This statement is made solely on behalf of Tobie Abad, and does not speak for anyone who works alongside him, TAG Sessions, or our partners in the game industry.
Today the admin team behind the Philippine Table-Top RPGs Facebook Group decided to have me removed as a member due to allegations made against me last week. The actual complaint consisted of four statements - two by individuals who used to be close friends and two by other members who were more likely relying on secondhand information as I have had limited interactions with them thus far. On May 4 I submitted a 17-page document refuting the allegations against me at the request of the admin team but the removal was the outcome of that supposed investigative process. As the admin team stated that they “...are not a legal court that is supposed to judge the moral character of any individual,” their decision feels like it was based on an effort to err on the side of caution more than anything else.
I do not agree with the decision and hold that the allegations against me are false. I do not fully understand the motivations behind these continued attacks on my character over the years by the same group of former friends. Regardless, I will continue to contest their assertions to be untrue.
I have been running tabletop RPG sessions for over 30 years for a wide range of players both locally and abroad. I have learned a lot when it comes to the complexities of running games for a variety of people with different backgrounds, interests and comfort zones. Given the social nature of this hobby, I’ve always held that honest communication between everyone at the table is integral to ensuring that everyone is comfortable and ultimately having fun creating a story together. This communication is not limited while together at the table but extends outside of it.
If my accusers feel that gaming with me for years had turned out to be an unpleasant experience in hindsight, I apologize that I was not able to do more to address that at the time. But despite the many channels of communication available and my repeated efforts to ask about their feelings regarding the games time and time again, it seems there was a lack of clearly communicated concerns, leaving me with nothing to act on or address in terms of how I moderated those sessions.
Like any other GM, I could only act on the information I was given and that break-down in communication had inadvertently resulted in a bad gaming experience somehow. Sadly, this unfortunate series of events led to an even worse break-down in the friendship. I can only surmise that the negative feelings from their experience have somehow fueled this extended effort against me despite years of no communication or contact and now all that has been blown out of proportion into this narrative of alleged abuse.
All I can say is that I never intentionally tried to cause emotional duress of any kind for this group of players. I apologize nonetheless for any pain that may have been experienced because that is the furthest thing I would want for anyone to experience in a tabletop RPG or in life in general. I wish things had ended differently or at the very least learned of such concerns directly instead of through the court of public opinion and the weaponization of social media.
Upon reflection, I suspect that this fracturing of the friendship, that I did not understand the nature of at the time, unfortunately, spilled over into our working relationship in a volunteer gaming organization. It was during this time that the accusers blocked me on social media and this further complicated efforts at communication and possible resolution to their concerns or at the very least an amicable parting of ways.
Over the past 3 years, I have remained silent despite the continued social media posts in an effort to just put this all behind us and move forward. There have been vague posts and there have been slanderous ones that have explicitly named me and still, I have not resorted to fighting fire with fire.
Given the efforts to besmirch my character, I feel the need to reiterate the following facts:
Every game I run is tailored to players. Even before the first session starts, I engage in lengthy discussions to determine what the players would like to explore along with what topics they prefer to avoid. I employ the same approach whether preparing for a long-term campaign or one-shots with strangers.
Player agency and sharing narrative control have always been things I value in my game sessions. I firmly believe the best sessions are when players and GM work together to create a memorable story.This is why I advocate for more people to try newer indie systems - particularly those that have taken interesting approaches to making shared narrative control a key mechanic in the game experience.
I believe that role-playing games, like film and literature, can be powerful tools for exploring difficult subject matter. But I also understand that what is acceptable varies from player to player and thus consent from everyone at the table is paramount. When I started gaming, we generally trusted one another to communicate boundaries in the game but I’m glad that the hobby has progressed to incorporate the use of Safety Tools such as the X-card and others. And anyone who has gamed with me in the last years would know that I fully embrace and endorse the use of these tools to ensure gaming remains inclusive and safe.
There are many more things to say, but for now, these are the most important points I want to address in this statement.
I stand by my integrity that my statements are true and remain prepared to explain my side and defend myself as needed in the appropriate venue. I do not believe in public smear campaigns and airing dirty laundry. Despite the lost friendship, I continue to respect the time I once spent with my accusers when we were all still friends and I regret all the other people in the community who have been dragged into this mess.
I shall continue to celebrate the tabletop gaming hobby be it through running games or sharing my knowledge with the community. I will miss being able to network with fellow gamers through the Philippine Table-Top RPG Facebook group, but I am thankful that there are other channels available to me to reach the larger community beyond social media. I will continue to work on creating games for the industry in general and welcome opportunities to celebrate Philippine culture through gaming when I can. I will not choose the path of hatred.
For those of you who wish to contact me, whether it is to set a game schedule or discuss anything else you have in mind, you can reach me through the following channels:
TAG Sessions Facebook Page
tobito_abad [at] yahoo.com
I am thankful for my partner Rocky, whose unwavering support and level headedness has helped me through this difficult time. I am also thankful for the many friends who have reached out and shared their support. Your trust in me shall not go to waste.