Zak S has been a notable figure in the RPG Community for a while now. His books have gained some acclaim, and his impact on the indie scene (OSR in particular) has been huge. He inspired a lot of people (including myself) to start making their own stuff and publish their own books.
Turns out he’s an abusive, narcissistic asshole. There have been a lot of accusations and rumors thrown about over the past few years, but this most recent one from Mandy has put the final nail in the coffin for a lot of people.
Now what do we do? And by we, I mean all the people who were inspired by, or found joy from Zak’s work.
The first thing we do is through our support behind everyone he’s hurt and the lives he’s destroyed. Stand up for them on twitter, write blog posts, and exclude people who refuse to do the same. You don’t want those people in your circles, trust me.
And I do that now, publicly. If you’ve been hurt by Zak, I’m so sorry. I belive you. And I support you. I distance myself from this man, and his work, and the things he has done.
But later today, when you go home and look at certain books on your shelf, you might ask “Is it okay to enjoy this stuff? Is it okay to buy good products from bad people?”
The answer, of course, is no. But let’s dig into why.
Spit out the Bones
I’ve heard the phrase “Eat the meat, spit out the bones” whenever I criticize a pastor or teacher for expressing harmful ideas. “Sure, they made some bad points, but most of it was good!”
But that attitude doesn’t really make sense, as I vagueposted about a while ago. You’re still supporting and encouraging someone who is hurting other people.
Oliver Thorn does a deeper dive into how the “good” thoughts and ideas from a “bad” person aren’t enough of a reason to cling to them and their work.
Sure, we can try to sort through specific ideas, pick and choose what we should and shouldn’t enjoy…but there is a better option!
Just read/play/support someone else
We live in a golden age of incredible stuff coming out in the indie RPG scene. Stuff made by people who aren’t manipulative assholes.
Go read their stuff! Find some new favorite creators. Jump into a new patreon.
Off the top of my head, here are some of my favorite new creators that deserve your money:
- Luka Rejec is creating gorgeous and evocative adventures/settings that deserve your attention.
- Emmy Allen my newest favorite writer, she released Gardens of Ynn and Stygian Library in the same year! And it looks like she’s just getting started…
- Chris McDowall is planning to release Bastionland later this year, and it’s looking to be a fantastic OSR game.
Go support those who have been hurt, go support other creators, other writes. Leave Zak and his books behind you.
I know I will be happier for it.
What other creators should I be checking out? Who else is new and up and coming in the community?