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Thursday, June 16, 2016

An Underwhelming Free RPG Day 2016 From an Old School Perspective


Let's see, what do I actually have an interest in from the above picture Free RPG Day 2016 releases?

Goodman Games Quickstart, the CoC Adventure and maybe the LotFP release. The C&C release doesn't really catch my attention.

Pencils? Do they at least serve as Pencil Dice?

Ah well. I'll be in the Poconos this weekend, so even the ones I'm interested in will be out of reach...

25 comments:

  1. I'm really surprised not to see a Swords and Wizardry offer this year. A lot of OSR publishing houses most likely cannot fron the amount of money that it takes to be part of such an endeavour. I am going on Saturday and running DCC and CoC events at the gaming store I frequent. Let me know what you are interested in and I will try to see if I can secure a copy of something for you.

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    1. Very kind of you James.

      The Goodman Games release perhaps. LotFP releases are generally fun to read and impossible to play at my table and I have so much CoC material I probably don't need more ;)

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  2. I really applaud what Aldo has been able to do for a decade now, but it isn't structured in a way that is friendly to small publishers. At least it wasn't the last time I inquired with him about it.

    He wants either starter rules, or exclusive adventure content. By March, not to be sold until after FreeRPG Day in quantities of at least 700 units. For a Mischief, Inc. product that means a cool grand anted up for what could be a PR coup, or a PR flop.

    Even if I could squeeze out 1k+ I'm not entirely sure FreeRPG Day would be the best use of that money.

    I'm not sure what Aldo's mission statement says, but I would probably want to see the program run a little differently. I'd not want to give away free stuff to existing gamers, but instead give free product away to non-gamers to get them interested in the hobby. I'm not sure the community would be generous enough for such an endeavour, but setting up a GoFundMe or Patreon to amass the funds to BUY product from small publishers to give away to retailers, that retailers would in turn give away to customers who aren't known role-players.

    Now I think that would be great for the hobby, as well as fantastic for the small OSR publishers who can't currently afford to participate in FreeRPG Day.

    YMMV

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    1. BTW that $1,000+ is just printing costs. It does not include shipping to Aldo, or any other production costs associated with the product. Still out of reach for us even if I create everything I can, writing, maps, layout, etc. and use royalty-free art.

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    2. The issue can be finding the non-gamers. They need to get to the store first.

      Now, turning Pathfinder / 4e / 5e / WoD / etc gamers to Old School Gamers would be quite a coup...

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    3. Hmmm... an Old School Gaming Appreciation Day with PDF quickstarts available for all, might be cost effective and reach a greater audience...

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    4. Most gaming stores sell more than just RPGs. Most that I know of are comics stores. They sell toys, board games, CCGs and collectibles. I'd say most of the customers are many of the game stores I know of personally are non-RPGers.

      BTW, PDFs are an entirely different animal for the purposes of a giveaway there being no printing costs. The problem is making sure the right people are getting the promotional copy codes.

      Message or email me if you want to discuss further. I don't know how much time I have to dedicate to administering something like this, but I would love to help get it off the ground especially if we can find a way of paying the small publishers for their content.

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    5. It might dovetail fairly well into the Old School Online TenkarCon being discussed in the members only community.

      We can discuss later. It's an interesting idea if nothing else.

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    6. Wow. It seems I have a lot to answer in this thread...

      1) This is the biggest FRD ever. More offerings put together by the publishers than any of year. You call it underwhelming...?

      2) People need to understand that FRD is about what the publishers donate. We don't control that. If not enough OSR companies participate, then alas, we don't have OSR to offer.

      3) Yes, 700 is the minimum...We need by May (not March). And the goal of making them not saleable until 30 days after FRD is to help the retailers - which leads to...

      4) Yes, probably about $1000 to participate, but the goal is to sell RPGs that are available through these brick and mortar retailers. This event is quite honestly about moving product. If you're a RPG company without distribution, then unfortunately, we wouldn't even accept the offering. Many have asked about the day being expanded to PDFs, but once we do that, the brick and mortar stores stop supporting us.

      4a) The above is the basis of the mission of the event. At the same time though, we can't tell retailers "only give to new gamers" because its their $95 they are giving us to cover things and I don't want us telling a retailer how to run their store. That's my personal take.

      5) Its not the same companies every year. Yes, there are some repeat *companies* participating, but every item, EVERY YEAR is different from every publisher. Some thought Catalyst was repeating things, but it was just their cover art repeating...all the content was new (except a few repeat their QSR; which is legal, but 50% has to be unique.)

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    7. 1 - "An Underwhelming Free RPG Day 2016 From an Old School Perspective" - see what the title says? Old School Perspective.

      2 - OSR is certainly under represented, and I understand why, which leads to...

      3 - 700 is the minimum - hard for most old school publishers to hit that mark as a free offering. Strangely enough, that might be something in the works for next year. Not from me and and very intriguing way to address this. Very early discussions that might not bear fruit.

      4 - understandable from your perspective.

      4a - growing the customer base should be the overall goal. selling to the already converted is less than optimal. just an observation.

      5 to be honest, the Catalyst releases have the same APPEARANCE every year

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    8. The whole point of Free RPG Day on year 1 was to bring in new gamers and grow the base. *After year 1*, we found that to be impossible. The event isn't big enough and we don't have the marketing dollars to push the event in that way. Again, we wanted it to be about growing the hobby, but the retailers and consumers took it as more of a "thank you" day to the people who already play and support the hobby. I've racked my brain every year trying to figure out how to change that, but we're not Diamond Comics with Free Comic Book Day money.

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    9. Thank you for at least trying. My group got a lot of use out of the free DCC swag that was given away last year and was part of why we tried that system out.

      (ironically, our FLGS doesn't carry DCC products, but they DID have the screen...)

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    10. Just to clarify Aldo, not complaining or demeaning, just sad we can't participate. I think the idea I came up with above is "pie in the sky" but it would be awesome if someone could find a way to make it work.

      Until Mischief, Inc. has a strong and healthy distribution going, we simply can't be involved no matter how much we'd like to.

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  3. Alas, it's generally the same companies with the same offerings as every year...

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  4. Last year wasn't exciting either, honetly. But I'd be shirking by duties if I didn't clarify here...

    No "traditional" DCC this time around. Instead, the Goodman offering (with 5 different covers!) contains a DCC/Lankhmar adventure with expanded mechanics, and the very first, long-awaited MCC (Mutant Crawl Classics) adventure to hit public view.

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  5. Last year wasn't exciting either, honetly. But I'd be shirking by duties if I didn't clarify here...

    No "traditional" DCC this time around. Instead, the Goodman offering (with 5 different covers!) contains a DCC/Lankhmar adventure with expanded mechanics, and the very first, long-awaited MCC (Mutant Crawl Classics) adventure to hit public view.

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  6. I think sometimes we become sticks in the mud. This is free stuff just to go to a shop you normally make an excuse to the wife about. I'm not going to be able to go, had baby sunday, but I want to so they can see someone who hasn't gone to a game store in years.

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  7. What irritates me is the companies that literally just keep including the same product year after year. That lackluster effort on their part doesn't excite me. The big thing is, stores need to actively find people to run the systems that are available in the pack, else nobody really cares. Our local store reaches out and gets six tables running so that people are picking up free items and learning about the games.

    I mean, stores CAN just spend money on stuff to give away but that doesn't build a customer base after all. Getting them hooked with a free taste and bringing them back for more? That does.

    As it stands, DCC and Call of Cthulhu are what I'm most interested in, but there are some other offerings that I'd love a chance to pick up.

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    1. I was pretty certain that I got the same Shadowrun book two years running, as well as some other book...Cosmic Patrol maybe?

      Looking over this year's list though? I'm seeing more and more good stuff that I'd be interested in looking at for future purchase.

      Night's Black Agents? I'm looking at you! I've heard good things....

      In the end though, as I said above, the boxes for Free RPG day are the beginning of the process, not the end. They are a tool to grow new business but they won't do it on their own. Aldo, it isn't your fault if you provide a tool and people don't use it.

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  8. The Gamer's Edge in Stroudsburg will be participating this year, Erik. That's not too far from where you'll be. I've been there - it's a nice store, although not much OSR product or awareness.

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    1. I noticed that last night. Callie's Pretzel Factory for Rach, Gamer's Edge for me

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  9. The Gamer's Edge in Stroudsburg will be participating this year, Erik. That's not too far from where you'll be. I've been there - it's a nice store, although not much OSR product or awareness.

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  10. Perhaps, expand it to offer a package for beginners & another package for seasoned players. Also, maybe drop the 'free' part & just be like National Record Store day, though the publishers can still toss in something for free, if they wish. Also, maybe have special discounted physical product bundles, during that day.

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