Sunday, April 7, 2013

None of the behavior I point out in this post is unique to the individuals cited. Truthfully, I can't point out what specifically caused this example to stick in my craw except maybe the attitudes.

I am also aware that this rambling blog post is going to serve as flame bait, but I think in this case writing is good therapy. I really don't want to think about this any more and I think writing about it will get it out of my head. (If I use that as criteria for making a post, I should have plenty of them.)

This exchange in the comments of a post by +Jeff Rients bothers me, days after I first read the thread. The exchange occurred in his "Dwimmermount: WTF?" post and, specifically, is an exchange by +Courtney Campbell and +Robert Parker. In sum, Courtney was airing a grievance about allegedly being taken advantage of by James Maliszewski, and then a few comments later someone threw out this straw man (successful, since the topic diverted to that rather than stay focused on the Dwimmermount fiasco):

+Robert Parker Apr 2, 2013:
+Courtney Campbell You want to talk about being taken advantage of?
How about Flying Buffalo and Rick Loomis? 
(several other examples provided from Courtney's blog snipped)
You stole from Rick, a small press publisher and an old man, from a book still published today. Then you took credit for it. Who is exploited now?

To which post +Courtney Campbell immediately replied:

Yeah, if you'll look harder, you'll find Steve Crompton commenting about how he's happy about someone remembering his contributions to the old school aesthetic.
I'm fairly open about how what I'm doing is taking old traps from Grimtooth and Undermountain and discussing how to run them using player agency.
As far as bringing attention to their work, I cannot see how that's a bad thing, considering how wonderful it is.
Also, as I'm sure you're well aware, ideas cannot be copyrighted, only specific implementations of those ideas. Also, you are familiar with the doctrine of fair use? 
I attempt to credit every image I use on my site (unless it happens to be one particularly well known, or if I can't find the artist). What's that?! Cromptom's name, right under the use of his art! How terrible!
If they feel harmed by the discussion and attention given to ideas similar to the ones they published, why they are free to take me to court to attempt to sequester every last cent I made from those articles. 
They would lose, of course, because there is nothing illegal or wrong about my actions but if they did win, what is 100% of 0$ anyway?

What bothers me are the bits I bolded, above. They reflect what I, after some consideration, consider to be poor ethics at best, and willful distortion of what is copyright infringement plus poor ethics at worst.

Ethics: Using someone else's work without at least noting them as an inspiration (Courtney's treatment of the traps from Rick Loomis' Grimtooth's Grimoire) strikes me as ungracious, at least. One loses nothing except any cache gained by seeming original by acknowledging the giants upon whose shoulders one immediately stands. YMMV.

If one does something innovative with an idea, then so much the better - but if one claims to be "bringing attention to their work," one should probably actually bring attention to their work. I visited many of the links in +RP's comment and saw no mention that this was from GG until I raised it.

Copyright: I'm not talking about the parsing of the traps into stat-less game-y terms. Using someone's art without their explicit permission is infringement of copyright except under the fair use doctrine, which +CC cites, implying that he's doing it. So I looked it up:

In my opinion, there's nothing there that covers +CC's use of the art he does use, attribution or not, though to be clear IANAL. I could see how he might be trying to argue that he's covered under point 1 ("The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes"), but considering the purpose is to _illustrate his trap description_, even in a seemingly non-commercial non-educational context (though there is a Donation link low on his page) it probably counts as being used as an illustration of his (or Flying Buffalo's) topic, in which case he should probably seek the approval of the artist before using the art for _his_ illustration needs. It's probably save to read "should probably" as "is obligated to."

(Yes, I realize the burden of enforcing copyrights is the holder's. But, really, do any of us want to willingly infringe?)

Finally, in the comments of the link to "Paranoid Party," above, I pointed out he was using art without attributing it (I asked if it was his art, but it turns out to be cribbed from some video game source). Since he offered in JRients' thread to remove such art as could not be attributed, I kinda think he should - and though I used Google Image Search to find the original art and its citation, he clearly didn't (dropping an image in the Google Images search window is a new feature introduced in 2009 that most people don't know exists).

Now, to be clear, many of us use someone else's art to illustrate our blog posts and other ideas. I think what really bothers me is despite his rather obviously infringing on other people's copyright for the art, he uses the classic "go ahead and sue me, they can't get blood from a stone" as some sort of justification. That's pugnacity when there were probably better ways to address the challenge, at the very least.

Friday, April 5, 2013

It's been nearly two years. In no particular order:

  • We survived the loss of Kristina. Her character, Salis, is a broken person after being petrified by the corrupted Korran d'Velderan and is about to serve as a plot point. 
  • Hijinks have ensued, leading the heroes of the Tales game to finally understand their predicament - at least in part.
  • I've started reading Google+ gaming communities with a mix of interest and revulsion. More on that some other time.
  • I confess to not understanding the attraction to elf, dwarf, and halfling as classes. It didn't make sense when I was eight, and it doesn't make sense at 42.
  • That said, there is some fantastic game design in the OSR community, still, despite the collapse-in-progress.
  • I am still self-identifying primarily as a "game master," not a "father" or "husband" or "producer" or "Imagineer." Note: in all of those guises I am a story teller.
  • I don't have enough time to run the games I want, unless I sacrifice more of one of those other four identities.
  • I am married to a wonderful artist - she tells stories through her pen, brush, and keyboard as an artist and writer.

That is all for now. Perhaps I will have more to say on the morrow. I feel the need to speak out on a variety of topics, even if no one reads.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kristina, out

Well, what do I say? Today Kristina announced that she was giving up playing as Salis d'Cannith in our Tales of the Gold Beholder game. She has every right to, of course - especially since she seems overwhelmed by her activities and the game is just one more of them to her. That's most important to any of us and as a friend of hers for, oh, 25 years or so I will of course do what I can to ease the burden.

But darn it. Ouch.

Part of me is sure it was something I did (or didn't) do. I can't help but take part of it personally - was it my error? Did I say something wrong? Was it too intense for her? Was she too stressed by being in the limelight so much? Was it the petrification? :) I hope I haven't damaged our friendship inadvertently. I've done that before, with other people.

Also, each character has gotten some of the spotlight and will - but damn, Salis was central because she had defined her character more than the others and contrasting the life of an adventurer against her pampered life allowed me to make points I could not otherwise. Slogging through sewers, a fetid jungle, the underbelly of a magical metropolis - none are things a socialite from a powerful corporate family would or should ever be exposed to.

Thus, she had the spotlight. And I shaped part of the campaign around her, which happens to be the part we're in right now. I can recover and this will be an interesting exercise - but... ouch.

The table won't be the same without her. Her cutting wit, her witty cuts - her high geekery, her laughter. Her clear and present emotions as her character reacts to plot points. I hope she comes back soon.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Kelle's Shugenja

Kelle painted this shugenja from a 4-pack made for the Legends of the Five Rings miniatures game. My wife is exceptionally talented - this was her first miniature. She added the flowers to the robe, leaping ahead of where I am now... but she did it four years ago. She totally got in a way I didn't for a long time that it's OK for his hair to be red - it's clearly not natural, anyway.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Back in '06 I played a dwarf cleric of Moradin, and I used a (largely unpainted) Chainmail miniature - a Mordengard Cleric of Moradin - which I finished today except for the flocking. I have brown flock (see Romindell) and I want to use a different color to contrast with the brown/red theme on this miniature. I can see in the image that I messed up the left eye and I'm going out to fix it right now. Small dots don't mix well with shaky hands.

It's hard to see in this lighting, but there's a design on the hammer I tried to bring out. I imagine this is an adamantine hammer with mithril chasing. The shot from behind shows it off the best and it's really apparent in real life.

I'm experimenting with the camera and lighting - this was taken in shade at 1:30 PM with a flashlight pointed at the mini. I'm going to create a light box, but I want to paint while the light is good.

I'm also experimenting with the blog post layout options. So far I don't like any of 'em.

Romindell (Elladan, Dark Heaven Legends)

My first real content and it's mostly images of a D&D miniature I painted. He's a Reaper mini, I cannot recall which (edit: Elladan, Dark Heaven Legends line). Opinions are welcome, advice always appreciated! This is my vision of a character named Romindell, played by my good friend Will Floyd in the Seattle 3.5 D&D World Tree campaign I ran.