Swords & Wizardry Light - Forum

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

OSR Rulesets - Art Free for Free

I think Goblinoid Games the first with the art free version of the Labyrinth Lord PDF given away for free and a version with art sold an a nominal price.

LotFP Weird Fantasy is the second OSR publisher that I know of that went art free for free, pay for version with art. (although Weird Fantasy's art enhanced set includes 2 books not in the free version).

Has anyone else gone this route? Did I miss a game or two?

Is this effective marketing? I suspect it is, but I have no way to know for sure.

Some people put little value on free. Does the fact that there is a pay for version that is essentially the same make the free version more valuable?

Please leave your thoughts after the beep. BEEEEP!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. I use the art-free free downloads as references when I'm at work. I do prefer to have the printed copies in had with the art and it's worth the price. But free reference pdf is good too. I don't like to pay for PDf files.

  2. With LL I bought the art versions of the core and aec - i want to suppot dan and all the hard work he does. as for Weird Fantasy, I got a reviewer comp of the PDF, but i had already ordered and received the boxed set direct from LotFP.

    Then again, with my ipad, PDFs are a pleasure.

  3. Most of the clones offer free versions (S&W, OSRIC, etc., which can be found with a quick Google search) - and so they should, given that they're based on the freely given OGL/SRD and clone another person's work, a point readily acknowledged by most clone authors.

    However, in producing a clone some costs have to be met, such as paying for artwork, so have copies that can be purchased makes sense. Again most offer these at minimum profit to themselves. And of course there is truth is the observation that lots of people, consciously or otherwise, place greater value in an item they pay for than one they get for free.

    One of the best things about the free pdfs is that they allow people to try before they buy, which is a powerful tool. For someone considering changing rule-sets in their campaign, it's one thing to base that decision on a review or two before spending money on print copies or even an art-filled version, quite another to be able to look at the complete document before making a decision. So yes, I think it is a great marketing tool that in no way threatens sales of the art-included versions and probably, in fact, increases them.

  4. I specifically started using LL as the ruleset for my game because I could use the no-art version to get things going until the players were committed enough to buy into the game. I have the full pdfs, and I use them in the game. As more of the players see these versions, more of them are interested in buying the full versions for themselves.

  5. David / Bob - You both make good points. A free full peek is a great marketing tool, especially if you have pay-for products that can benefit from exposure.

    Quickstarts can only show so much of how a game works, and rarely show how it, and the characters progress.

    Which reminds me, I need to do another Quickstart installment