Over the weekend Zine Quest 3, a high-profile event at Kickstarter celebrating the independent tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) community, came to a close. The promotion had helped shine a light on dozens of small creators around the world. But in its final hours, Kickstarter’s vice president and head of community Luke Crane launched a campaign that came under fire for its inclusion of controversial game designer Adam Koebel. The campaign was ultimately canceled.
Crane founded Zine Quest several years back when he was Kickstarter’s head of games. He’s also a successful game designer and publisher in his own right, and it’s that time spent close to the metal of the TTRPG scene that’s given him insight into that space — and, likely, contributed to tabletop games’ continued dominance on that platform. Crane is now a vice president at Kickstarter, charged with leading its efforts at building and maintaining community.
With just a few days left to go in this year’s Zine Quest, Crane put up a zine called The Perfect RPG, filled with creations by nearly two dozen authors. But, as detailed yesterday on Dicebreaker, at least some of those contributors were not told who else would be involved in the project.
One of those contributors was game designer Adam Koebel, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In 2020, Koebel broadcast a TTRPG scenario involving in-fiction sexual assault live on Twitch. Koebel’s handling of the scene was widely criticized by viewers and fans. He issued several apologies, and the actual-play series in which the incident occurred was dissolved. Koebel later resigned from his position as co-author on Modiphius Entertainment’s Dune: Adventures in the Imperium.
In the hours after The Perfect RPG was launched, participants began to publicly drop out, citing Koebel’s involvement as the reason. The project also faced significant criticism from the public on social media. Even though Crane made his goal of $6,200 by nearly 200%, he ultimately elected to cancel the project. The list of creators was also pulled down, with Crane adding the following note: “Redacted to reduce future harassment.”
The Perfect RPG was launched on Feb. 27 and canceled that very same day. Since that time, Crane has not made any public comments about what happened, nor has he responded to Polygon’s request for comment. Dicebreaker reports that he has commented privately, in an update post available only to the 526 backers of the project:
“We appreciate the support but we have decided to cancel the project as I can no longer offer you what was promised. Many designers withdrew their support or were harassed to withdraw due to my including Adam Koebel as a designer of one of these games,” Crane wrote. “We will not relaunch or republish in a different format.”
Polygon reached out to Kickstarter about the incident, and they provided the following statement:
We are aware of the project that Luke launched and cancelled over the weekend, and we are currently investigating the incident and working to gain a better understanding of what happened. We’re also working with our team internally to ensure we’re continuing to create a safe environment for each other that reflects our values and supports creative work. And of course, while we encourage employees to create and back projects on our platform, projects are personal endeavors and do not represent Kickstarter’s views as a company. This is all I can share at this time, and will let you know if anything changes.