A terrible day
In recent weeks, game designer Carmen Bellaire began talking online about the Rifts® board game he has been developing under license. His planned upcoming Kickstarter will launch it and his own company.
On Friday morning he came here, to the RRT Kickstarter comments pages, and made what he had intended to be a post to drum up support from backers of our Robotech® RPG Tactics™ Kickstarter project. It didn’t go well, to say the least.
Carmen’s awkward words might have seemed out of context and harsh. They were fueled by comments and accusations people had been directing at him here and elsewhere for a while now. Somehow, he thought he was helping by coming here to speak to people directly.
I don’t know why Carmen Bellaire said what he said, in the way that he did. I know he has been pushing himself much too hard, and was emotionally drained and physically exhausted when he made those posts. That might explain some of it. He can also be the proverbial bull in the china shop, and has a bad habit of not choosing his words carefully. A lot of his comments and observations about Robotech® RPG Tactics and Palladium Books were from an outsider’s perspective, and often incorrect or not clearly presented. Carmen’s viewpoint, like many of yours, is that of a concerned outsider looking in.
He had not been around Palladium Books much the past 3-4 years, because he was busy creating games for his own fledgling company, Rogue Heroes LLC, which he has hopes to launch in spectacular fashion with the Rifts® Board Game as his first release. This would be done via a Kickstarter campaign in April, 2017. In addition to this endeavor, Carmen works a full-time, 9-5 job, as well as doing freelance game design for Upper Deck. A lot of work for Upper Deck. It is my understanding that the many games he has designed for that company have yet to see release, but they have been keeping him busy and several are in the pipeline for release. Doing board games right takes time. I’ve learned that the hard way. Carmen is also doing work for at least two other game companies under a veil of secrecy. He cannot speak about them or identify the companies due to NDAs and the wishes of those companies. I’m not even sure if I’m supposed to mention Upper Deck. I have been doing so rather shamelessly, because I’m very proud of my friend Carmen, and I figured the folks at Upper Deck will be okay with it coming from me.
Carmen is a passionate person who feels things deeply. He has a heart of gold and a truly brilliant mind for games. The launch of Rogue Heroes LLC and the Rifts® Board Game is the culmination of his lifelong dream and a five or six year journey to make that dream a reality. He has made a lot of sacrifices, invested a lot of money, and worked his tail off to get here. He was excited beyond measure as he prepared to launch his Kickstarter for the game. And if it panned out, he had big plans for the future.
Carmen and I have not talked about him “fixing” Wave Two, as he put it. We at Palladium, and many others, believe the RRT rules are solid. That while they could use some clarification, expansion and tweaking, they are really quite excellent and damn fun to play. What Carmen and I have talked about is Carmen’s hope and dream that if the Rifts® Board Game Kickstarter is a big success, he can quit his 9-5 job and dedicate himself exclusively to creating games. It is a lifelong dream I have heard about since the first day I met Carmen 12, 15 years ago. A dream he saw finally becoming a reality. A dream he has put his heart and soul into making come true. So no, Rogue Heroes, LLC is not a front or shell company for Palladium Books, as some have suggested; it is 100% Carmen Bellaire.
His terrible opening post and further discussion about Robotech® RPG Tactics™ and Wave Two on the RRT Kickstarter board was fueled by his passion and hopes. If the Rifts® board game was a big success, and he really could quit his 9-5 job, he planned to help Palladium get RRT back on track, doing whatever he could to help. Carmen has all kinds of ideas for advanced RRT rules, new factions and new waves of product that we would love to see happen. But for the moment, he was still buried with other work commitments and needed to stay focused on the Rifts® board game and its Kickstarter.
What Carmen was trying to say and why
Carmen didn’t intend to challenge, threaten or blackmail anyone for support of his impending Rifts® board game Kickstarter. He was, in his own lame and awkward way, trying to say that his success with it would be good for the future of RRT, because he could be more involved and hopefully help make things happen faster in the future. He was trying to say, please don’t undermine his Rifts® Board Game Kickstarter, because his success would actually help RRT in the long run.
I know this is what he meant, because he called me Friday, early afternoon, very upset by the reaction of some people on the RRT boards. He apologized to me over and over again for upsetting people and fueling the vitriol when all he was trying to do was help. Help me. Help his upcoming Kickstarter. Help the fans. Help his family. Help everyone. And doing it by creating a fun Rifts® board game to be followed by many other games from his company, not just based on Palladium’s I.P., but many of his own brilliant ideas.
I understand why people are upset about RRT. What I cannot understand is the absolute hate and bloodlust of some, to destroy us, when we are trying to deliver the game they backed. Even more puzzling is attacking and destroying anyone who is affiliated with Palladium even in the slightest way, and shouting down and condemning others who don’t agree with their point of view.
What you need to know
Carmen Bellaire has put his heart and soul, and every dime he has, into the creation of HIS company, Rogue Heroes LLC, and HIS Rifts® board game. I say “his” Rifts® game because while it is Palladium’s I.P., it is ALL Carmen’s genius, money and blood, sweat and tears.
Vicious words of hate shocked and overwhelmed him.
Twisting the truth and twisting his, admittedly poorly chosen words, cut him to pieces. Carmen was never an employee of Palladium. He was a freelancer who worked off site, like all of our freelancers. He submitted the occasional book or contribution to a product like RRT. Carmen has never deliberately held back from making RRT great. Carmen was not trying to blackmail you to support his game. All he wanted to do was help, and he saw the Rift® board game as his way to start doing that. He wanted you to understand this. That your support for his Kickstarter – or at least not trying to undermine it – would enable him to help you and RRT, because he would finally have the time to devote to it, if he could quit his day job. He even shared his dream of being able to do a lot more work on RRT, Wave Two and future RRT releases, among other things. Carmen had a lot of big dreams and good intentions.
Crushed and shell-shocked by your heated words and promises to do everything in your power to ruin his Kickstarter, Carmen’s dreams were shattered. And why? Because he was friends with Kevin Siembieda and had done freelance work for Palladium Books off and on over the years.
He took your words to heart. Carmen believed you hated him. Believed you would work to destroy everything he had spent years building for himself, his family and for you.
In a telephone call on Friday, he had told me he had never experienced this kind of hate and venom. He was clearly reeling from it. He said it was beyond anything he could imagine. He apologized, saying that all he wanted to do was help. Instead he had ruined everything.
A short time later, at 2:07 PM, Friday afternoon, Carmen emailed me to say how much I have meant to him. That he was sorry he ruined everything by posting on the RRT board and stirring up unfathomable hate. He felt there was no way to undo the damage he had done. That he had ruined any chance for a successful Rifts board game Kickstarter and the launch of his company. That he had let his family down and every single person who was working so hard to make the Rifts board game and his company a reality. “I can’t take it, man ... I am so so so sorry. Good bye.”
Carmen tried to kill himself moments later.
It is only by the grace of God that his wife, a nurse, entered the room in time, that Carmen is alive. He is in the hospital, but in a bad way. He is a mess. The fate of the board game, his company, his dreams ... and most importantly, his life, are unknown. His family and all of us who know and love him are still in shock and praying to God that he will be okay.
Words can kill
On Friday, words on this board – cruel, vicious, condemning words – successfully crushed a man’s hopes and dreams and sent him spiraling into despair. Those words pushed him to the point of trying to take his own life. I would hate to think anyone may take pride in that.
I’m posting this, with the permission of Carmen’s family, because you need to know that words of hate, spite, cruelty and intolerance, pushed a good man – a husband – a father – a friend – to attempt suicide on Friday. A simple gaming geek like every one of us, Carmen worked hard to support his family, found joy in gaming, and dared to pour his heart into making his dream come true for the betterment of everyone.
Please realize that your words and tone may hurt another person as much as a bullet to the heart. Please, try to stop and think about what you say. Remember that human beings are fragile creatures. Try to find compassion and support for others, not tear them down. Try not to assume the worst or cast your assumptions and accusations against someone who does not deserve them. Not everyone is a bad guy. Not everyone is an enemy to be hated, attacked and ridiculed. Words matter. Lives matter. Kindness and tolerance matter. Perhaps more than ever before.
A friend asked me if Carmen will be okay. We don’t know. Carmen will be in the hospital for a while. We don’t know for how long. We don’t know if he will ever be the same. We don’t know whether he’ll return to game design and try to launch his company or the Rifts® board game in which he has invested everything. If not, that’s a tragedy of another sort, because Carmen has so much to offer. Before his suicide attempt, Carmen regarded game design as pure joy and tackled it with a childlike sense of wonder. All he wanted to do was to make games. After this, I don’t know.
I’m afraid this is not my most eloquent post. I am still shaken. I’m scared for him. Terrified. And saddened beyond words.
Please pray for Carmen’s swift recovery, emotionally and physically, and that Carmen is able to find the strength to once again follow his dreams and dare to try to make them come true. I want that not just for Carmen, but because he has a treasure trove of wonderful games locked in his imagination waiting to come out. Games that will bring joy and laughter to all of us.
I hope and pray there is a happy ending coming. Our love to Carmen and his family.
President, Palladium Books