Gaming: Mongoose gets Smacked by Straczynski


So Matthew Sprange of Mongoose Publishing, everybody’s favorite ethically-challenged games company, shot his mouth off on the BABYLON 5 podcast about the new novels they’re apparently going to be producing.

Great, except that J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Bab5, got wind of it.

The Usenet thread with his reactions can be found here.

Especially fun to read is this entry, after he read the podcast transcript, and, best of all, this open letter to Sprange, where he dick-smacks him publicly.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer company.

12 Replies to “Gaming: Mongoose gets Smacked by Straczynski”

  1. Thanks for that laugh; the mongoose has met a faster cobra.

    Mr. Sprange has always seemed pretty shady to me. This just puts his firm deeper into the “do not support” bucket.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  2. Wow. That’s…. messed up. I mean, I heard the podcast and I thought it was cool that someone was doing licensed B5 novels. But that’s just messed up.

  3. It’s disappointing that the authors will get caught up in this web.

    Would I love for JMS to round out the universe? Hell ya, especially anything with Galen or Marcus, but I won’t support a venture that has the creator of the mythos pissed off. Next thing you know, Mongoose will spin off Babylon 1980.

  4. So clue me in, Gareth – all my communications with Matt’ve been pretty cordial. Why’s this something that ‘couldn’t have happened to a nicer company’? Not trying to be snarky here, but there’s obviously some history I’m not aware of…

  5. Mongoose’s actions aren’t really all that surprising. What was more interesting was JMS’ discussion of the other licensed works having been set to a slightly different standard as far as being authorized for publication goes. Given some of what I have read in the Mongoose books, I didn’t know if Fiona was just doing her job worse than usual or if the books were being released without any real oversight on the WB side. I mean, Shadow Minbari? WTF? Sure, some Dark Elves to go with the Elves… right…

    As a fan of the Babylon 5 Wars tactical game system that Agents of Gaming produced, Mongoose’s attempts to spin the novels as canon and not just official and throw facts to the wind isn’t new. The fans of the limited amount of B5 licensed materials had gotten used to at least passing continuity between them. In the case of B5W, Agents of Gaming drew from the background material generated by Chameleon Eclectic when they held the B5 RPG license. If they didn’t like the original material that the RPG produced, they just ignored it; they didn’t contradict it, they just sidestepped it. With Mongoose, they made no bones about the fact that they weren’t going to really adhere to anything that came before and would base themselves entirely off the show and only use the other supplementary that was convenient (i.e., the already available miniature ship models and molds). The fact that JMS’ rebuttal to Matt’s claims paints a picture that has become a little too familiar kind of shocked me.

    The biggest “waiting to see what happens” aspect to all of this is if JMS is actually pissed off enough to go to WB licensing and see if Mongoose violated their contract by not passing certain products through the proper authorization channels. I highly doubt that would happen, but it would be a cruel bit of irony if Mongoose’s attempt at self-promotion ended up losing them the B5 license.

    Matt certainly isn’t helping him or his company by airing private business correspondance on a public forum. He should be on the phone trying to work things out directly, not playing e-mail tag and dragging things into public.


  6. Long and sordid story — suffice to say that Mongoose’s successes are built on the backs of several good friends whom they’ve screwed over….and their dealings with me have been less than stirling as well.

  7. No need to go into it, Gareth – despite the rather fearsome rep you seem to have, I’ve never seen anything other than the truth from you, so I’ll happily take your word for it. :)

  8. (Disclaimer: I work for Mongoose as a writer, although the novels/dealing with WB are far outside my sphere of knowledge).

    JMS:You further said that my involvement in these novels was becoming
    “less” with time, because I was “a busy chap.” I have never had ANY
    involvement with these novels.

    JMS was involved with the Mongoose version of the B5 rpg at the beginning – he wrote the introduction, for example. I think Matthew was answering about JMS’ involvement in the Mongoose handling of the IP as a whole, not just the novels.

    Still, argh.

  9. He (JMS) was also invited/asked to participate in the novel line, and offered compensation for his time and effort. Perhaps Matt’s statement was an attempt to politely explain away JMS’s lack of involvement–not to protect Mongoose but to provide an explanation that would not put blame upon anyone.
    And JMS apparently does not have to approve anything. WB does. It’s their license. So he can be annoyed or put out or insulted or whatever he likes–as long as WB approves the novels, they’re official.

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