Avoid Becoming a Cult of Personality

When I started out as a lo-fi publisher, I set ground rules for myself. Some have to do with maintaining my philosophy of what tabletop roleplaying can be. Others rules center on ethical business practices. At the top of the list, however, is an item regarding how I conduct myself in public. It simply says “avoid becoming a cult of personality”.

I know, I am neither well-known enough or popular enough for that to happen. No one is going to put me on a pedestal, hang on my every word, or brigade people that disagree with me. I don’t carry around that much hubris. That’s not the point.

It’s not about me. Nothing I write, design, or publish should exist simply to feed my ego or elevate my own status. The most important thing is what you create using the tools that I’m able to provide. The book isn’t the game. It’s the people around the table, their imaginations and interactions, that matter most.

This is why I will never pursue awards, even if I create something that’s award-worthy. It’s why my name isn’t on the cover of any Dancing Lights Press titles. It’s why I do closed playtesting with a group of people who are okay remaining anonymous. None of us should be the center of attention.

Avoid Becoming a Cult of Personality

A lot of this has to do with my own bad experiences with creators. Over the decades we’ve seen bad actors in this hobby, who develop and weaponize toxic followings. Sometimes they start off with good intentions, but their egos get the best of them. On occasion their fans will become so passionate that they take things too far in the creator’s name. Too often, though, it’s a matter of a person seeking some sort of power simply so they can abuse it. If you’ve been in this hobby for a hot minute, some names have probably popped into your head already.

I don’t want anything to do with any of that. Mental health concerns and a tendency toward introversion aside, it’s not who I am. I just want to make things, and help people have fun creating and playing games.

Admittedly, I have probably taken this concept a bit too far. The core of this hobby, as I stated recently, is relationships. By taking myself out of the equation, I’ve cut myself off from that. Obfuscation and anonymity doesn’t build community. It’s not the best thing for me as a person. It’s certainly not the best way to grow Dancing Lights Press into the publishing company I want it to be.

That’s why I’m going to be posting updates like this on a regular basis. I’m going to be actively sharing ideas and soliciting feedback. There’s a YouTube vlog and a podcast in the offing. While I still want the work I create to stand on its own merit, and for the focus to be on how players, gamemasters, and creators utilize the things Dancing Lights Press publishes, the best way for my to advocate for those things is no longer from behind the curtain.

Berin Kinsman
Dancing Lights Press