Friday, June 9, 2017

RPG News: Onyx Path Publishing; Lack of Professionalism Works Both Ways

"Throw a D20 in any direction, and you'll be hell bent to not to hit a disgruntled RPG freelancer."

If I have this correct, and it's a modestly messy if: For reasons uncertain, Onyx Path Publishing (OPP) recently "un-optioned," Exalted 3rd Edition Line Developers Holden Shearer & John Morke. I say un-optioned, because as I've put the this picture together it seems clear that duties as a line developer at OPP is... A work for hire position? Similar (but, "oh-no" not the same) as a regular work for hire freelancer... But with a way-cooler-and better position title. (meh) Yeah, I don't make friends easily... 

In an interesting post Mr. Shearer took to Facebook, to air a grievance about some of his "cutting room floor" material from the Exalted 3E Kickstarter being repackaged and sold without payment. If you want to get the full picture, Mr. Shearer's Facebook Page is here. Below is a screen capture of the initial post:


Attribution: This news comes via (mashing random buttons) theRPGsite and so following a podcast of events by: Sponsored by Nobody (to that podcast) Who have also put together an imgur gallery, which consists of former OPP freelancers (imgur gallery link) twittering away.

While admittedly the podcast is a bit hard for me to listen to, and it's a bit too much from a consumers perspective, there is some merit to parts of the discussion.

The fact that Holden' notes 90k words were not being paid for (and cut) by OPP is a surprise, in only that he wrote that many, without being paid... (that's my professional asshole perspective) On Twitter (imgur post above) the number is 150K for the Orichalcum Edition, which is still in production from the Kickstarter...

I'm I the only one to think that a line developer... developing lines (words) that aren't published in the bulk of the production, is as much a problem for OPP, as it might be the writer... And now that writer is no more? It doesn't bode well for either; the company or the writer.

This is the RPG Edition of throw enough shit and some of it will stick, but that's not to say whether it has merit, beyond noting dysfunction of everyone involved. On one hand we have a number of freelancers outing (of note, recently let go or no longer working for) the company, on the other we have the company and a number of freelancers defending said company. The real problem is that ethics and professionalism aren't the same dance.

Certainly, line developers, freelancers and anyone producing creative work for a company in a work for hire capacity and especially if that company puts that work up for sale, should be paid an agreed amount, for an agreed amount of work (a contractual tongue twister). There is no doubt.

Work for hire employees should also carefully read the contract provided. With most RPG companies what you find is that "your work," is no longer yours once you turn it in. If you put your signature on that line, you've agreed to that. And sometimes pay for that work, and especially if the writing is repackaged, is entirely optional.

Professionalism, works both ways.

In honor of that... A little Ellison!