For the most part this blog deals with RPG mechanics, but today we have to go down a slightly different path.
A recent Fail Forward blog post has seriously agitated the RPG world with a whole bunch of energy focusing on how RPG’s do or don’t remarginalize those already marginalized in our society. This post is damning to rpgpundit and Zak Smith. It focuses on how these two individuals were paid consultants for 5e Dungeons and Dragons, and supposedly engage in misogyny, transphobia, and homophobia. I can’t speak to how accurate these claims are; in fact so far as I can tell, no one can since they all come from anonymous sources. What we can do however, is see that this article is presenting these facts in a hyperbolic way with an agenda. Which I will show later.
Why is that a problem? Because it is an attempt to weaponize trans* people to forward a personal agenda. Which means it’s the Fail Forward article, not Dungeons and Dragons, that is problematic.
I’m going to mostly be looking at the accusations against Zak, because I know more about him, and it’s easier to get information about him than it is about RPG Pundit.
I first became aware of Zak through his series involving pornstars playing Dungeons and Dragons. I was hugely impressed because the rights of Sex Workers is an important issue to me (Zak himself is a sex worker), and it was a hugely important in terms of humanizing Sex Workers (in this case pornstars).
As far as their RPG philosophies; word on the street is that they are both major proponents of Old School RPG’s (thus them being hired as 5e consultants) which is going to make me agree with them about as much as I agree with Ron Edwards; as in… not much.