I haven’t written about just my opinion of the gaming industry for a long time, and I have something I want to say. Let’s get into it! Today, I am telling the tale of three PDFs, what it says about me, what it says about the gaming industry, and what it says about what RPGs I will pay for going forward.
First, I want to talk about RuneQuest (https://www.chaosium.com/runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha-pdf/) from Choasium. This came out last month, and the build up was an email campaign and several release articles. It wasn’t overwhelming, but it was enough to keep my interest as well as a Free RPG Day book I reviewed (https://throatpunchgames.com/2017/06/17/%E2%80%8Bring-side-report-rpg-review-of-runequest-free-rpg-day-product/ ). I liked everything I saw, and at midnight, I got an email saying that I could buy it from both drivethruRPG.com and choasium.com, and if I bought from Choasium, I would get a gift certificate from Choasium toward additional products or the hardcover out later that year. I demo Call of Cthulhu for Chaosium, and when I demo, I earn credits on their store. I used those credits to buy their product, later I WILL buy the physical product, and my store players buy the product as well.
Today, Masks of Nyarlathotep launched (https://www.chaosium.com/masks/ ). It’s MUCH more expensive for just the PDF which is essential a rerelease of an older module. It’s updated of course, but I think I’m a super de dupper Game Designer (I make 10s of dollars off the RPG industry this year alone!), so If I really wanted to, I could could custom up everything, find the old resources… ya know what, let’s just buy the PDF and be lazy! All joking aside, this product is slick. Lots of resources, new updated things, books for the players, AND the same guarantee-buy now, get the cost of the PDF off the physical book! It had the same build up as RuneQuest with an email campaign with some information and updates, but it might have gotten a slight boost as now Fantasy Flight is releases Egypt and Nyarlathotep themed products for their Call of Cthulhu lines as well. But it was the same deal as with RuneQuest, but this time I woke up at 3AM AND I didn’t have credits to burn. NO thoughts or questions on if I should get this, but when and will this be my next campaign I run at the store? This was bought with $60 of my own money because I felt like this was a good product from a company that cared.
Choasium makes me feel like they need me and want gamers like me. I run monthly games at my store, games at cons, and even online for this company. I feel like I work hard for them, and the reward me for being part of the team. I put my time in for them, and they reward me with store credit and excellent product. My only slight complaint was I wish I could use their credit offer on physical product from my local store, so I can support my local store like the Bits and Mortar program (http://www.bits-and-mortar.com/). But, Chaosium gets upfront money from me and encourages me to basically buy physical product on layaway. I give them some money now, and when physical product launches, I can use my credit on it to get it cheaper. They sell books, have money to make books, and then get more money by selling me the physical book. Win Win!
Those were two good PDFs, so how about a bad one? Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes also launched last month. I saw an announcement on Youtube from some people playing a game. Yippy! Who doesn’t love to watch other people game instead of game themselves! That’s always fun…. And then I saw the release announcement, and I started a timer on my phone and started checking torrents. I got to 18 hours before I saw my first torrent of the book. I’m not saying I did anything illegal, but I did keep checking to see when it was out there. Right now the fancy edition of the book is on amazon for $80 (https://www.amazon.com/Dungeons-Dragons-Mordenkainens-Alternate-Limited/dp/B07B88MCS5/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1530483510&sr=8-2&keywords=tomb+of+foes , don’t worry angry review is coming out tomorrow!). Cool! Can I just buy a PDF? No, DnD has moved away from the PDF market (not really since their major cash cow is to just slapping their name on everything in the DM’s Guild and get money for NO work…) because DnD Insider caused such a stir with physical stores feeling they were abandoned by an ever changing rule set and players who payed $10 a month basically getting the rules free anyway. Ok, so its only physical books then? NOPE! I can buy a “license” for the content from DnD Beyond…for $33 (https://www.dndbeyond.com/marketplace/source/33 )! Just what I need! Another app to update, purchase stuff for, and keep checking! YA! If I buy a physical book do I get money off the digital? NOPE! If I buy a digital book, do I get money off a physical book? NOPE! Heck even Pathfinder gives you a PDF if you buy the physical from them! If I demo games for you guys, do I get credits to buy books? NOPE, SCREW YOU ED! WE ENDED THE STORE PROGRAM BECAUSE WE’RE NOW FUNDING A FORMER PORN STAR TO PLAY DND AND APPEAR AT CONS! Because we’re a family company. (Does Ed really care that she is a former porn star? No, but I really want to point out this is the weirdest future! Who saw that one coming?). So now I have ABSOLUTELY ZERO REASON TO GAME IN A STORE OR CON, SUPPORT A STORE OR CON, OR ENTER A STORE OR CON TO BUY THE BOOKS SINCE AMAZON BEATS THE STORES AND CONS EVERY TIME! Welp, guess what PDF Ed DIDN’T buy? It’s Tome of Foes? Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN’T LEGALLY EXIST FOR SALE! I don’t need some app to game. I have a table. DnD Beyond makes by blood boil even more because you log in with your twitch handle. So WHY EVEN GO TO THE STORES! You didn’t make the PDFs because it hurt stores, and now you’ve decided to absolutely screw the stores because why shop at them and why should I demo at them since I have to now PAY to run your games and you will not support me an any capacity…
What is the point of this angry rant? I love gaming, and I love sharing my hobby with others. I am a geekvangelist. I go to community events and set up a table with RPGs to show off the game and how fun it is. I organize at least 10 events and one day of con games each month, minimum. I feel I’m part of any RPG group that will have me and will support me getting gaming out there as well as their product. Wizards of the Coast just doesn’t care, and it makes me sad that 5e is its teeth set into the RPG industry. Its a good system, but the people behind it just don’t care about the places it came from, the people who sell it at a local level, or even the hard work poured in by the people trying to make their game happen. Is any company perfect? No. I love Chaosium, but their store support is a bit limited. They support me on the back end, but not as much with me buying stuff at the store so they get money through the store. Heck even Paizo now does an in store support by having some stores give away con certificates and every so many dollars spent that day in the store allows for rerolls and other things to help players and keep them gaming in the store. But, this final book from WotC is the final straw that broke my camel back. I used to be a local coordinator. I made store events happen, run weekly games, worked hard with other coordinators to make sure con games happened across the state, and felt like I was part of a team. Now, who the fuck cares? WotC is going to have some pretty people pretend pay on YouTube next to an unboxing video of a barbie, hope Twitch says alive compared to Discored or a hundred other up en comers, and abandon everything I worked hard to keep going. They don’t even support cons as now cons need to individual purchase adventures for DMs through the DMs guild so now every con makes their own adventures. This has resulted in the Living Game or Adventurer’s League feeling more splintered than it has ever felt before. But, DnD is what the gamers at my store want to play, and I make games happen. So I make this pledge now, I will NOT purchase a DnD adventure that I am running for a public event. If I am not supported in any way, then neither will I support them.
So this is the tale of how three PDFs altered my perception on gaming. If I feel supported as a point man out in the wild for a game, then I will follow you to hell and back. I’ll purchase, sit, and read RPGs late into the evening if I feel that the hard work of making gaming happen out in the world is something you care about. If I feel you are just using a name you bought because a card game you owned made ALL THE MONEY, then I am not just another stream of revenue for you. I give up time with my family and friends to journey across the country and internet to find places where people who don’t know what they are missing are to introduce them to something I love. If I feel you don’t care, then why the heck should I? And if you don’t care about the things I care deeply about, then why should I try to support you in the things you are doing?