Really? Really?!?

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Dr Pete
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Really? Really?!?

Sooooooo....

About this "Dark Lord" business.  Did autarch really agree to include a picture of Vox Day murdering "social justice warriors" in their new kickstarter?  This is how you're promoting the product?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10
Vox Day organized the campaign to support the book because he is a fan of the heroic fantasy genre. His publishing company, Castalia House, is focused on the heroic and pulp niche, and Appendix N recommended ACKS as the best rpg for that genre. A large number of backers have arrived from Castalia. I am happy to play fantasy role-playing games with people of any political persuasion and do not discriminate against any one who loves what I love. My own politics are libertarian but if the American Communist party wanted to organize a campaign to support ACKS I am sure I could make room for them. I also know this apolitical attitude is unfashionable today but it is a core principle for me. If it was not, then ACKS would not exist. When I launched ACKS, I was immediately criticized for choosing a misogynist name - "king" being gendered; and for using offensive terms like "beastmen" and not "beastfolk"; for using humanoids at all, because it's racist; for suggesting that women of most races are typically noncombatants; and for creating a game that glorified military conquest bt the strong, and more. Doubtless the Red Sonja inspired class in Heroic Fantasy Handbook will also displease some, who either don't like women warriors or don't like sexy women warriors. Mentioning my name on Rpg.net still sparks upset. In light of such criticisms, I am exceptionally grateful to the backers who do like my game, however "problematic" some people find it. I apologize for the lengthy response but I felt a clear statement was warranted.
Jard
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Is this true? I didn't see that in the original blog post that somebody linked, but maybe I skimmed over it since it seemed to be mostly just reposting things from the kickstarter.

I will admit I had never heard of Vox Day before this whole dark lord business.  His blog... is not for me even a little bit, but I've never believed that your politics should determine what kinds of games/art/music you are allowed to enjoy.  I assumed the dark lord would be just that: a dark lord, the kind you would use to build characters like Sauron from LotR or Thulsa Doom from Conan or Soulcatcher from The Black Company. What you are describing sounds... not just in poor taste but frankly "off theme".

If you have any specific links that would be helpful.

I reread his original post, among a bunch of generic lines about illustrations depicting the dark lord, one includes something about faceless minions devouring SJWs.  I don't know what an SJW is supposed to look like as part of a fantasy illustration so I think the answer to that will heavily inform how I feel about this, not that my approval or disapproval in any way has bearing on what these other backers may choose to do with their money. 

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

All images in the book will be appropriate to a heroic fantasy context in the implied setting. It's perfectly fine for characters to be drawn to resemble their backers (many many people request that) but there shan't be anything from 21st century America in any of our illustrations. 

The dark lord character class is going to be an eldritch caster with bonuses to deploy followers and henchmen - what in MMO terms would be called a "pet class". I have wanted to create an ACKS pet class for a while and am excited about the challenge.

 

 

Jard
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(just saw Alex's response)

Alex, for what it is worth: I actually really appreciate your a-political approach to content production.  I know elsewhere I have alluded to being fairly liberal, but I never felt like that impeded me from enjoying your game despite criticisms from "my camp" (an absurd notion to me anyway because all I ever seem to see is intra-liberalism spats).  On the other hand, it's gotten harder and harder for me to enjoy FATE because their desperation to inject politics into every layer of their operation increasingly came at the cost of actually making fun and interesting game products.

I'll also say I find criticism of your game system misguided and, frankly, to be missing the point.  These sound suspiciously similar to criticism of another game I have expressed my enjoyment for, Europa Universalis 4, where people say it "glorifies colonialism" because it portrays it at all, and also presumes that playing the role of a colonizing power is akin to justifying it in the modern era.  By the same token, I can play a game like ACKs where violence can be used to solve problems, conquest is considered an acceptable form of power acquisition, slavery in different forms is allowed, and entire species were created by dark magic to be inherently evil strictly for the convenience of having something to be thoughtlessly violent about. At no point would I wish to live in such a world in real life, nor would I ever assume that the sensibilities that emerge from such a world are appropriate to carry out into the real world.  I can read A Song of Ice and Fire and enjoy myself while knowing I'd never want to live in Westeros.  I can have a blast playing Diablo 3 knowing I don't actually want to live in Sanctuary under constant threat from the Dark Lord of Terror.  

All of these forms of entertainment make stylistic choices to entertain without being tacit endorsement.  They create a cohesive world built off of a series of underyling assumptions. So much of ACKs is driven off of imagining a Roman empire with access to magic.  Even your decision to perpetuate the sexual dimorphism of beastmen first described in early D&D comes with backfilled justification of their creation by Zaharans as disposable shock troops. It's hard for me to imagine (although obviously you said you experienced it) taking that state of affairs and extrapolating that's how you think genders work in the modern era.

Alright, so now that I've puffed you up a fair bit, let me re-iterate my slight concern: All of these things that people say you do that are misogynstic are products of underyling assumptions that you put thought into, not mere reductivism.  This Vox Day guy wouldn't even be a blip on my radar except for this part about "A full-page illustration of the Vile Faceless Minions devouring SJWs.".  Like you said, you would make space for the American Communist party if they came to play your game, but if they pledged at a level that allowed them to get an art illustration that was just the sickle & hammer, you would balk because that breaks the theme of your product you're making.  Even as you grapple with the idea of "pulp" art and sensibilities that many people consider reductive, mysoginistic, or racist, you might allow a request for an homage to an old piece that people today call "problematic" but you might not be ok with a piece that was just a song-of-the-south-esque caricature.  That's the difference that I see between the work you've done so far which has been accused of political/mysognistic/racist/etc. motivations and this one particular request of Mr. VoxDay's.  (I feel Alex adequately addressed this in his 2nd reply)

Ultimately though, there are lots of people who came into the comments to pledge for the dark lord.  Maybe this is something they're excited for and they see it as something appropriate to put into a fantasy game product.  I've never been a fan of that level of divisiveness,  I think you can do new things with art and portrayal that doesn't actively exclude people.  To illustrate through example: a card game I play called Netrunner has a very diverse array of characters and portrayals that I don't feel excluded from as a white guy.  By contrast, the PbtA game "Monsterhearts" is so vociferous about their attempt to portray "queer teenage" life that it never felt not just like a game that wasn't meant for me, but one that never would.  I think it would be possible to satisfy VoxDay's art request in a way that he and his coterie could look at those vile faceless minions going to town and think "heh, take that, SJWs" while someone not in on the joke/backstory would not interpret it as actively hostile towards them.  (same as last strikethrough)

 

Jard
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(just saw Alex's OTHER reply)

Alex, I also love pet classes, and I appreciate your re-assurance very very much.  I assumed this VoxDay guy was just spinning a yarn on this end.  Knowing your intents on the review process has me feeling releived. 

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I know you have been a long time supporter and I appreciate it!

I do not think you need be concerned. ACKS will remain what it always has been, firmly rooted in Late Antiquity and fantasy. There are wars between races in ACKS, but they are Zaharans v. Thrassians, Elves v. Orcs, and so on. There is nationalism but its Auran nationalism, Kemeshi nationalism, etc. 

There's not going to be anything related to contemporary politics in the book. The art will be drawn by the same artist who draws all of our art. As far as t-shirts we only license the right to use the art in our books, and don't license the right to do merchandise based on the art, and I informed Castalia House that they'd have to work that out separately with the artist if he was open to it, much as anyone could. (If there is demand for ACKS t-shirts though certainly I'm open to it!) 

There are certainly horrible and offensive things in ACKS (slavery, necrophilia, etc.) but they are horrible in the game world. 

Let me know if you have any other questions.

 

Aryxymaraki
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I'm actually glad it will be a pet class because I've been working on an elven beastmaster class and am curious to see what you come up with! (Probably will not be directly applicable, since my beastmaster design includes 'one strong pet' instead of 'many minions', but still likely to help me out.)

As far as the politics, yeah, I don't agree with his (Vox Day's) politics or the way he goes about it, and it did make me somewhat uncomfortable when I found out the whole thing, but I would also be disappointed in Alex/Autarch if they refused to take someone's money because of their political beliefs. I trust in your ability to keep the actual book apolitical, and worst case, if I really hate it, I can just remove that page from my book :p

Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55

I'm actually glad it will be a pet class because I've been working on an elven beastmaster class and am curious to see what you come up with! (Probably will not be directly applicable, since my beastmaster design includes 'one strong pet' instead of 'many minions', but still likely to help me out.) As far as the politics, yeah, I don't agree with his (Vox Day's) politics or the way he goes about it, and it did make me somewhat uncomfortable when I found out the whole thing, but I would also be disappointed in Alex/Autarch if they refused to take someone's money because of their political beliefs. I trust in your ability to keep the actual book apolitical, and worst case, if I really hate it, I can just remove that page from my book :p

-Aryxymaraki

I'm tentatively in the same place. Honestly, I'm still a bit uncomfortable supporting anything that Beale claims to be influencing, because of his past toxicity. On the balancing side, Autarch has done well with their past products, so I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt that Ted's just trying to rile up his Puppies without really being able to back up his bluster.

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Thanks for sharing your feedback, Aryxmaraki & Dark.

I was genuinely more concerned that people would take offense over some of the artwork being Frazetta-style than about the image of the evil overlord. When I think of heroic and barbarian fantasy I think of ACE Conan covers, but some people seem to dislike that style immensely. I'd be happy for to solicit opinion in that regard, while we're on the topic of such matters.

 

jedavis
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I thought we already had a perfectly serviceable pet class, in Core no less: Bard d:

I think I'm on the same page as most posters in this thread so far: somewhat concerned about potential fallout if there's a twitstorm, but cautiously optimistic in Alex.

I'm very much in favor of Frazetta-style art, though I'm not familiar with the Conan covers specifically. Loincloths and helmets for everyone! Big cats! Piles of the slain! Honestly the prospect of Frazettesque art in Heroic is the most excited I've been about art in an RPG since Iron Heroes.

Jard
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I would have imagined the people that have beef with the Frazetta illustrations have self selected themselves out by now, given original ACKs's cover... and some of the art from Sinister Stone of Sakkara (what sicko requested that one piece of art anyway? :-P).  Also I think many people who dislike Frazetta do so from a perspective of being unable to separate the art from the artist, since Frazetta was somewhat vocally conservative.

While there are going to be some people who are going to be annoyed with it no matter what, I truly think when most people complain about pulp or fantasy art, it's from a standpoint of samey-ness.  Tons of praise gets heaped on Pathfinder for the depictions of their iconic classes, even though the sorcerer, Seoni, wears a physics defying robe, because there are counterpoints like Seelah, the Paladin.

I think you'd be doing a disservice to your pair of books if you didn't at least try some Frazetta inspired art, maybe even the bulk of it, but I think as long as it's not 100% a "we love frazetta" fest, any would-be critics hopefully won't find their way to our corners of the internet.  Of course, if somebody mentions the books in big purple, people will come out of the woodwork, but after seeing the way they bring out the venom for anyone even remotely affiliated with Zak S, I'm not sure that's as relevant as it might have been in the past.

 

Ary & The Dark, thanks for chiming in.  I'm glad to see the ACKs forum regulars are on a similar wavelength, including the "live & let live" philosophy when it comes to enjoying games.

Aryxymaraki
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The only time I've ever had a problem with Frazetta-inspired art is when it was loosely inspired and crossed the line into 'Dude, this is porn.'

I doubt that will be an issue here.

I would like to see some variety, since I feel like there's a variety of possible Heroic Fantasy-esque styles to have art in, but my opinion is basically the same as Jard's, I'd be perfectly happy to see anywhere from 'some' to 'most' of the art be Frazetta-inspired.

EHamilton
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I'm about a million miles from being any kind of fan of Vox Day, but so far the design and artistic choices in all of Autarch's published material have been reliably devoted to a pure simulationist gaming agenda, and so I'll give this one the the benefit of the doubt. I'm not expecting that we're going to see Anita Sarkeesian statted out for a dynamic lair encounter or anything like that.

I do admit that, as the faculty mentor of a game club at a dinky little evangelical Christian college in Bible Belt Texas, it would probably be better if the art in my rule books wasn't too excessively cheesecake. I don't want to be in any more trouble with my dean than necessary. (True story: At our last game night, I found two fresh copies of the classic Jack Chick "Dark Dungeons" tract in the hall outside the room. Ah, 80s nostalgia!)

I'm also hoping that since the book is sort of an averaging of Tolkien and S&S, that a least a few piece of art have that old-style Tolkien feel, like the cover to James Spahn's Hero's Journey. I'd kill for an entire RPG rule book illustrated in the style of this old Pauline Byrnes map of Middle Earth.

Antiquities
Joined: 2013-07-05 19:55

The only time I've ever had a problem with Frazetta-inspired art is when it was loosely inspired and crossed the line into 'Dude, this is porn.' I doubt that will be an issue here. I would like to see some variety, since I feel like there's a variety of possible Heroic Fantasy-esque styles to have art in, but my opinion is basically the same as Jard's, I'd be perfectly happy to see anywhere from 'some' to 'most' of the art be Frazetta-inspired.

-Aryxymaraki

As is often the case, Ary's said pretty much what I'm thinking. I'd like to avoid the nonsensical stuff (chainmail bikinis? The only thing that simulates is chafing), but Frazetta was a fairly equal-opportunity offender (he did almost as much beefcake as cheesecake).

 

(A)D&D also has a bit of a tradition of hilariously-dressed cover art, like the (male) fighter in the collected G1-G2-G3 with plate armor and hot pants, or the two mostly nude characters (one of each gender) on the cover of A4. Heck, pretty much anything Erol Otus did has something bizarre on it. Honorary mention goes to Jeff Dee's love of chainmail shorts for male characters. And not modern knee-length shorts, those were 1980s NBA short-shorts.

Personally, I'm a fan of Holloway, Elmore, Brom, and Dixon, though I know those styles don't necessarily match the themes aimed at in these books, nor with each other. They're simply the ones who stand out to me among the history of TSR/WotC gaming art.

golan2072
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I prefer to keep real-life politics and the ever-nauseating American Culture Wars out of my gaming. The fact that I am a politically-active moderate left-libertarian with old-school labor-movement views (unpopular in today's "leftist" circles) does not necessary translate into game content - usually, the gaming stuff I write has little in common with my real-life politics. Games and game settings have their own internal dynamics and inner logic which rarely abide by the views of modern politics (be that Left or Right). Gaming groups in my experience are also very diverse politically; in my BCK/D&D 5E group, for example, we have an old-school left-libertarian (me), a right-libertarian, a center-left person, a vegan leftist, and a person who is probably a right-wing Israeli nationalist but does not talk politics. We rarely discuss real-world politics in-game, however, as they are boring (in comparison to the game) and detract from everyone's fun. It's much more enjoyable, after all, to discuss ways to overthrow Nabu Ram the evil Sorcerer King with spellcraft and swords - and enthrone a Lizardman Gladiator in his stead - than to have an argument about whether Netanyahu is the best prime minister Israel ever had, an evil fascist, or just an embezzling hedonist with a sweet tooth.

Now, on to more enjoyable stuff - BCK needs muscles. The big, absurdly muscled barbarian is a central archetype in BCK's genre. He needs to be smashing the delicate sorcerous apparatus of a frail, inbred Sorcerer or the diabolical machines of an alien. This is the "Barbarian Subgenre" in a nutshell - brawn, brain, and guts trump sorcery and super-science.

Chainmail bikini? It's OK once or twice as it's a genre staple, but don't overdo it as this is a very tired trope. Plus it misses the opportunity to show all sorts of cool outlandish armor or clothing.

Just DON'T put BOOBS on my female lizardmen :-D . D&D 4E (IIRC) put boobs on dragonborn, who are essentially reptiles, forgetting that not every humanoid in the game world has to be a humanoid mammal, and it was visually annoying and quite boring. Lizardmen are "humanoid" LIZARDS. They lay eggs and do not lactate. Their young can eat fish and fruit right out of the egg.

Chainmail bikini? It's OK once or twice as it's a genre staple, but don't overdo it as this is a very tired trope. Plus it misses the opportunity to show all sorts of cool outlandish armor or clothing.

Just DON'T put BOOBS on my female lizardmen :-D . D&D 4E (IIRC) put boobs on dragonborn, who are essentially reptiles, forgetting that not every humanoid in the game world has to be a humanoid mammal, and it was visually annoying and quite boring. Lizardmen are "humanoid" LIZARDS. They lay eggs and do not lactate. Their young can eat fish and fruit right out of the egg.

Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Thanks for the feedback, again, everyone.

Omer, obviously when lizard-women are illustrated with breasts, it's because they got breast implants. ;)

 

golan2072
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The WotC Reptile Breast Plastic Surgery Clinic(TM)!

nemomeme
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Two comments:

A lot of criticsim that purports to be a-political is actually taking a very active political stance. Thoughtful critics will reflect on this before they write/speak.

I love Frazetta and it would be fair to expect some cheesecake in a project like this. I have a strong preference for badass women in active poses. Most of Frazetta is great in this regard. His worst imitators seem always drawn to his poorest examples here.

moorcrys
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I have full faith that Alex will keep things focused on the awesomeness of ACKS and the fantastic mechanics he and this community continually create for the benefit of the game and those who play it. 

I have no intention to invest in a game that uses its writing, game mechanics, or art, to demean, marginalize, intimidate, or mock real world people in the 21st Century, regardless of their affiliations or their deeply held beliefs (whatever they may be). Save it for pig-faced orcs, kobolds, and halflings. I haven't seen this pop up in any Autarch writing or art up to this point, and I have no reason to believe it will in future products, including the two exceptional books currently being Kickstarted.

Rodriguez
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I think in this day and age its important to have more Frazetta-style art, not less!

Have to admit I am not a fan of the "chainmail bikini" either though, if Conan can run around bare chested so can Belit. Equal oportunity and all that stuff.

Anyway, back to the lizardman boob topic: Considering that in ACKS they are not a "natural" species but were created by magic I think its not far fetched to assume they might have some human vestigial traits left that serve no actual need.

golan2072
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In BCK, they were created by Serpentmen as servants - not from human stock; there weren't humans on that world back then. So more reptilian.

Indeed, with hybridization and a mad - and wealthy - enough Mage you could have something along the lines of the XCOM2 Viper - which does have boobs but is indeed based on human stock. In fact, now that I think of that, this would be a fun project for a Mage to mess around with: cross-breeding men with giant serpents and possibly chameleons as well...

Shub-Nullgurath
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Don't make it into a big deal.

EDIT: Lizardwomen having breasts is a big deal and makes it unplayable. 0/10 would not kickstart.

Rhetorical Gamer
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So, I don't want to make this too big a deal because I love ACKS and I trust Alex but I feel it is only fair to ask...

Can we submit our pledges and specify the opposite to Vox Day's post? Can I submit my pledge and ask for my commitment level to count against the money raised to support the "Dark Lord" additions? 

Again, I love ACKS and my personal interactions with Alex have been nothing short of excellent but it seems only right to give fans with serious concerns about Vox Day and Castalia House the equal option to voice that concern with their money/support.

Shub-Nullgurath
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Instead of backing against Vox Day, why not make a group to contribute for another different class with another set of artwork that is contradictory to Vox Day's philosophy? I reckon that's a good idea but I have no idea what you could do.

Rhetorical Gamer
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That is a good idea. I have neither the internet reach nor the influence to do said campaign justice. If someone else has an idea, I say run with it.

But as Vox Day's campaign, "for the Dark Lord" is already sidestepping the rules (by pooling money to reach a donation level independent of giving additional money) I think it is not too much to ask that for those of us in opposition, it is not too far-fetched that we could write, "Against the Dark Lord" on our pledges and be counted as opposed to such inclusions.

Please note - I'm not advocating a boycott, or suggesting that Alex not agree to the "for the Dark Lord" campaign. I am backing the book(s). But I am "Against the Dark Lord" and its contributions. I'm sure others are as well, and I'm sure we'd like to be counted.

Rodriguez
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I would rather see a campaign for a counter force then trying to take away from what people have contributed.

Rhetorical Gamer
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I would rather see a campaign for a counter force then trying to take away from what people have contributed.


-Rodriguez

Please don't take this the wrong way but your reasoning is somewhat flawed here. Nothing is being taken away from what people contributed. 

As I pointed out above, this campaign is not contributing any additional funding to the KS. It is effectively a "bonus" reward to Vox Day because he asked others to add, "For the Dark Lord" to their comments. And I understand the argument that everyone loses a class, etc. if this is not put in, but if the class is so worthwhile that it needs to be added, then Alex has ways to add it to the game - Axioms for example - that he still makes money for the company from. 

And - if someone wants to start a counter campaign, I'll support it. But that doesn't change the fact that some of us may have reservations about including Vox Day-inspired content. Even his blog post about his Dark Lord campaign is hateful. When I have reservations about a law, I call my congressperson (I'm in the USA). It doesn't always mean I have to propose an alternative bill, I want my voice heard on a bill that is before the legislature. Maybe that seems an odd example, but I think it illustrates that a counter-campaign, while worthwhile, is not the same statement as, "please don't include Vox Day-inspired content. They are two separate messages.

I hope that makes sense. Again, I'm not advocating that Alex should have said, "no" (whatever my personal feelings). I'm simply advocating that if Day and his followers will be rewarded for having their voices heard, then I would like the same opportunity to voice my opposition to said reward and have it be backed up by the money I am putting forth in support of the KS, just as they are.

Jard
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It almost started with the "For the Shire" posts :-P

For what it's worth, having not heard of Vox Day until people started posting, I found everything that came up from google searching abhorrent. When I mentioned it to my wife, she HAD heard of him and also wasn't a fan. I certainly can understand the sentiment. I'm not prepared to say "Hell yeah!" to RG's idea because I believe Alex will take the appropriately fantasy parts of the Dark Lord class and leave out the unwanted parts.

Jard
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You have some fair points, RG.  I think a fair number of us are concerned about what the sudden presence of Vox Day means.  Even though I dislike him I'm not eager to get into a pissing match.  If someone were to propose a counter campaign, I should hope it's one meant to enhance the overall theme and tone of the book for every back, even the alt-righters.

It also probably shouldn't be "for the shire" unless you want Alex to take up day-drinking.

wmarshal
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I don't think it would be possible to have an "Against the Dark Lord" campaign that would in some way take away from the pledges made "For the Dark Lord". That would be changing the terms after the the agreement was made between Vox Day and Alex. (Not a huge fan of Vox Day myself even though I'm definitely on the conservative/libertarian end of the spectrum.) However, I think you should be able to attempt a "For the Light" campaign where the money gets pooled to create content with a more liberal bent. Given the baseline assumptions of ACKS (slavery, advancement by conquest, feudal hierarchies, etc.) I wouldn't expect to be able to get anything in that outright equals the Blue Rose in tone, but maybe some art where the Dark Lord gets taken down by the forces of Light? Maybe there's a class concept that can be created that promotes harmony and progress?
Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Hello Rhetorical Gamer, I try to maintain open lines of communication throughout the Autarch community and certainly I've taken note of your comments as well as those of the others in this thread. If you'd like, I can count your pledge as "against the dark lord", yes.

That said, Vox Day had already made one of the five largest pledges to this Kickstarter at the time he approached me about the dark lord class (He has been a major backer on many of our prior KS under his real name). Since then we have received an amount considerably in excess of the goal, as for every public comment in the forums there were also private emails from backers quietly voicing their support, and many of those backers added extra in beyond their pledge level - e.g. $15 for an Adventurer pledge, or $70 for Conqueror.  Finally, overall positive and neutral feedback has been about 5:1 over negative feedback from existing backers.

So, given the above, I think a more fruitful effort would be to organize around something you want, rather than something you don't want, as Shub-Null said. I suspect the vast majority of backers would enjoy getting a cool "dark lord" class, and equally enjoy getting a cool "avenging angel" or "reluctant hero" or whatnot oppositional class.

Put another way, if my community is going to be politically divided, I'd rather the two divided factions be competing to fund cool stuff not competing to de-fund stuff that the other side funds, because the majority in the middle will benefit from the former and not from the latter.

 

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Wmarshal / Jard,

Thanks for your feedback.

Certainly, anyone who'd like to pledge "For the Light" can do so. ACKS's vision of the fantastical past is a fairly harsh one, largely because that's what resonates with me; I suspect that the tragedy of LOTR and nihilism of Conan probably appeals to me because its tragic and nihilistic, and I doubt I could even write something like Blue Rose with any authenticity. But I could try to provide some tiny glimpse of hope and light. Maybe. A little.

And anyone who'd like refunds can pledge "For the Shire". O.o

 

SenorOcho
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Somehow I don't think a campaign to add less content to a game is going to gain much traction, unless said content was completely out of bounds of what the game is. Which this is most certainly not. I'm not a fan of Vox Day, but I did read his post where this campaign started and I have to say calling it "hateful" is rather over-reactive. Almost to the point of living up to the sorts of stereotypes that people like Vox Day put forth about their opponents to begin with.
Alex
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Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

It looks like Dr. Pete has started a campaign for The Chosen One:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/autarch/heroic-fantasy-and-barbaria...

Dr Pete
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A proof of concept. Does it sound interesting?
wmarshal
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It looks like Dr. Pete has started a campaign for The Chosen One:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/autarch/heroic-fantasy-and-barbaria...


-Alex

 

I like the direction. Not sure how it'd be implemented. The farm boy and zatoichi, while heroes of humble origin seem like they'd be rather different in implementation. Still, it'd be interesting to see what could be designed. Alex, I've already made my pledge, but I pledged $5 above the required pledge for the reward I selected. Could I have that $5 apply to The Chosen One goal if this gets going? Not much, but I'm tapped out.

Dr Pete
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I guess I was thinking about Donnie Yen in Rogue One "I am the force the force is with me" rather than the full-on zatoichi.
Jard
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I dig it. It kind of reminds me of the alice class from red & pleasant land. Very much in theme with heroic fantasy imho.
Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

wmarshal - of course you can! done.

Dr Pete - there is actually a fate point mechanic in the rules that could tie in nicely to this class. 

Heroic Fate

“I can put it no more clearly than to say that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its Master. Therefore you, Frodo, were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.” – Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Sometimes, heroes have a destiny that sets them apart from ordinary mortals. Different cultures may refer to it as destiny, fate, doom, or weird. Whatever it is called, heroes may live when others die, or succeed where others fail, due to the mysterious hand of fate. To represent the powers of fate, characters in Heroic Fantasy Handbook campaigns may be awarded one or more Fate Points.

Starting Fate Points

Characters may begin with one or more Fate Points. We have provided a variety of methods by which starting Fate Points can be determined. While we have provided some recommendations, it is up to the Judge to decide which method to use based on the desired tone of his campaign setting. The Judge may use one method for player characters receive and another for NPCs if desired.    

  • Chosen of the Gods: Characters begin with 4 Fate Points, plus their Wisdom bonus or penalty. This method is recommended for Tolkienesque heroic fantasy settings.
  • Fortune Favors the Bold: Characters begin with 4 Fate Points, plus their highest ability score bonus. This method is recommended for Howardian heroic fantasy settings.
  • Fate is Fickle: Characters begin with 1d4 Fate Points.
  • Uncaring Fate: Characters begin with 1 Fate Point.
  • Few are Chosen: Characters begin with 1d4-3 Fate Points (minimum 0).
  • Luckless: Characters begin with 0 Fate Points. This method is recommended for most NPCs.

 

Esa the Wanderer
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A proof of concept. Does it sound interesting?

-DrPete

Yes! I'm in. The luck mechanic and ways to manipulate it are necessary for heroic adventures. There should be a way to play some unassuming character, whose stats and skills don't compare to experienced warlocks and warlords, but who will bring them down when their destiny calls for it.

Also I'm willing to give to the campaign to bring in more material not funded by someone's minions boosting their ego by projecting their hate fantasies into our shared game.

Shub-Nullgurath
Joined: 2017-02-13 01:22

It looks like Dr. Pete has started a campaign for The Chosen One:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/autarch/heroic-fantasy-and-barbaria...


-Alex

Really good idea.

Rhetorical Gamer
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Somehow I don't think a campaign to add less content to a game is going to gain much traction, unless said content was completely out of bounds of what the game is. Which this is most certainly not. I'm not a fan of Vox Day, but I did read his post where this campaign started and I have to say calling it "hateful" is rather over-reactive. Almost to the point of living up to the sorts of stereotypes that people like Vox Day put forth about their opponents to begin with.

-SenorOcho

 

Hi SenorOcho,

Specifically, Vox's campaign post calls out - a picture of the vile minions eating SJWs. That seems pretty hateful. His biases are very apparent and clear.

-RG

CharlesDM
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Regarding the Chosen One concept of a provident/destined/lucky character, I thought I’d add two more sources of inspiration: Joan of Arc, and the White Rose of the Black Company series.

From the White Rose, the character might gain the ability to dispel magic and summoned creatures. Also, turn undead might be appropriate.

Rhetorical Gamer
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Alex,

I understand your position - though I do continue to disagree with it. Publicly, all I will say is this.

I stand by the position that starting a counter-campaign to create a "positive" stereotype for the game is a very different outcome than protesting negative material.

I have run ACKS since I discovered it some years ago, have my name in the credits of an ACKS book (for a very small contribution), and stood for ACKS at GenCon in 2016. I love the game and I support the game. That said, I'm surprised by the number of posts - yours included - that focus on the negative aspects of the game, i.e. slavery, etc.

In all my ACKS campaigns, while I have kept the mechanics intact, I have always seen a world evolving out of player action. I don't have players who engage in slavery, and despite the inherent possible evils of feudalism, I use ACKS to simulate a dangerous world of "Carolignian" fantasy... with players on the forefront of a sort of "mini-rebirth" of the world around them. Your game, while it has it's roots in brutal antiquity, is far more than that and I have run your game with an eye toward future glories far more than base motives. Even your opening story in the game presents a band of heroes who stood up for something great and fought to protect it. 

You have created - for my money - the best legacy game that could have evolved from the core of Old School D&D. It is my chosen game to play because of the excellence and attention to detail. But after taking the night to think about it and reading your response... I can't support this KS. I know in the long run, that doesn't matter, because it is already funded and looks to be on pace to be a record for ACKS kickstarters. And congratulations on that.

But this campaign and the deal made with Vox Day are problematic enough that I cannot - as I intended - contribute to it.

Jard
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I am intrigued by the idea of the Fated Hero/Chosen One using the existing Hero Points system.  As I mentioned earlier, this reminds me of the Alice class described in Red & Pleasant Land, and I'd hope the final result would be able to pull of surprises not just in combat but in difficult situations.  Actually, now that I think about it, the Halfling in DCC is sometimes referred to as a "luck battery" because of their recharging luck, so if we end up getting halflings that might be what their racial value provides.

I don't particularly want to get into a pissing match with Vox Day et. al.  Politics is everywhere these days out of necessity, and I prefer my games as an escape from that.  I like the Fated Hero/Chosen One idea because it's grounded in the conceits and tropes of the kind of fantasy we're all kickstarting, and not just a shoehorned idea.

Anyway, I'm not sure I fully understood the nature of the "For the X" pledging. is their entire pledge counted or is it only the amount over their reward level which counts?

verita
Joined: 2017-03-29 09:29

I applaud those speaking outright, but my general nature is one of compartmentalization, so I post under an additional layer of anonymity. There is very little in life that is apolitical, and I resist dirtying my neutral persona here by stepping into the deep muck of the Internet.

I fundamentally disagree with the action taken on both ethical & business standings.

I had not known 'Vox Day' as anything but a minor self-published author until now, and having gone through his blog and other associated research, I would rather have kept my original impression. This is less an issue of 'free speech' than it is 'purchased speech', and this action taken by Autarch sullies their creative output. It doesn't matter that the eventual output will be, to use a term Theodore may approve of, whitewashed, to remove overt political references. The 'speech' portion of his action has already occured, and with the cooperation of and implied approval of Autarch. Theodore may now go back to his feckless band of internet tough guys, point to this product, and say "See? I matter. I can be heard. I deserve attention." This is a distinct difference from other venues that have, correctly, ignored or marginalized his participation. The fact it ss in something so technically minor as a game supplement from a small publisher is irrelevant to his cause. In point of fact, his odious worldviews fully restrict him to such minor efforts as hijacking the Hugos or infesting a Kickstarter - there is no larger market for his type.

At best, this is a distraction. At worst, it risks Autarch becoming embroiled in the same social arguments that burn across the internet daily, and permanently affecting its reputation. It cannot be spun as apolitical - Autarch ceded control of the narrative when the deal was struck, and now must rely on Theodore's restraint and good judgement, what supply there is of it, to emerge a neutral party. One cannot crowd fund a project without the consent of the crowd, and catering to a noxious fringe, only seemingly vociferous due to the structure of the 'Net, is not a well-considered decision. This is far beyond discussion about how much skin our barbarian princesses reveal, or the inherent rights of fictional orcs, and any comparison to that in this matter is myopic at best. Autarch has catered to the views of a person who disagrees with the base genetic makeup of actual living humans, allowing him to purchase (outside the normal interactions of a Kickstarter) a soapbox to stand upon. He does not do this out of the respect he holds for the product, the genre, yourself, or Autarch. The Dark Lord name is one tied strongly to his political activities. This is not an apolitical event. 

I can only assume it was deemed worth the business risk. The 'libertarian free market' response is not additional monies pledged as protest, it is the retraction of pledges, for those who take these things seriously. Money is speech, and backers names will be listed alongside Theodore's, as complicit as he was in the production of the final draft, and implicitly linked in his future efforts at promotion of himself and his ideologies. 

Sadly, there seems no way to independently support Omer's Kanahu.

I'd like you to contrast this with the quantifiable good done as part of ACKS' Bundle Of Holding - thousands of dollars gifted to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation - for a sense of my disappointment in Autarch as an entity.

 

 

 

 

Jard
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Many of us have been playing ACKs for years.  I narrowly missed the kickstarter for the Player's Companion but I was able to pre-order it.  I want to say... 2011.  This is well before Gamergate, before the Alt-Right was a known quantity, before Sad Puppies. All of us posting have been here for years.  I can't speak for others but I've been fortunate enough to see several rough drafts of the heroic companion, I have been excited for this product long before I had ever heard of Vox Day, and I was a backer before the "For the Dark Lord" posts came along, and I had no idea what they were at first.  I refuse to be driven out of my own hobby, or to be lumped in with him.  

Amjeerih
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For what it's worth (from a lurker who has been reading about ACKs for several years but only started purchasing the books in the past year) I find Alex’s commitment to an “apolitical” approach to be refreshing and actually even a little surprising in today’s climate. This will be my first time backing one of your Kickstarters, and I intend to support future Autarch Kickstarters.

/relurking

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I penned this in response to a private email, but since the topic is public I will share it here. 
********************************************************************************************************

Allow me to better explain my position, in part by cataloging a career of business decisions.

In 2001, when I founded my first company, Themis Group, my first hire - as company president - was a transwoman named Jessica Mulligan. At the time, transgender people were much less in the public eye, much less understood, and not widely accepted. And Jessica was not able to pass. My judgment was quietly questioned by our investors. But Jessica was excellent at her job and went on to become executie producer for Turbine's MMOs. 

In 2008, as Publisher of The Escapist, I was the executive producer of "I Hit It With My Axe", featuring the then-little-known D&D With Pornstar's Zak Smith and his friends. Zak is a left-wing radical who despises right-libertarians, so his politics couldn't be further from mine. I was immediately attacked by social conservatives, for "putting porn stars on the site". Note that they were offended because of who these people were, not what they were seeing on camera: The show was about playing D&D, had no adult content in it, and showed that people of all types played D&D. It enjoyed a successful run without that audience. Later, that chorus of attack also added progressives, who told me that I should not work with Zak Smith because he was objectionable. Zak continued to have a successful show.

In 2012, I was made Publisher of EveryJoe, a conservative men's site. I hired, among others, RPG Pundit and John C. Wright. You can find a published history on RPG Pundit's blog of his opinion of me allowing John C. Wright to be a columnist - he finds the man objectionable, as many do. Of course, many people also think RPG Pundit should never be a columnist because he's objectionable. Yet both had successful columns with avid followings.

In 2012, I was also made Publisher The Gloss, a feminist fashion site. I hired Sam Escobar, a gender-fluid bisexual person who uses "they/their" as their preferred pronouns to run that site. Conservatives don't read The Gloss but if they did, they'd be appalled; I cannot imagine what John C. Wright, the most socially conservative person I've ever known, thought of it and Sam. It didn't matter. Sam was great at their job and is now Deputy Editor at Allure; we still stay in touch.

In 2014, as Publisher of The Escapist, I made the decision to allow discussion of GamerGate on our forums, and conducted a series of interviews showing that there was diversity of opinion on this topic. For this I was widely pilloried by progressives, for giving a platform to hate speech, and somewhat by gamergaters, for giving a platform to "SJWs". Several staffers resigned because of my position, mostly from the left. Many threads on RPG.net blasted my character and several backers who used to support ACKS refused to do so because I participated in "hate speech". Nevertheless, I continue to maintain that there was and is diversity of opinion and deed on this topic and that gamers deserved to be able to discuss it. I wrote a lengthy 5-page essay explaining my views, available online.

In 2014, I hired a man named Brandon Morse to work at The Escapist. I was immediately attacked because Brandon Morse had made tweets that some people in the trans community found offensive. Among those people Zak Smith and other members of "IHIWMA" team. Zak notified me that they would cease working with me if I did not cease working with Brandon. I sadly explained that if I had listened to that sort of influence, I'd never had worked with Zak, because other people were saying the same thing about him. He responded that he and the others were leaving. Zak and I have not worked together since.

Now, in 2016, I have accepted a pledge campaign from Vox Day, a notorious internet troll and right-wing extremist. But Vox is also a man who has loyally backed my games for years, frequently posted very kind reviews about it on his website, and whose affiliates are among my most enthusiastic supporters in the media. I have already made it clear that the art and class in the book will be appropriate to the tone of the game, world, and book. Nevertheless, there is pressure not to do business with the man, not because of what will be in the book, but because of who he is and what he believes.

I understand that pressure, and I know that those who take that stance do so out of their own moral beliefs. When I refuse that pressure, it is because of my own moral beliefs, not for economic gain. (I work in liberal Hollywood California, and my career has only been harmed, not helped, by being a right-libertarian.)

Fundamentally I think that private economic boycotts over differences of identity and politics are harmful to civil society and I refuse to engage in them.  I know that many disagree with me, and believe it is better to cause those who espouse unpopular views to suffer for them because they deserve it. I disagree and I think that civil society depends, not just on freedom from government, but on freedom to disagree - sharply, vehemently - with each other on issues most dear without fear that doing so will cause one's ability to earn a living, sell product, find work, or buy a product being harmed.  

Of course I cannot make people share my beliefs, or make them work with me, or make them buy my products, so more often than not, my position brings me harm; I find myself boycotted though I do not boycott. Even people that I have helped because of it find no reason to support my views when it conflicts with their own needs.  Nevertheless these are my life-long views, and having held them through massive career-damaging incidents, I can affirm them as fixed and immutable.

note: minor edit made on request of zak smith to clarify that cutting ties with escapist was his decision, not that of his team-members

SenorOcho
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Hi SenorOcho,

Specifically, Vox's campaign post calls out - a picture of the vile minions eating SJWs. That seems pretty hateful. His biases are very apparent and clear.

-RG


-Rhetorical Gamer

That reads as tongue-in-cheek to me. Even if someone were to be offended by it, I'm surprised that anyone who identifies so strongly as "SJW" would (or would plan to) associate with anything Alex does in the first place, having seen firsthand the borderline libel that crowd spewed at and about him during the GamerGate saga.

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