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Wizards of the Coast Issues Statement About D&D 5E Contributor Zak Smith Following Abuse Allegations

February 19, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
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Wizards of the Coast has issued a statement in the wake of abuse allegations against a man who contributed to D&D Fifth Edition. The company posted a statement to its official site to comment on Zak Smith, who has been accused by four women of being abusive, both mentally and sexually, including sexual grooming, death threats and sexual assault.

Smith, popularly known as “Zak S” or “Zak Sabbath,” has been a regular part of the gaming industry for going on ten years now. He is perhaps best known for the web series I Hit It With My Axe in which he played D&D with fellow adult film stars and sex workers such as Mandy Morbid and Satine Phoenix. He parlayed that into work as an RPG writer, including supplements like the ENnie award-winning Maze of the Blue Medusa and We Eat Blood, the Vampire: the Masquerade mobile narrative game. He is listed in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition as a contributor.

However, he has also has a history of harassment, having been accused (h/t to Fandomentals) of attacking marginalized groups and sending his fans to attack his critics. There was an uproar against White Wolf when he was hired to write We Eat Blood, though the claims were largely ignored by the publisher.

Flash-forward to now. Last week, Morbid, Smith’s longtime girlfriend, posted an account of her abuse at his hands on her Facebook page along with the claims of a woman named Jennifer, a longtime friend and partner who claimed to have witnessed him assault women. She noted that Smith “is fully aware of what he does, he has described a sexual encounter to me as, I quote, ‘raping a 12-year-old.’ The person in question was not underage, but so massively uncomfortable that this was his most apt description. It didn’t make him stop.” The post also included claims from a woman named Hannah, who was briefly involved with Smith and who claims she was physically assaulted by Smith during their relationship.

That post was followed up by one by cosplayer and model Vivka Grey, who alleged that Smith abused her and Morbid and recounted incidents of non-consensual sex and other abusive activities.

Smith has yet to comment on the allegations since the story broke.

When the allegations surfaced a week ago, D&D Creative Director Mike Mearls released a statement, not referencing Zmith by name but calling him an “early playtester” and saying D&D has “not engaged with him” since 2014 “due to reports of his conduct online with other TTRPG content creators.” (You can see that below.) This response drew heavy criticism, as Smith is listed as a contributor and not a playtester. Many people playtested Fifth Edition and did not have the same credit. In addition, there are accusations that people brought evidence to Mearls when Smith was initially brought on, but that he passed that information onto Smith while investigating and that Smith used it to target people speaking up.

Wizards of the Coast’s statement reads as follows:

To all D&D fans,

We spent the last week listening and learning from the D&D community.

Zak Smith, along with many others, was engaged by Wizards to provide feedback on D&D Next, the playtest which evolved into D&D fifth edition. We have not contracted with him since, and regret our choice to do so in 2014. Because of that, we are removing Zak’s credit from future physical printings and digital versions of the Player’s Handbook.

We applaud how the D&D community supports one another and fully support the planned Dungeon Masters Guild bundle raising funds to donate to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). The bundle is live now and we will be amplifying it going forward!

We are grateful to be a part of this wonderful community, and we thank you for your passion. We remain committed to working with and learning from you, the D&D community. You may always share your comments and thoughts with us on our social media platforms and we are setting up an email address at [email protected] to receive feedback.

Sincerely,
The D&D Team

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Dungeons & Dragons, Jeremy Thomas