The name 'Troll Hammer Press' was inspired by, and is an homage to, the three magic Trollhammers of Trollhalla, and was additionally inspired by the song Trollhammaren by Finntroll.



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Tunnels & Trolls written by Ken St. Andre, copyright © Flying Buffalo Inc. All hail the Trollgod and his Champions of Trollhalla!

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

BOYCOTT OUTLAW PRESS




Things have been quiet around here, I know, and it is with a heavy heart that the revival of TROLL HAMMER has to be based upon something negative, but, alas, we cannot always control what motivates us to action. This is a blight on the world of Tunnels & Trolls, and one which I simply can no longer remain quiet about.

I have wanted to write this post for a few weeks now, and I have gone over and over how it should be done. My initial feeling was a scalding, curse-filled, personal character assassination of the proprietor of Outlaw Press, one James Shipman. But what would that prove? That I know how to bash someone and be a nasty SOB. It would have detracted from what I really want to say.

The questionable business practices of Outlaw Press are no secret, any search engine will return a number of hits describing exactly the thievery that Mr. Shipman has perpetrated, such as:

http://geek-related.com/2010/01/19/outlaw-pressjim-shipman-sinks-to-demented-pathetic-new-lows-in-art-theft-scandal/

http://martianchess.blogspot.com/2011/06/outlaw-press.html

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?483885-Outlaw-Press-uses-stolen-art

Unfortunately, Mr. Shipman has not only refused to make things right, he actively continues his theft. He has gone as far as masquerading as others, or possibly having others act on his behalf, to approach outstanding artists with freelance work for fictitious projects, and then use the art for Outlaw Press products. The kicker? He actually claims in the product blurbs that these pieces of art were 'specially commissioned'. Unfortunately, he doesn't explain that 'specially commissioned' translates into 'duped and stolen'. He constantly mines the sacred halls of Ken St. Andre's Trollhalla for inspiration, publishing tales and games shared in the 'Halla as if they were submitted to him. He has apparently even poured over this very blog, as I have come to realize he has used my work without permission (in Hobbit Hole # 19), and has stolen monsters from the popular Creature Feature posts that appear here. That last bit really burns me, as these generous folks shared their creatures with me, and all of you, for free and in good faith, just to have them stolen for publication in OP's Monstrum Codex III. The list of often brazen thefts goes on and on. When confronted, he responds with apathy, or often not at all, as in my case. To date, I don't even know what he has stolen from me (anyone with a copy of HH#19, please contact me).

Additionally, Mr. Shipman has a habit of posting 'free' solo adventures, which are actually word doc transcriptions of solos that are offered elsewhere by their creators, often not for free. If you do not believe that, look at his website yourself: http://www.outlawpressinc.com/Free.html After taking a look there, do a search of some of the solo titles at your favorite engine to find the REAL versions, then judge for yourself. I suspect that most of the creators did not authorize the appearance of their solos at OP.

So, what is to be done? While initially the word 'lawsuit' screams out to be heard, the reality is, how many small, independent, freelance artists and game designers want to spend the time, and expense, to go down that road? Certainly, one could take the time and effort to contact OP's ISP and lodge a complaint regarding the stolen material and copyright violations, which may yield success, but again, how many people have the time and desire for such an assault?

My suggestion is a boycott of Outlaw Press. Put quite simply, if nobody buys his stuff, he will have no reason to publish more, and therefore no reason to steal the work of others. I invite everyone reading this to save a copy of the 'No Outlaw Press' picture at the top of this post, and re-post to your own blogs and webpages. Spread the word to your friends via RPG forums and clubs. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING FROM OUTLAW PRESS, NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU MIGHT WANT IT. Also, equally inportant, do not submit any materials to OP for publication. This is very important, because by purchasing or submitting to OP's products you are showing your support of stealing work from honest people who have worked DAMN hard to produce their creations. If you want to purchase REAL Tunnels & Trolls products, there are a variety of reputable publishers out there: Flying Buffalo, of course; Fiery Dragon; Peryton Press; pay a visit to the links list at Trollhalla for even more ideas: http://www.trollhalla.com/links.php

Additionally, I invite you all, no, rather I URGE all of you readers to post a comment here to show your support of the Outlaw Press Boycott. To be fair, I will approve all comments, whether in support of or against the boycott or Outlaw Press. I ask that comments contain a bit of respect and taste, but I also will not moderate or censor any comments.

Finally, I also invite, no I challenge James Shipman to post a comment here. Mr. Shipman, apparently you think there is nothing wrong with the way you conduct business, so I invite you to defend your position here. I promise to post whatever you send, unmoderated. But be prepared, because any responses to your comment will remain unmoderated as well.

So there you have it, a call to arms, a call to boycott.

Thanks for reading. TROLL HAMMER will become more active again, hopefully with much more positive postings in the near and far future.

Paul 'Mist-Tikk Foo-all' Ingrassia

28 comments:

  1. I didn't realize that OP was still going. Do you know what monsters got ripped off? I had one posted on here "Inner Child" with an illustration I did.

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  2. Unfortunately, while I cannot be certain because I do not own the book, there is a listing in the product description at OP's website for the Monstrum Codex III which, in fact, includes a creature called Inner Child. The listing is on this page:

    http://www.outlawpressinc.com/TnTRules.html

    If it is in fact your creature, I am truly sorry. I remember asking you if I could use it here because it is such an awesome, original creature, with a great illustration.

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  3. Firs, glad to see you back posting, just wish it was for a different reason...but this is a good reason.

    I am surprised he is still publishing and worse folks are supporting his work knowing his history. Chance or fate that he named is company, Outlaw press, appropriately? Well, sadly, this is one case of truth in advertising.

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  4. Yes at the Trollbridge we had been keeping an eye on him then he threaten legal action, based on slander, against the moderator and we stopped talking about him so much.

    The sad reality is that James Shipman will destroy T&T. If he can't be the sole publisher then he will make sure everyone else suffers. Slow but surely the creative people will walk away and pick up another hobby. I've never encounter any one quiet so petty and despicable. Obviously I will never buy another OP product.

    If I may suggest you should break the links on this blog to his site, there is no reason to give him free google ranks. Make them readable if you must but not click able.

    -Mike

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  5. I just checked it out, and he does have the Inner Child listed on there. I'm guessing he also has the illustration. Oddly enough his website claims that they pay for illustrations but I never got a buck from the guy.

    Don't blame yourself though, this wouldn't stop me from letting you publish my stuff on your blog. I hope this won't discourage you or anyone at Trollbridge or Trollhalla (I haven't been to active on those boards of late) but you guys still have my support.

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  6. I wholehearted advocate this boycott. I appreciate your efforts to bring this to the forefront of peoples perception. I have stopped posting to another site who filtered out any ability to comment on this subject. This despite that the community's main fanzine was also stolen. I felt this was a kick in the teeth of everyone there who had their work exploited by OP. You sir have my respect and I salute you. I will spread the No Outlaw Press picture everywhere that I post. Thank You Sir.

    (Note- I posted anonymous because I don't have a profile on any of the choices available. Vhalyr)

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  7. Thanks for the support, folks. At first, I wanted to delete TROLL HAMMER and move on. Instead, I think this may just be the catalyst I needed to get my ass in gear and start writing and publishing some RPG goodness again!

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  8. I've never bought anything from OP and never will. This loser was swiping products back in the early 2000s and people knew it back then. Ken St.Andre and Rick Loomis decided to go to bed with this jerk in hopes he'd stop stealing product. Guess what happened? He jerked them around and pissed on them for the effort. How did Rick and Ken respond? With NOTHING except pathetic cries to "Please Stop." That duo lacks the balls to do anything.

    So, it continues. Not surprised. If Ken and Rick had the intestinal fortitude to stop it, it MAY stop. But asinine decisions to make him the "Official Publisher" of TnT products around 2005 has come back to bite them in the ass as well it should.

    And guess what people?? He'll steal your SHIT too. Until the T&T community, as a whole, GROWS A PAIR and takes action instead of waiting around moaning like wussies your shit WILL be taken and you can continue to wail and talk about how incensed you are, while actually DOING NOTHING about it. What? You think an article on a blog will help? Get real, man.

    I guess, in the end, this is what the T&T "community DESERVES!!!!! Because they sure as hell aren't doing anything about it.

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  9. It's a shame that Shipman doesn't devote all that time and energy toward more useful and legitimate ends.

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  10. Outlaw Press makes sales because of the dearth of Tunnels & Trolls products being released these days. Obviously there is a market for it or else Snake Oil Shippy would have closed shop a long time ago.

    If you want to put a crimp in his business model, you need more then a boycott from the folks following this blog and Trollhalla. Someone needs to put out Tunnels & Trolls adventures and such on a fairly regular basis. Rick at FBI doesn't seem to have his heart in it these days, Ken has a lot on his plate and is slow to bring stuff to completion. If it wasn't for Peryton Publishing Shippy would have NO competition.

    Someone needs to be the honest alternative to Outlaw Press. I think it could be done and I think it should be done. Until it happens, OP is going to continue to operate as it, boycott or no.

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  11. Anonymous, you are right, maybe the community needs to grow a pair. You can do your part by signing your post and showing the T&T community that YOU have a pair. Do I think a post at my VERY small and insignificant blog will make a difference? Of course not. But, at the very least, a few more people will be informed. Instead of simply bashing, how about making a suggestion as to what exactly 'growing a pair and doing something about it' just might entail?

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  12. Tenkar, great suggestion. I hope that I will be able to accomodate some of that through TROLL HAMMER with future publications. I do realize that we need more than my handfull of readers and the members of Trollhalla, thus my call to spread the word about OP. I can only imagine that the more who are aware of OP's practices, the less will buy from him.

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  13. Why ask the question, Paul? Don't you know? This is the kind of response I anticipated because I've heard it over and over for years. "What do I do? I'm only one person. I don't have the resources, whay, I'm a spineless baby, what." .

    Okay, I'll spell it out for you...if you REALLY want to do something about it, and you truly are INCENSED, go hire a freakin' lawyer and sue the mother fucker. If one won't return your calls (and they won't) if one won't take the case (and many won't) keep calling one until you find a sympathetic ear and hire the son-of-a-bitch.

    Look, I've heard excuses for years on this bastard, somebody, anybody, and all it takes is ONE freakin' person to start doing something and maybe, maybe, one day you'll actually see it stopped.

    Talk's cheap. As Elvis Presley once said, "A little less conversation, a little more action."

    This "community" needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Get it done.

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  14. What's ballsy about posting anonymously? Maybe when you post using your real name your words might carry some weight.

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  15. Anonymous, everything you say looses creedence because you won't even sign your name. To me, that makes your talk pretty cheap.

    You sound like someone who has been wronged by Shipman and is sitting around waiting for someone else to do something about it, and I guess you figure by being condescending and nasty you'll get a reaction from me, which I guess you have. Why would you consider me a spineless, whining baby for posting my thoughts to my blog? Perhaps you are Shipman and figure if you make me look like a pussy you'll get something out of it, or I'll back off. I do have other plans besides writing on my little blog. Plans that I choose to not make public until the time comes. This is just the beginning.

    If you are so angry, and so sure that ONE person can make the difference, why don't you drop the anonymity and step up and BE the one person who does something? Or do you simply enjoy taking potshots behind the cloak of anonymity?

    For the record, I wasn't asking you for a suggestion, I was simply stating you would do more good with making one, as opposed to adding further crap to the community by engaging in anonymous name-calling. I made a promise to post all comments, so I'll keep posting yours, anonymous or otherwise. I would just have a whole lot more respect for you, and your comments, if you had the nads to actually take ownership of your attitude. Sounds to me like you are the spineless one, a person with a spine signs his name to his words, inflammatory or otherwise.

    Oh, and if people have told you in the past they do not have the resources to afford a lawyer, how does that make them spineless and whiny? I interpret that as not having the money to hire legal counsel, nothing more, nothing less.

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  16. Will be updating my blog in a few minutes...

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  17. I am amazed that you people think a lawsuit would fix anything. Can't you see that Mr. Shipman has no respect for the law, and no respect for intellectual property? Nor will the boycott help. Shipman doesn't do it for the money--he does it for the attention. I know for a fact that Shipman has been booted from half a dozen ISPs by people complaining about his unethical practices. He always gets a new one. There is very little being sold by Outlaw Press that he has any right to sell or to give away.

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  18. Let me preface this comment by saying that I am not a lawyer. Everything below is solely my opinion, based on what I have read and experienced.

    First: A boycott of Outlaw Press was called for in the T&T community back when news of the alleged art theft first broke. Repeating the call may be of use to those who are new to the community, but most everyone else in the T&T community already has made the decision whether to boycott OP. Some people have decided to boycott, and others have decided not to. You won't change the minds of those who have decided not to boycott, by asking for the boycott again.

    Second: There is no such thing as bad publicity. Spreading the word about Outlaw Press, even in a negative way, only makes more people aware of Outlaw Press.

    Third: While I don't care for the tone of most of what Anonymous has to say above, I can't say I'm in total disagreement with it. I've often wondered, if there are so many people who have been wronged by Outlaw Press and James Shipman, why don't they band together and pool their resources to go after him? You need one person to spearhead the effort, preferably someone who lives relatively close to Shipman. This person would collect the complaints from everyone and take them all to a lawyer, preferably one who would give a free consultation. The lawyer could say whether the case has any merit, and if it does, give an estimate of the lawyer's fees to pursue the case. All complainants would pitch in a share of the fees. Then take it to court and let the legal system deal its justice to OP and Shipman.

    Fourth: Outlaw Press is an LLC. This provides Shipman's personal assets some legal protection, but it is not unheard of to pierce the corporate veil if the owner(s) is deliberately disregarding the law. Several people claim to have told Shipman to not publish their material, and he continues to do so, even materials which allegedly were never submitted to Outlaw Press. If this is true, then he is obviously deliberately disregarding the law, and I would think an effort could be made to pierce the corporate veil and go after Shipman personally, if you really want to do something ballsy.

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  19. I suggest taking down the link myself.

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  20. Hi Tom, all,

    I have disabled the OP link, and, at the suggestion of a good friend, I have altered the 'Boycott OP' image at the top of the page. I would ask that anyone who copied the original image for personal use to delete it and use the new one instead.

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  21. A further response to Mister Hostile Anonymous, up there: To the best of my knowledge, Rick and Ken never took Shippy on board as an official T&T publisher; he just realized that he could claim to be "official", and that there was really nothing Rick or Ken could do about it.

    At the level at which T&T operates, copyright law is mostly toothless (which is to say, voluntary), because the dollar amounts involved are simply too small to interest a lawyer.

    The only practical thing we can do about Shippy is to ignore him, and make sure everyone knows not to buy from him. Most of the Trollhalla community (including me) has been boycotting him since this story broke, back in late 2009.

    ~~G'Noll

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  22. I'm not going to buy any Outlaw Press stuff.

    I had a longer comment, but I lost it when I tried to post.

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  23. Glenn P. ("Glarrrn" on Trollhalla)November 13, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    The Reality is, nothing but a lawsuit will stop this guy. But lawsuits take time and (most of all) money.

    Who here will volunteer to be "Deep Pockets" and, for the Cause of T&T, fund the lawsuit agains James Shipman? Any takers?

    Didn't think so.

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  24. I believe Shippy is now claiming T&T is an "open sourced RPG". If Rick and Ken don't defend against this, can it become effectively open sourced?

    IANAL, so I don't know how all this works, but it can't be good.

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  25. As Glenn says, it doesn't take balls to file suit against Dripman, just $$$. Probably $20,000+ I doubt we could ever get that money back, and I am sure he has not earned that much selling the T&T items he has stolen all these years. He is only looking for attention. If he can't be a famous game publisher, he will settle for being a notorious crook. He is not an "official" publisher of T&T. I'm pretty sure "Anonymous" was Dripman himself trying to egg us on. He gets his kicks that way. Just ignore him. That hurts him the most. I'm also pretty sure he does "google searches" for his name, to see who is talking about him (and he doesn't care if it is good or bad) so I suggest referring to him as Dripman or Shitman, or possibly "That Jerk".

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  26. I suspected that Anonym-ass was him as well. The Bernie Madoff of the gaming industry won't be able to get away with it forever.

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  27. Rick is correct on all counts. The Jerk should be ignored - I will not buy his products or use his name.

    posted Anonymous but give my name as a proud Troll.

    Trrrommm

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  28. OK, latest update: The artist who created the OP logo has contacted me and given me full permission to use the OP logo for the Boycott image. The artist is the copyright holder of the image, and has the power to grant me this permission. So, the 'NO OP' logo I posted at first has now been uploaded to this post again.

    Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming support I have been receiving, it is greatly appreciated.

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