…and Other Fine-Print No One Cares About
It is my hope that this section offers clarifications and transparency for all activities on this blog. If you have any questions whatsoever after reading this, please contact me directly.
The items I review are chosen by me strictly on the following criteria:
- I am excited about the item,
- I want to talk about the item,
- I paid for the item,
- I liked the item so much it makes me excited enough to want to talk about it.
That’s it. It’s not in a specific order or plan. I have at least a dozen reviews sitting in draft stage right now and like a thousand more floating around in my mind. I am sort of playing catch-up; I’ve been playing games for like 20 years but I’ve only had the blog for one. I have a lot of books I am excited about and impressed by. I want to talk about them all, but I can only do it one at a time.
No one influences what I post or what I say about what I read.
Since beginning this blog I have met many creators, via my interviews and other such things, who I admire. Some of them I have been lucky enough to befriend. I am pleased to say none of them have ever so much as indicated the slightest concern about what I review, how I rate things, or what I think about things. That includes their own works.
Like anyone, I have favorite subjects and themes and styles. These are my preferences. They will influence me to be excited for a book or enjoy a book, just like they would for you. That, I cannot change.
I currently rate books on a scale from 1-10.
Previously, I rated books on a scale of 1-5. However, that system was flawed; it made sense to me at the time I started this blog because I knew the only books I’d want to write 2000+ words about would be books fitting into the 6-10 span anyway, so why not truncate it. It came to light in March of 2019, however, that it was a real unclear pain in the ass to explain that a 3/5 on my rating scale was still an excellent book. So, I switched to a clearer 1-10. I updated old reviews to this new 1-10 scale on 20 March 2019, but I retained old ratings and maintained the closing text and indicated the new scale succeeding the old scale.
I derive my ratings subjectively. I couldn’t codify it for you if I tried. I read a book. I look at it very closely. I scrutinize the art, the writing, the editing, the layout. I determine how much I’d change if it got a do-over. Then I decide if it seems like an n/10 or an m/10 because of those qualities. Ta-da. That’s the whole system. Sorry it’s not more strictly objective. I stand by every rating though. Those numbers are absolutely what I felt was the most accurate score possible at the time I wrote the review.
Review Copies and Free Copies
I purchase review materials out of pocket. I spend my own money on things I review, because I want to support independent creators and those who produce the games I have loved to play my whole life. For this reason, I do not accept submissions of free game material, nor do I solicit for them. Anyone asking you for a free copy and saying they run this blog is lying to you.
I genuinely and sincerely do appreciate the kindness and enthusiasm of creators asking me to review their work and offering me a review copy, especially new creators trying to get the word out about their labor of love and the result of their blood, sweat, and tears. Making games is hard work that goes underappreciated all too often. I see you. I love what you do and I am thankful that you consider me to be worthy of the generous offer of a free review copy. But I also value what you do, and how hard you worked on it, so I don’t want to accept your offer. Though I have a huge backlog of things I want to talk about – dozens of drafts and dozens more vague plans congealing in my possum brain – I want to get around to reviewing all kinds of things, possibly even your thing. When that time comes, I will pay for it with money and support your work financially.
If you are a major company, like Wizards of the Coast or Modiphius or Steve Jackson Games or whatever, and you want to send me a free review copy, you can go for it. Ideally, I’d like for you to give me the review copy and commit to giving a pay raise to your lowest-paid employee, whoever they are, or maybe (gasp!) offering everyone at your company health insurance if you’re in America. But if you are one of these big companies with money to spare who can afford to give review copies and not miss a rent payment, and you want to send me free stuff, go for it. You can contact me directly. I don’t know when I’ll get around to reviewing it, but I’ll try to be timely. If you actually give your employees a raise, I’ll drop everything to review it immediately. That’s a promise.
I choose who to interview on very simple criteria. First, I want to tie it to a book I have reviewed, so they have to have worked on a book I have reviewed. Second, they have to be available and willing to be interviewed. Third, I generally try to get everyone from a project – or, if I know that one or more members of a team may be working on another project that I’ll be reviewing soon, I may skip them until next time so I have an additional interview for later with more to talk about.
It’s that simple.
No one has asked me to interview them, though some people have asked that I interview others. At this time and for the foreseeable future I don’t plan to do this “by request” just because a lot goes into it and making demands of creators with busy schedules who need to use their time in this underpaid industry to make their rent money is difficult.
Patreon and Ko-Fi Support
I have a Patreon. I have a Ko-Fi. Both are utterly and completely optional. No one is under any obligation to support either. I offer no blog-related benefits or content that is otherwise unavailable or exclusive to these services.
Money contributed to either will support this blog directly in some fashion. Either you’ll keep me in Monster Zero Ultra or you’ll fund the eventual transplant surgery of moving this blog to a hosted domain somewhere. Maybe it goes toward a book I want to check out and review. That’s it.
If you somehow make me wealthy via Patreon and Ko-Fi, I promise to behave as socially responsibly as possible from atop the turret of my cybernetic mega-armadillo.
Supporting me on Patreon and/or Ko-Fi does not entitle anyone to any form of preferential treatment. You could back me for $1,000 a month over there and release a book and if it doesn’t interest me and isn’t good, it will not make my radar. Sorry. Honesty and transparency are key when money is involved.
There is a footer widget on my blog, visible from any page, explaining my involvement in affiliate programs. However, in the interest of clarity: I am part of the DriveThruRPG/”OneBookShelf” affiliate program, the Amazon affiliate program, and the Gamescience Dice affiliate program (in theory; it’s never worked quite right and I’ve never linked it on this blog).
These programs pay me a small commission each time you buy something from their sites after following one of my affiliate links. Any Amazon or DriveThruRPG links on this blog are definitely affiliate links. The commission they pay me comes from their cut, not the creators’ profits. I researched this heavily before agreeing to do so last year and made absolutely certain that the affiliate programs didn’t cost creators, workers, or producers a single red cent. The cost is shouldered squarely by OneBookShelf and Amazon. I believe entirely in supporting the labors of the creators who make the products I consume.
DriveThruPRG/OneBookShelf affiliate commissions go directly to buying nerdy stuff to review. Amazon affiliate commissions go directly to nothing because I’ve made like $0.15 there in the entire time this blog has been open.
You’re not obligated to use the affiliate links if they make you uncomfortable. Remove the affiliate tag in the address bar and reload the page to clear it. You can purchase however you want.
No one has been a problem so far. I presume it will remain that way because I am lucky to have met an incredibly kind and friendly group of diverse gamers and creators via Twitter and established this blog with your support. That said, I should have some kind of posted ground rules anyway, just in case.
It’s real simple: Do not be cruel, insulting, illegal, or threatening in anything you post here. Not towards me, not towards others, not towards yourself. Friendly jesting is fine and encouraged. Don’t cross the line where you’re a sexist/racist/homophobe/transphobe/whatever. Don’t cross the line where you link to something horrific without warning (or at all, really). You’re all grown-ups. You know what constitutes a dick move by now. Be kind to each other. It’s that simple.
In the event that I ever need to remove a comment for violating these terms, I will issue a follow-up comment explaining why I felt the need to remove it, for clarity and transparency.
If you think I removed something unfairly, email me or contact me by some other means and I’d be happy to discuss it. If I was, in fact, wrong, I will issue an apology. That’s a promise.
I will also remove spam. Duh. Except that Lord Mike the Vampire dude, and Alicia posting about Dr. BAKABA. Those rule, and I will not brook any argument to the contrary. If my spammers are gonna talk about vampirism and witchcraft instead of SEO services and shady Alibaba links, I am A-OK with it.
Profanity, NSFW Content, and General Posting Matters
I said, in an early post on this blog, that this website will serve as a place where I can feel free to be a little more grown-up in subject matter and language than Twitter. Additionally, I am influenced by all those things we were told were Bad as kids, like heavy metal album covers, sexy people, horror movies, gory comic books, and Satanic D&D books from evil cults. I think that comes as no surprise because I would hazard a guess that most of us share a lot of those influences and interests. That means there may occasionally be a boob or a curse word or something in here. I drew a ghost boob in one of my earliest posts and Google won’t let me put their AdSense adverts on this blog ever again because of it. Regardless, I am not running Playboy or whatever, so I won’t be filling every page with Andrew Dice Clay jokes and nudity.
My commitment to you is that anything notably not safe for work (NSFW) will carry a note of that in some fashion.
My other commitment to you is that I will do my best to provide content warnings for traumatic or troubling content in anything I post – my own work, or that of others. I do not want for anyone who reads this blog to feel hurt, upset, or afraid of things they encounter here, and so I will continue to provide these warnings as best as I can as long as this blog is running.
Please look for the Caution Possum toward the beginning of blog posts which may contain objectionable content. That little dude looks like this:
He will warn you of the content in the article below his picture.
I will do my best. If you feel I have not put a warning where one should be, I do apologize, and I will take your advice to heart. I can’t cover every extremely specific one-off situation, but anything that common sense indicates is difficult territory will always come with warning for everyone’s well-being.
I always, always try to find the artist or origin of images I post, and then include that information beneath the image. When I cannot do so, I will note it and ask for help identifying them so I can credit them appropriately. Artists always deserve recognition of their hard work and their rights to their creations.
I will also endeavor, usually, to find images licensed for public use without royalty or copyright concerns, so I can avoid denying people the fruits of their labors. Sometimes I find unattributed items and will use them, but I will note this and will gladly remove any image which violates someone’s property or terms.
All the other art, though – that’s mine. The possums, the maps, the Gygaxian Democracy doodles, the character sheets, some of the monsters, the SummerKnightsDraw submissions, the, uh, other possums. So many possums. They’re all mine. I won’t bother posting credit information underneath them because they’re mine. Please don’t use them for nefarious ends.
Hopefully these policies make things clear for anyone who was looking for clarity. Most of these are covered in bits and pieces in various posts on this blog but I can’t expect anyone to read all of this nonsense nor memorize it. It makes sense to collect it all here. I may add to this page as the need arises. I may change this page as the need arises. I don’t plan to give warning or notice for either. This is a blog on the internet that talks about elves and dice. Don’t take it seriously. Have fun out there.