Wednesday 22 February 2017

A Timeline of the Zak Wars

[EDIT 11/02/2019 - all my Zak posts, previous to and after this one

July 2014

February 2017

September 2017

February 2019 ]

This is my attempt to put together a timeline of the case against Zak Smith/Sabbath. I tried to do so, where possible, using only verifiable links that are publicly available for anyone to access.

In situations where harassment is alleged, its very difficult to draw the line between giving exact information and opening people up to potential anonymous abuse. If I don’t give names and links for a lot of these things the whole thing becomes an exercise in redaction. If I name a lot of names then I could easily be accused of ‘directing harassment’ towards those parties.

I’ve tried to use only links that are still publicly available and to name individuals only when necessary to precisely describe what happened in an incident.

PLEASE. Do not contact any of the people in the links below in any kind of negative or harassing way. It would be better not to contact them at all. No-one in these circles is open to persuasion and nothing will be gained. Just read what they wrote.

it should be noted (as a quick google of my name will confirm) that I am financially (through Maze of the Blue Medusa) and socially connected to Zak, so you should read with that in mind.

My overview of the chronology is at the bottom.

(Also, apologies to anyone sane from outside the culture that has to read through this.)

October 15th 2008 – Zak Starts His Blog

It's called 'Playing D&D With Porn Stars. You can see the opening post here; 

Act One. 

The Long Build Up/The Sex Wars

Feb 2010 to Dec 2013

This probably has roots in forum arguments in the past but it enters the public record in February 2010 in the Canon Puncture Incident and proceeds through to the Desborough Rape Threat Accusations of December 2013.

This period is characterised by the relatively long periods between each incident and the fact that opponents and arguments don't always carry over or fold into the next incident. Alienation and anger build up slowly, are sometimes diffused, but don't go away.

Most are triggered by arguments over sex and responses to Zaks gaming group (mainly women, mainly models).

·        Canon Puncture Incident - Zak defends his group from condescending comments.
·        Hyung Tae Kim Incident - Zak argues about the validity of sex in art.
·        The Maxim Article - Zak defends his group again, from accusations that their public profile is bad for gaming.
·        The Carcosa Thread - This starts off about sexual violence in the game in question.
·        The Math Skills Fight - Zak defends his player, is accused of misogyny.
·        The Numenera Succubus Incident - Again, triggered by the presence of sexual materials in the game.
·        The James Desborough Rape Threat Accusation - Desborough angers many of the same people with his arguments about the validity of rape in games, is then accused of making rape threats.


February 2010 – The Canon Puncture Incident

The hosts of the Canon Puncture Podcast talk about Zaks game with his group. They say some things that Zak regards as condescending towards the girls in the group, Zak requests an apology and the hosts apologise. This gets spoken about on and Zak comes in to describe the situation. You can read that thread here;

February 11th 2011 – The Hyung Tae Kim Incident

Anna Kreider makes an argument against the art of Hyung Tae Kim, you can read it in full here;

Zak disagrees and the two of them get into it. Zak calls her a prude. Later, on March 10th 2015, Kreider posts her own chronology of her interactions with Zak, you can find it below.

I've been asked to point out that Zak wasn't invited into this thread, he just turned up, which is true, he hasn't been invited into any of these threads, but neither has anyone else? They are almost all public posts or they wouldn't be available to link here. This has been described as a scary incident to me.

Well, take a look for yourself.

December 2011 – The Maxim Article

The US magazine Maxim carries an article about Zak and his group. You can read the article itself here;

An argument breaks out over representation. Much of this happens on G+ and has subsequently been deleted. You can read a transcript of that (by Zak) here;

This was the best evidence I could find of the origins of an important disagreement that, like everything in this chronology, forms resentments and hatreds that pile on into the next thing. If anyone has any publicly available links describing or showing what happened then let me know.

February 2012 – 'Confessions of a Dungeon Master' thread on Storygames,

This is an interesting argument over a game transcript from 1980 by John Eric Holmes. 

This starts out as being between Luke Crane, creator of Burning Wheel and Zak, a lot of classic behaviours are exhibited here and, like a lot of times in this chronology it's based on very different perceptions of, and reactions to, a potentially sexual situation.

Zaks opinion of Luke Crane comes up again four years later in an April 2016 post below.

February 29th 2012 – Zak Encounters Somethingawful

Zak says that the enmity between him and the Somethingawful forum dates from this contact. In his own words;

The backstory on this is an enmity with Something Awful beginning with me attempting to talk to them about their extreme statements here, years after noticing they took Mandy to task for having extension cords on her wish list”

Link to his post is here;

April 2012 – Zak Banned from

Zak starts a thread about the 2nd Edition of Geoffery McKinneys Carcosa book. An argument breaks out about Anna Krieder, you can read the thread here;

September 27th 2012 – The Math Skills Fight on Somethingawful

Zak argues with the posters on the somethingawful forum about dice notation. During this, he is accused of misogyny in regards to one of his players. You can read about that here;

This adds to the enmity between Zak and Somethingawful which he has said is the engine behind the Tom Hatfield Failforward article in July 2014.

August 3rd 2013 – The Numenera Succubus Incident

Game Writer Monte Cook  releases his game Numenera. This game includes rules for a Science Fiction Succubus. This causes a massive scandal and argument (google “Numenera Succubus”) especially on RPG.NET where the thread runs for 561 posts;

August 5th 2013 – Zak Banned from RPG.NET

The succubus thread is what finally gets Zak permanently banned from You can read the exact wording of the ban here;

He's banned by Ettin, which is a name you will see several more times in this chronology.

It's interesting at this point to take a look at the different viewpoints. Here is part of the argument for the ban;

"You serially derail sexism threads with bad-faith arguments. You insist that nobody can ever make generalizations about anything ever (even when they're not), then post generalizations. You pull out arguments that boil down to "words don't mean things" like that's ever been constructive outside the philosophy forum. You're passive-aggressive and occasionally condescending, you post anecdotes as facts, you tell people that things can't be sexist because you know ~females~ who would disagree. You're convinced that you're always right and refuse to consider otherwise, or at least that's the only explanation I can think of for why you keep making up strawmen to dismiss people who disagree with you (cf. the pass-agg "stop assuming all women are alike!" business, asserting that feminist game bloggers and others who disagree with you must be "conservative", every time you say "Tipper Gore" ever). You don't take anything that isn't agreement for an answer, and will argue in circles about it instead of making the positive contributions you could be until you get bored or someone makes you stop."

And here, from the ban itself, is the mods example of Zak doing this;

"Nobody does this research or even seems to ask for it. And they should. 

That this idea is going to turn away more women than it brings in has no experimental evidence behind it.

That this idea is going to make folks' attitudes towards women worse has no experimental evidence behind it.

So if your only case against the trope is Monte is being accidentally sexist (via effect) it's pretty much accusing someone of sexism with no evidence.

The idea that this is even a sexist trope in Monte's hands is based on claims it will have a sexist effect. It requires them to be true. It doesn't seem fair or right to do that in absence of anybody trying to test it.

Me, here's who I can test: 2000 blog readers and G+ people. 4 figures of "I Hit It With My Axe" fans on Facebook. Mandy's fans which are like in the 5 figures. We ask what keeps women from gaming: The data we get has nothing to do with content and everything to do with a social environment of weird controlling nerd boys.

But, hey, that's a biased sample

Somebody do some research, rather than assuming all women are like the ones in your environment.

The closest thing we have in terms of experimental data on anything moving the needle of gaming concerning women is the advent of Vampire which proves:

Tim Truman illustrations of sexy vampires --male and female--attract female gamers, a lot of whom want to dress like them.

Folks who run conventions and publishing companies and forums should try to do a better job by publishers, designers and women by actually basing claims about what is and isn't bad for the community on testing stuff."

August 5th 2013 – Zaks 'open letter' to

In response to this perma-ban, Zak posts an 'open letter to the managers of;

If you look at the comments, waaay at the bottom you will see Shanna Germain, Cooks partner and co-creator talking about her reaction to the arguments made against her and the game.

This is also the first time I recall hearing the name Shannon Appelcline in this history. It will come up again in Febuary 2017. You will see that below.

December 16th 2013 – The James Desborough Rape Threat Accusation

About 10 months prior to this Ben Lehman publicly accused James Desborough, RPG writer, of being "Someone who threatens their critics with rape". Several people +1 this post.

Desborough has been involved in culture-war arguments with this faction for some time and, in my opinion, persistently trolls them. The verbal violence between these groups is intense. Just google "james desborough in defence of rape" or any combination of those words to take a look at the shitstorm.

John Stavropoulus an RPG writer not aligned with Desborough’s faction or opinions, checks up on the claim that he threatened people with rape and finds no evidence to back them up.

Zak in his own words; “The short of Jon's research is this accusation turned out to be bullshit even though 80some people +1ed it and it got shared all over the RPG internet.

Now Jon didn't name names, because he "doesn't want a witchhunt". Which is respectable. But I'm not Jon and I do think the RPG community as a whole deserves an apology from every single one of these people for confusing and distorting a very real and very serious issue of real violence that actually affects peoples' lives.”

He names names. Some people retract their +1’s, others do not. I’m not going to provide a link to that post but it is still up.

Zaks naming of names on this issue is used as evidence of harassment from this point on, in particular as evidence of him having a ‘list of enemies’.

Many of the people on this list appear elsewhere in this chronology, almost always as opponents of Zak I think. I can't really point out who because, like I said, its alleged to be an act of harassment or directing harassment towards those parties so if I repeat the same names then this chronology also becomes harassment.

December 17th 2013 – Paul Ettin Recommends plussing the Rape Threat Post

In response to the above incident, Paul Ettin, RPG.NET moderator recommends +1’ing the accusation against Desborough of making rape threats;


Act Two. The Summer of Hate

July 2014 to August 2014

As soon as it came out that Zak and Pundit were consultants on 5e, the attacks, accusations and counter-accusations come in thick and fast. This is a very short period of great intensity.

July 3rd 2014 – D&D 5e Released

The new edition of D&D comes out and it is revealed that Zak and the RPGPundit are counted as consultants. This marks the beginning of Consultancygate.

July 4th 2014 – Ettin Admits Trolling

This is from a chat log you can read here;

In lines 1174 10 1178 he admits that he does not think Desborough made rape threats but plussed the accusation anyway.

July 6th 2014 – Eric Haddock Asks For Evidence on G+

This is in a public thread so I hope he doesn't mind me putting it here;

This is relevant largely because of this quote from Sean Patrick Fannon which gets a blog response from Zak later;

"The Internet is screaming with the harm caused, Zak; this very conversation wouldn't be happening if you'd not actively hurt and pissed off a great many people. You know this as well as I do. You've simply chosen to deafen yourself to it, demanding bullet point accounting that you can then dismiss or refute as you choose.

This is one of your tactics. You ask others to present evidence so you can play your lawyer roleplaying game. You have no actual interest in evaluating your actions or your impact. You are resolutely convinced you cannot possibly be wrong.

You are telling me what I need to know here. You don't acknowledge the harm you've caused, nor your capacity to cause it. Anyone who claims you've harmed them is Swine (or a liar, or worse). I am disinclined to spend any more time on this, since it is clear you've made your choice to stand on the treacherous ground of your own making.

As for being discredited... I think not. Your refusal to give even the slightest ground, to acknowledge even the minimal amount of flaw or fault, delineates your narcissistic arrogance in clear, bold colors.

There was an opportunity here, Zak. You pissed it away. You've discredited yourself, sir.

My credit will remain intact, thanks."

July 7th 2014 – My Defence of Zak

As the abuse of Zak intensifies I write this post about him in defence;

July 7th 2014 – The Pigfucker Post

A few hours after I post my defence of Zak, I wake up to find this article in which he lays out his own (by my standards, highly aggressive) policy on internet arguments, and also accuses someone of (metaphorically) fucking a pig;

July 9th 2014 – The “The Internet is Screaming” Post

This is really interesting. It kicks off with the quote from Sean Patrick Fannon above, then leads into an (I think we would have to say alleged) message from Zeea, who I think I recall from the threads about Zak. I will include a little bit here;

So, I've spent a few hours doing as much research as I can, and I've talked to folks some more.

I'm not going to equivocate. People made accusations against you without proof, the accusations got amplified and distorted and repeated through the Telephone Game effect, and I bought into it when I shouldn't have.


I don't think anyone I talked to privately is intentionally lying about this. I think they believe it. But perceptions color memories, as does hearing the same event discussed by multiple people, and some of things look a bit stretched by this point. I can't base an opinion on stretchy-looking facts."

The whole thing is quite interesting and you can find it here;


Zeea then (according to this post) retracts their statement based on the 'outing' controversy of July 26th (see below).

July 2014 – The David Hill Death Threats

I think it’s about this time that David Hill, game designer, claims that he has received death threats, including the names of his children’s teachers and phone calls to his address. These claims go on to become a major part of the case against Zak.

The only publicly available link I could find in which David Hill repeats them is here in post 49 of this forum thread;

July 19th 2014 – The Scrap Princess Defence

Scrap Princess, who is trans and who is a co-creator with me of numerous projects, makes a public statement about the accusations (which is blissfully short.) here;

July 21st 2014 – Fred Hicks Weighs In

Fred Hicks of Evil Hat productions makes a public G+ post in which he seems to support the allegations against Zak and apologises for not doing so earlier;

July 26th  2014 – The ‘Outing’ Incident

This is where Mandy, Zaks girlfriend talks about some of the trolls attacking her and Zak and uses a variety of openly available aliases for someone who turned out to be trans. You can read the post here;

Like every archive in the chronology this link is only frozen from the point of this blog post.

Going forward, this incident forms one of the core pieces of evidence against Zak in future arguments. If you read someone saying that he outs trans people as a form of retaliation or revenge it is probably referring to this incident.

The case against is I think that Zak knew this person was trans and linked two of their names to out them.

The case for the defence is that Zak and Mandy had argued with this person many times, knowing them only by non-gendered internet handles,and had no idea what gender they were, or that the handles referred to identities with different genders, when the two names were linked.

Zak in his own words;

The person was not revealed to be trans until Wordmercenary/Tom Hatfield said she was. It was not public knowledge so how could Mandy or I have known?”

July 31st 2014 – The Failforward Article

This article is where the real bomb goes off. From this point on the situation massively intensifies. The article is shared by a very large range of people and is cited in nearly every major attack on Zak from this point on.

You can read the clearest and most detailed debunking here;

July 31st 2014 – The First Dongion Accusation

The Dongion is a blog posting sarcastic commentary about the, well I can only really call them the 'social justice' clique. Zak has always claimed that he was not the writer of the Dongion but has said that he 'takes responsibility' for it based on the fact that it is in his blogroll

This tumblr reblog of the failforward article is the earliest I have been able to find that links the Dongion blog to Zak. It also links the Dongion to the Outing Incident.

August 2014 – “Get at him” Screencap

In August of 2014, in response to the spread of the Failforward article, Zak posts this. It is used in many subsequent attacks on him as evidence of his harassment campaign;

From the image; “hit him up? Correct him? Eat him?”

Zak – “get on twitter. tweet at him, ask questions, give links.
I have a girlfriend in the hospital and 111 trolls to deal with please just either help or don’t but pls no silly nerd questions.”

Complete public text of the post (provided by Zak) here;

August 2014 – “Destroy” Screencap

A few days later, in response to another article, Zak says this;

I remember seeing this go up and thinking that it was the stupidest shit I’d ever seen him do. I should have said something right away at the time.

The Destroy screencap forms a major part of the evidence against Zak and is brought up in most subsequent attacks on him.

It should be noted that the link is aimed at a Metafilter thread and that you can go and look at this thread here, if you want to see if it was, in fact, destroyed:

Here (from Zak) is the full text of the post;

August 2014 – Zaks Response To The Failforward Article

In his own words; “it debunks, with evidence, every single claim made up until that point in every single venue”


Act Three; The Small Wars 

January 2015 to August 2016

This is a series of spot fires or low-level conflicts based around particular incidents. During this period we get mutual counter-accusations, the Ennies walkout and the Magpie Games Incident. So far as I know the accusations against Zak don't widen in scope or intensify, but no-ones position changes. This is something like a 'Cold War' period.

Inexact Date but probably Jan 2015 – The Ettin Dongion Accusation

Ettin, the mod, accuses Zak of running the Dongion, which he calls a harassment blog andwhich you can find on his tumblr;

A link to the blog is here;

January 1st 2015 – Mandys Chainmail Bikini Feminist Defence

Zaks girlfriend Mandy makes a long post on her tumblr giving screencaps of various kinds of abuse she has received and talks in detail about the alleged outing of a trans person. You can read it here;

March 10th 2015 – Anna Krieder Posts Her History With Zak

Anna Krieder makes this post;

Which is a chronology of her interactions with Zak from her perspective, so now you have a chronology in your chronology.

It's quite interesting and I recommend going through it if you have the time and if you want to see the whole fucking cavalcade through the eyes of someone on the opposite side. It's almost like the mirror/antiverse version of this post with many of the same events from an entirely different perspective.

Amongst other things it locates their first contact in January 2011 and the the opening of hostilities to the storygames thread in April 2012, not the Hyung Tae Kim Incident in February 2011 as I have above.

March 13th 2015 – The Sampat Mob Assault Accusation

A brief moment of levity here to give everyone a break. Elizabeth Sampat accuses Zak of riling up a “mob to the point that I was assaulted in front of witnesses.”

I RTed a blog post about how Zak has pushed women out of the industry. Zak riled up mobs to the point I was assaulted in front of witnesses
I'm sure rational minds can discern which one of us is an abuser. And that's the last I'm going to say.

  1. Saying"this isn't a great time, but I really don't like what you're saying about my friends Zak & Mandy online" is not assault.@twoscooters
    2 replies1 retweet1 like

  2. @karolynprg Wait, were you the one who dumped the drink on me, or was it your friend?
    1 reply0 retweets0 likes

  3. @twoscooters nobody dumped a drink on you. A glass of water spilled a full 6 feet away & more spilled on her than you.

This is Karolyn Gehrig, disabled activist

The other accused member of the mob was Charlotte Stokely. Adult film actress

August 2015 – Red and Pleasant Land Wins At The Ennies

Zaks book Red and Pleasant Land wins multiple awards at the Ennies. Stacy Dellorfano of Contessa, the feminist game organisation gives a speech to accept the award in his absence and a few people walk out in protest.

August 1st Zak documents the twitter response to his win here;

August 4th, Kiel Chenier talks about that incident and about the abuse he got for supporting Zak here;

October 20th 2015 – Zak Mocks David Hills Views on Star Wars

In this post, Zak persistently mocks and argues against David Hills views on the Star Wars franchise.

This has been described (in the comments below) as "a blatant attack on David Hill, using screenshots of social media accounts that Hill has said he blocked Zak from."

Zak's defence, from the comments;

"I am blocked from David's social media, it is still public information available to anyone not logged in.

Criticism is not harassment. David Hills Star wars problem is he hadn't seen it when he made his years worth of irrational accusations about it."

Both sides get deep into it in the comments of this post if you want to read more.

April 11th 2016 – "Why There's No Tabletop RPG Theory

In this post by Zak he goes further into his numerous and deep disagreements with the Storygames community.

I was asked to bring this in becasue people think Luke Crane is misrepresented in this post, and in particular becasue of the request for people to contact Lukes friends which apparently people did try to do.

It has stuff on Luke (half way down), Cam Banks, Ettin and a few other people. You can read one of the interactions with Luke Crane in a storygame thread entry for 2012 above.

August 26th 2016 – Zak Calls His Critics Psychotics

Also knuckle-draggers, edition-warriors and sociopaths. This is claimed to be an act of harassment by some (see the comments to this post). You can read it here;

July 26th 2016 – The Magpie Games Incident

Mark Diaz Truman, one of the heads of Magpie Games, a storygames publisher, writes an article about aspects of his gaming circles that trouble him. You can read it here;

He is accused of defending Zak and therefore aiding a harasser. All the usual people arrive to do all the usual things.

Peoples responses and attitudes to this article become another form of contention which is carried forwards into future arguments. I mean, come on, if you've read this far you know how it works by now.

July 28th 2016 – The Invisible James Raggi Accusations

In this public thread by Mark Diaz Truman;

Someone accuses James Raggi, one of Zak’s publishers, of.. something? Then deletes the accusation. You can still see the replies to the ghost accusation but not the thing itself.

I think this was about Raggi postulating the possibility of working with Varg Vikernes, an actual 100% blood-and-soil white nationalist and actual murderer, but I'm not sure.

July 28th 2016 – Zak Talks About Mental Illness in the RPG Community

In this post Zak, without mentioning anyone specific, talks about how to talk to mentally ill people;

This has been described, (in the comments below) as "an accusation that his critics fabricate and distort facts due to being mentally ill. I would argue this is a clear attack, and in the context of the previous posts can be understood as continued harrasment "

August 4th 2016 – Zak on Anna Krieder

You've seen Anna Krieders chronology from March 10th 2015, now you get to read Zaks, equally long, response to that. And yes all of this is slowly killing me


Act Four; We Eat Blood

Feb 2017 - Ongoing

Zak brings out a collaboration with White Wolf and all the old accusations are resurrected and combined with new ones.

February 17th 2017 - 'We Eat Blood' Begins

White Wolf announce that they have produced an interactive text game with Zak. Their announcement is here;

February 19th 2017 - The We Eat Blood megathread

On discovering the news that Zak is working with White Wolf, outrage begins immediately. Numerous threads are started, the primary one on RPG.NET ;

(I was banned from this thread).

The main charges against Zak are;

·        That he is a known harasser of transwomen, gays, minorities etc.
·        That he used a false name on Reddit, impersonating Shannon Applecline, the owner of RPG.NET.
·        That he named one of the characters in the game, Avery, after one of his enemies.

'Known Harasser'

See everything in the above thread as evidence used by various parties.

The SAppelcline Situation

I remembered seeing the SAppelcline identity on Reddit multiple times, very often after a thread was pointed out by Zak on G+.

If you can't see these well, they are from here;

I was bothered enough by this that I contacted Zak directly about it.

He gave me a response with enough detail to persuade me that it was likely true. But;

·        Even if true, it still indicates questionable behaviour. Zak knew the person using the identity, treated it as a joke and did nothing to prevent them.
·        It’s utterly unverifiable to any neutral observer.

I've since been contacted by people known to me who also think Zak was directly behind the SApplecine identity on reddit.

This, more than anything else, damages Zak in the eyes of many people.

Also, if anyone else ever did this to him he would absolutely, unquestionably, never forgive them and would refer to them as an identity thief till the end of time.

The Avery Situation

Zaks argument is that;

·        This name was chosen with no particular reference to anyone real.
·        The only opponent of his it could be named after is Avery Alder, the creator of Monsterhearts and they had no significant contact until the Magpie Games Incident, July 2016. He says the script for the game was finished and locked before that point.
·        He regards the Avery character as a hero in the game, someone witty and funny and cool who saves your life, it would make no sense for him to name her after an enemy.
·        The Avery character is directly based on Zaks (trans) friend Bailey Jay, with her approval.

I'll editorialise a little more than usual here. Claiming making a trans character a sketchy hyper-sexualised slut as an act of aggression seems a bit mad to me since Zak is a sketchy hyper-sexualised slut and so are most of the people he likes and he, and they, have all been pretty open in both speech and deed about how they think this is a pretty great way to live. It's a bit like saying the Pope wrote a a book and condemned the villain by making them a catholic.

February 19th 2017 – Stacey Dellorfano Responds

Stacy Dellorfano, who runs the feminist Contessa event, responds to the accusations against Zak and describes the various different kinds of harassment and abuse she has received, sometimes from the same people who are opposed to Zak, whilst trying to make Contessa a thing;

February 21st 2017 – Sarah Horrocks Responds

The co-creator of the We Eat Blood game, Sarah Horrocks, is trans. You can read her tumblr response to the accusations here;

Which include, interestingly, an anonymous commenter, without irony, explaining to a trans woman what transphobia is and that she doesn’t really understand how it works.

February 22nd  2017 White Wolf’s Response

White Wolf responds to the accusations here;

May 13th 2017 - Still Eating Blood

White Wolf has released a bunch of information about its new edition. Kenneth Hite is confirmed as the lead designer. This kicks off another thread on RPG.NET;

If you've gone through all of this you will see the same accusations from the same people, everything basically unaltered. This thread got locked soon after I posted it here, with 290 posts on it.

Then, the thread from back in February, got woken up. As of the time of writing that one has 1390 posts. (Looks like that has been shut down as well.)

June 20th 2017 - The Mark Rein-Hagen Thread

Mark Rein-Hagen, game designer and original creator of Vampire: The Masquerade, opens a Facebook post about play-testing of his new board-game;

After a few nice posts, this comes up;

Which, as you can see, has 358 replies as of the moment of this entry. So far as I can see the accusations are all things covered so far.

August 3rd 2017 - 'Art and the Artist' on RPG.NET

Were back!

Thread opens with this; "If he was just some asshole, I'd still buy his books, because I believe in supporting a skilled person if even they kinda suck. But this stuff about driving people out of the industry, calling people's phones to harass them, targeting their families, it sounds super skeevy and crazy. 

I'm not trying to start any fights here, but can someone give me some links or information on the above? Being an abravise person who use's sock accounts, and makes some dumb blog where you talk shit all day, that's shitty and all, but it's not really enough to send me over the line of "I'm not doing to buy your books".

The Mods then ban all mention of Zak. Then I get kicked off (2nd 3-day ban)

August 13th 2017 - I am Banned from Defending Zak on RPG.NET

Text of the ban; "Dear pjamesstuart,

You have received a warning at RPGnet Forums.

Topic Ban

Since your previous ban, we've reviewed your posting history and noticed that you've been posting exclusively in threads discussing a permabanned friend of yours. Specifically, you've been trying to reframe these discussions around a blog post you wrote. Though you present your views as a reasonable, neutral foundation for discussion, your posting mostly consists of attacks on other users and anyone who disagrees with you. Some of these posts are simply drive-by speeches directed at hypothetical future lurkers, and don't engage with the discussion in any meaningful way.

You've made it clear that you have personal and financial reasons to continue this behavior, and have no intention of changing. After discussion, we've decided to formally topic ban you from discussing Zak Smith, including linking to blog posts discussing him. You're still free to promote and discuss any games you've worked together on, provided you focus on the games themselves. You're also free to discuss any other topic on RPGnet, and we hope you take this opportunity to find other threads you'd enjoy participating in.


Warnings serve as a reminder to you of the forum's rules, which you are expected to understand and follow.

All the best,
RPGnet Forums"

Image of the ban;

August 15th 2017 - 4Chan False Identity Accusation

We are back with David Hill on the following twitter thread;

Hill accuses Zak of having a 4Chan identity;

Based on the use of the phrase 'get at him' in this anti-Hill comment;

And this G+ thread you will remember from August 2014 (see above).

And including what I think is an accusation of Fascism? 

I'm blocking all the commenting identities here to limit the emotional fallout but its all on a public and open twitter thread. I'm also going to repeat my request from the beginning of the post;

"PLEASE. Do not contact any of the people in the links below in any kind of negative or harassing way. It would be better not to contact them at all. No-one in these circles is open to persuasion and nothing will be gained. Just read what they wrote."

And if you are thinking; "Does this mean someone can publicly accuse me of Fascism and I can't publicly reply because my reply would be considered harassment?" Then yes, that is what it means. Those are the rules of the Culture War I'm afraid.

Later on we get Zaks denial of the accusation (G+ link may not be accessible to all);


My Overview

My overview is that its fucked.

It's one of the most epic, intense, byzantine and overwhelming tragedies I've ever seen. Its like Moby Dick if there were about 20 whales all called Moby Dick (and this is not a comment on the weight of the people involved).

I mean holy fuck what a gargantuan and insane mess. It staggers the mind.

And its a tragedy in the classical sense I think. Everyone involved is way too deeply bound to their narrative to turn back or let go now. The only way is forward, forward to doom.


As for its structure; we can see major responses and spikes whenever Zak is found to have worked, or to be suspected of working with, a different gaming company or group or whenever his popularity spikes. Firstly in the long build up, many arguments come about from the 'Playing DnD With Porn Stars' Escapist Series, which grew in popularity as it went on.

Then directly after he works on 5e we get the Summer of Hate. Then the Ennies win. During the Magpie Games Incident Mark Diaz Truman has to publicly state that he is not going to work with Zak after people allege that a planned project with Zak is the reason for his post.

Then after Zak is linked to White Wolf, we get another eruption and the lava is still flowing on that one. (Still continuing as of last edit.)


I had to close the comments as things were getting too crazy in there to keep track of. If anyone has new evidence or new accusations from a publicly available link then you can let me know on G+ or Facebook or Reddit. You can find my social media in the site reached by the link at the top right of the blog;


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Wait, a deleted comment?
    What could it've said?
    I bet he ate a baby in that comment and now he's gonna vomit on your mom.

  3. I appreciate you putting all this together. It's tough to keep track of everything that has happened.

  4. It's a game that we all enjoy. I find it interesting how petty and jealous people become, and how trivial all of it is. Keep making good RPG and stop hating.

  5. I'm not sure if a comment is warranted or welcome here (some RPG dudes seem really picky about comments) but I want to throw in my two cents anyway.
    Keep in mind I am from a small community in Canada where the kinds of things said by folks online during disagreements truly seems like insanity, especially given the subject matter oftentimes.
    I don't know Zak, except his name, have heard of DND w/ PSs, and often see his name around along with the flame princess line, etc. I used to follow him but found his commentary too nasty. That said, there's nothing wrong with that, it's just not in my nature, so no offense.
    Zak seems like the type of guy who knows his vulgarity, thrives on conflict and posturing...Qualities that I stereotypically see as American pastimes. Again, no offense it just seems like a cultural thing that works down there. I mean, I'm still hearing crazy stuff from the election down there and the craziness of the rhetoric seems unstoppable. Back to Zak, anyone entering into these sorts of conflicts has to not have a double standard; crazy stuff gets said and then it's over, hopefully. It's like a hockey game up here, no matter whose teeth are on the ice, you shake hands and let it go.
    Maybe there needs to be more of the letting go with this stuff. This Zak dude seems like he probably benefits from chewing it out with folks, it's kinda part of his 'celebrity profile' if you will. Like, I wouldn't criticize the guy and expect not to get told off in some colourful, flamboyant way. Maybe folks are trying to piggyback on his celebrity?
    Anyway, online culture being what it is, RPGs tend to be played by some pretty arrogant folks. Big egos and personalities are bound to clash.
    I don't know exactly what I'm trying to say, bit Zak seems like a popular, charismatic, prolific artist. They say never meet your favourite artists, right? I think a lot of folks take words too seriously and get caught up in drama when a fistfight isn't a physical option.
    It takes two to tango, but generally, as far as I know, Zak's big mouth seems to go with his style, and any publicity in this regard seems beneficial.
    That's it. Just some thoughts. My advice, sticking to gaming will alliviate hissy fits and name calling. But in Zak's case, I think it's part of the package.
    Again, no offense to anyone; this culture I see in this post is alien to my experience, like a madness. All I know is lots of folks like Zak and the flame princess stuff, so as long as no one gets killed, the meta seems like a sideshow for folks to follow and choose teams...Maybe it's all gaming?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. As a Brazilian, I agree with the Canadian guys.

    3. Many of the 'problems' here are from an unspoken assumption: that a 'bad' (confrontational, agressive, double-down) tone is wrong; thus, any argument backed by wrong tactics implies wrong facts, or outright deception, cause it's cannot be 'right'.
      His technique seem as abhorrent, his critics create weird accusations, while ignoring his fact-checking.
      Because the opposing side cannot accept the facts presented in a wrong (bad tone) form, the attacks ignore his rebuttals and focus on "how evil he is". And the impetus to fabricate accusing narratives against public enemies is strong.

    4. The problem with online discussion is that your tone depends on who reads you. You can't post a comment that's appropriate for everybody.
      Add to this that some people just can't help extrapolate on what you say (when they read it entirely to begin with), and it becomes hell.

  6. True creativity is terrifying to those who are not creative.


    I believe you forgot this here blog post where Zak calls a significant number of his critics psychotic, then doubles down in the comments by continuing to call them delusional. Explain how this isn't harassment?

    1. Its public and its relevant so I'm happy to put it in. Linked above.

    2. Thank you for accepting suggestions in good faith.

      Given Zak's claims that his critics are delusion, and have a diagnosable mental illness in the blog post above, it seems difficult to see this ( as anything other than an accusation that his critics fabricate and distort facts due to being mentally ill. I would argue this is a clear attack, and in the context of the previous posts can be understood as continued harrasment

    3. Also this post ( is a blatant attack on David Hill, using screenshots of social media accounts that Hill has said he blocked Zak from. It

      Given that Hill has claimed reported being harassed by Zak, it seems pretty relevant. Defending Star Wars is one thing, personally attacking Hill is bizarre and unnecessary.

    4. I am blocked from David's social media, it is still public information available to anyone not logged in.

      Criticism is not harassment. David Hills Star wars problem is he hadn't seen it when he made his years worth of irrational accusations about it.

      Calling a person you believe to be psychotic "psychotic" is not harassment.

      (Psychosis is characterized by psychotic delusion--an unshakeable belief in an untrue thing).

      See: Most people I know, including me, calling President Trump out for irrational policies and statements.

    5. Pardon my Ignorance, but continually posting negative things about a person on your own blog isn`t harrasment from my understanding. Harrasment is when you go out of your way to tell someone in the face/their twitter/Facebook/G+. If you post it on your own blog? Thats Insulting or an attack but not harrasment.

      Usually references that A has to be in direct contact with B in one way or another for it to be harrasment.

      If you classify harrasment as "Someone said mean or false things about me in a place I do not frequent and I would not know about unless someone tells me about it"? That would explain a lot of the confusion I have when I see people discuss who harrases who in this. Zak has me blocked on G+ because according to him I am "bad People" and worse words, but I do not think he harrased me.

      Please take this as it is meant, a question for clarification what constitutes harrasment in the first place from your point of view.

    6. Zak: While the things David posted from accounts he blocked you from may be publicly accessible, the inference must be that you logged out of your blocked account in order to read his social media. You then saved posts from a number of years in order to post an aggressive blog post that personally attacked him for having an opinion about Stars Wars. I would suggest that the attack in the blog post was an out of proportion unnecessary personal attack that went beyond mere criticism.

      Calling a person you believe to be psychotic a psychotic, with no actual proof, in a public place for the purpose--among other things--of attacking and denigrating them is harassment.

      Psychopathy is a diagnosable mental illness, with specific diagnostic criteria. THose include " persistent antisocial behavior, impaired empathy and remorse, and bold, disinhibited, egotistical traits."

      Your claim that the people mentioned in your blog post is without evidence, and unless you can produce a doctor's diagnosis about the subjects of the blog post, it is a public and defamatory personal attack.

      Marcus: I would argue that harassment does not have to be direct. A course of conduct, or pattern of behaviour, that involves repeated public attacks is harassment in my view.

      Your link has this definition: " the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands."

      Repeated public attacks could fit within that definition. Also, for the avoidance of doubt, I am not saying any of the posts I referenced are evidence of a criminal offence--I am saying that they can be understood, in ordinary speech--to be part of a pattern of harassing behaviour.

    7. Zak: I apologise, my previous said you called people psychopaths but in fact you called them psychotic.

      My point that you have accused people of having a diagnosable metal illness without having actual evidence stands, but I did refer to the wrong condition.

    8. 1. I would like to suggest that talking is good.
      The fact that I said a thing and you responded to it is rare and it might eventually help fix things.
      I would like to keep doing that so we can sort out if not all, then at least some of the definitional issues that get in the way of anybody being able to communicate in a reasonable way with anyone else about all this.

      2. "the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands."

      If that's the low bar--Then every single person giving me grief is a harasser.

      The libels against me are systematic and unwanted and annoying. Basically: anyone could say this about anyone they don't like and have dealt with more than once about the same complaint.

      To come to a definition we can talk about, we need to either raise the bar or decide I, too, am being massively harassed all the time every day by all these folks.

      It's logistically easier to talk in a place I get notifications--Contact me privately zakzsmith AT hawtmayle dawt calm or anonymously if you prefer to continue this discussion unless you see those venues as threatening for some reason--you may suggest another.

      If you would genuinely like to help resolve these conflicts, I do think that a conversation about this would help.

    9. Is the second "z" supposed to be in there?

  8. Thanks for putting this together. I met Zak one time in real life and he was incredibly gracious and kind to me. I can't really think of anything to say that would be constructive or helpful, just wanted to say that it was a high point of my gaming career and that I'm sorry that this is a thing.

  9. Zak is an acquired taste... I did have a disagreement with him a while ago, and I find him incredibly abrasive in my interactions with him. As somebody else stated, I think that it is simply his approach to interaction/style.
    I find that a lot of Zak's opponents seem to go to great pains to take any remark of his personally, and to twist things.

  10. Nitpick:

    July 7th 2104 – My Defence of Zak

    I believe your defence was posted in this century, not the next.

    (Feel free to delete on correction)

  11. Zak is a tacky, compulsively self-aggrandising narcissist, which makes him the perfect platform for moral grandstanding by subhuman pudding-men such as Fred Hicks.

  12. Thank you for collecting and posting. I try to keep up, for a few simple reasons: 1) I've enjoyed the content Zak has created or contributed to, and 2) having met him in person, he's proved to be one of the most gracious people I've met in the industry.

  13. Link:

    "Once you have decided that you will spend any part of your life trolling on the internet, you forfeit all rights as a human.If you should get hit by a car--no-one should help you. If you vote on anything--your vote should be thrown away.

    If you wanted to participate in a conversation, you've lost that right. You are a non-human now. You are over and cancelled. No concern of yours can ever matter to any member of the human race ever again."

    Zak, you said that—in an argument about a charm/diplomacy subsystem, no less.

    Your very first post in *this* comment section was a (petty, transparent) troll.

    By your own standards, you are officially subhuman, and we as actual humans are morally required to disregard everything you do and say, in perpetuity.

  14. Could some one explain to me what this is all about?

    It's such a long series of blog posts, but I don't really understand what is going on - Is Zak in trouble? has he fallen out with some people in the last few days?

    Thanks for any info

    1. nah, i'm fine, it's just the usual trolls because i have a video game out

  15. I am locking comments after this point. Anyone who wants to add anything can contact me via email.