Chaosium Sells Stolen Goods

UPDATE – The check has arrived!

Chaosium doesn’t pay. Don’t work for Chaosium. Chaosium won’t pay you. Chaosium screws its contributors / writers /artists.

Forgive the repetitive sentences. I wanted to give google enough ammo to find this post. A year, two years, three years or more down the line someone might be thinking of doing work for Chaosium and decide to do a search before agreeing to do the work. If you can think of other search terms just let me know and I’ll be happy to add to list. Feel free to email me anonymously if you want.

I’m writing this mostly as a way of putting this behind me. It’s a new year and I’ve got enough on my plate that I don’t want to spend any more time chasing it. I’d almost rather just forget about it but I feel like if I did I’d be like someone who failed to put a warning sign after he discovered a patch of quicksand.

I turned in the last of my illustrations for Strange Aeons 2 on Halloween 2009. I’d agreed to a reduction in my rates in exchange for Chaosium agreeing to pay me upon completion of the work rather than on publication. We’re now winding down to the end of January 2011, the book has been out since March 2010 and I haven’t been paid. My emails requesting payment or clarification or acknowledgment have, for the most part been ignored. I know they’ve been received. That’s where the “most part” comes from – I’ve gotten responses from other folks at the company, just not Charlie Krank. Charlie is the guy who pays the bills. A fellow contributor to the book handed a copy of a letter from me to Charlie at MythosCon a couple of weeks ago.

This is only partly about the money. Mostly it’s about promises broken and communications ignored. I had a great time doing the illustrations. I wish I could say it wasn’t about the money at all but, until the Evil Socialist Conspiracy takes over, I have to pay attention to things like getting paid.

This was the sixth project I’d done for the company. I’d been looking forward to doing more work. There aren’t a lot of opportunities to do the sort of pulp fiction illustration that role playing games use. By the time I started working on SA2 I’d started hearing stories from other writers and artists, about how they no longer did work for Chaosium because they hadn’t gotten paid. At that point, if I had been smart, I should have at least rethought how I delivered the art. At that point I should have done some more research. I would have found this.

But I didn’t. And now I’m one of many folks that the company has stolen work from. There are other folks who worked on SA2 who are also awaiting payment. I’ll let them name themselves if they feel comfortable.

If Chaosium comes through with what they owe me then I’ll be happy to update this post. Even better, if I start hearing that they are paying off all the other folks they owe money to I’ll do a happy dance and wave a flag. And update this post. For now, however, the sign reads BEWARE! QUICKSAND AHEAD!

8 thoughts on “Chaosium Sells Stolen Goods

  1. They did something similar to a friend of mine who was self publishing an ezine. They basically told her they couldn’t sell them, but wouldn’t return them either. They never did pay her and it’s unlikely they’ll compensate you either.

  2. If I expected to get paid I’d have thought another few times before posting this. At this point though I’ve heard from enough others who are still owed money that I never really expect to collect.

    Now I’m just trying to wave a flag to hopefully prevent one or two others from stepping in it.

  3. Thanks for this, David. I am one of those who are still waiting for their money. And as you said: The money isn’t even what pisses me off most. It’s the fact that any requests are completely ignored, which shows a lack of respect, that I cannot accept.
    I would never have expected to be treated that way by Chaosium.


  4. Chaosium seem to be secretly in a dire way. Charlie Krank is useless as the head of Chaosium as he almost never communicates. Dustin is ok… although Im still waiting on something (which is why this post shall remain anon. apologies).

    Their site has been hacked by CC fraudsters, they don’t pay contributors, and any day now FLGS’ are gonna say adios to a system that doesnt respond and which payments to are suspect.
    In Mythos terms there are other companies there are other companies producing better work. Its about time Chaosium swept the room clean or gave up the ghost and sold their CoC rights. Their monograph series has been a way to bring in talent who love the game.. only to become jaded when they pay next to nothing but reap the rewards themselves.
    If you ever change your mind and want to take it to someone else Chaosium get very pissed at the licensee. Any publisher who values their Cthulhu line would be insane to risk that. So chaosium’s line is “once you tell us, work for us or nobody!” You need plate armor for that. This is not just me but I’ve heard it happening to others.
    I haven’t even started writing it yet… but they think they own it? Screw that!
    Also: Chaosium offered me a few bucks a piece (literally) to draw for them. I turned them down.

  5. Chris –
    You didn’t get a response to your portfolio emails? I suppose it’s good that you avoided the endless wait for payment and the likelihood of getting stiffed but, geez, what blind fool thought your talent should be ignored? I love your stuff!

    Eckhard –
    Maybe this is all part of their strategy to drive all their possible contributors to their licensees so they don’t have to print books anymore?

    Anonymous –
    Payment for art is pretty minimal. I’m guessing that payment for books and scenarios is slight as well. But, as I said, it’s less about the money than the lack of communication. An email or a phone call telling me that they couldn’t pay would have prevented this post. An offer for trade or payment in installments would have left me feeling like they wanted to work things out. I’m not saying I would have been happy but it would have made a big difference.

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