Tuesday 12 February 2019

Zak Smith and associated awfulness

Probably everyone who reads this blog has already heard about Mandy Morbid's revelations that her ex-boyfriend, Zak Smith, abused her (and other women) for more than a decade. On the off-chance that you haven't, you can read her account of event here, which she has asked to be shared as widely as possible:


(13/2/19 edit: Vivka Grey has now also posted an account of Zak's abuse of her, too, confirming and extending Mandy's narrative. You can read it here.)

I'm in the relatively fortunate position of being someone who's never worked with Zak, never gamed with him, never publicly defended him, and honestly never much liked him. (There's a reason I never added his blog to my blogroll.) But I did buy and read his books, and I did recognise his importance to the 'artpunk' wing of OSR D&D. I shall certainly not be purchasing any of his work hereafter.

Disturbingly, James Raggi of Lamentations of the Flame Princess - Zak's chief publisher - has maintained a deafening silence since the story broke. Raggi has published some of my favourite RPG books in recent years, and I have recommended Lamentations and its supplements to people many times, in many contexts. But as long as he continues to promote and publish Zak's work, I can no longer do so in good conscience. I appreciate that it sucks for a small publisher to invest heavily in an author, only to discover that he's actually a serial abuser of women. But he that toucheth pitch shall be defiled.

This has been a bit of a final straw moment for me, and the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I've removed the word 'OSR' from my blog's title. I still believe in the value of OSR playstyles, and I still prize the creativity to which OSR D&D has given rise. I still think that people like Scrap Princess, and Patrick Stuart, and David McGrogan, and Luka Rejec, and Zedeck Siew, are doing fantastic work that deserves to be widely read and richly supported. But so many leading figures in the OSR 'movement' have turned out to be awful people that I just don't really want to associate myself with it any more.

I applaud Mandy for her strength and courage in going public with this, and I hope that her life gets much easier and happier from this point onwards.

I'll have a post on Small But Vicious Dog up soon.