2012-03-03 : Ben Lehman: Caveat Scriba: Margret Weis Productions

a guest post by Ben Lehman

Caveat Scriba: Margret Weis Productions

The short version:
Freelance RPG writers and designers should avoid employment with Margret Weis Productions, unless payments are contracted and paid largely in advance. Consumers who have an interest in creator's rights should avoid purchasing any MWP products.

The long version:
I am not now, nor do I ever intend to be, an employee of Margret Weis Productions. However, because of the truly horrific employment practices of the the majority of the RPG industry, it falls to me, as someone who is not now and never will be employed by an RPG publisher aside from my own TAO Games, to discuss this issue. I don't have to fear being blacklisted by RPG publishers, nor do I have to fear many personal repercussions.

Margret Weis Productions has, in the last few, years, made recruitment from our community a centerpiece of their development strategy, as the credits of Smallville, Leverage, and the upcoming Marvel Heroic Roleplaying attest. There is an inherent tension in this relationship, as our community and our games have been, traditionally, founded in the idea of creator ownership. However, it appeared to my outside perspective that the relationship was basically benign: they weren't making any of the aggressively predatory moves that previous publishers had attempted (buying out successful creator-owned games, for instance.)

However, I have recently discovered that this is not the case. In private discussion with several freelancers employed by MWP, there are shocking parallels. In total: Margret Weis Productions has, uniformly, been either unconscionably tardy in its payments for services or simply refused to pay. This refusal generally takes the form of an extended run-around with a lot of responsibility dodging and mealy-mouthed indications that payment may be just around the corner.

This is, quite plainly, theft. That such practices are regrettably common amongst second and third tier work-for-hire RPG publishers does not in any sense alleviate the moral stain. Furthermore, the victims of this theft have been afraid to speak out for fear of damaging their reputations and relationships. While I completely understand this, it is unjust. It is not the freelancers, in this situation, who should be afraid.

For prospective freelancers, the solution is simple: do not do any work for MWP. Your time and energy are better spent on jobs for paying publishers, or on your own projects, life, or recreation. If you do decide to work for MWP, consider them effectively hostile in terms of securing your compensation. Get payment up front and in full.

For consumers, the situation is of course not as clearcut. I'm not going to condemn you for purchasing MWP products. I will ask you to understand that, when you do, you are effectively purchasing stolen goods. If the creators of the work in question have their own creator-owned imprints, consider purchasing from those as well, or donating directly to them. Further, consider purchasing creator-owned role-playing game books in general, which have considerably less ethical concerns attached.

Our community was founded on the intertwined principles of creative freedom and creator ownership. I understand that there is lately a desire to express one's "moderation" by talking up and promoting non-creator-owned products. Clearly, as a creator-owner, I have a personal stake here, but I ask that, as fans and online advocates, we do the bare minimum of ethical research before plunging ahead with promotion and marketing. In the case of MWP, it's pretty clear that this community has let down its creators in a big way.

Recently there has been an article going around about the vile ethical practices of Marvel Comics, calling for a boycott of the new Avengers movie and Marvel products in general. I ask that you, as consumers, take the same approach with the forthcoming Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game that you would with any other such questionable product.

1. On 2012-03-03, Brad J. Murray said:

Can you provide any confirming sources for this? I think it's critically important to make sure it's spread around if true, but also dangerously counter-productive if false and there's just no way to evaluate this article.


2. On 2012-03-03, Ben Lehman said:

I'm not going to reveal sources.

Do you have any MWP books? You could look at the credits and e-mail around.


3. On 2012-03-03, John Harper said:

Since everyone I know is suddenly asking me about this, I'll make a note here:

I have had exactly zero problems working with Cam Banks at MWP.

I don't know anything about the issues others have had with the company.


4. On 2012-03-03, Amanda Valentine said:

You'll find my name in the credits of nearly every book MWP has put out. As a small company, they, like all of us, struggle with cash flow. But I am certain enough that they are acting in good faith that I continue to work with MWP now and for the foreseeable future.


5. On 2012-03-03, Paco Garcia Jaen (G*M*S Magazine) said:

I have had the pleasure of taking to Margaret Weiss. I know Philip Menard and I am acquainted with Cam Banks. Having said that, I have to personal relation with any of them, other than the contact that my online magazine and my podcast have facilitated. I haven't received any free games from them and they have never sponsored or paid for any advertising in my site.

What I am trying to say is that I have no reason to say this other than my own, and not my allegiance to MWP.

I am sorry, but I feel your article is more an sulking attack for reasons unknown than a genuine warning against bad practices.

The only thing that comes across very clearly from your article is that you are very, very angry.

I would also be tempted to say your attitude is unprofessional. Refusing to give evidence of you claims, and belittling a former employer/contractor without being prepared to back your words with fact it's just not on.

Right now, they have more reasons not to want to work with you, than you not to want to work with or for them.


6. On 2012-03-03, Vincent said:

Paco, do you have knowledge that MWP has paid the freelancers who worked on Marvel Heroic Roleplaying?

I'm pretty sure that Ben would be very happy to learn that he's mistaken and that MWP treats its freelancers professionally and well. I know that I would.


7. On 2012-03-03, Ben Lehman said:

I wrote this based on the experiences of four people I know with MWP. Since publication, that number has increased, as people contact me and tell me that they've gone through similar things.

I am glad that it is not universal. Nonetheless, it is unacceptable even if it only applies to some, and not all, of the freelancers.



8. On 2012-03-03, David A Hill Jr said:

I cannot speak for anyone else. I'm aware of some of the issues I'm hearing about, but I don't feel I should speak of those specifics, since I approach from an uninformed standpoint.

However, I will say that I've worked with MWP before, and had no difficulties in receiving payment for my work. In fact, some of the products in question that some workers have attested to not receiving payment for, I have received payment without struggle.

That isn't intended to denigrate their experiences, whatever those experiences may be. But, MWP has paid all their debts to me without fail.


9. On 2012-03-03, Paco Garcia Jaen (G*M*S Magazine) said:

Ben, I am not arguing whether it happens or not. I have been a freelancer myself, as a photographer, and I know that obtaining payment on time all the time can be like sucking blood off a stone.

Even if it happens, what I would bet my bottom dollar (and the top one too) that it is not done with malice or with the intention to deceive anyone. I simply can't believe that. MWP is a small company. Cash flow is, at best, a difficult thing to manage and delays happen in any company. I would suggest you work for the BBC or any mega-corporation. That will probably give you better reasons to slack your employer off than MWP.

What I questioned in my first post was the legitimacy of your claim.

You make very bold claims and expect them to be taken seriously, without baking them up with anything.

When you say "since publication" what do you mean? Since publication of what? The Marvel RPG?

So the situation is unacceptable. But slacking off a company based on events you will not disclose is?

Forgive me for acting here as devil's advocate, but I find it difficult to be quiet when someone says things that could seriously hurt the reputation of a company without a proper reason.


10. On 2012-03-03, Hans said:

"Even if it happens, what I would bet my bottom dollar (and the top one too) that it is not done with malice or with the intention to deceive anyone."

Hey Paco, I don't speak for Ben, but to me (and I imagine to him) it doesn't matter what MWP's *intent* was: the unethical thing is to not pay your contributors, no matter if you're totally bummed that you can't pay them or not.


11. On 2012-03-03, Paco Garcia Jaen (G*M*S Magazine) said:

I wouldn't call anything unethical without knowing its background.

Right now, there is nowhere near enough evidence that MWP has done anything wrong other than Ben's word.

I am not prepared to take that at face value.


12. On 2012-03-04, Ryan Macklin said:

You won't see many people coming forward publicly in a situation where they're hoping to get paid eventually.


13. On 2012-03-04, Mcdaldno said:

Hey Ben,

I feel like the writing style you've chosen to adopt here is kind of bullshit, because you're blurring together some facts with some disconnected opinions.

Your article says:
1.) MWP doesn't pay people.
2.) There are ethical issues with buying non-indie RPGs.

If you think #2 is true, you should write an article explaining why. In this one, you say that it's true and then never explain why. Instead, you reference point #1 again without substantiating it.

Now, in an early comment, you do finally start to substantiate #1, by saying, "I wrote this based on the experiences of four people I know with MWP. Since publication, that number has increased, as people contact me and tell me that they've gone through similar things."

I wish the article had unpacked what information you knew, rather than alluding to it and then cutting to some opaque claims to indie publishing being good and other publishing being bad.

I'm not saying you need to name names, but I still don't really know what MWP did. I'd be willing to take you at your word, but I don't know what your word is.

What would be really fruitful and clarifying is a note in the article saying something like: "I know 4 people who have experienced payment issues with MWP. 2 had payment withheld for over 6 months. 2 remain unpaid, despite numerous promises and a waiting period of X months."

As is, I can only tell that you're angry, that MWP did something wrong, and that you think non-creator-owned publishing is unethical.


14. On 2012-03-04, misuba said:

Two things that can be true at once:

1) Acting in good faith is possible even within the RPG industry standard of putting freelancers off.

2) The RPG industry standard of putting freelancers off is a shameful indulgence.

I greatly respect those "mainstream" RPG publishers that have chosen to take the ego-damage of falling back to Kickstarter rather than overextend themselves; it's a shame that licensed content and Kickstarter aren't very compatible... at least on the surface.


15. On 2012-03-04, Sage said:

I agree with Joe. This article seems like a lot of invective based on very little proof.

I also think that, given the experiences of people posting to this thread who have worked for MWP and been paid, saying that they are "uniformly" anything is at best deceptive. Your sample is uniform, the data is not.

You're also ascribing a motive that may not exist when saying it's vogue to show "moderation" by promoting non-creator owned products. Is that a thing that happens? I've never seen someone review/promote a game without a reason why it's good.


16. On 2012-03-04, Mcdaldno said:

Hey Sage,

I would agree with Ben that sometimes people claim to like disparate stuff because it's "in vogue" to do so, and because the particular games are "in vogue" as well.

I'm also ascribing motives here, and could be way off base, but Ben's not alone in interpreting that weird social behavior.

I'd happily unpack that observation/interpretation elsewhere, but it's probably off-topic to continue talking about it here.


17. On 2012-03-04, Sage said:

Joe, there are certainly buzz cycles, but I don't see that as showing off moderation. People like games, which feeds more posts about them, it happens all the time. It even happened to our games (Monsterhearts and Dungeon World). I have a hard time seeing that as showing off your "moderation."

Anyway, we can have that discussion somewhere else.


18. On 2012-03-04, Bill Bodden said:

Not sure what axe is being ground here, but I've never had anything but a good relationship with the folks at Margaret Weis Productions. I worked on books in the Leverage line, and have been paid in full for my work long before publication.

As far as the whole issue of creator-owned products, in cases like these one often signs a contract to do work, in which it's spelled out quite clearly that this is work for hire and the creator is selling all rights to it by signing. Sure, I'd love to own every scrap of my writing outright, but the reality in everything other than indie publications - particularly with licensed products - is that, sometimes that's the deal. It's not at all shocking; experience outside of the gaming industry will bear this out as well.

Seriously, you've picked on one of the better companies in the business with regard to treating their freelancers fairly. Your outrage on behalf of the anonymous freelancers you mention is commendable, but your methods are frankly sloppy and equate to throwing a bomb; the innocent as well as any guilty parties will be hurt by your actions, and most regrettably, to no good effect.

Bill Bodden


19. On 2012-03-04, Fred Hicks said:

If there are people who haven't been paid for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying project, perhaps taking money away from that project will neither speed nor improve the chances of there being money to pay those people.

I'd also caution against turning away from a good design and a good game (which Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is) simply because of issues with the story behind the game.

If that were the case, I'd never play Polaris, due to my large, ongoing problems with its creator's way of conducting himself online.

Ben is trying to simplify this issue down to a single point of view, outlining a single path of action to take in the face of it. This is something pundits do in politics all the time, to make sure that messy, complicated reality doesn't get the messy, complicated respect it deserves.

Ignore pundits. Do your homework.

I've done a little bit of work for MWP in the past. I found the scheduling and timetable planning stuff, which I depend on heavily in order to juggle multiple contracts effectively, lacking, to the point that I had to bow out of continued work on Leverage. But I did get paid—promptly enough in my case—though I'm sure it does not happen for everyone. I probably should have gotten paid more, but it's not an industry (nor a company) where more is really on the table. I absolutely, however, treasured the team I got to work with, and am very proud of the work they and I have produced. The projects that result from the teams Cam build are easily the equal of any indie darling, and they don't deserve to be shat upon by someone uninvolved in their development, however well intentioned the motive.


20. On 2012-03-04, Ben Lehman said:


1) I'm not going to give specifics. I promised the people that I talked to that I would protect their anonymity. And given the shit that is getting hurled at me (who is involved pretty much only as an anonymizer), I am wholly unsurprised at their desire to remain anonymous. If you want to know who people are, I encourage you to do research on your own. This is not hard.

2) My point on ethics clearly didn't come across to you. Let me try again. The primary point is that it is, clearly, unethical to buy a product for which its creator hasn't been properly compensated*. Secondarily, in the case of a creator-owned product, this particular ethical problem is not present.


3) The word "uniformly" is, in the context of comments on this post, inaccurate. "Frequently" or perhaps "commonly" would be better choices.


* What constitutes proper compensation is beyond bounds here: but promising payment and then not paying is clearly not proper compensation.


21. On 2012-03-04, Deborah Donoghue said:

I would like Ben to produce facts, because throwing claims like this around can do real damage. Doing so without facts on the table is downright irresponsible, assuming noble intent.

I will throw down facts of my own: MWP paid promptly in full each time that Rob did work for them. What's more, when I managed to misplace the check, they hunted us down and reissued, because it mattered to them to do the right thing.

And that's the thing. This is a very small company, run by extremely decent and caring people - the sort who, if something were amiss, would really want to know so that they could fix it and then would probably be terribly upset on behalf of the folks who had an issue. The idea that claims like this are out there without facts on the table is downright cruel, since they're now going to spin in circles trying to find a wrong to right with no specific wrong brought to light for them to make better. That doesn't seem an ethical thing to do.

When you make statements like this about a company this small without real data to substantiate it, you are effectively hurting good and real people.
Please don't. It's not actually helpful.


22. On 2012-03-04, John Harper said:

Ben, if you think your role is "only an anonymizer" here, you're delusional.

I'm very sympathetic to the freelancers in question. I expect Cam to rectify the problem, and for the reality of the situation to come to light.

I still think your original post here is so much bitchy gossip. I'm trying to think of a worse way to talk about this issue, and I can't. You've fucked it up as hard as possible. You wrote the post, you take the shit. Deal with it.


23. On 2012-03-04, Fred Hicks said:

What angers me most about this post is... well, I can't pick, it's either: a) Ben's getting a ton of attention out of it, which is the internet's worst superpower at work, or b) by doing it this way, any freelancer who *does* have legitimate grievances is gonna get painted by this stuff, pretty much taking all of the thunder out of their just cause. John has it right: fucked up as hard as possible.


24. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

Is anybody here able to say that Ben's mistaken, and that MWP has made good on its contracts with its freelancers?

If he's not in error there, then the ethical concern is legit. Isn't it?


25. On 2012-03-04, Fred Hicks said:

Ethical concern may be legit, may not be.

Jury's out on whether he's an appropriate spokesperson if there is a concern. You can guess my opinion.

Turning into a rumormongering site, well, that's on you, Vince.


26. On 2012-03-04, Paul said:

Vincent, the "prove him wrong" demand is nonsensical. Not only is the burden on the guy making the claim, all he needs is one difference of opinion and the door is open for speculation. A dispute about payment is not always just a check in the "unethical" column for the paying party.

The point is that if you're going to smear the name of a whole company and ask that its products be boycotted, if you don't back it up, you're being irresponsible, and, surprise, unethical.

Ben could be completely right. I don't know. But, right now, I _cannot_ know. The suggestion of, "Oh, well, if you do your research, it'll all become clear," is a riddle, not a legitimate criticism. And if you or Ben want it to be treated like a legitimate criticism, then stop playing games and be straight. And if Ben has promised anonymity and has nothing substantive to say otherwise, unfortunately, the ol' can of worms has been opened. Either he asks the anonymous to come forward or he accepts the backlash, whether he's right about mistreatment of freelancers or not.


27. On 2012-03-04, UserClone said:

With regards to small sample size and views on fair business practices:

My experiences with D. Vincent Baker (Lumpley Games):

1. I ordered a copy of Apocalypse World, this great new game that seemed to be revolutionizing the Indie RPG scene. Week or two go(es) by. It does not show up in my mailbox. I get pissed. Vincent Baker is not a reliable person with whom to do business.

2. I send a gently prodding email asking about my order, and I get the response that he "is pretty certain my book was sent out with the last shipment." Vincent Baker is either a patronizing dick OR not a reliable person with whom to do business (or both, I guess).

3. I wait like another week, and I get an email stating that the book was returned as undeliverable. A couple emails later, it's discovered that I neglected to change my PayPal address when I moved. Vincent is sympathetic and immediately ships my book to the correct address. Vincent is a damn fine dude.

4. Vincent trades me a copy of Kill Puppies for a link to a hilariously specific webcomic with a related theme. I subsequently accidentally destroy the thumb drive upon which my copy is located. He replaces it immediately. Vincent is a pretty awesome guy.

5. I have amassed a largish collection of AW Playbooks. One day, my entire Lumpley folder disappears mysteriously (I'm assuming I accidentally deleted it somehow without noticing?) I post one(1) post on S-G about how it bummed me out and within minutes, Vincent swoops in like fucking Batman and resupplies me with all the Lumpley PDFs I used to have, including a 6-Pack of all the LE Playbooks, even though I had gotten them all through trades with other gamers. Vincent Baker is a fucking great guy, and I can't imagine another game publisher I'd rather give my money to.


NOTE: I am not trying to belittle Ben or his (or his friends') experiences with MWP; rather I just want to illustrate that one really needs to have a substantial body of (shareable) evidence regarding the business practices of any business, large or small, before one really ought to go around asking one's community to boycott that business's products. Thank you.


28. On 2012-03-04, misuba said:

If you're a freelancer, haven't been paid and still have hope of getting paid, what I don't get is this: how is it any better for you to anonymously call out the publisher through a proxy than it would be to make noise yourself?


29. On 2012-03-04, Jesse Pudewell said:

So, I preordered Marvel Heroic Roleplaying because it's an awesome game from everything I've heard. I also got a copy of the PDF free because of that preorder and because MWP is a seriously classy, wonderful company that does right by its customers. The game is everything that I thought it would be and more. There's nothing from the Cam Banks era that isn't some of the best in my book.

That doesn't speak to payment things - but I'm thinking, "A boycott doesn't get people paid, does it? It gets them ... not paid. That's counter-intuitive."

So, this post makes me want to go out and buy a copy of the PDF anyway. Both because the story doesn't match what I've seen of MWP and because people need money to pay money. And 'cause I want to stand with MWP - scratch that - Cam - and that seems a way to do it.


30. On 2012-03-04, Michael Phillips said:

Ben, it really doesn't matter if you are right or not, all you are doing here is making unsubstantiated claims about the business practices of MWP. You are hurting your credibility, you are damaging MWP without providing any sort of proof, and you are doing Vincent's company a great deal of harm by using it's website as your soap box for your unsubstantiated claim, essentially trading his credibility for your lack of support. Also, by conflating your preferred business model and your unsupported attacks on MWP, you make it look like this as really just a self serving attempt to slam a company you disagree with but that is too small to actively defend themselves. Your methods and tactics are likely to cost Lumpley more sales than MWP just from disgust at your methods.


31. On 2012-03-04, Alan said:

It can be appropriate to report something bad with only anonymous sources. Sometimes it's all you have, and you feel a great wrong has Ben done. But one needs to be careful, careful to be sure you're right, careful to avoid sending a sloppy message. Ben slipped on the second,. Furthermore, by reporting anonymous details and especially when adding commentary and opinion, and using details you actively sought out, you are not just a messenger or anonymizer. You are is reporter, and youre placing your own reputation on the line. I wish you luck, Ben.

Personally, I know two people who have freelanced for MWP.  One has posted above that they were paid promptly.  Another has not, but I know they have been paid. I know this because I asked them if they were frustrated that something they has written was behind schedule by months.  They joked that they didn't care; they has been paid months earlier.

This is slightly older information. I can't say if things have changed since.


32. On 2012-03-04, alejandro said:



33. On 2012-03-04, Steven Bull Ratkovich said:

I know several folks who have freelanced for MWP, and have never heard of any problems with payment.

I've never worked for MWP myself, so I'm not familiar with their contracts, but many contracts with game publishers are "Post Release Payments", meaning that the freelancer is due payment usually 45-90 days after the product is released. Since Marvel was just recently released, it's entirely possible that payment isn't even due to these freelancers yet.


34. On 2012-03-04, Steve Darlington said:




35. On 2012-03-04, SteveD said:

Um, that wasn't me. I'm the Steve Darlington who has done work for MWP, and I didn't write the post above. I have no problems whatsoever with MWP and their practices.


36. On 2012-03-04, Pol Jackson said:

Ben: Thanks for stepping forward and letting the community know that some MWP freelancers are having payment problems. I think that a more diplomatic approach would have been better to address the issue, but I'd rather find out this way than not find out at all.

Everyone Else: I'm glad to hear that a lot of other MWP freelancers are getting paid, but of course, that doesn't solve the problem of the ones that aren't. I'd really like to hear some thoughts and solutions for helping unpaid freelancers in the gaming community. What are the perils of freelancers coming forward publicly? How do you avoid He Said / She Said situations? When is a boycott of the company a good idea? (I don't think it's the right solution for this particular case, but I can imagine situations where it would be.) What other actions can customers take to help freelancers? If a company is short on cash, how should it decide which freelancers get paid, and which don't? How transparent should the company be about that decision? Does the good intent of the people in the company count for anything?

I had more, but I'm tired.

In summary:

I am glad that Ben posted.

I am sad that Fred is mad.

I think that I will go to bed. 'Night!


37. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

If this post of Ben's isn't ultimately a net gain for Marvel Heroic's sales, I'll eat my hat.

In the best world, Ben's just wrong and MWP always makes good on all their freelancers' contracts. I hope that's true! Nothing on this beautiful blue internet would make me happier.


38. On 2012-03-04, Chad Underkoffler said:

@Steven Bull Ratkovich:

>>I've never worked for MWP myself, so I'm not familiar with their contracts, but many contracts with game publishers are "Post Release Payments", meaning that the freelancer is due payment usually 45-90 days after the product is released. Since Marvel was just recently released, it's entirely possible that payment isn't even due to these freelancers yet.<<

Exactly. Until it's 90 days post-publication (print),don't start complaining. After that, I'll pick up a stick with a nail through it and stand next to you on the lines.

I worked on MHR. I received a truly staggering amount of comped comics material for that work, in advance, probably at a dollar value over and above my actual payment should be for the work done.

This post was Bad Form.


39. On 2012-03-04, TimD said:

1) Ben's post could quite legitimately be considered libel and he has opened himself up to legal action by MWP if they desired to pursue it.

2) Ben claims to be protecting these alleged authors (I say alleged because he has offered NO proof that said wronged authors actually exist).

The problem here is that IF there were such wronged authors, MWP would ALREADY know who they are, especially with others coming forward saying the opposite of Ben's claim.

He could also have easily sanitized the information to make it harder/impossible for anybody else (outside MWP) to identify them, and yet still given the details of their interaction with MWP.

3) These alleged authors have/had contracts with MWP. If there were a breech of contract, there would be legal remedies, up to and including remedies which require the pulling of the product, which MWP would be legally required to follow.

In short, there hasn't been any sort of evidence (even the sanitized sort that I mentioned) that MWP has done anything wrong. Without that or any other evidence, that makes Ben into nothing more than "just another internet looney" trying to trump up "fake" outrage for some unknown reason.


40. On 2012-03-04, Paul Czege said:

Here's how I'd like to see it play out. When these four contractors give up hopes of being paid in full they enlist independent collection agents (who work for a percentage of what they're able to collect) and they post publicly about having done so.


41. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

Elsewhere, someone else has said publicly that they've heard the same thing Ben has from MWP freelancers, and Cam Banks has asked any freelancers who aren't satisfied to contact him directly.

So that's perfectly straightforward and reasonable.


42. On 2012-03-04, walkerp said:

I am very much against the disparate power of the corporation in our economy and society today.

That being said, treating MWP like some giant corporation is erroneous.

They are a tiny little company made up of individuals that many of us know online and in some cases personally.

What do you think is going on at MWP, Ben?  A deliberate attempt to take freelancers' money?  The tone of your editorial makes it sound like you are accusing them of malice.

What if they are just so busy that they haven't had the time to process the freelancers' invoices?  What if they are so low on cash right now that if they pay their invoices, they won't be able to pay another vendor whose work is crucial to the books getting out?

At the scale we are dealing with here, I think it is a more productive move to look at MWP and the freelancers as being part of the same community, working together to get the books out there and sell them.

That position should only last so long and a lot of it is based on MWP's existing reputation as a pretty responsible company.

But for the time being, how does it help turning this into some kind of big controversy where we are fighting against the man?


43. On 2012-03-04, Ben Lehman said:

I'm not particularly involved in this thread right now, but I thought I'd step in to correct a little bit of legal terminology.

In the United States, it's not libel if it's true. Clearly, if MWP were to bring a libel suit against me, I would ask the people I talked to to come forward about their experiences: the stakes there being much higher than some random folk on the internet calling me a liar.



44. On 2012-03-04, Daniel said:

My gut reaction,
After reading this post and the comments, is currently to boycott any product written and/or produced by Vincent Baker or Ben Lehman.
Hope others will take the same stand until they can produce any kind of proof to the rumormongering vs. MWP.


45. On 2012-03-04, Meserach said:

People understand why Ben's sources don't want to come forward, right?

Like people fundamentally get that there is a distinction here between people who are happy with their situation vis-a-vis their compensations from Margaret Weis Productions and who can therefore happily come forward in public; and those who are unhappy and who therefore can't come forward for sensible reasons like ensuring they can still get work ever again, and who might therefore need an anonymous outlet for their displeasure?

Please tell me people understand the principles behind anonymous whistleblowing.


46. On 2012-03-04, Baulderstone said:

"In the United States, it's not libel if it's true. Clearly, if MWP were to bring a libel suit against me, I would ask the people I talked to to come forward about their experiences: the stakes there being much higher than some random folk on the internet calling me a liar."

Are you implying that there are no stakes here unless you get sued? I think both MWP and all the writers that work for them might think that there are already stakes in play. This isn't just about you and your reputation. You've made a serious attack on a company and need to back it up.

You can't claim to be too high-minded to reveal your sources with one breath, then claim that you will drag them all into court to protect you if you might suffer consequences.

While I'm here, I was curious about the predatory practices of some companies you were talking about in the article. I wasn't aware hostile take-overs were a big thing in the RPG world.


47. On 2012-03-04, J. Deaver said:

"Margaret Weis eats puppies. What? No, I'm not showing you any evidence. She totally does though."

Forgive me if I don't boycott based on such a bullshit claim. In fact I dislike your methods so much I think I'll pick up a second copy of Marvel Heroic just for the lulz. Congratulations!


48. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

>>>>>Please tell me people understand the principles behind anonymous whistleblowing.<<<<<

Sure, but the problem is that anonymous whistleblowing is indistinguishable from ideologically motivated mud slinging.

I don't think it is unfair to say the OP simply doesn't like that people would want to do work for hire instead of putting out creator owned stuff.


49. On 2012-03-04, tracy hurley said:

The problem with anonymous whistleblowing in a group this size is that many people who have done freelancing for MWP are going to feel the need to come forward and say that they weren't the people who talked. I know I feel that pressure. That will probably frustrate further the people who feel wronged and might lead to reprisal against those who stay silent since it's easy to assume they are one of the complainers.

Also, if I did have a problem (and I don't), now I would fear approaching them out of fear that I would be considered part of the group alluded to in this post.

This is a small industry. There are much better ways of bringing up these issues than the way Ben decided to. Treating each other as people might be a good start.


50. On 2012-03-04, Meserach said:

I am totally fine with people saying that Ben's post was poor journalism, poorly written, and also that they don't trust him a spokesperson.

What I want to make clear, though, is that we should separate our opinions on Ben's piece, and on Ben Lehman himself, from our opinions about the idea of anonymous whistleblowing in general.

What I'd like to see is Ben passing on his anonymous sources to a spokesperson better constituted to argue for them robustly and without baggage.


51. On 2012-03-04, Brand Robins said:

So my takeaway is as follows:

1) Having contacted a moderate number of folks who've worked with MWP, and having some scope of the issue, I feel that its a bit messy and complicated, but not really abnormal for the publishing world. (Note, not "abnormal for the RPG publishing world" but "not abnormal for the publishing world period.")

2) That said, at this point I see neither cause nor justification for a boycott or a public flogging. Neither seem likely to lead to the problems getting fixed nor anyone directly involved getting what they want.

3) Given the above, I do think that folks who aren't used to the freelance treadmill can always use a reminder about the ways, wherefores, best practices, and dangers of doing work for hire. (Frex:

4) If I personally were to lose my fucking brain and start writing for RPGs again, I would still consider work with MWP, but I would take certain precautions and go into the situation with a clearer sense of what I could expect.

5) The above sense does not come from reading Ben's post. Alas. It comes from talking to people involved. However, if it hadn't been for Ben's post, I may not have asked.

6) All of the above give good reason for people who suspect issues with a publisher to talk about those issues. Talk, however, is different than self-righteous grandstanding in which we make ourselves out to be the protector of the poor sell-out fools who do not know the value of indie publishing.

7) Ben's post was the later, and thus the annoyance and silliness factor of it rather outweighed the potential good of simply tossing up a flag.

8) I can't believe I've typed this much about the subject. I really must hate myself.


52. On 2012-03-04, walkerp said:


Yes, good point.  I do understand why the freelancers in question aren't speaking and I appreciate the need for a whistleblower to be able to safely share information about bad practices.

The problem here is that the self-appointed spokesperson has come on like an ambulance-chasing lawyer in full attack mode, thus creating antagonism right from the start and ignoring any sense of the greater gaming community that both members are part of.  There appears to be no good faith attempt to communicate and learn why payment hasn't been made.  Worse, there is a strong ideological sub-text that puts into question Ben's real motivations here.

Had this been an anonymous post from a freelancer explaining the details of their situation and what communications (or lack thereof) they had received from MWP, I think most people would be a lot more sympathetic.

Instead, this comes off as a screed by someone who already has an axe to grind with medium-sized companies taking advantage of indie talent and undermining the ideological purity of the creator-owned movement.

So a lot of people's immediate reaction is going to be "prove it!".

Finally, when the author of this contentious post says "I'm not particularly involved in this thread right now", I can only assume that he is not here in good faith at all.


53. On 2012-03-04, walkerp said:

Also, post 44 by Production Accountant is super informative and probably the most productive and helpful information, both for helping to understand what might be going on and for future improvement of the process.


54. On 2012-03-04, Meserach said:

@walkerp and others

Yes, I agree. These sources of Ben's need a better spokesperson than Ben, one with less baggage and with better journalistic skill.


55. On 2012-03-04, pigeon said:

Some of the reactions in this thread make no sense.

There are really only two possibilities:

1) Ben really does know people who worked for MWP who complained to him that they were not getting paid, and he wrote the post in good faith, though perhaps too aggressively, and Vincent put it up in equally good faith. It's possible that some of the people complaining were exaggerating, or that Ben misjudged the scope of the problem (clearly "uniformly" was an intensely poor word choice), and indeed perfectly possible that IN GENERAL MWP is totally fair to its freelancers, but in this scenario Ben really does have sources, and he has very good reasons for not wanting to reveal them—because it would get them, as he noted, in the shit as freelance writers.
2) Nobody ever said to Ben that they felt treated poorly by MWP. His post is a complete fabrication, and Ben is a either a delusional schizophrenic of a high order or an intensely calculating sociopath who somehow sees personal gain or vindication coming from this post (how that would be produced I'm still not clear). Vincent has somehow failed to notice this or do any preliminary investigation of his own before putting the post up. Asking Ben for his sources will just lead to even more complex psychotic behavior patterns (and presumably already has).

Two questions:
* Which scenario seems more likely to you?
* In which scenario is there any good reason to ask for Ben's anonymous sources?


56. On 2012-03-04, Paco Garcia Jaen (G*M*S Magazine) said:

People, let's forget all the anonymous people who Ben is not mentioning... Ben hasn't provided with a speck of evidence of what's happened to him!

What did he write? When did he write it? When did he invoice? When does the contract say he'd be paid? Did he deliver the work on time? Was his work used?

When some of those questions are answered (and a few more), then his case will have a leg to stand on.

Right now he's just hurting freelancers in general. I am pleased to say, though, that by the sounds of it, MWP is coming up on top with tons of people defending them with actual evidence!

My only complaint now against MWP is that the Marvel RPG is not available in physical form in the UK and I want to give them my money!


57. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

I dunno. Blackening the name of a company who dared to tempt people back in to the hated work for hire model is surely profit enough.

And point 1 covers a lot of ground. Did they even ask him to post this or did he just discover it for instance.

Cause, I mean, if they are that pissed off they presumably never want to work as a freelancer again anyway. Or if they do they are fools right?


58. On 2012-03-04, GMSkarka said:

walkerp wrote:

"Instead, this comes off as a screed by someone who already has an axe to grind with medium-sized companies taking advantage of indie talent and undermining the ideological purity of the creator-owned movement."

*Ding!*  We have a winner.

...and this whole tempest-in-a-teacup is going to make it much less likely that any publisher is going to want to hire from the self-defined "indie" movement, simply to avoid the tribalist bullshit that results.

Which, when you think about it, was probably the goal of this screed.


59. On 2012-03-04, Paco Garcia Jaen (G*M*S Magazine) said:


Scenario 2 is so stupid I am not even going to consider it.

Asking for sources of information is only normal and fair. If he can't, or doesn't want to, provide with his sources, then he shouldn't rely on them for credibility.

Again, he hasn't even mentioned exactly what's happened to him. That doesn't involve anything else.

One doesn't have to be "a delusional schizophrenic of a high order or an intensely calculating sociopath who somehow sees personal gain or vindication coming from this post" to have a distorted and biased perspective on things, and a fair deal of anger to want to distort them even further to help his cause.


60. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

Ben hasn't worked for MWP.


61. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

So did said freelancers ask him to post this or did he take it on himself?


62. On 2012-03-04, Paco Garcia Jaen (G*M*S Magazine) said:

Oh... so it is ALL hearsay and petulant proselytism...

Ben, you've wasted enough of my time, and probably everyone else's.

Unless you (or anyone else) can prove otherwise, MWP is innocent of any misdoing or mis-practice.

What you have done writing that post is childish, naive and extremely unprofessional. You have caused a lot of grief and upset to quite a few people who don't deserve it (if they do prove it) and tarnished the prospect of quite a few freelancers out there to get work they need.

Congratulations. You really have made a hash of it like no-one would have expected!


63. On 2012-03-04, Chris Chinn said:

Conspiracies to prevent people getting hired in order preserve ideological purity of the community?

Yes. Occam's Razor says Ben is Magneto.  That is the most reasonable answer.


64. On 2012-03-04, Paco Garcia Jaen (G*M*S Magazine) said:

Chris, one doesn't have to create a conspiracy to do damage. I don't think there is a conspiracy here, but certainly there is damage.

Let's keep things into perspective here.


65. On 2012-03-04, walkerp said:

I find it particularly upsetting to see the proponents of creator rights using the rhetorical tactics of the American political right, particularly the egregious use of the excluded middle (paraphrase: "either Ben is a total liar or MWP is ripping off freelancers!") and the extrapolation of their opponents ideas to an extreme absurdity (me: "Ben has an agenda against work for hire"; Chris Chinn: " Now people are arguing that Ben is part of a conspiracy to prevent people from working!").

These kind of tactics pretty much undermine any chance that the community is going to accept your position or have any confidence in your motivations behind your arguments.


66. On 2012-03-04, Jason Durall said:

Count me as another who has done prior freelance work for MWP and been paid for all work published (and even paid a kill fee for something that was never published).

Furthermore, I would happily work with MWP again if the circumstances aligned. I don't depend on freelance income, but I'd do it because I enjoy their products and like the people there.

If there is a problem with payment of freelancers, it is a new one, and is (if I might guess) due to a cashflow issue, and subsequent unwillingness to communicate that issue for fear of causing internet shitstorms like this very one.


67. On 2012-03-04, Chad Underkoffler said:

The only question is: are they outside the post-publication 90 day window?

If yes, cool, I'll lobby MWP for them to get paid.

If not, quit bitching: the world is complicated, life is hard, and you should have worn a cup. Payment around 90 days post-print is standard. Pay goddamn attention to the industry you're in.


68. On 2012-03-04, Chad Underkoffler said:

Vincent, Ben:

I apologize, I'm not familiar with how much WFH gaming stuff you've [each] done. Please enlighten me.

Having done WFH gaming writing and editing for 14 years, alongside self-publishing during that time, these sort of discussions tend to get my Irish up.

This all sounds like ignorance and lack of info.

If there are freelancers who haven't been paid for their work (in the reasonable course of events), I'll fricking stand with them. I hope that is abundantly clear.

But what I'm hearing is secondhand bullshit: unless these freelancers are talking about getting paid for SMALLVILLE or LEVERAGE (and, that would be a righteous complaint), they're being idiots.

Maybe I'm being a dick. It's a hot button. I'm sorry.


69. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

Hey Chad.

I've done no WFH work. (That's work for hire, right?) I don't believe Ben has either. He can correct me if I'm wrong.

I get that it's a hot topic, with many emotions and relationships involved, both personal and professional. So I'm going to just come back to the facts as I understand them:

1. Freelancers for MWP have talked to Ben Lehman and others about poor financial treatment at the hands of MWP. I consider this confirmed; one of them has now written me as well. (None of you are obliged to take our word for it, but - as others have said - of course there have been financial probs between MWP and its freelancers. There are always financial probs between publishers and freelancers. It's not shocking.)

2. I don't know whether the probs are because of miscommunication, bad expectations, bad faith, accident, error, cash flow, or what. I don't know what work, nor what terms. Are the complaints legit? Are the freelancers' contracts not being honored, or should they have read their contracts more carefully and known better what to expect? Should they chill out and be patient, or have they in fact been aggrieved? I don't know. I don't expect to ever know.

I imagine that Brand is right when he says that it's complicated and not abnormal.

3. Other freelancers for MWP have confirmed that they've been financially well treated by MWP. This doesn't surprise me a bit.

4. Cam Banks has asked any freelancers who continue to have probs with this to contact him directly. This seems like the crucial point to me, and the one on which my own personal judgment stands: whatever the problems, the person responsible is acting to take responsibility. I'd do precisely the same.


70. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

The short version:
Freelance RPG writers and designers should avoid employment with Margret Weis Productions, unless payments are contracted and paid largely in advance. Consumers who have an interest in creator's rights should avoid purchasing any MWP products.

And, like, seriously, did they ask him to post this?


71. On 2012-03-04, Jesse Burneko said:

After having done a bit of research it sounds like there was a massive amount of miscommunication.  I hope that gets cleared up.

I agree that the lack of details on Ben's part was remiss.  He didn't need to name names.  He just should have told the story.  I know a few people who agreed to do X and expected Y.  After doing I, J and K and being told M and N, Q happened.  That kind of thing.  You don't need to name names to illuminate facts or even just tell the story you heard.

However, what this HAS done is brought to light this notion of post-publication payment.  I admit that's kind of blowing my mind.  Who the fuck would ever agree to that?  What if it never gets published?  You should get paid for your work when you complete it no matter what happens to the publisher/publication from that point on.

I hope that MWP honors its agreements.  And from the facts and testimonials I've read it sounds likely that they will.  So, I agree it's a bit unfortunate that all this negativity is being directed at them specifically and drowning out what is worth saying:

A post-publication payment agreement is a rather suspect arrangement.  That has ZERO to do with MWP in the specific and everything to do with the wider culture of freelance writing.  I'm sorry to see this interesting and valid point so horribly miscommunicated.


72. On 2012-03-04, drnuncheon said:

"I don't know whether the probs are because of miscommunication, bad expectations, bad faith, accident, error, cash flow, or what. I don't know what work, nor what terms. Are the complaints legit? Are the freelancers' contracts not being honored, or should they have read their contracts more carefully and known better what to expect? Should they chill out and be patient, or have they in fact been aggrieved? I don't know. I don't expect to ever know."

This point right here is something that you and Ben should have considered very strongly before getting involved.

Instead, you got incomplete information and (figuratively speaking) decided to give Ben a ride over to Cam's house so he could punch him in the nose for what he did.


73. On 2012-03-04, Malcolm said:

1) I think it's a good idea to make a public statement about nonpayment in cases where payment runs late and you either cannot negotiate a pay schedule, or the company that owes you money has broken a pay schedule negotiated to resolve the problem. Then you state the facts, stand behind what you said, and renegotiate aggressively. As a result of using this method I have never, ever been stiffed across over a decade of freelancing.

There is nothing wrong with airing grievances in public. The post is simply the stupidest possible way to do it for everyone with a real stake in it. But not for Ben Lehman.

2) There's no blacklist. Individual companies can choose not to hire you. This post here, it's probably inspired a couple of companies not to hire the Anonymous Freelancers again simply because they allowed the post to happen. Me, I've threatened to quit, argued with my bosses in public venues and told the head of one of the largest publishers from the last decade to go fuck himself. I'm working on a contract right now.

3) Many people who talk about freelancing know nothing about it. This includes most of the indie community and the vast majority of prolific posters who worked for zine-level outfits rocking penny a word bullshit.

4) Moral comparisons between working as a freelancer and indie self-publishing are illustrative, since they implicitly assume that all workers are trivial appendages of the creator. I guess that's why wheedling free work out of people or paying below the threshold of a living wage for time works for indie-brand folks.

5) Basically, since Ben's post lacks sourcing, will probably damage the people he purports to help, and brings in a side message expressing the usual, fashionable contempt for creative workers, the only coherent thing being accomplished by it is . . . marketing.

Y'all should probably think twice about responding to this kind of marketing.


74. On 2012-03-04, K said:

Lots of respect for Vincent for that summary and for admitting what he does and does not know. But I have to agree, this screed was too angry when no one even knows what injustices have or have not been committed, too ideological for what was presumably intended to help and ultimately really should not have been posted without some severe editing. And posting it here makes it seem like Vincent is sanctioning everything Ben says, which doesn't seem to be true.

This could have been an interesting conversation about the role and expectations of freelancers in this business, but instead, we got Internet Drama, which helps no one.


75. On 2012-03-04, Meserach said:


Given what you're saying that you actually know, Vincent, I am rather surprised you elected to publish Ben's post on your blog. Can you talk us through what went into that decision?


76. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

"I don't know whether the probs are because of miscommunication, bad expectations, bad faith, accident, error, cash flow, or what. I don't know what work, nor what terms. Are the complaints legit? Are the freelancers' contracts not being honored, or should they have read their contracts more carefully and known better what to expect? Should they chill out and be patient, or have they in fact been aggrieved? I don't know. I don't expect to ever know."


77. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:


MWP hasn't done right by all its freelancers. This is confirmed and not shocking.

This raises ethical questions for us, the buyers and potential buyers of MWP's games. For instance: do I buy Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, even though MWP hasn't done right by all its freelancers?

Of course I elected to publish Ben's post.


78. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

"I don't know whether the probs are because of miscommunication, bad expectations, bad faith, accident, error, cash flow, or what. I don't know what work, nor what terms. Are the complaints legit? Are the freelancers' contracts not being honored, or should they have read their contracts more carefully and known better what to expect? Should they chill out and be patient, or have they in fact been aggrieved? I don't know. I don't expect to ever know."

MWP hasn't done right by all its freelancers. This is confirmed and not shocking.



79. On 2012-03-04, K said:

You posted "Are the complaints legit?" a few minutes ago, indicating that you yourself don't seem to know if the complaints are, in fact, "legit".

So I find it a little troubling that you're now comfortable saying that it is "confirmed" that MWP hasn't done right by its freelancers, since that seems to contradict the statement you just made.


80. On 2012-03-04, Meserach said:

Vincent: Okay but now I am confused, because when you said:

"2. I don't know whether the probs are because of miscommunication, bad expectations, bad faith, accident, error, cash flow, or what. I don't know what work, nor what terms. Are the complaints legit? Are the freelancers' contracts not being honored, or should they have read their contracts more carefully and known better what to expect? Should they chill out and be patient, or have they in fact been aggrieved? I don't know. I don't expect to ever know.

....that sounds like whether or not MWP has done right by it's freelancers isn't at all confirmed.

Like, if it is all just accident, or if it IS all just freelancers misreading their contracts, then in what sense have MWP not done right buy its freelancers?


81. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

Yeah. I mean, seriously, if you are gonna slag someone off in such a public and vehement way you really ought to be sure they did what they are accusing them of.

If this was just freelancing is EVIL!!!!!111 why didn't you say that?


82. On 2012-03-04, Amberyl said:

Speaking in general, without knowledge of this specific situation:

What people seem to be missing here is that most of the RPG industry, whether "indie" or "corporate" operates at the level of a mom-and-pop business, working on shoestring budgets, dealing with uncertain levels of cash flow barely enough to allow the company to be a going concern, and done with enthusiasm but often not very much business sense.

As a freelancer, you should probably think of most of your potential employers as dubious credit risks. This is true even if the publisher has had a sequence of successful products, because many such publishers are only doing sufficiently well to be able to fund the next product, not to maintain a reasonable cash reserve.

Post-publication payment is an artifact of the cash flow issue. Publishers are scraping together sufficient cash to fund a print run, which means that they often have insufficient money to pay anyone until the cash starts coming back from the sales.

The possibility that the product gets killed before publication is always there. Your contract may specify a kill fee if this is the case, so you get some money, but for many RPG companies, there won't be one because the reason that there won't be a product is that they didn't have the funds to be able to publish the product, and consequently also no funds to pay people who worked on the product.

Side effect of operating on enthusiasm and not much business sense: The companies may not be great at keeping records on who they owe, how much they owe them, and when they owe them.

Cold fact, though, is that when companies have cash flow issues, they first pay the bills that keep the company running (paying the printers, the rent, and so on), and then figure out when they can pay freelancers, since individuals can be put off a bit with some pleading.


83. On 2012-03-04, Patrick said:

It's quite impressive how plastic the claim here is mutating freely between it being absolutely certain that MWP has done wrong, and the only thing certain being that "some people" have complained, but are possibly themselves incorrect.

There is real evidence that if the unknown claima are bout Marvel Heroic Roleplaying that the complaints about payment are simply unjustified because payment is not yet "due" per contract.

At this point a blog post about how Ben is deliberately lying about MWP would be wild speculation, but still be much better supported than the original post.


84. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

Uh, guys? There are unsettled financial probs between MWP and their freelancers. This isn't shocking or, as far as I can tell, in dispute. It would be more shocking if there weren't.

I don't know what caused the probs, and I don't expect to know. Whatever caused them, MWP, as the publisher, is ethically responsible for making them right. It's MWP's responsibility to correct the miscommunication, if that's the problem, or make with the cash, if that's it. It's possible that we'll find out which, someday maybe, but if we don't, we can still know that there are unsettled financial probs that MWP hasn't made right.

I'll say it again! Cam Banks has asked freelancers with unsettled probs to contact him directly. This is exactly what should happen in this situation.


85. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

The short version:
Freelance RPG writers and designers should avoid employment with Margret Weis Productions, unless payments are contracted and paid largely in advance. Consumers who have an interest in creator's rights should avoid purchasing any MWP products.

So, like, are you going to pull this statement until you find out what the fact are, and will you apologise if it turns out you were in error?


86. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

As a gaming superhero and figure of respect, it is your ethical duty to ensure you are right about things like this.


87. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

Oh man, of course I'm going to apologize if it turns out I'm in error.

I'm not going to pull or cut this post - my agreement with Ben doesn't include editing him, just like it doesn't include agreeing with him - but I promise I'll run a post praising the everloving daylights out of MWP if I learn that they've made right with their freelancers. Hell, I'll buy 5 copies of their game and give them away in promos at my own expense.


88. On 2012-03-04, esoteric said:

Happy Gygax memorial day?


89. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

I'll run a post praising the everloving daylights out of MWP if I learn that they've made right with their freelancers.

To be frank, we have estabilished that they may in fact be right with their freelancers already, and you were just running your mouth.



90. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

A bit more disclosure.

My little brother is an illustrator, and when he was starting out he had the devil of a time getting rpg companies to consistently pay him for his work. When I work with illustrators, I get him to look over the contracts and make sure he'd sign them, and I know that he would never speak to me again if I failed to make right.

This is a hot button for me too. When I hear about someone not getting paid for their work, I get as righteously indignant as you all do.


91. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

Sure, but you really ought to find out if the accusations are true before you start firing broadsides.

Seriously man. A dis from Vincent Baker is a big deal.


92. On 2012-03-04, Meserach said:

Vincent - if your agreement with Ben doesn't include editing him, just like it doesn't include agreeing with him - well uh... I guess that seems to me like a strange agreement and one that is going to negatively affect your own percieved credibility. Maybe you don't care about that, I don't know? But if you do, at a minimum you need more of a disclaimer than "guest post by Ben Lehman".


93. On 2012-03-04, Vincent said:

I could play it safer with my credibility I suppose but I'd miss the thrill of life on the edge.


94. On 2012-03-04, Foo said:

I once got starstruck by meeting Marcus Rowland. I suspect if I met the man behind Dogs in the Vineyards I would pass out.

Please sign my rant.


95. On 2012-03-04, Patrick said:

The existence of a DISPUTE does not entail that MWP is in the wrong though. I would have thought that people would only call for a boycott when it was clear that MWP has done wrong (and that there's little chance of making it right, since boycotting is only going to make cashflow issues worse if its big enough to matter at all).

If "some freelancers aren't perfectly happy with things" is supposed to be grounds for a boycott, I'm at a loss for why I should consider that reasonable.


96. On 2012-03-04, walkerp said:

I find your position to be on some shaky ethical ground here, Vincent.

I think it is completely acceptable to want to use your site to publicize a payment problem at MWP to maybe get some gears in motion over there.

What's questionable is when that publicity is an aggressive, divisive and unsubstantiated attack on the company calling for a boycott by someone who does not have any actual active interest in the issue but does have a clear ideological agenda.

You got the result you wanted, it seems, with Cam responding in a responsible way (wow, big surprise there).

But you could have gotten it just as effectively without creating a lot of negativity and further division within our community.

And where is Ben now?  For someone calling for corporations to take responsibility for their actions, I don't see him taking any responsibility for his words here.


97. On 2012-03-04, TimD said:

>>In private discussion with several freelancers employed by
>>MWP, there are shocking parallels. In total: Margret Weis
>>Productions has, uniformly, been either unconscionably tardy
>>in its payments for services or simply refused to pay. This
>> refusal generally takes the form of an extended run-around
>>with a lot of responsibility dodging and mealy-mouthed
>>indications that payment may be just around the corner.

>>This is, quite plainly, theft.

I am the one who said that Ben opened himself up for libel...

In the part I quoted, Ben SPECIFICALLY and EXPLICITLY states that there has been several DIFFERENT problems, and then he essentially calls MWP a den of thieves.

THAT is libel right there......

Now, we have no idea of the details of the problems these alleged authors have with MWP, and as has been pointed out, it could be nothing more than them demanding something that their contract did not authorize them to have yet.

We weren't even given sanitized details, such as:

Author 1's payment was 14 days past due the date of payment specified in his contract. He wrote MWP and asked about it and in return, they said "you misread the contract, publiclication is defined as the release of the print version", to which Author 1 responded with etc..etc.. etc...

NO, all Ben did was call MWP thieves and then go on a rant. Plain and simple...

It also ignores the fact that most contracts usually have legal remedies that should be followed if there is a problem with them. If MWP failed to make payment, and then gave me the run around for a month or so, then I would officially declare them in breech of the contract, which triggers a cure period in which the problem MUST be fixed or the product ends up getting pulled.

Is somebody claiming to have problems with MWP?

Vincent says that he has talked to one person, and Ben says he talked to several.

So the answer is most likely yes—one or more people are CLAIMING to have had problems.

Are those problems real?? Now THAT is the question. Unless those "authors" showed you their emails to MWP and the return emails from MWP (presuming that all contact between the two was via email and ONLY email), then NOTHING is proved conclusively.

You end up with Ben and Vincent believing one or more people making claims without real proof (them telling how badly they have been treated is NOT proof without emails or something else to back them up).

And then you end up with Ben calling MWP thieves without proof, only heresay....


98. On 2012-03-04, PsychoPez said:

I'm going back to buying only WotC materials.

At least there all the fighting is among end users over how evil this/last/first iteration of a game is.  At least there I don't feel bad about calling names because one side has a Scrooge McDuck money bin to swim in.

Here, all it comes across as here is a group people deciding who gets to captain the leaky lifeboat rather than working together to make sure it stays a float.

Hmmm, not my best analogy...


99. On 2012-03-05, Chad Underkoffler said:

We are all being stupid. Let's stop.


100. On 2012-03-05, Robby said:

Well, I'm glad Ben and Vincent aren't in charge or the legal system, because apparently the burden of proof is on the accused and rumor mongering constitutes legitimate proof.

There are a pair of authors I won't be buying products from ... and its not MWP.


101. On 2012-03-05, Vincent said:

Chad and anonymous are right (and me very much included). No more comments please.


102. On 2012-03-05, Justice said:

It's sad people are dragging MWP name in the mud with no proof. All they have is hearsay at best. It's sad. Its good to know I won't have to spend money on those liars products.


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