Jul 2, 2022

Coming Clean

This isn't anything game related. I mean there's no announcement of anything upcoming here.

These days, Antipaladin Games is just me - Ray Nolan. Phil isn't involved in it at all, so I'm not speaking for Phil here.

Mini Six/APG was never political, and no one is asking it to be. Phil was conservative. I'm very strongly the opposite, politically. We made Mini Six back in the days before I was aware of any intersectionality between gaming and politics. We never intended to have any political message in the work we published together.

Anyway, in addition to the D6 system of games, I had an interest in other RPGs. I was a lurker on Dragonsfoot and a few other forums back in the days when the OSR movement was coalescing, while Phil was an active member, and I recently re-entered the OSR-sphere (as a DM, not as a writer).

Most of the OSR is cool. I'm loving it. There's a certain seedy underbelly, however, that's disgusting. There are a few works that I know of that I refuse to read or support because of who is behind them.

I haven't been oblivious to the fact that there are right-wing edgelords in gaming, but I guess I haven't had politics on my mind and RPGs simultaneously before.

I'm a straight, white, middle-class, middle-aged guy living in the middle of America, so I have a shit-ton of privilege. Living with this kind of privilege means that I've often been able to avoid thinking about things that don't apply to me, personally. Don't get me wrong, these aren't the first political thoughts I've ever had, but I failed to connect the dots between being a creator and politics because what I was involved with was "only a game."

And I was wrong.

Today I had the realization that everyone has the right to make the same informed choice I have. As such, I need to come clean about a few things regarding Phil, what happened to Phil, and where I stand on things that matter more than games.

Phil was much more vocal than I was in the early days of APG. I'm shy. Even online. Phil used to do lots of chatting with folks about gaming on all sorts of forums and such. I left that to him. There were even some projects that were in the works that fell apart when Phil left because he was the sole point of contact.

I've been evasive about how and why Phil left all of this time. Phil went to prison. It was unexpected. One day he was gone, and it took weeks for me to find out why. Justice prevailed. He is still in prison and will be for a number of years. It had nothing to do with me or APG. He was convicted of a shocking crime, and I admit that I remained vague about it because I didn't want to be associated with his crime. I should have been more open.

What I'm getting at is that when I was catching up on the OSR, a few notorious individuals stood out. There are products out there that I refuse to engage with because I disapprove of the personalities involved or the agenda they support.

You, dear reader, should also have that choice.

Because I'm not very vocal online, I'll try to be clear about who I am.

I like to consider myself an ally. I get things wrong sometimes, but I'm learning. I support LGBTQ+ rights. I'm pro-choice. I'm liberal. I believe that Black Lives Matter. I believe that man-made climate change is a problem that should have already been addressed decades ago. I believe in the total separation of church and state. I think that Trump should be barred from office for fomenting insurrection. I'm not here to argue about it, only to inform you what I believe.

If any of those statements about what I believe or what I support turns you off regarding APG, that's your right. Informed choice. Politics are everywhere in today's world.

Phil is no longer associated with APG and hasn't been for years. If you purchased a copy of Mini Six from DriveThruRPG (which means almost everyone who has ever bought it), that was after Phil went to prison and was severed from APG.

He was a self-labeled conservative. I would have described him as a "moderate-conservative," though I'm unsure that concept exists in today's US politics. He committed a heinous offense and is serving a long sentence for it. I'm not here to discuss any details and have no comments other than those basic facts because even though he went to prison, it's his story to tell.

I can't be sure what Phil communicated to people years ago, or in what context. I don't know all the circles he ran in online, and considering that certain aspects of his life took me by surprise, I can't know that he was or wasn't associated with certain repulsive segments of gaming culture back then. If he did have contacts in that primordial muck that devolved into the current regressive edgelords in the gaming world, I want the community to know that I would be repulsed by that.

I don't mean to impune anyone he ever talked with. I was Phil's friend. One of many games we played was one of those games that I won't consider today. That was before the events happened that made some in the gaming world reconsider support of that title. What I mean is that I was surprised by Phil and I was surprised by someone behind that game. If you asked me back then about the direction the world was headed in, I would have been surprised how things have actually played out. I keep getting surprised, and not in a pleasant way. So I can't discount the possibility that Mini Six could have a tainted origin or early association.

Mini Six isn't a big deal - I have no delusion that more than a slim minority of gamers have an interest in it. It was supposed to be "just a game," apolitical. Nevertheless, in today's climate, I'm unsure that the concept still exists because people matter, and what we believe matters. I think that every reader has the right to understand something about where the people behind products stand on issues.