Banned from Grimdark Gaming

I was blindsided the other day when I received a direct e-mail from Anthony Li regarding my status with Grimdark Gaming. Grimdark, as many who know of this site are aware, is the successor to Evil Dice. So I’ve essentially found myself banned from my own club.

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At first, I was confused. My last interactions with them seemed rather innocuous given the content here. Of course, you will notice in reading that thread, that it is full of veiled threats directed at me. I have broken no rules that I can tell, it appears I was simply guilty of voicing an unpopular opinion. This happens all the time at Grimdark but a blind eye is turned; I am literally the only person who has been publicly threatened on their forum for anything, and it happens fairly consistently.

This is to be expected since, in person, I have had different experiences. So you can imagine the eyebrow-raising I did when I got these veiled threats initially. But still I pressed on; their charter is essentially re-worded copy-paste of my own policies, albeit over-engineered, and I knew that by the legacy of Evil Dice, you are allowed to have an unpopular opinion and not be crucified for it. But as things went on, it was clear I was hitting a nerve, commenting on their handling of me.

Frankly I have no sympathy or remorse for this. I was the club leader for many years; you need to have a thick skin. And frankly, their response proved my points right on all counts, so there’s that.

I followed up only once with this draconian dispatching, to ask if the people knew. You see, these guys swore to me they would uphold the ideals of Evil Dice. And one of those things, above all else, is that the player base comes first. I knew the answer before I even sent the question:

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It was at this point that I viewed the forum itself. The default functionality of the forum software is to show the user ID as banned on their posts, but if you look at my posts, you will not see this status. They seem to have gone out of their way to turn that off…so to the population of the Grimdark Gaming forum, it simply appears as if I am not banned, but am instead just not posting.

I brought this up in my last response, but I get it. Had I done something this petty and illegitimate, I would not want to tell the community either. The idea that they were trying to save me a public shaming when they antagonize me in every thread I post there made me laugh.

Most jarring was the clear wording of these messages that seemed to be a pretty strong bluff that I should go “elsewhere,” in the physical sense, as well as the online sense.

It was this most of of all that I did not take kindly to, because the club has no authority over the space, as it was for the entirety of Evil Dice’s run.

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After the banning, two notable incidents followed that lend some context to the smugness of this whole thing.

First, they posted a number of images from their 8th edition release party, showing their version of a full house (and Evil Dice’s version of a slow week) with a number of people on hand. I did not react to this but found it was reposted later by one of the officers on their personal account (which, coincidentally, was the only one of them I left able to see a post I wrote on this subject on my page…so thanks for confirming). The “look at our big happy party” post was likely a coincidence, so I let it ride (though it is suspect that I’ve been banned from their forum, and not from the pages that showed this coincidental slight…).

The Grimdarks also decided that this would be an excellent time to launch a survey on how good a job they are doing. Now that you see the e-mail I was sent, you can see that a lot of the language is identical and that the questions are clearly engineered to lead people by the nose to indirectly saying their policies are better than mine were.

  • “Have their been any disputes or administrative actions you think could be better handled” is in the very first question.
  • One of the questions included a link to fund usage, something they greatly criticized me over.
  • “Were there any club-run events or features you particularly enjoyed and want to see more of” is my favorite of the obvious biases in these questions. It basically says, “We are so great, but what part is the greatest?”
  • The final question is “Are there any other questions or concerns you have regarding any aspect of the club?” — gee, it is a good thing they posted this right after my hush-hush ban, eh? If nobody knows about it, nobody can have any concerns, can they?

This all seemed to be a bracing of sorts for any bad press that would come from me publicizing my ban.

So now you all know the story of what happened.

Initial Thoughts

I wasn’t perturbed much by this e-mail, initially.

The Grimdark team hasn’t figured out out that my making myself scarce was largely intentional, and done to aid them in establishing their legitimacy. The year absence referred to with disparagement in the e-mail is similar in nature; I have always enforced long absences to test viability of new officers. This has been done since 2010, again in 2012, once briefly in 2014, and again in 2016 with the current batch of people now running Grimdark. In 2016 the additional burden of my wife working weekends to afford our wedding and my budget for 40k being absolutely zero also played roles in the extent of the absence (which has typically been three months, done around Halloween, to give officers a chance to act during the weaker months of November and December … when holidays will ensure the club is not booming with people in need of attention, and I am usually scarce due to personal commitments anyway).

There is no mention that I spent six months of that time developing a new membership structure for the club, as well as a new website, which they all universally opposed after the work was done (that page and setup was completed in August 2016, and it was opposition from the other officers which prevented it from going live). This was to be an automated subscription of $4 a month which would have made life easier for the store and for the club and it’s members (as a sidenote I expect that they will steal this setup, as I explained to them how it all worked. However their accounts on the forum are no longer able to see the posts so I am confident this innovation is safe for now).

Either way, the point is, it is a convenient narrative. It also ignores that I spent at least some of that period in toil for the club only to be shot down by them at the last minute. It made no sense to me then, but now it does: they wanted me to finish it, so it could be utilized by them after my ousting (and I call it an ousting because I am aware there was collusion external to the forum with people who are now members of the administration at Grimdark, before I stepped down offically).

I am sure they think otherwise, but this was done for their benefit, and is the only reason I decided they would be capable to continue in my footsteps.

I felt it important to publish this information because they wanted it to remain secret. I firmly believe a lot of what they did immediately following, was bracing for this backlash.

Now the next question: what happens next?

Conclusions

I think it is pretty apparent that this ban is petty, unfounded bullshit.

For one thing, the alleged “multiple requests for action” against me is almost assuredly garbage. If it were true, I imagine I might have gotten a PM or a warning. Fortunately the Grimdarks have so poorly defined their rules for problem players in this regard that there are no guidelines for banning that are public-facing, so there is no bar by which to judge and this is essentially martial law married with preference and convenience. (So confident am I that there are not a justifiable number of requests calling for my ousting that, if you guys are out there reading this and would like to provide them, I will happily add them to this post).

The important thing here, is that both Anthony’s e-mail and the things said throughout their dealings with me, have made clear that the ideals of Evil Dice — my ideals — are not welcome at their group anymore. So if you shared or appreciated Evil Dice’s approach, bear that in mind. This place does not have any interest in being the next Evil Dice. Just in cannibalizing its corpse and wearing its skin.

So what’s next? Well, a few things are going to change. Immediately.

1. Evil Dice =/= Grimdark Gaming

First thing’s first. This is not the club I started. But they enjoy a lot of benefit from setting up shop in it’s wake, with a similar look and similar approach. This will stop immediately.

I’ve been content to let this ride, but at this point I see no reason to continue to allow them to infringe on my copyrights or utilize my items in place at the club at this point. Fortunately, they have made the effort to get incorporated which adds an interesting legal wrinkle to this aspect.

Especially since I worked for this division for years and understand most of this as well as a lawyer does.
Especially since I worked for this division for years and understand most of this as well as a lawyer does.

2. Addressing the Allegations

There are a lot of allegations in that initial e-mail I’d like to address, as well as a lot of things I have intentionally kept off my tongue for the benefit of the new club. This will no longer be the case, as I want to convey as clearly as possible to the 40k community and make certain that this new club is never mistaken for being the same as Evil Dice ever again.

As such I will probably be producing a separate set of pieces on this, for this site. If you want to see things a bit more from my perspective I suspect it will be insightful.

3. Calling in old debts

Since we have no working agreement anymore there is no reason for me to not be critical of this club’s governance. But there’s also a lot of things I have let them have access to that belong to Evil Dice or to me personally. Not the least of this is some of the terrain and the computer in place there (and my website).

I gave the reins of the club over to these people because they told me they would be upholding the principles of the club that was founded there. By Anthony’s own admission in his admonishments above, that is simply not the case: “it’s much different” than the old club, as he says, and apparently my views are irreconcilable with these differences.

If that is true, then the legacy of the club is clearly not being honored. Nor was it ever intended to be, apparently.

Because if it was, we solved our problems. Not abused our power to try and kick them out.

Do not be fooled. This is not Evil Dice. And it never will be.

Rob Walker

Former leader of Evil Dice 40k, Rob has a decade of experience in community building around the world of 40k, balancing the needs of players from all styles of play.

One thought on “Banned from Grimdark Gaming

  • July 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm
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    Hey Rob powerful stuff! I’m reminded of the end of batman 2 were he says (new batman not val kilmer)

    “you either die the hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I’m whatever gotham needs me to be. You’ll hunt me, you’ll condemn me, you’ll set the dogs on me- because that’s what needs to happen, because sometimes truth isn’t good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”

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