02863: My Facts Are These

As the partner of Tobie Abad, my opinions related to recent accusations and events easily become deemed "irrelevant" as people assume that I am 100% on his side just because of our relationship, which is a pretty insulting view of my capabilities to reason things out for myself and my general level of integrity. But that's the way things are and it is not my place to directly defend Tobie against whatever people are saying about him - I'll leave him to do that.

But as someone who was there the whole time and was responsible for introducing people to Tobie to them for the purposes of gaming, I think I still get some degree of a say in all this. Tobie will say his piece. I feel that I also need to say mine.

I've known Mahar since grade school. We kept crossing paths because of school elocution and interpretative reading contests and the fact that our older siblings knew one another through debate. I could dare say that we were somewhat family friends at least in terms of the siblings - we all knew one another. I think Mahar and I became much better friends in high school when we were both in Debate together and later when we were involved in various aspects of the student government.

Mahar was one of the first people that I ever came out to - that was the level of our friendship at the time. Years later when I started living on my own, he was also one of the first people I updated. And when the opportunity arose, I invited him to play tabletop RPGs under Tobie as I was new to the hobby and was enjoying the initial explorations. He was someone I trusted as a friend and I figured it would mean safe explorations of the hobby versus playing with people I did not know at all.

In 2013, Mahar introduced us to Erich and Rachel initially through a public gaming event and later more directly because they had been complaining about the other gaming group they were in and how their old group's scheduling had gotten so bad. They were looking for something more reliable and we were considering setting up more regular game schedules. They seemed to have enjoyed the initial exploratory games with Tobie and that expanded into more nearly weekly sessions.

Thus the group eventually became to be known as the Sunday Group, as far as our group chats were concerned. Whereas most other groups that we'd game with we could at best meet on a monthly basis, our goal for the Sunday group was to game pretty much every Sunday. I'd like to think it was because we were all having that much fun together but again in light of recent events it seems they are now claiming otherwise. But we went through so many fictional adventures together. They were even the group that I trusted to be my very first players with me being a GM for the first time with a clunky homebrew system and a story I had been nursing since grade school. So many good memories from those times.

The Sunday group was in nearly constant communication across both Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts. Every day we'd talk about the games, the on-going stories and what our characters were going through. We'd work out possible plans for the next session and we'd laugh about funny situations we got into. That's a LOT of conversation. And while most of it was definitely game-related, we talked about a lot of other things. You know how group chats are - they're like lounges you can enter at will and leave notes for the rest and expect them to catch up later on. We celebrated every great scene and talked about the "season finales" of games for days on end. So I guess you can't blame if my impression was everyone was having fun.

Over time I tried to work out a calendar for all the different games we'd play every month and the Sunday group was always the priority. Officially I "open" the calendar for reservations on the 15th of every month on a first come, first served basis. But before opening the calendar I'd check with the group which dates worked for them before opening up the rest of the month to the "public" as it were. This remains to be my system until today and it generally works out.

Fast-forward to 2016 and there was a falling out. I frame things in this manner because at the time (and to some degree even now) things are not fully clear to me as to what exactly triggered the chain of events. What facts I have is that Mahar and Rachel had concerns about Tobie. Then on a personal level, Mahar and Rachel blocked me on social media. Things continued to escalate and to avoid trouble Tobie and I resigned from the volunteer gaming organization Gamers & GMs. We did not discuss the reasons for our departure on social media or on our blogs. We just left things at that for the sake of the community.

I brought up the length of my friendship Mahar earlier because this blocking did not make sense to me. How could this friend of like half my life at the time so flippantly choose to sever ties with me? If he had such big problems with my partner, why did he never raise any of these things with me? And Mahar knows who I am. In school, we had reputations for being severely outspoken because of our debating background and not afraid to throw away tact in favor of truth. I've always known Mahar to be a fighter and it was sorely disappointing that he felt there was nothing to say to me about all this. It didn't feel like there was a sincere effort to even attempt to reconcile things.

When Mahar blocked me, that effectively ended the friendship. We had no further direct communications since then. In the 3+ years since, Tobie and I focused on other things, cultivated new gaming groups and generally just moved on with our lives. We both felt bad that the gaming group had fallen apart and that the friendships had ended. In respect to what that friendship was, we chose to remain silent all this time and not air out dirty laundry. We have not disparaged anyone directly because what was the point? We all had to move on.

But it seems in the years since they've now decided to tout this narrative of our games putting them through some form of emotional abuse, which is lamentable to hear. No one should feel that way at the gaming table - the hobby is all about having fun after all.

On a non-factual level, I end this post with a few questions:

  • If the issues were so severe, how did we continue gaming for so many years without any word of it coming up at the table, before or after the games or in the never-ending online chat groups we had across multiple platforms?
  • Why single out this group as the perhaps only one who experienced such dire abuse that none of the other gaming groups that we've hosted have made similar complaints? How does that indicate a pattern of behavior on Tobie's part?
  • Given my friendship with Mahar at the time, do people out there really think I'd just stand by and let my partner somehow abuse my friend week after week? Do they think so little of me? 
  • We weren't the only ones at those game tables either. Other friends had the chance to game with the Sunday Group people on occasion. Is that yet another adult in the room who was somehow oblivious to this alleged abuse and just let it happen?
Ultimately, I am sad at how things have turned out. I am sad we lost what were good friends at the time. I'm disappointed that if they all really had such big issues that they never brought them up with the group in a manner that clearly conveyed their concerns perhaps or at least moved towards an effort to either reconcile or justify parting ways? I am angry that they are now trying to drag Tobie's name through the mud and are somehow framing these disagreements over a gaming hobby as a form of abuse.

Once upon a time, the Sunday Group was the most important gaming group on our calendar. We had cakes to celebrate birthdays. We brought one another gifts when members would travel to other countries. We would game whenever we could including on public holidays.

And now the Sunday Group is determined to paint Tobie as some monster. But the truth will win out. I only hope that people who are now witnessing this public effort to tarnish Tobie's reputation somehow will come to their own conclusions based on what they know of Tobie and the facts that he and I have to share regarding all this.