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Shep Rose: More Horror Stories

By Mark Berch

From Diplomacy World #39


In the second article in this series, I re­ported on the person whom I considered to have been the sleaziest player of all lime: Shep Rose. His specialty was to involve the GM In some aspect of his negotiations with other players. At this he was an absolute master. I thought at the time I had reported the worst of it, but unfortunately, there's more. Other players came forward with stories about Shep. Finally I went to him and asked a question that f dreaded to ask before, but I knew that, as Hobby Historian, I had to. Was there any stunt he pulled that wall so sleazy that even he had some qualms about its ethics?


"Yes, I had my doubts then, and I still have them now, about what I did to the GM In 1987rvIG, In RUTHLESS. Along~ with my SO I order!), I enclosed a postcard, addressed and filled out, for him to mall to me. This was to be my assurance that my 501 orders had arrived. When it came I looked at it and was pleased: he signed it, but didn't date his signature.  Why would he?  The postcard referred to my S01 orders, so there wasn't any ambiguity. I did this for a few more seasons, and at that point (figuring he wasn’t bothering to read the postcard any more) I left off the season. He signed it the way he always did, with no date.  I continued this, and in F04 I hit the jackpot!


"The postcard came back with an incom­plete cancellation--the date wasn't there (this sometimes happens with postcards because of their odd size). I could have used one with­out a postmark, but this was even better. This was my 'naked postcard'--it acknowledged receipt of my orders, but there was no date of signature, no postmark, and no season. None of these 3 elements alone is extraordin­ary, but to line up all 3 on one postcard is very difficult. In all the times I've tried, I've only gotten 2 such postcards, and one of them I wasn't able to use.


"I immediately sent in a `change of orders'. They didn't really change anything, but I wanted another postcard to 'cover' that season. On that one I put the F04 season.


"In F05 I had an absolutely critical strate­gic and tactical decision to make--would my ally stab me or not? It would be the only season he could do it. I prepared 2 sets of orders, but mailed neither. In F05, I was NMRed. I wrote the GM, saying I was very concerned. I enclosed a carbon of the set of orders which, having seen the F05 results, I'd prefer to use (to my surprise, my ally had not stabbed). 'These are the orders I prepared,' I wrote, which was 100% true. I didn't say if had mailed them. I enclosed a Xerox of my 'naked postcard' without comment.  I told him that If he did not accept those orders, I wanted an Ombudsman, as per his HRs, and said that I'd take anyone from the Caruso Om­budsman's Service list except a specific few.


"I hoped he'd be cowed into accepting the orders, but he wasn't. I sent the Ombudsman my orders, and the naked postcard. I also sent my complete postcard file. He could see that there was one for each season, which would draw him away from the idea that this was an earlier postcard. He could also see that sometimes a season label appeared on the postcard, sometimes not, and thus the fact that the one I was using didn't have a date would be unremarkable.


"I had seriously considered adding the F­05 to the naked postcard. Would showing this doctored postcard to the GM constitute `decep­tion of the GM'? I wasn't really sure, but it seemed to me that a very strong case could be made that it was. So I didn't.


"However, the lack of any date on the naked postcard was its strength, and also its greatest weakness, and I felt sure the GM would try to discredit it on that basis. So I added an extra dirty trick: a forged letter from another player.  I don't think I have the letter any more, but It went something like this:


'''Dear Mr. Ombudsman:


I have heard about the protest in this game. I’ve had a very hard time deciding what to say. The GM is a friend of mine, and I feel very dirty about ratting on him. It's the lesser of two very bad evils. He did in fact tell me - note the enclosed letter [which I forged as well] that he was irritated by some stuff Shep had done, and that and that Shep was going to NMR. Read it for yourself. All this is OFF THE RECORD. You cannot make any public or private mention of this to anyone, especially not to the GM. I don't want you even contacting me about this.  The whole business has made me sick and I'm not even sure I'm going to mail this letter - the first draft I tore up halfway through. I realize that because this is strictly off the record, you may feel that you cannot use it at all. If you feel that way, I would understand. I'm not going to tell you how to do your job. Don't bother trying to talk me out of this OTR label, because there's no chance I’ll reconsider. None.'


"You get the Idea. I didn't want the Ombudsman to check back with the player. because he of course would know nothing of it.  I have no Idea whether the forged letter had any role In his decision. It may not have.  After all, I did have the postcard, and if he accepted It, that would be all I needed. The Ombudsman ruled that the GM was either to accept my orders or to replay the season (he chose the former).


"The ethical question here Is, can you de­ceive the Ombudsman? I was careful not to lie to the GM. But I lied to the Ombudsman about my orders, lied about the postcard, and forged 2 letters as well. It's an interesting question, don't you think?


"I did feel bad about framing the GM (but not about winning the game). It was really rotten; but then, isn't being rotten what this game Is all about…at least the way I play? Yup, no holds barred Dippy is the ONLY way to go. I did try to show the GM that there were no hard feelings on my part. I even signed up for his next opening, but he turned rne down. It's too bad--I had a real dilly of a sequel all mapped out."


So that's Shep's story. I don't even want to hear about the sequel he had planned. I believe this is probably the worst case I've un­covered yet In my Investigation of Shep Rose, the sleaziest player of all time.