TSR The Cult of Abaddon - Release from NuTSR/TheEvilDM

This started in the NuTSR info thread, but I'm starting to dig into things enough that I decided to start a new thread rather than derail that one completely.

Vincent Florio, aka The Evil DM, has released a PDF version of his module "The Cult of Abaddon" on lulu.com. Details can be found here: The Cult of Abaddon Module, now for Sale as a PDF! This is a product that Vincent "donated" to NuTSR, who then had Ernie Gygax modify it enough to add him as a co-author. Vincent has stated on his Twitter that he was paid nothing for the module and gets no percentage of sales from NuTSR, but the link above says that he owns the rights to publish it as a PDF. Ostensibly, he's the one getting paid when you buy a copy from lulu.com.

This is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it's the first real gaming product from NuTSR that we've actually seen. NuTSR teased a hard copy release of this "by the end of Jan 2022" but that has yet to materialize (just like the rest of NuTSR's vaporware). Second, the adventure centers around the tiny, simple village of "Morrus", an obvious jab at ENWorld.

The first thing to note is that the adventure is in dire need of a professional editing job. It has misspellings. It has grammar mistakes. It has run on sentences. It freely switches between calling the person running the game a Game Master, a Dungeon Master, and a Referee. At one point, a stat block covers half of a paragraph of text. @David Flor started doing a rundown of these issues (and a lot more info) on his Twitter, which you can see here:

Another big issue that I'm finding is that the module seems to have a couple of issues with crediting artists. For reference, these are the credits from the book:
The Cult of Abaddon

A OSR Module written and created by Vincent “The Evil DM” Florio
with Ernest G. Gygax Jr.

Maps by Vincent Florio

Interior Art By
Vincent Florio
Donald Semora
Forge Studios

Cover Image by Felipe Gaona
Courtesy of Publishers Choice - Fat Goblin Games
Published by TSR Hobbies

Game Module is printed in the United States of America
ISBN 978-1-7341961-2-2

This game module and its content is in no way endorsed by Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro Games
or any other entity. All content is original to the author.

All interior artwork is © Copyright their respective artist, and TSR-Hobbies
makes no claims as to their ownership.

However, as I'm going through the adventure, I'm finding some images that aren't properly sourced. First, I found this image:

Which is the "Dwarf Innkeeper" from Alekzander Zagorulko: https://alekzanderzagorulko.artstation.com/projects/o2Aw6W It's unclear if they paid for this or not, but it's clearly uncredited.

I also found multiple images from Axebane Games, including (but not limited to) these:

Axebane provides these images for free at drivethrurpg.com, but has strict requirements about crediting them for the work. These guidelines were not followed here.

If anyone has more info, please feel free to post. The next image that I'm trying to source is a small picture of what could be an elven warrior (called a "rager) that has this in the corner:

If anyone recognizes this logo or signature, let us know. I'll do my best to answer any questions about the PDF.
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David Flor, Darklight Interactive
I want to go on record and state that I incorrectly accredited the "Cult of Abaddon" adventure to Wizard Tower Games when in fact they had nothing to do with it... the product is wholly owned and managed by NuTSR and Vincent Florio.


ETA: This brings up a curious question, though... The PDF's meta data says that Donald Semora, who as far as I know OWNS Wizard Tower Games, was the PDF's author.

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That last logo/signature is from Kimagu (Kiss Márton Gyula) on DriveThruRPG. I should note that the art packs I purchased from Kimagu do not include a specific requirement to credit the artist BUT this is pretty standard for any publisher to do so.

Thanks much! I had a feeling someone around here would recognize it. The image in question is from the "Goblin Pack".

For the record, I don't look down on any publisher that uses stock art. It's an important tool, especially for smaller publishers who want to focus on text and game design instead of books of pretty pictures. But proper attribution is important. When something is free iff you give proper credit, always give proper credit. And the absolute worst thing you can do is take credit for something you didn't create.

Unfortunately, that's what NuTSR has done here. They gave credit to some artists, but not all. By doing so, they have incorrectly stated that this art (from Alekzander, Axebane, and Kimagu) is by someone else (Vincent Florio, Donald Semora, Forge Studios). That's intellectual theft. It's possibly just an oversight in editing, but that doesn't make it any less of a problem. If you put a can of tuna in your pocket and forget about it, it's still theft when you walk out of the store without paying for it.

Of course, I imagine I'm just preaching to the choir.

I want to go on record and state that I incorrectly accredited the "Cult of Abaddon" adventure to Wizard Tower Games when in fact they had nothing to do with it... the product is wholly owned and managed by NuTSR and Vincent Florio.

Don Semora's digital fingerprints are all over the PDF metadata. I get that they aren't the final publisher. It's fair to say that they don't "control editing" or have any kind of final say. But OTOH, it looks like they definitely had a hand in putting the thing together.

Edit: You ninja'd me with an edit, @DLIMedia! :)
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Any reports of anyone getting their print copy?

It's still listed as "back-ordered" on the NuTSR website.

Also, it's been discussed elsewhere but I'll repeat it here: we're not sure if a hard copy really exists yet. NuTSR posted images of the book on their Facebook page, but it could be a digital mock up rather than a real pic (as they've been caught doing before). It only shows the cover and a generic background.

This is partly in response to questioning who actually made and manages both the Cult of Abaddon PDF and the Dungeon Crawl board game...

View attachment 152565

It's fair for WTG to agree they helped "donate" layout services without taking any role in editing. However, the PDF metadata shows it was worked on by Don Semora late on Feb 9th (NuTSR posted their pics on Feb 19th). WTG's timeline of donating services "in December" doesn't track. This isn't a smoking gun, but it shows that NuTSR's claim of shipping the book by the end of January was a bold faced lie. It's pure speculation, but I'm guessing WTG is claiming they did work in December to help NuTSR save face on the original timeline.

Also, as a note to WTG: part of the reason people might assume you're part of NuTSR is that you're literally the only sponsor of TSR Con that isn't owned by Justin LaNasa. If you look at the TSR Con fliers, it's an easy mistake to make.
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