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Saturday 15 August 2015

The Real Reason I Don't Work for Wizards of the Coast

So a couple of things happened in the last couple of days, not connected to each other as such but that I found a connection to.  The first is that I've been reposting some of my archived blog entries over on my Pundit's Forum in theRPGsite.  Specifically, the ones from about a year ago when "consultantgate" was happening.

As a result of this some people, some of them well meaning and perhaps some of them snidely, were remarking that my ongoing condemnation of the Pseudo-Activist Outrage Brigade for what they did during Consultantgate was justifiable because "due to consultantgate the RPGPundit might never work for WoTC again".

The second thing that happened is that a minor brouhaha erupted when Ryan Macklin posted a list of advice for would-be writers for Paizo.  Said advice included tips like "don't be too clever or you'll intimidate your potential employers", and "don't make stuff so smart that you'd never actually see it in a (paizo) publication".  And understand, he wasn't being critical of the company, or joking; Ryan Macklin was the staff editor for Paizo from 2012 to 2015. He was being dead serious.

A lot of people got pissed off at him for it. But you know, Ryan Macklin is absolutely totally 100% right.

Which brings us back to Consultantgate.

The thing is, I never expected to have a WoTC gig to begin with (I admit, I didn't expect them to be that smart), I didn't expect to be taken on as a consultant, and when I took on the consulting job for 5e I had no intention of ever working for WoTC in the future. Note: not after gamergate, not after the consulting job was done, but right from the very start.

I never had any plan to ask for any WoTC job after the 5e consulting, and had Consultantgate not happened I wouldn't have had any expectation of doing any future work for WoTC. Any future offer of work would have to have met some very specific circumstances for me to be interested. The fact is, I never saw myself (nor do I see myself in the future) wanting to write an adventure module or mechanics book where whatever I would have to fit very strict criteria of design that are not my own. I want to spend my time making games and settings exactly the way I want to make them, not the way the WoTC corporate board thinks would be most profitable to be made. It's not what I'm into.

So Consultantgate really sucked for a number of reasons, but the notion that "I might never be hired by WoTC again" is not one of them, because I never had any plans of being hired by WoTC again. Not that I would categorically rule it out completely, but it would have to be very special circumstances that granted me a latitude that just wouldn't be very typical for WoTC to grant anyone.

I had no assumption of working for them again, at no point did I express any such expectation to WoTC, nor did WoTC or Mike Mearls at any time make any kind of suggestion that they would hire me again; and I suspect that Mike Mearls (who has been a reader of my blog from Year One) knows me well enough to know that even if he wanted to make such an offer it couldn't possibly be to write some adventure module under the careful control and supervision of Wizards' executives.

Ryan Macklin is absolutely right: if you want to be a writer for Paizo OR WoTC, you need to be willing to do work that will be less clever, less original, and that cannot in any way intimidate the suits.   My RPG-writing is way too interesting to be able to feel comfortable to the top brass at WoTC (or Paizo for that matter). My methods, and the stuff I produce, would not tick the list of boxes of what they want, of middle-of-the-road products that are broad enough to be enjoyed by everyone without making things difficult for anyone to use.  Not just me, mind you, that applies to a lot of the independent OSR designers (and a few non-OSR designers too).  Note also that I'm not in any way saying that WoTC or Paizo's products are bad products. Not at all, just that they are products made with a corporate mindset of being the most efficiently broad-spectrum and generic enough for the mass audience.

Consultantgate sucked ass because people made up vicious lies about me, and did so with the intention of harming my career. But Consultantgate didn't affect my relationship with Wizards of the Coast in any way, shape or form.  They were completely impotent in that regard, because I had already finished my work for WoTC before Consultantgate ever started, and had no expectation whatsoever of working for them in the future.

And really, why would I ever need to?  Lords of Olympus, Arrows of Indra, and now Dark Albion have all been big successes for me, and all of them were me writing exactly what I wanted to write, on my own terms.  My consultancy with WoTC was a dream job because it was precisely because of this differentness from their typical employee and absolute refusal to compromise anything that I was perfect for the Consulting job.  Mearls knew I would pull no punches.

And really, in spite of the total shittiness of what the Outrage Brigade did during Consultantgate, they lost.
D&D has become exactly what I said it should become.  The OSR has become exactly what I said it should become.  Nothing anyone does now is going to change any of that. They're mine now.
You are all living in Pundit's World now, and it's working, and it's beautiful.


Currently Smoking:  Italian Redbark + H&H's Beverwyck


  1. I guess for some the dream is to be a Wizards of the Coast drone and they can't believe it's not that way for everyone.

  2. If I had my writing changed or edited to read differently in a game, I'd probably not want my name in the game credits.