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Adding My Voice

It’s so easy to think "Well, I’ve cut ties, that’s enough." But it really isn’t. As these last few weeks have demonstrated, time and again, it’s necessary–and well past time–to speak up about each and every incident.

So this is me, speaking my part.

I’ve been focused primarily on fiction for a long time now, but I still keep a toe in the RPG waters. I’m currently working on The Lost Citadel RPG for Green Ronin (a company about which I cannot say enough good things). I’ve done several articles for ENWorld’s EN5ider, with whom I would happily work again.

And, within the last couple of years, I spearheaded a book of adventures for Frog God/Necromancer.

I didn’t know better at the time. Most of us didn’t.

Many of you already know the story of what happened at PaizoCon this past May. If you don’t, Google PaizoCon and Bill Webb.

In addition to what’s been stated publicly, I’m also aware of other incidents involving Bill and other people. Those incidents are not public knowledge, and I’m not at liberty to discuss them or the people involved, but they’re pretty awful.

I stopped communicating with Bill back in May, and I certainly haven’t sought (and wouldn’t have accepted) any more work from Frog God, even though we’d been talking about doing a 5E conversion of The Doom of Listonshire. But as I said above, cutting ties privately isn’t enough.

I am, therefore, formally and publicly announcing that I will have nothing more to do with Frog God–as a creator or a customer–so long as Bill Webb remains associated with the company.

It’s not much since, as I said, I’m only doing small amounts of RPG work these days anyway. But it’s what I can do.


(Note that I mention several movies, below, to use as examples. I touch on the endings of these particular movies, so watch for spoilers if you haven’t seen them and still plan to: Alien, Life, Drag Me to Hell, Dog Soldiers, Cabin in the Woods).

I find it exceedingly difficult to find new horror to watch/read.

See, my taste in horror runs down some very specific paths. I’m not interested in human-on-human horror, for the most part. Saw, Wolf Creek, any of that. I only tend to like supernatural or sci-fi horror, with a rare few exceptions. Give me It, or zombies, or a xenomorph. Jason only started to interest me after he rose from the dead.

So, okay, narrowing down the field. But there’s still plenty of genre-horror, so why do I have trouble?

It’s because I deeply, deeply dislike hopeless/frustrating endings.

What do I mean by that? I mean any ending where all the protagonists struggles accomplished nothing. Where it’s not only not a happy ending, but basically a nihilistic one.

For some people, that’s the point of horror, and that’s fine. For them. Me? It’s not just that I’m not fond of them, I find them deeply unpleasant on an emotional level.

Drag Me to Hell, for instance. I really enjoyed that movie, right up until the end, where the main character is… Well, it’s in the title. Nothing she did, nothing that happened in the movie, mattered a damn. Or Life. The alien gets to Earth, the final two survivors are about to die either due to the alien or because she’s tumbling helplessly through space, and none of their efforts, none of their struggles, none of the final plan accomplished one. Damn. Thing.

Horror doesn’t have to have a happy ending, of course. (Though I disagree with the premise that it can’t. Some of the best horror movies/novels have them.) But you can have a dark ending that’s still not too dark. Dog Soldiers and Alien both have only a single survivor out of a larger group, but that survivor lives because they succeeded in destroying the threat. I’m fine with that. But if they’d gone with one of the earlier ideas for the ending of Alien, with Ripley having her head ripped off and the xenomorph taking control of the ship, sending messages in fake voices? I’d have hated that movie.

Even Cabin in the Woods, with it’s "old gods rising to destroy humanity" ending didn’t bother me, because it still felt like the main characters accomplished something, were able to fight back against the people who put them in this situation. As I said, doesn’t have to be happy, but I don’t do well with useless/hopeless.

And this simply isn’t a question most reviews answer. You can’t read up on a movie, or a novel, and get a sense of whether the ending’s going to fall into my preferences or not. And even if I go searching and find the answer, it comes with much more detailed spoilers I’d rather not see.

So, yeah. If you ever wonder why I don’t watch/read/talk about horror nearly as much as I do other genres, despite the fact that my fantasy usually has a pretty dark element to it? This is why: Because I have trouble finding any that’s not a serious risk of just pissing me off and making me feel like I wasted my time, no matter how well done it might have been.

"Never Again"

Have I just been making false assumptions? Having grown up as a Jew whose grandparents were all Eastern European immigrants, I know that I was educated in the horrors and specifics of the Holocaust more so than your average American child, but I just assumed everyone was taught enough to understand just who and what the Nazis were.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe part of the problem we’re facing today is that many people don’t understand the term. They just think of it as having a nebulous "bad guy" meaning. Or at worst, "somewhat militant racist."

So I’m going to try this without screaming, just speaking.

The Nazi doctrine has, at its core, not just white supremacy, but the subjugation and annihilation of "lessers." They don’t just want to be in power, they want to lock away or kill everyone not like them. People of color, queer people, disabled people, Jews, Muslims.

They want to kill us.

And it’s not something that was tacked on to an otherwise harmless ideology. It is a core part of the identity.

And they will do it. It’s not empty threat. Twelve million people were murdered over this ideology (and that’s not even counting the soldiers who died fighting it). Shot. Gassed. Starved. Enslaved. Experimented on. (And that’s not counting the soldiers who died fighting them.)

That is the ideology that the modern Nazis have looked at and said, "I want in on that." Whether they’re as organized as the original Nazis, whether they have the capability, is irrelevant. This is what they want. This is what they work toward.

And they were nothing more than a bunch of fringe extremists when they first started in Germany, too.

This is what I shout about on social media. This is why I say that you cannot treat them as just another unpleasant political stance. They are a real threat to so many people. They are a clear and present danger.

And you cannot stand back. You cannot remain neutral. This isn’t about Democrat vs. Republican, or Right vs. Left. This is literally about right or wrong. It is one of the few times in your life you’re going to be in a position where there are no shades of gray, where you honestly and truly have the chance to fight genuine evil.

And so many of you are failing to step up, perhaps because you truly don’t understand, or don’t want to believe. But this is what it is. This is where we are.

Even if you are normally a free speech absolutist, their very ideology is an active threat, something that free speech doesn’t accommodate.

Even if you disapprove of what groups like Antifa do to fight them–and let’s be clear, a lot of what you’ve heard about Antifa is exaggerated or outright false, but even if everything negative said about them were true–it is still your duty to deal with the Nazis first, and worry about lesser wrongs after the fact.

You are being manipulated, by Nazis, and by certain Right-wing elements that mistakenly think they have to ally with Nazis, into remaining neutral. Into not taking sides because the other is "just as bad." They’re not. Nothing is.

In all the confusion and shades of gray of human history, this is one of the few true, genuine, and incontrovertible evils.

And the only way to avoid supporting it is to stand loudly and actively and yes, sometimes maybe even violently, against it.