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How Necromancer Games Made Up Very Upset



Before I launch into this article proper, I want to make a point about what does and does not upset me.

I'm aware that I say, and do, a lot of things that people disagree with. That's fine. People have a perfect right to disagree with me, and moreover have a perfect right to say so.

If someone wants to tell the world that they think I'm a bad person because I say the word "fuck", then fine, that's their prerogative.

Equally, if someone wants to tell the world that they think I'm a bad person because I've confessed elsewhere in this issue to sexual abuse of a pillow, then again, that's fine by me, because it's a perfectly reasonable opinion for them to both hold and say.

But if someone says something about me that *isn't* true, and then someone else, reading that, and believing it to be true, forms a bad opinion of me... Well I resent that to hell.

That I do not like. It might be that what I was wrongly accused of wasn't that awful, and that the (incorrect) bad opinion that was formed of me also therefore wasn't that bad. But that's not the point. I don't see why I should have people thinking even a bit bad of me on the basis of an accusation that has absolutely no basis in truth.

Which is where we get to the subject of this article.

Long term readers of ours will no doubt recall an article from Issue 7 that outlined a joke theory of mine, Scenario Reward Inflation. Feel free to re-read it now to refresh your memories.

The basic premise of the article was this:

I'd come up with a joke theory about how the proliferation of D20 scenario producers might lead to an inflation of the rewards those scenarios offered. I wrote up the theory in an email, and sent that email to 36 companies who produced D20 scenarios, asking if they had any comments they could offer. If they responded, then I replied asking them if I could use their response in an article. If they didn't respond, then I LEFT THEM ALONE. I'm just a poxy fanzine writer. I'm not going to go around hassling professional companies. (Hey, I agonised for a long time about whether it was acceptable for me to send them *one* email).

I sent it off two 36 companies, and got 8 replies, one of which was from Clark Peterson of Necromancer Games.

I published the article, and everything seemed fine.

Then one day a friend of mine, having a bit of a surf during his lunch hour, came upon a thread at the Necromancer Games web forum which discussed the article. You can find the thread at:

(I'd actually encourage you all to click on the above link, right now, and read the thread. You should be particularly interested in the fourth post, from "Orcus". I'd like everyone to read it because I don't want people to take my word for it, and because threads like these often get moved by moderators when they become contraversal, and I'd like people to view it before that happens).

The thread, which had a title of "Scenario Inflation - fun read", started well. The thread-starter said: "I just discovered this funny little magazine called Critical Miss" and: "I loved the reply from Atlas & Legendsmiths!!!"

But he also said something else that would later on cause trouble for us: "Apparently good ol' Orcus bit and responded with a very serious response here:"

I should give you a little bit of information here. "Orcus" is the screen-name by which Clark Peterson (of Necromancer Gamers) goes by on the forum (which is his own company's forum, remember).

The a second poster weighed in with: "I have a sneaking suspicion that Clark and John Nephew were in cahoots with their respective replies to this one (or Clark let John read what he had replied with before John wrote one in himself)."

Now, I have no idea why this person thought this, because when I compare John Nephew's response with Clark's response I honestly cannot see any similarity whatsoever. But that is all irrelevant, because what we had here was one person saying which responses they liked, and another speculating about "apparent" similarities between responses.

Then Clark (a.k.a. Orcus) weighed in. Clearly, the previous posts had annoyed him for some reason, because he came out with a paragraph that I felt was totally unacceptable:

"Actually, I had no idea of what to make of that idoit email. He kept pestering me so I responded. I was not in cahoots with John. Though I suspect that they showed my response to John. That is just too coincidental."

This made me very upset. (I won't go into all the reasons why now, because I outlined all of them in an email to Clark, which you are just about to read). The question was, what to do about it? What had been said contained a number of gross mis-truths, and I felt that we had to correct them, or our integrity and reputation would suffer. (At the moment, people think we're pricks, but they think we're honest pricks).

I talked the whole thing through with the rest of the Critical Miss team and with various friends, and most of them responded along the lines of: "These guys are way out of order, you should give them a roasting in your next issue!"

Now, that was a tempting thought, because I was pretty upset, and when someone has attacked you the natural response is to strike back. But I always think you should give people a chance to set things right, and I knew if I just flamed back I'd end up feeling bad about it. So, ignoring the advice of colleagues and friends, I decided that the thing to do was to (privately) email Clark Peterson, and his business partner Bill, explaining why I was upset with what they'd said, and asking them to take it back. I figured that this way we could resolve the issue like adults, without any great loss of dignity on anyone's part.

So I sat down and fired off what I thought was a pretty reasonable email, which outlined all the reasons why I was upset.