It's the drama of James Shipman that brings me to the blog today. Since the Great Outlaw Press Art Theft Scandal of November-December 2009, the T&T community has been altered a bit but moving forward. The various internet entities dedicated to the game have for the most part rebuked "Shippy" and disassociated themselves from the man. I found it funny because it reminded me of someone trying to find a member of the Nazi political party in Hamburg, Germany in August 1945. Everyone had worked with the man, and he had a serious bloc of supporters to take his side in cases of discontent among the authors that OP was publishing in early November. But when the misappropriation of easily seen intellectual property of artists was noticed, all open support crumbled.
Ken St Andre himself tried his best to give the man the benefit of the doubt throughout the entire time, but demanded explanations and appropriate responses in a timely manner. Shippy instead seemed to be enjoying the ruckus posting pithy comments at his website about "tater being his only friend" while being forced to remove all content of items for sale from his website. He also bragged in emails to those who didn't throw him under the bus about continuing to reprint FBI's works through Singapore. At an on-line Christmas party, the guy was showing his charm by talking about his new association with the TEA Party and how the government was stealing his money. The only defense ever made was something about a guy named David Levi, or some such, had sold him the rights to all the artwork at unbelievably low rates. Contact information on this "guy" was never provided. Things quieted down towards the New Year celebrations, though the man was kicked out of the Trollhalla, Ken's personal T&T on-line domain.
Then on the rest of us Delvers, T&Theads call themselves that, got busy doing things to fill the rather large space left by Outlaw Press like create fanzines, like TrollsZine, and self-publish T&T products, like W. Scott Grant's the Final Exam. I focused on rewriting and producing New Khazan. Reports would pop up that Shippy was selling items still with Ken St. Andre's name on it and writing spiteful author biographies. We all knew the man had other identities at Trollhalla, and Peryton and I made a game at finding out who it was for a couple weeks before finding the game too easy. We didn't report them, because I was against "exiling" him in the first place because I figured he deserved to see what would happen when everyone else would be doing their own T&T projects and through legitimate means. More than likely he'd have lost interest, not having the chance to become a gatekeeper to the small but passionate T&T marketplace. Heck I even got a free copy of Shipman's True West RPG and his play-by-post novel Wasteland by speaking to his hand puppets.
I wish I had expressed myself better. At the release of 9KW I received an email from Shippy asking if I had thought to thank him as well as another person that used to work with him. This person had rewritten about a dozen pages of my original work when Outlaw Press decided to release its version without me being credited for any but an idea. I replied that I had taken to using the person's phrase "Spell Ships" and felt that merited a thanks. I asked what he felt that he deserved credit for in the work. His reply was short and entitled "Yes? No? Maybe?" From the letter's exasperated tone, I garnered that Ken's exile from Trollhalla was wearing on the Outlando D' Tunnelore.
Two evenings ago, between working other T&T projects and well as Mike Larsen's Rock'n'Role-Playing I received an email from Ken St. Andre. Shippy had sent him a box containing six copies of a Gristlegrim Dungeon: A unique Tunnels & Trolls GM dungeon written by Ken St. Andre & James Shipman with a one hundred dollar bill on top of it. Ken was honestly confused about what to do with the shipment and was asking for advice from us at Trollhalla. Not sure what everyone else advice was but mine was to keep the bill for the insults over the past months and a further insult of a bribery attempt, and send the books back. This has lead to Ken issuing an open letter which he has asked to spread around.
What were Shippy's motives? I can only guess that it has gotten cold. Spite has lost its appeal.
So here is the letter:
Ken St. Andre
3421 E. Yale
Phoenix, Arizona, 85008.
September 8, 2010
I received your package yesterday with some surprise. Received six copies of the revised Gristlegrim Dungeon. This dismays me, as I told you to quit publishing it back in January of this year when I broke with you. If this parcel was an attempt at a reconciliation between us, then I appreciate the effort you took, but I reject it. Our friendship and partnership is broken and done forever. I do not wish to collaborate on Gristlegrim or any other project with you. Not now! Not ever again! You had no right to add your material to my work. You have no right to continue publishing and selling it. Please stop!
James, you no longer have any right to publish or sell my works. We have no written contracts. We have no formal accounting of royalties. Your habit of sending money and or copies of the items is no longer good enough. Any informal agreements we may have made in 2009 and earlier are terminated on my side of the deal. I no longer wish to associate with you, either professionally or informally.
Find some other outlet for your creativity. Leave me, and leave Tunnels and Trolls, alone. I am rejecting any further association with you.
I hope this is clearly understood. Do not publish anything with my name on it as author. Do not presume to collaborate with me on my projects. Do not keep attempting to infiltrate trollhalla.com under false names--you are banned and unwelcome on that site. Do not attempt to rewrite the history of Tunnels and Trolls on Wikipedia or any other online sources. Do not send me money. Do not send me product. I do not want it from you. However, I am under no legal obligation to send back things that arrive unsolicited in the mail. I won't waste the money or the effort to send them back. I am not interested in theatrical gestures. I simply wish to terminate our association and to move on with other things in life.
I hereby reclaim my rights to anything I ever gave you to publish. In particular, I assert my right to the novel Griffin Feathers which consists entirely of my own work with some input in the short sections of the book from the members of Trollhalla.
I am forwarding the "royalties" that you sent me to Jeff Freels, the artist whose work you have re-used to illustrate this version of Gristlegrim. He deserves compensation for his work.
James, I am not angry at you, and I do not hate you. I simply will not associate with you ever again. For several years we were, I thought, very good friends. Outlaw Press did a lot for Tunnels and Trolls. You know why that time has ended. Let it go. Move on.
James, I will be publishing this letter in open forums on the internet, so that all the world can see how I feel, and how I react to what I can only believe are attempt s to manipulate me and to gain control of Tunnels and Trolls. If you have no ulterior intentions, then forgive me for being suspicious, but I no longer feel that I can trust you.
James, you have your own unique style of creativity. Please go and do your own thing, and stop messing with me and with Tunnels and Trolls.
Ken St. Andre
It's hard not to feel bad for Shippy. In my memory he has had his moments, but I am constantly being reminded of what a seedy person he is and what a shifty mind he has. Seeing this today, helps in not feeling bad for the guy after all. There's always mashed taters to make more friends, Shippy.