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PD46FX Update and why Mark C MacKinnon Doesn't Deserve Your Money or a Second Chance

Steven Trustrum Press Release 1 Comment

A long post title to be sure, but let’s start with PD46FX.

PD46FX Rules Progress

This product has grown beyond a mere rewrite to improve a fan-favorite game system. Aside from many of the tweaks fans of the original core rules are likely expecting (official low attribute penalties, filling in gaps in the combat system, etc.), the game’s principal dice rolling mechanics have been altered.

Whereas the previous rules were a matter of “pass/fail” mechanics — you either rolled over or under the appropriate number or you didn’t in order to succeed — there is now a mechanic that accounts of degrees of success (DoS) and degrees of failure (DoF.) Basically, for most rolls, there is now an accounting for how much you fail or succeed by. This will affect most everything from spells, psychic powers, attack damage, skill rolls, and saving throws. Aside from making die rolls far more interesting, it adds new and interesting layers of possibilities to how much of the game functions.

For example, firing a volley of missiles at a target was rather simple in the original rules — either you hit with them all or you missed with them all (a game mechanic that was strangely at odds with some of the licensed IP this rule set was famous for being attached to.) With the new graded success system, it becomes possible to break a volley attack down into sections, with additional DoS indicating more of the volley successfully hits the target.

At some point, I’ll either put together a video for Youtube going into more detail or I’ll do a podcast or the like explaining this and other changes. Regardless, the core book has made it to 75K+ words already and continues to grow. I expect it to be double that size (at least) when it hits the market.

Mark C MacKinnon Is Back — And Still Owes People Money

On Jan 5, 2005, at 10:14 AM, <trustrum@misfit-studios.com> wrote:

Hi, Mark. I wanted to wait until the press release to see what the
implications on Magnum Opus projects would be, so I was hoping you could fill me in on what your situation now means for me.

There are no implications. Everything is set to proceed as normal; we aren’t going anywhere
    Thanks for checking in, though._____________________________________________________________________
Mark C. MacKinnon — President, Guardians Of Order Incorporated
Treasurer, Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA)
mark@guardiansorder.com     http://www.guardiansorder.com

That was the last email I received from Mark. It was sent two days after his announcement regarding Guardians of Order’s money issues (you can find his public release here considering the original site has long since disappeared.) As happened with many others, he stopped responding to my many emails after this inquiring what was going on.

Misfit Studios’ relationship with Mark and GoO was limited to their Magnum Opus program, an innovative imprint program that allowed small press companies such as myself to provide an up-front payment to help cover printing, fulfillment, and distribution that enabled Mark’s company to take on the latter tasks, leaving the imprinting company to put the book together according to spec. This program allowed several companies to get their books into stores before the whole thing collapsed.

For us, it was meant to get World Not Known, a dystopic superhero setting, onto game store shelves. I turned over $1k+ to Mark for the privilege of him taking the money and never responding to me again after assuring me everything was okay with the imprint. Indeed, for months after he had stopped responding to any contact attempts, Mark continued to take money from new people attempting to join Magnum Opus to get their ideas into print. Like Misfit Studios, these people never saw their games produced, their money returned, or another word from Mark.

His actions in this regard almost killed my still-young company by taking money the company could not afford to toss away without a return, and put World Not Known into debt, causing this product to still remain unreleased despite the fact that it was meant to be Misfit Studios’ flagship product line.

What makes this situation even worse is that this was not even a scratch upon the surface of Mark’s widely documented misconduct. Not only did he screw over small press publishers with his Magnum Opus imprint program, but after he “went dark” and stopped responding to emails or printing new product, he kept taking work from freelance artists and writers that he would never pay for, and kept taking preorders through GoO’s storefront for product that didn’t see the light of day.

But it doesn’t stop there.

All of this happened in 2005, yet GoO continued selling online PDFs of games it no longer had ownership of until January of 2012. When found out, “oops!” was essentially Mark’s response on RPG.net  (and the first time he’d poked his head out of the sand in the industry in about 5 years.) The GoO storefront on RPGnow immediately disappeared and freelancers began scrambling for their share of the money products they’d never been paid for had been earning over 7 years. He also refused to let some of the freelancers “see the books” on these sales direct from the source — he required they take his word regarding how much money they were owed. As you can imagine, having to trust him to be honest did not go over well with some people.

I also suggest you check out what George RR Martin had to say about his situation with Mark regarding the 2005 Game of Thrones RPG if you want to worsen what should already be a fairly disturbing impression of Guardians of Order’s former owner.

Why is any of this relevant? Well, Mark seems to want to try taking your money yet again with a new company that is trying to put together a Kickstarter for a fantasy-based board game (I won’t post links or name names here — I don’t want to make it any easier for him to take your money.) In the game’s promotional video, Mark has displayed books containing some of the art he never paid the respective freelancers for as examples of his experience and skills that supposedly make him the right guy to produce his board game.

Know what I say to that? (And stop reading here if you are shocked by bad language.)

(are you sure you want to keep reading?)

(Okay, you asked for it …)

Bullshit. That is what I say.

Mark C Mackinnon is a lying douche bag. He told myself and others that everything was alright even as he was preparing to shutter up Guardians of Order. He kept taking people’s money with a smile by the thousands of dollars — whether to pay debts or to pocket against his impending closure, we’ll never know. He took money from other people in the industry — publishers, would-be publishers, writers, and artists — and kept saying everything was okay right up until the wheels came off (well, when he bothered to say anything, which wasn’t often.) Indeed, if you look into the George RR Martin aspect of this, you’ll find it was George who let everyone know Mark was getting ready to take the money and run — Mark even complained afterward that George shouldn’t have told everyone, despite having hidden it from GoO’s customers and contracted business associates and freelancers for months!

See what I mean? Total douche.

He kept taking people’s money for 7 years after Guardians of Order was no more and claimed it was an accident.

Now he is back and wants you to pledge money to him again, upfront and without product in hand. He wants you to take his word that he will deliver on what he has promised.

Just how much is Mark MacKinnon’s word worth after his history in this industry?

Realistically, it shouldn’t be worth as much as the now defunct Canadian penny, but people continue to pledge money to his game and express that they are glad to have him back in the industry. Know what I say to that?

Screw you, Mark MacKinnon. You are a lying, thieving douche bag. You deserve to be blacklisted from the communities you are now taking money from and deserve total ostracization from owning a business in any way related to the industry you once treated so shamefully. But I guess as long as you promise to offer something people are interested in, there will always be some people naive enough to take you at your word.

I guess that is okay, so long as there remain people to point out your word is not worth the paper your many unhonored contracts were printed on, you contemptible asshat.

Steven Trustrum has been writing in the RPG industry since the end of the '90s and publishing via Misfit Studios since 2003. Aside from writing and publishing role-playing game content, he ... dabbles ... in content and social media marketing.

Comments 1

  1. Post

    Well, it appears something has made Mark come out and post a public statement about his previous issues at Guardians of Order and his competency as a businessman in relation to his new game. You can read his post here.

    Considering his claim that licensees (of which I was one–my Mangum Opus payment was of the sort that allowed me to use GoO’s rule system rather than merely imprinting) were all sent a letter explaining the situation, I would just point out that I received no such letter despite having lived at the same address from 2003 to 2009, a span that covered GoO’s bankruptcy and closure. This was the same address that appeared in my contract with GoO. His claim that he made efforts to contact us all doesn’t jive with what other freelancers who were stiffed say (they also seem to have never received such a letter.)

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