RPG Writer Zak S Accused Of Abusive Behaviour

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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.


800px-Zak_Smith.jpg

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.
 

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Aldarc

Legend
Perhaps the best strategy going forward is not letting Shasarak dictate the framing, terms, and content of the discussion?
 

Shasarak

Banned
Banned
Baylor University's approval of sexual assault got the coach fired and the president resigned in disgrace.

The NCAA and courts are still not done ruling about future impacts.

The goal posts are moving too fast to keep up with. Cant prove one thing, move to the next.
 



Deuce Traveler

Adventurer
Well this is a downer. I liked a lot of work that Zack S. was doing, mostly because a lot of it was focused on reviving the older D&D modules and smaller rulesets. His website was something I could enjoy after the unfortunate cessation of Grognardia's blog. But I can't condone abusive behavior and I won't be visiting Zak's website further.
 

monsmord

Adventurer
Perhaps the best strategy going forward is not letting Shasarak dictate the framing, terms, and content of the discussion?

I can't overstate the many benefits of the Ignore function. Like, my page count for this thread is only 10.
 

Perhaps the best strategy going forward is not letting Shasarak dictate the framing, terms, and content of the discussion?

Well, all of his posts just disappeared for me, so I'm assuming he just blocked me, soooooooo ...

(Funny how that happened right after I pointed out Conrad Black to him, no?)
 

Aldarc

Legend
Well this is a downer. I liked a lot of work that Zack S. was doing, mostly because a lot of it was focused on reviving the older D&D modules and smaller rulesets. His website was something I could enjoy after the unfortunate cessation of Grognardia's blog. But I can't condone abusive behavior and I won't be visiting Zak's website further.
Thankfully the OSR community is not lacking in excellent writers who do not share Zak's less fortunate proclivities.
 

I

Immortal Sun

Guest
The section you put in quotes sounds like it would be fully appropriate in this case.
This is not "denial train" this is "the relationships sound THAT bad to have been in". Professional fact-finders will do better making the judgement (criminal act / civil liability / not actionable) than any of us on an Internet board will.

BLAH BLAH BLAH

That's all you guys ever sound like. On every forum. Across the entire internet. You're all lock-step on this. It doesn't matter what you username is. It doesn't matter what forum you're posting on. It doesn't matter what subject you like to talk about otherwise.

As soon as some accusations come up about some MAN being an abusive, amoral, disgusting piece of human trash no matter how many people come forward, no matter how many other people echo their sentiments, no matter how much proof is thrown in your face it's always the same. "It's the court's decision we can't 'try them in the court of public opinion' how dare you all form opinions of someone based on the things other people say of them! DENY DENY BLAH BLAH DISCREDIT THE VICTIMS BLAH BLAH."

You just plug your fingers in your ear and regurgitate all the things you've been trained to say. We're all sitting here having a conversation about "Holy accusations Batman is this for real?" and you guys all show up like trained performers and put on your little show about how you are the truly enlightened and educated one for refusing to consider anything that you see, anything you're told, anything you read without some kind of court case.

In short: spare me your trite garbage.
 

I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Well, all of his posts just disappeared for me, so I'm assuming he just blocked me, soooooooo ...

(Funny how that happened right after I pointed out Conrad Black to him, no?)

He did the same to me when I called him out as a troll in another thread.

Not that the moderation will take action against him now any more than before.
 



Rygar

Explorer
BLAH BLAH BLAH

That's all you guys ever sound like. On every forum. Across the entire internet. You're all lock-step on this. It doesn't matter what you username is. It doesn't matter what forum you're posting on. It doesn't matter what subject you like to talk about otherwise.

As soon as some accusations come up about some MAN being an abusive, amoral, disgusting piece of human trash no matter how many people come forward, no matter how many other people echo their sentiments, no matter how much proof is thrown in your face it's always the same. "It's the court's decision we can't 'try them in the court of public opinion' how dare you all form opinions of someone based on the things other people say of them! DENY DENY BLAH BLAH DISCREDIT THE VICTIMS BLAH BLAH."

You just plug your fingers in your ear and regurgitate all the things you've been trained to say. We're all sitting here having a conversation about "Holy accusations Batman is this for real?" and you guys all show up like trained performers and put on your little show about how you are the truly enlightened and educated one for refusing to consider anything that you see, anything you're told, anything you read without some kind of court case.

In short: spare me your trite garbage.

There's a reason why we have college tracts, extensive training, and carefully designed systems for matters like this. In fact, there's a reason why these systems have been actively developed over the course of millenia through multiple different civilizations.

It's because most people aren't honest.

I also think it's a fairly safe statement to say that those systems that've been designed over the course of millenia culminating in extensive training and codified systems are an order of magnitude better than an RPG news site posting claims from Facebook and a group of people on an RPG board grabbing torches.

People's lives shouldn't be ruined without going through an impartial process, full stop. This is how things like Covington happen. Coincidently, this is also how things like the lawsuits Convington's students seem to be filing happen.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Man. A lot has transpired in this thread since early this morning when I first read it. It was over 250 comments before I could get home and write my own post...and by then, most of what I wanted to say has already been said (and said more eloquently) by others in this thread. But I'm more than just sad about this; I'm also angry.

I too believe Mandy, and Jennifer, and Hannah. And I would support ENWorld re-evaluating (even rescinding) his ENnies, if it is deemed necessary to preserve the prestige of the award.
 

I

Immortal Sun

Guest
There's a reason why we have college tracts, extensive training, and carefully designed systems for matters like this. In fact, there's a reason why these systems have been actively developed over the course of millenia through multiple different civilizations.

It's because most people aren't honest.

I also think it's a fairly safe statement to say that those systems that've been designed over the course of millenia culminating in extensive training and codified systems are an order of magnitude better than an RPG news site posting claims from Facebook and a group of people on an RPG board grabbing torches.

People's lives shouldn't be ruined without going through an impartial process, full stop. This is how things like Covington happen. Coincidently, this is also how things like the lawsuits Convington's students seem to be filing happen.

Oh look, another one.

You know, the worst part about you and your ilk is that you're boring. No new arguments. You never adjust for the circumstances. You don't admit that this case or that case actually turned out to be what everyone said it was. It's just the same thing over and over again. I have more interesting conversations with Alexa.
 

https://www.theonion.com/woman-probably-just-made-up-rape-story-in-order-to-get-1819578559

Woman Probably Just Made Up Rape Story In Order To Get Threatening Emails

CHARLOTTE, NC—Insisting the alleged victim must have an ulterior motive, numerous residents told reporters Thursday that local woman Beth Hutchins probably made up her story about being raped just so she could receive a barrage of threatening emails. “I’m sure she saw the opportunity to get tons of vicious, verbally abusive messages from complete strangers, so she just decided to lie and say she was raped,” said area resident Richard Becker, adding that the 28-year-old most likely invented all the horrific details of her purported assault as a cry for anonymous commenters to relentlessly attack everything about her, from her character and body to her drinking habits and sexual history. “She’s obviously full of :):):):). She plays the victim card and then—poof—just like that, she’s instantly showered with hate-filled posts on her Facebook page calling her an ugly slut and encouraging her to kill herself. That’s exactly what she wants.” When informed that Hutchins had filed a police report, undergone a physical examination, and subjected herself to multiple questionings by authorities, Becker shook his head and told reporters it just goes to show how far some women will go to have their personal information leaked online so that crazed strangers can come to their homes and intimidate them in person.
 

hoshisabi

Explorer
As soon as some accusations come up about some MAN being an abusive, amoral, disgusting piece of human trash no matter how many people come forward, no matter how many other people echo their sentiments, no matter how much proof is thrown in your face it's always the same. "It's the court's decision we can't 'try them in the court of public opinion' how dare you all form opinions of someone based on the things other people say of them! DENY DENY BLAH BLAH DISCREDIT THE VICTIMS BLAH BLAH."


For YEARS we've been reading about poor behavior from Zak S. For YEARS. In 2014 people talked about it, people were ready to boycott 5th edition D&D when it was released because of his history AT THAT POINT.

They gave him the benefit of the doubt in 2014.

The controversy didn't stop. Ok, perhaps he's being targetted by people with a vendetta.

Then someone that had previously defended him steps forward and says "he abused me, and he used me as a defense against criticism, many of the things that I supposedly said were actually him using my name and likeness as a sockpuppet account."

Since one of the behaviors that he has been criticized of, and according to many people, proven to have done, is to use sockpuppet accounts, those accusations of harassment via sockpuppets seems VERY LIKELY.

So... you want hard evidence. How about this

https://twitter.com/Delafina777/status/1095079170244194304

Want people to dig up more?

I mean, dude. The bad behavior isn't new, just the fact that he was abusive in real life to the one person that seemed to soften his persona. And that's deeply troubling, because it alters his story from just being a caustic individual online who otherwise cares for this other person through her hospital stays and illnesses.

Into just a more cliche villain.

I mean hell, don't need to prove it. Even many of his defenders had a difficult time with many of his actions. But you're not going to get a much clearer case than this.

So cut out the "where's da proooooooooof?"

It's kind of ... immaterial. He has not just been granted the benefit of the doubt, he's RELIED ON IT FOR YEARS.

Ain't no sweat just rescinding that.
 

kenmarable

Adventurer
There's a reason why we have college tracts, extensive training, and carefully designed systems for matters like this. In fact, there's a reason why these systems have been actively developed over the course of millenia through multiple different civilizations.

It's because most people aren't honest.

I also think it's a fairly safe statement to say that those systems that've been designed over the course of millenia culminating in extensive training and codified systems are an order of magnitude better than an RPG news site posting claims from Facebook and a group of people on an RPG board grabbing torches.

People's lives shouldn't be ruined without going through an impartial process, full stop. This is how things like Covington happen. Coincidently, this is also how things like the lawsuits Convington's students seem to be filing happen.

Ok, counterexample - Google Larry Nassar to see just how well those wonderful impartial systems worked until 1 woman was brave enough to go public. (Sounds familiar)

Those impartial systems supposedly “developed over the course of millennia” (WTH does that nonsense even mean???) failed, repeatedly and in multiple places. Multiple failures at the university, police departments, Olympic committees, businesses, etc. It was only after an abuser (who was such a talented, prominent member of the community, that surely he can’t be that bad), got away with it for year after year that public attention was needed to finally bring about accountability. The crimes may be different, but the systemic failures and need for public outcry for any accountability to finally happen sound eerily familiar.
 

I’m glad Morrus/ENworld hasn’t jumped in too quickly and make decision in the heat of the moment. Let the initial storm of social media calm a bit then make a decision.

As for me, the boycotting of buying his products is a non-factor as I didnt know who him before now, what’s he done in the industry or outside, and looking at his creations don’t appeal to me. I’m probably outside the norm in that I haven’t bought any product that has the “ENnies winner” tag so it doesn’t hold much weight in my book but again, what ever ENworld decides is probably going to be okay with me...just waiting to see before I decide either way down the road.
 

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