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Zak Smith (I)» Forums » News

Subject: Zak S accused of some really foul behaviour by ex rss

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john Whyte
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Zak S was accused of all sorts of stuff by some Exs on Facebook

I'm going to have to think about if I'm going to do anything with the books of his I do have, and he'll probably enter my list of people I'm not likely to buy from again.

Pics for those who dont qant to click as I'm not sure how to copy Facebook text.






Update, another ex has made a post





Update 14th Feb Zak s has responded
Ive screenshotted it in this post
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Holy crap...
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Felix Lastname
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And the saga continues. There is a deep deep deep rabbithole of this sort of accusation over the last ten years or so (I have saved the "best" [worst] parts for later reference); the punchline for the more innocent reader is that he relied on (apparently not genuine, according to this N) testimony from Mandy M. (and others) to document that he wasn't the bad person in precisely the ways his detractors suggested.

He's been asked on twitter to respond, and I'll guess some sort of response will be forthcoming. It won't be pretty.
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This guy has been a dumpster fire for years. He harassed and doxxed some of my personal friends several years ago and I have steered clear of him since then. I am glad that Mandy was finally able to remove herself from the situation and feel secure enough to speak her truth.

There are many, many women who have been yelling about his behavior - for literally years. But they were shut down and ignored. One of them even left the gaming industry as a result. He is an expert gaslighter and manipulator and many people have fallen for his crap. It is too easy to believe a white man with talent than a few women who get branded as crazy b*tches.

This guy has lots of supporters and defenders. He still wins Ennies like there's no tomorrow. Several women (and a few men) walked out of the Ennies when he was going up to give his acceptance speech. People ignored the women and continued to laud him.

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Pete
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I'd never heard of him until today.

Pete (still wishes he hadn't)
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Roger
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Who? What is relation to gameing?
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jasperrdm wrote:
Who? What is relation to gameing?
I had the same question, but he's in the database as an RPG designer.

Pete (had to google and it wasn't all that easy)
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jasperrdm wrote:
Who? What is relation to gameing?


Zak Smith (I)

Here's a list of his most lauded products:
Maze of the Blue Medusa
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
A Red & Pleasant Land
Death Frost Doom

And he had a very popular blog called D&D with Porn Stars and his brand was "I Hit it with my ax"

And he was a PAID consultant for D&D 5e - his name is listed in the credits, along with a couple of other dumpster fire individuals.

Mike Mearls defended WotC's use of his by citing that the evidence of his abuse was thin.
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lorddillon wrote:
jasperrdm wrote:
Who? What is relation to gameing?


Zak Smith (I)

Here's a list of his most lauded products:
Maze of the Blue Medusa
Vornheim: The Complete City Kit
A Red & Pleasant Land
Death Frost Doom

And he had a very popular blog called D&D with Porn Stars and his brand was "I Hit it with my ax"

And he was a PAID consultant for D&D 5e - his name is listed in the credits, along with a couple of other dumpster fire individuals.

Mike Mearls defended WotC's use of his by citing that the evidence of his abuse was thin.
While I don't remember this guy exactly, I do remember the hubbub over 5e D&D.

Pete (probably has heard of this guy before and didn't remember)
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john Whyte
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lorddillon wrote:
This guy has been a dumpster fire for years. He harassed and doxxed some of my personal friends several years ago and I have steered clear of him since then. I am glad that Mandy was finally able to remove herself from the situation and feel secure enough to speak her truth.

There are many, many women who have been yelling about his behavior - for literally years. But they were shut down and ignored. One of them even left the gaming industry as a result. He is an expert gaslighter and manipulator and many people have fallen for his crap. It is too easy to believe a white man with talent than a few women who get branded as crazy b*tches.

This guy has lots of supporters and defenders. He still wins Ennies like there's no tomorrow. Several women (and a few men) walked out of the Ennies when he was going up to give his acceptance speech. People ignored the women and continued to laud him.



I knew there was drama surrounding him and then became aware he was an online jerk. But there were always people defending him and everything seemed complicated and trivial I didn't pay it too much attention.

Also his work was good, Maze of the Blue Medusa is a mega dungeon I want to run. Frostbitten & Mutilated was something I was going to buy based off his prior work. But not now.
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Wow, what a douche.

I knew he was an unpleasant jerk online, and looked into it a little, but it seemed like a lot of he-said-she-said with unpleasant mob behavior on both sides.

But this seals the deal, for me at least.
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jodokast wrote:
was drama surrounding him and then became aware he was an online jerk. But there were always people defending him and everything seemed complicated and trivial I didn't pay it too much attention.


dysjunct wrote:
...but it seemed like a lot of he-said-she-said with unpleasant mob behavior on both sides.


And these are the exact reasons that he has been allowed to get away with his behavior for so long without consequences - because this was the prevailing attitude. I mean that with NO judgement. It was how I felt as well, until he treated someone I know personally in an unacceptable manner and then it all became way too clear to me. But he is a master at deflecting and his defenders put up a good fight, so it was too easy to overlook this stuff.


jodokast wrote:
Also his work was good, Maze of the Blue Medusa is a mega dungeon I want to run. Frostbitten & Mutilated was something I was going to buy based off his prior work. But not now.


Yeah - that's the other problem. He makes really high quality stuff. It's the same type of situation as Woody Allen and Roman Polanski - there are people who defend because they don't believe the person did the acts. Then there are the people who say "Separate the art from the artist. They are flawed humans, but man do they make great stuff!"

And that is how people like this still make a living without dealing with the consequences of their behavior - or even having to admit their behavior is not okay.
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I agree with Sam that his stuff is really, really good. But it's not like he's the only one able to cure cancer or something. There's plenty of other good, creative people out there who don't come with that degree of baggage. (Ditto for Polanski and Allen.)
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john Whyte
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dysjunct wrote:
I agree with Sam that his stuff is really, really good. But it's not like he's the only one able to cure cancer or something. There's plenty of other good, creative people out there who don't come with that degree of baggage. (Ditto for Polanski and Allen.)


I completely agree. But it does leave me pondering what to do with the stuff of his I already own. Burn it? Keep it? Sell it?
A Red & Pleasant Land was a gift from the rpggeek gift exchange that I was exceptionally stoked to get.
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The money is already spent. Just keep it. Burning it won't "get back" at anybody. Mine it for ideas or whatever.



I'll just leave this here as well.
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Felix Lastname
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jodokast wrote:
I completely agree. But it does leave me pondering what to do with the stuff of his I already own. Burn it? Keep it? Sell it?
A Red & Pleasant Land was a gift from the rpggeek gift exchange that I was exceptionally stoked to get.


John - if you feel the need to do something, auction it off and donate the proceeds to a fitting cause. And if you want to engage with the material later on, I'd be happy to run this on the Geek one day.
(I see no point in deleting my pdf, tbh; and now that I already own it, I might as well make use of it without endorsing the author in person.)
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I have never been directly involved with ZS personally, only through the horrible experience of some acquaintances who were targeted with his bile. But the lesson I take from reading several posts this afternoon by people who defended him in the past and are now rethinking their entire history of interacting with ZS is this...

If a person is an aggressive, hyper-defensive, trolling jerk in online spaces, but a charming, intelligent and thoughtful person in real spaces, the online persona is probably the real persona. The charming person is an act they put on to make their way through real life.

Here is Patrick Stuart making that point: http://falsemachine.blogspot.com/2019/02/you-should-read-thi...
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Wow. I'm speechless.
Unbelievable, that he got away with this for such a long time.
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Here is more info on the original WOTC response: http://failforward.co.uk/post/93348768153/how-dungeons-and-d...

A lot of the history and issues are in this article or alluded to in the article.
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Againsto wrote:
jodokast wrote:
I completely agree. But it does leave me pondering what to do with the stuff of his I already own. Burn it? Keep it? Sell it?
A Red & Pleasant Land was a gift from the rpggeek gift exchange that I was exceptionally stoked to get.


John - if you feel the need to do something, auction it off and donate the proceeds to a fitting cause. And if you want to engage with the material later on, I'd be happy to run this on the Geek one day.
(I see no point in deleting my pdf, tbh; and now that I already own it, I might as well make use of it without endorsing the author in person.)


Thanks for the offer. I'm not going to do anything rash, and I have some sympathy for the the view of judging the work not the creator, but those accusations are horrific.
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Personally I sold all of the material that had his name on it. But I do not presume to know what anyone else should do - that is a personal decision for people to decide individually based on their own personal reasons.
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lorddillon wrote:
Here is more info on the original WOTC response: http://failforward.co.uk/post/93348768153/how-dungeons-and-d...

A lot of the history and issues are in this article or alluded to in the article.


One of the (very) eyeopening things for me has been that I thought I 'kept up with the scene' as a hobbyist.

Looking back I think some of the things he and his supporters did very well was to
- Keep the conversation fragmented. There are bits on twitter, bits on G+, bits on forums.
- Reduce the incidents down to individual things. I remember from law school a discussion of circumstantial evidence, if there was blood on the accused hands, his story where he was at the time is convenient, all of his family were murdered but not him, his computer looks as if the time log was changed around the time of the murder, viewed together those are some pretty convincing arguments. However the common defense in a courtroom is to tackle them individually, the blood was from when he touched the (already dead) victims, the computer wasn't passworded. You don't address the totality and instead keep trying to frame the issues as small. Looking at the stream of blogposts, G+ discussions, and overall communication your term of dumpster fire is very good. But at the time I saw each one individually all I saw was 'one internet spat about X'.
- I do think Zak S getting credits on printed books created a level of authenticity. I think (much like Gareth-Michael Skarka) he was very good at playing nice/nice enough with those whose complaints would be taken seriously.

Mandy's post was horrific, but the barrage of previously documented stuff that has come out of the woodwork has been spectacular in it's own right. ANd given how these things play out I'd expect more stuff to come out
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lorddillon wrote:
Personally I sold all of the material that had his name on it. But I do not presume to know what anyone else should do - that is a personal decision for people to decide individually based on their own personal reasons.


I'm genuinely curious, doesnt this feels like granting the work to someone else to enjoy?
Now i've written it it seems irrational but that was my response to that thought.
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jodokast wrote:
Looking back I think some of the things he and his supporters did very well was to
- Keep the conversation fragmented. There are bits on twitter, bits on G+, bits on forums.
- Reduce the incidents down to individual things. I remember from law school a discussion of circumstantial evidence, if there was blood on the accused hands, his story where he was at the time is convenient, all of his family were murdered but not him, his computer looks as if the time log was changed around the time of the murder, viewed together those are some pretty convincing arguments. However the common defense in a courtroom is to tackle them individually, the blood was from when he touched the (already dead) victims, the computer wasn't passworded. You don't address the totality and instead keep trying to frame the issues as small. Looking at the stream of blogposts, G+ discussions, and overall communication your term of dumpster fire is very good. But at the time I saw each one individually all I saw was 'one internet spat about X'.
- I do think Zak S getting credits on printed books created a level of authenticity. I think (much like Gareth-Michael Skarka) he was very good at playing nice/nice enough with those whose complaints would be taken seriously.


To this excellent list I'll add two more:

- A fair amount of behavior from the other side was not really exemplary. Harassing people that were in his group or disparaging them because they are/were sex workers, etc. Now of course, just because Group A is bad doesn't mean that Group B is good (they could both be scumbags after all) but it does make it easier to say "to hell with both of them" and dismiss the whole thing as just another internet spat.

- Zak is very good at adopting a victim role. Pointing out that he is half-Jewish, and that people in his group are women, disabled, minorities, trans, queer, etc. All of that is true (as far as I can tell) and did a lot to dampen criticism of him. Specifically, it made it easy to say "well, maybe he is an equal-opportunity asshole and not targeting people based on their characteristics."
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Also -- can this thread be moved into the forum for Zak Smith (I)? If it stays in the General Forum, it will disappear shortly, but this seems like something that should have a more permanent record.
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