at.

. . .and over the last 20 years or so, ENWorld has covered lots of fairly small disputes and incidents between gamers and game-related companies, so this is pretty par-for-the-course.
 

Windjammer

Adventurer
It sounds like a misunderstanding, likely caused by vagueness in a mutual discussion, which is not terribly uncommon. I'd be surprised if that were not the case.
I'd not be surprised either. On the other hand, this is an industry where informal offers to do "free" and uncredited freelance work abounds and is abused left and right. Calling it out for what it is is - when it happens (not sure it did here)* - may help others in the long run to be free of this abuse.

On the road there, you face the question of whether you're willing to risk false positives or prefer false negatives. The former risks hurting publishers, the latter risks hurting freelancers. Not sure which way is equitable overall.

*Edit - though this gives me pause:
After an extensive investigation directed by outside counsel,
Hiring outside counsel costs significant money and is typically only undertaken in the face of quantifiable litigation risks.
 

Hiring outside counsel costs significant money and is typically only undertaken in the face of quantifiable litigation risks.
Depending on the exact nature of the complaints made, and if the person making the complaints had retained counsel, they might have felt they needed to do this.

If the complainant had hired an attorney, even if just to dash off a letter, they might have felt the need for a CYA, or they could have seen the expense of counsel as being necessary for their image. . .if this scandal threatened to destroy their public image and ruin the company, they could have wanted to make absolutely sure there was nothing to these complaints (or if there was, to settle them quickly).
 



There is so much I want to say in response to posts on here but I really don’t need to weigh in here on this thread with backroom stories about the reputation of this person in question. Best just to let CR’s statement stand for itself.

Suffice it to say, I’m glad this is over and done with. And to Wingsandsword, they most definitely mean CR in regards to hiring council. The other party involved in this most definitely did not hire any council, nor would they have even if they had the means.
 

Sunsword

Adventurer
After an extensive investigation directed by outside counsel, it has been concluded that Critical Role never established, or intended to establish, any employment, independent contractor relationship, consulting arrangement or any other type of work or -related contract with that member of the community.​
I think having counsel involved indicates how seriously they know something like this is in the cancel culture era. Additionally, I think they have to do that in the case of slander. Finally, I think they are good people who don't want to treat someone poorly or set the accuser up for online bullying from their fanbase. I mean Matt apologized for writing Wildemount instead of Greyhawk some other classic D&D setting. I think they take this seriously because they have careers outside of CR and they have heavily invested in CR. In fact, CR and D&D are a very symbiotic entity now.
 


jgsugden

Legend
The legal involvement story in situations like this can be quite varied. The first legal involvement could have been an established firm that aggressively pursues employment disputes, it could have been a shared counsel that advises artists and professionals, or it could have been a buddy from college that just passed the bar and was willing to write a demand letter. All tell drastically differently stories of how this started, and the response by CR would likely be similar to each.
 



Critical Role built its brand upon cristal clarity and sterling honesty.
It helped them to repulse all scripting accusations. It's their boon and burden, so they can't treat lightly any indictments.
And controversies heat up people more than game itself, partly because WotC trickle game news at excruciatingly slow rate, having pretty low direct web presence. I can't remember when I checked D&D page directly for news, last D&D live was not that interesting and technically troubled, we still have no word about new iteration of Dice, Camera, Action (I don't remember its new name) all in all, we can only speculate. So, out of boredom, we gossip and argue instead of picking apart new rules or discuss new storylines or settings.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Critical Role built its brand upon cristal clarity and sterling honesty.
It helped them to repulse all scripting accusations...
Which was also assisted by the notion that 'scripting' the D&D game would be ridiculous. Utterly. I believe they have out of game discussions that guide the direction of the game, but only to the extent necessary to avoid legal/regulatory issues, or to keep Matt from going insane (we've all had the "Hey, Folks, I'm not prepared to wing a delve into that side of the dungeon tonight... if we go that way, we have to stop now" discussion with our players).
 


DnD Warlord

Explorer
Ugh...I am so glad after they self examined they realized they did nothing wrong...

Then again, if my boss was breaking the law, got called on it, then said "I made sure to thourgouly investigate this and I did nothing wrong...here I paid a lawyer to also tell you I did nothing wrong" no one would believe her.
 

Teraptus

Villager
A simple mere Twitter search will reveal a group of people who are specifically targeting WOTC and anything/anyone related and even now targeting people who play D&D and support WOTC. A real awesome group of humans. Hive Mind mentality brought to you by Twitter.
 

DnD Warlord

Explorer
A simple mere Twitter search will reveal a group of people who are specifically targeting WOTC and anything/anyone related and even now targeting people who play D&D and support WOTC. A real awesome group of humans. Hive Mind mentality brought to you by Twitter.
Wait...targeting them irl???
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
A simple mere Twitter search will reveal a group of people who are specifically targeting WOTC and anything/anyone related and even now targeting people who play D&D and support WOTC. A real awesome group of humans. Hive Mind mentality brought to you by Twitter.
I don’t think it’s that simple. WotC in particular seems to be getting it from all sides right now. The folks talking about Mearls or Orion Black are definitely not the same folks yelling at them about alignment and orcs.
 

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