The Polygon article about the coming Dune RPG really made me wanting this. But the more I was confused when I saw the name Adam Koebel listed as one of the writers. This very Adam Koebel sexually harassed as a GM a PC of a female player publicly against her will on his Far Verona show, season 2 not so long ago. The rest of the cast was also shocked, so they quitted Far Verona altogether together with the victim and the show was cancelled. So, Modiphius, what will we be expecting of such a writer in your upcoming game? Sadly less thrilled, now, knowing who will contribute to this great setting.
Looking online the incident, that no-one is disputing, happened at the start of April.
The article listing the contributors is from a month earlier.
I don’t know enough about the incident or what Modiphius’ processes are to know how it will impact the game, but Modiphius cannot take any flack at the moment for not having access to a Spacing Guild navigators prescience.
As far as I can tell the incident in itself wasn’t really of note (the character was a robot or droid, so the sexual assault was kind of an exageration). I suppose the main problem is that Adam Koebel has been a vocal advocate of “consent in gaming”, safety tools and such, so it was mostly an hypocrisy revealed kind of incident.
Well, to the player and her fellow players in Far Verona it was of note, the whole cast dropped out of the show and it was cancelled. And as you can see in the video I linked, to the player who was violated it was a big thing. Haven’t seen something close to that in any actual play I’ve seen so far, not even Conan were I would rather expect this with it’s chainmail bikinis and such.
I’ve watched the video and I’m not defending his character - I don’t know what came before and what kind of personal relation he has with those players, so I have no way to classify what happened, except on my own personal point of view. But one thing is quite clear: the man is an hypocrite, as he wold most probably condemn this kind of incident if he wasn’t involved in it… If that reflects on his future work in Modiphius’ Dune? Not for me. I would prefer if they had chosen another team, but for very different reasons.
If you know who Bill Maher is, whether you like him or not, he did something cringeworthy - used the N-word during his Real Time show last year. He immediately apologized and devoted the entire next episode to addressing it, continuing to apologize. He was held accountable for what he said, allowed to apologize, and move on.
Koebel is being held accountable for his lack of judgement and crossing the line - Far Verona cancelled, the Far Verona group quitting on the spot, that group losing their trust in Koebel as GM, his own statement saying he was going to step back from the Hobby which will undoubtedly lead to additional streams with which he is affiliated distancing themselves from him. Hopefully he reflects and learns from this, finds a way to make amends, and moves on as a better person. Time will tell.
That said, his contributions to Dune, whatever they may be, does not and will not dampen or tarnish my excitement for it’s eventual release. I will buy it whether or not Koebel’s contributions remain. But, that’s me and by no means indicative of anyone else. For those who feel differently, such as the OP,I can respect that.
The Dune roleplaying game is still in development, and we are reviewing and editing all of the content going into the game and the book. We are aware of the issues surrounding Adam’s streamed Far Verona game, and Adam was indeed commissioned to write material for the Dune roleplaying game. Like every other writer on the project, his work will be reviewed, edited, and checked for cultural and sensitive issues by our team of developers prior to inclusion.
Modiphius upholds high editorial standards, and will continue to hold writers to these standards in their work with us.
This is the additional issue that had been overlooked in many of the deserving criticisms leveled at this situation. The livestream.
So the GM not only plans and runs a ■■■■ scene against one of his players, laughs while it goes on, later says no one raised objections while it happened, etc. What about the viewing audience? Did they get a chance to say, “No, please stop this…”?
If Chris Birch and Modiphius support Adam Koebel as one of their writers, then Chris Birch and Modiphius says it’s okay to have ■■■■ scene against your players and livestream it. Hell, we’ll pay you to write for us!
I really, really hope Chris Birch and Modiphius chose to display ethics over editorial convenience. Although I could always earn a few pennies selling them, I’d rather keep my books they’ve published and continue to play their fine games. With the publication date ever closer and no word on any planned changes to their writing staff (waiting until the last minute to chose to do the right thing isn’t really choosing to do the right thing), it’s looking more and more like Modiphius supports the laughing fantasy ■■■■■■.
EDIT: I notice the forum auto-censors the word r a p e and r a p i s t. Perhaps that should tell the publishers something.
I feel extremely uncomfortable with these witch hunts. I never particularly liked Koebel as either a GM or writer, but now anything he writes or does is suddenly inadmissible and tainted (by what exactly?) because of an - admittedly cringe-worthy - scene in a roleplaying game? I mean, people here are actually accusing him of sexual assault! If what he did was sexual assault, then practically every GM should be accused of murder, torture, even genocide, and all sorts of other things. He is guilty of lack of empathy, of playing for laughs a scene that should in fact have been dealt with - if at all - in a much more serious and careful manner. But his lack of sensibility and taste should not make the man into an instant untouchable. Do you think that the Dune rpg is going to be full of ■■■■ because it has some stuff written by Koebel? And if not, then what is the real problem of him writing for Dune? Is it that you want him not to be able to ever work again? And if so why? Punishment? Is his crime so dire that you want to guarantee he can never ever earn his living again? I really don’t understand this. This is a standard that you do not even apply to actual criminals. People deserve second and sometimes third chances for much worse than this.
Is having that guy write for Dune the same as hiring Brock Turner to offer private swimming lessons to your daughters in college? No.
But when you are someone who has suffered a real life trauma such as he forced upon his players and a video audience, you find those who enable him to be cringe-worthy.
And stop the political “witch-hunt” rhetoric. Witches were hunted, tortured, and sometimes murdered in horrible ways while never being guilty of what they were accused. No one here is hunting that guy. No one here is torturing him. No one here is going to murder him in horrible ways. And he’s guilty as charged. Laughing through a pretend sexual assault in front of an audience is a bit more extreme than having a lack of sensibility and taste. But deny, deflect and distract, right? “Boys will be boys”, right?
No witch-hunt. Just like the CEO of Goya Foods isn’t having his freedom of speech stomped on because of backlash for what he said.
Koebel IS being held accountable. Group quit, streams cancelled. Done. That’s it. Anymore than that is no longer being held accountable, it’s petty and stupidly punitive, worse it crosses into the disgusting realm of cancel culture. There comes a point when as much as we all need to be sensitive and considerate, put a lid on it at a certain point. Koebel or no Koebel with Dune, Modiphius will keep my support.
Good to hear. Keeping a job as writer in what will almost certainly be a crown jewel of rpgs isn’t being held accountable. It’s being rewarded.
Your reactionary language presuming that voicing an opinion that a hiring entity is displaying ethical issues with a hire is somehow trying to “cancel” the individual is, by definition, reactionary. I have never once said here nor anywhere else that he should be “cancelled”. I voiced my opinion that Modiphius hiring him presents ethical problems that I am uncomfortable with. And with good reason.
You seem to be vehemently defending someone who “never particularly liked” (while your posts present evidence to the contrary) who stepped far beyond a GM enacted consensual scenes of fighting, etc into nonconsensual sexual violence. You intentionally diminish the inherent problems with such an action and claim guy’s been punished enough already. I (evidently not the only one) disagree. And never said he should be untouchable, nor canceled (as your reactionary and aggrandized extremist stance claims). Merely not rewarded with his name as part of the iconic Dune universe.
You “feel incredibly uncomfortable” with someone voicing criticism?
Many—myself being a survivor of events that equal the worst things humans perpetrate included—feel incredibly uncomfortable with some guy laughing joyously as he describes nonconsensual sexual violence inflicted upon a player with a viewing audience.
Irony has a curiously bitter taste to it, don’t you find?
Which discomfort should hold more weight in the world around us?
Keyboard jockeys who don’t like criticisms on their computer screens or people who don’t enjoy nonconsensual sexual violence as part of their fantasy game past time?
There is just so much irony in the idea that the person writing a GM advice section for a game recently inflicted a sexual assault scene on a player, causing all his players to quit the game. I look forward to that being covered in the gamemastering section.
Ok, so tell me. If a guy commits an actual crime, he gets a sentence and that is it. And then he should be enabled to rebuild his life. In this case, how much does Koebel need to be punished? When is it enough?
Being one that never believed in justice as retribution, that always opposed death penalties and other extreme form of punishment, who always defended a kinder, fairer justice system that is designed to facilitate rehabilitation, instead of vengeance, I see this “canceling” phenomenon with great concern.
In the case at hand, the man has already been punished a lot. He lost his job and his reputation! From a “crime prevention” perspective, what he lost is more than enough to serve as deterrent. Anything he writes from now on will be so scrutinized that is unlikely he will have another chance to commit a crime. So in the analogy to a progressive legal system, what I would like to guarantee is that there is a path to rehabilitation. If you say there isn’t one, you are not better than the “alt-righters” that worry about policemen being “too nice” with criminals.
(Mind you, witch hunt is a common term used as a metaphor for any type of mob persecution and punishment without due legal process… you know that in mccarthyism they didn’t really burn communists at the stake, right?)
That somebody calls me reactionary and accuses me of protecting the boys club without knowing anything about me is both sad and ironic. (Is Noam Chomsky also a reactionary now?)
It is very likely that I have been vocal and fighting for progressive causes for more time than my accuser has lived, if I try to guess the age from the vocabulary and the rhetoric used in that post.
One thing I know: mob justice is not a progressive cause. Mob justice is the point at which a worthy progressive cause is subverted by the bloodlust of Robespierre’s guillotines, and turned into a caricature of itself.
I am all for voicing criticism. But don’t pretend that what you are asking for here is anything less than a “cancelling”.
And please abstain to label me as “reactionary”. You know practically nothing about me and,in any case, I don’t think you are using a conventional definition of what reactionary behavior is.
Also, when I say I am not a fan of Koebel, I mean it. I think Dungeon World is the worst thing that happened to rpgs since 4th edition D&D. I think a lot of the DM advice he gave is patronizing and outright wrong. I find his GMing style often pointless and kind of boring. I haven’t watched more than 10 of his streams in total and that includes watching that episode of Far Verona to figure out what was the fuss all about.
I am arguing this simply as a matter of principle.
I know how easy it is to screw up as a GM. You want your game to be challenging and exciting and meaningful, and you want to talk about things that are serious and relevant, and you are dealing with a medium that is all about improvisation, which means that is not so difficult to eventually screw up. I want to believe I would never do anything as tone deaf as what he did there, but I do know you can sometimes make your players uncomfortable and displeased beyond what they are ok with, and it largely happens because it is an improvised medium and because rpgs can be a very intense experience. And that is part of why we like them.
PS: I will not discuss this in this public forum any further. I am very willing to discuss these issues in private messaging - even if you just want to hurl accusations, labels and insults at me - but we are in this forum to discuss a Dune game and I want to go back to that as a matter of courtesy to our hosts.