rpg.pbem.online


Tabletop QOTD 2020-06-23

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Do you have different rules for people new to the game?

It can be hard to get people interested in the hobby- I try to make my games friendly for newbies.

#BoardGames

In the first few games, I try to give suggestions to the other players, and allow them to take back moves that I know are bad- letting them know why its bad. I try not to take it to the level of playing the game for the person, but I try to make it at least competitive.

#RPGs

I aid in building characters, and allow a few games until the character is solidified. When actually playing, I tend not to hold hands as much during the role-playing part, but in the combat part, it's pretty similar to board games.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
@UnclePirate (Stan McCann)
4 comments - Show more...
For board games, new players should get re-dos and advice along the way even though it makes her kick your butts. Memories of bringing in a player to Munchkins.

As for role playing, I can't remember a new player in an existing campaign so having different level players wasn't a problem. Differing experience was always handled efficiently by the GMs I've played with. I have run a few campaigns, but always with experienced players.
With board games, often when we have a new player we'll play at least a little while 'open hand', with each person describing what they're doing and why. We might play the entire game that way, or just a round or two and then restart... it depends.

When teaching a new game, it's really not about winning or losing for anyone. I've found most people reasonably expect to lose the first few times they play a game, but they get really frustrated when they can't understand what's going on.

For instance, when teaching my wife how to play Call to Adventure this evening, we each showed the cards we were choosing from, I explained why I chose the (origin, motivation, destiny) I did and what strategies I'd be following because of it.

Tabletop QOTD 2020-06-17

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Last time, we asked "In your opinion, what sets the truly great games apart from all the rest?"

In contrast to this, "What sets the truly memorable sessions apart from the rest? Do you have any examples of a session that sticks out in your mind?"


Memorable sessions usually consist of unplanned moments when something truly extraordinary happens.

#BoardGames

I have a few, but my most memorable one was in Shogun (Samurai Swords), where one player was decimated in the beginning, having only one army left, though it had a good composition. Normally, that wouldn't matter, as attrition hurts any army that cannot be replenished. But everyone else was rolling terribly that night, and he ended up somehow almost winning.

#RPGs

In one Rolemaster campaign based in Middle Earth, we had a series of bad choices that kept making the situation worse and worse.

It started with a 66 crit on our paladin that destroyed his helm, but did no other damage. Right after that, we found some loot- and in there was a helm. It turned out that it was a helm of opposite alignment.

The paladin's opposing deity which he now worshipped counseled him that a turning pont was coming and that he should hide his changes. I'll have to give it to the player- he played it well, and in retrospect, he threw out a lot of signs that he was no longer LG, but LE. But we ignored them.

The fellowship was ambushed because of information that he gave, and the split that happened because of Boromir happened because of this betrayal instead. We were tasked with taking up for the original fellowship and finding and shepherding Frodo and the hobbits. One of the nazgul attacked the party, and that's when the Paladin revealed himself, killing the hobbits, and throwing Frodo to the Nazgul, who took off with him.

The rest of us tried to recover from that, and get to Sauron before the ring did. We thought that we were fast enough, but we weren't, and ended up fighting Sauron at the height of his power. As we teleported in, he met us immediately with an amped up shock bolt of all things that incinerated one PC. Another attacked, and actually did damage- he cast 'Be Not' on that PC. The rest of us fled.

The only thing good about that encounter was that the PC that had 'Be Not' was one of those players that talks endlessly about his character's exploits. Whenever he started with "I remember when Renegade..." we'd interrupt him with "Who?"

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
11 comments - Show more...
:D
A GM didn't think it through when he told a group of us to design one item that we want. Instant tower, fully furnished and equipped. It got used as a HUGE bag of holding.
At the Windsor Gaming Society which was being overrun by collectible card game players. The only game I brought was Vampire the Masquerade but that session got cancelled due to the crew coming in from Essex having car problems.

We weren't interested in playing cards so I made up an RPG on the spot.

It was called Pirates of THE Spanish Highlands and was one of the most ridiculous and over the top games I had ever run. It was 100% improvised.

For some reason, Barnacles were the currency in the game, and when you got XP a Sea Captain with 2 peg legs and 2 peg arms would roll into the scene cartwhealing on all his peg appendages and his head. Tink, tink, tink, ouch!, tink, tink, tink, tink, ouch, tink, ARR Ye get 10 XP, tink, tink, tink ouch, tink, tink, tink....

That was one of the most fun RPG sessions I've ever had in my life and the players all agreed. From that point onward I improvised a lot more in all of my games and went from spending like 20 hours a week prepping to maybe 2 hours.

How can you get a fair shake when the Cop Gang has all the authority?

Andres ran down the driveway, got on his knees and put his hands behind his head. Then 1 Cop shot him in the back 7 times. They broke all the cameras and took the DVR, which they pulled a warrant for after the fact.
#Current Events #BlackLivesMatter
#Current #BlackLivesMatter BlackLivesMatter (x) CurrentEvents (x)
Yeah, here in the Southwest, BLM could stand for Brown Lives Matter. One question asked was "Where is Raza?" I'd like to see the Hispanic population stand too. I think they are, just not as loudly. They may not want to steal the spotlight on BLM.

Hey @Chuck Dee, I watched "True Justice" on HBO last night. Very much on point for our discussion the other day. But so sad. The man (I can't remember his name) is still fighting for justice. Excellent movie if you get the chance.
I wish that we could abandon racism at all so that this would apply to everyone, and we could appreciate color without the baggage.
Exactly @Chuck Dee. Me too. I would also like to rid myself of some of my identified "white allergies." Although I have learned how not to say it, sometimes the N word comes to mind or the insult "for a Black." It is from many years of thinking that way and meaning it. I was never an overt racist, but I did have the tendency. The thought still comes but I don't mean it anymore. I have learned to love and respect all humans.
And I think that though it is true that people that are hurt tend not to react at their best, from the other side people can be more understanding of the process. Admitting who you were and having the desire to change should never be discouraged. I remember Liam Neeson's confession and his shame at the man that he used to be, and how he was dragged for admitting how he used to be. That's a part of the process, and needs to be recognized as such, and people shouldn't be degraded for that.

Tabletop QOTD 2020-06-09

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

In your opinion, what sets the truly great games apart from all the rest?

The best games to me are the ones that I can play and get people to play. If I can't get it to the table, it never really becomes a game. In those, there are different criteria for board games vs RPGs.

#BoardGames

Ones that make you interact with the other players in interesting ways, postiively or negatively. Games where you don't have any interaction with others might as well be solo, in my opinion. And when those interactions become interesting, you get some truly extraordinary experiences.

#RPGs

Those games that are able to stoke my imagination, and have everything pushing you towards buy in and losing yourself in the game world in a perfect combination of rules and campaign lore. Sometimes, the latter can be provided by the GM, elevating a so-so game into something great.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
10 comments - Show more...
A good GM can make a badly written RPG (engine or adventure) fun. A bad GM can make a great RPG not-fun.

I've never played a pre-printed module/adventure that really worked for me as a player / the group I was in. I've only GMed maybe once or twice with pre-printed stuff that didn't fall flat (not horrible games, but not what the group really wanted/enjoyed). Some of that is because the majority of my use of pre-printed stuff happened in high school, when my gaming group lacked the maturity to care. So I'm always reluctant to try published adventures now, even if they might be great.

Combat can be fun, but it almost never rises to the level of truly great gaming -- combat tends to devolve to a process of round-by-round selecting the "optimal" attack and rolling through the mechanics. I enjoy it, but it is really hard for a fight to rise to truly great in my mind.

For me, a truly great game makes me imagination come alive. It isn't just me scrambling to find that one thing on my character sheet for this round of fighting, but seeing the world come alive from my PC's perspective. Situations that require creative thinking and teamwork -- but not cryptic puzzles that are hard for the sake of being hard. Interactions with NPCs that impact more than just the short-term space during which the conversation happens, things that make a game more than just my character surviving.
I think there are multiple ways for a wold to come alive. There's LoTR vs Thieves Guild feel, or Part 3 vs Part 4 JoJo. Or STTNG vs DS9.

With an epic journey, the feeling of an expansive world comes from brief fleeting encounters - the meeting and seeing of things which come and go for once in a lifetime. Interactions with most NPCs will not have a long term impact, but the characters know how fleeting this meeting will be so they make the most of their limited time together.

In contrast, a fixed city setting can build a feeling of an expansive world through depth and density. There's the feeling of a rich ocean of people, with relationships and cliques and organizations. Anything you do or experience could set off a cascade of consequences.

What's interesting to me is a third way, which goes in the opposite direction. The traditional roguelike is a dungeon crawl which is utterly devoid of role playing elements. It's like taking D&D rules and only seeing the formulas that can easily be plugged into a computer algorithm. And yet it can still instill a sense of wonder in the player, and inspire the player's imagination. How? By making the dungeon itself a sort of character. In games like Rogue or Temple of Apshai or Moria, the lack of role playing is because the dungeon is a monster infested ruin. You don't have NPCs to interact with because the people who dwelled there are long dead and gone. But you can still feel their spirit in the majesty of what they left behind. You can still feel a sense of what was lost.

This is a trick that works well with videogames, even when it's not explicitly invoked (for example, the original Legend of Zelda game). Simulating convincing interactions with the living is hard. A one-way relationship with the dead/past? That's more doable.

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man

So good. I knew that Matthew McConaughey was a great guy before this, but the questions that he asked. And that simple statement. "Heard."

You could see him learning just in that segment.

This is what it takes.

And back to that Langston Hughes poem, "Let America Be America Again," the implication that was brought up about one simple line: "... the land that has never been yet..."

America touts itself as many things. Egalitarian. Democratic. The Land of the Free. The Home of the Brave.

America has never been what it has aspired to be. But it can. The framework is there for it to be that. And that's where I place my hope.
Good one. I'd seen a different interview. I like that too. Heard.

More Anansi

#AmericanGods #Anansi #TV

YouTube: Mr Nansi's talk with other Gods. (Adrian Nelson)

My worshippers know... Freedom ain't Free.
#AmericanGods #Anansi #TV AmericanGods (x) Anansi (x) TV (x)

American Gods' Showrunner thought we didn't need to hear this?

#AmericanGods #Anansi #TV You think you just people. Let me be the first to tell you that you are all Black. The moment these Dutch motherfuckers set foot here and decided they White- then you get to be Black and that's the nice name they call you...

That shit is powerful and relevant. Motherfucker that denied us seeing Orlando Jones channel Anansi because "We don't need to hear it" needs to be fucking shot.
#AmericanGods #Anansi #TV AmericanGods (x) Anansi (x) TV (x)

Tabletop QOTD 2020-06-02

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Do you have a set gaming schedule? Do you prefer scheduling time for games, or pick up games?

Pick up games rarely catch me in the right mood to play, which is the reason that I have so hard a time getting into our normal family gaming. We tried to have a 'game night' but something always came up- my family is way busier than I am.

I have a regular session now on roll20, and it's nice to be back in that groove. Before that, all I had was pbems/play by document, and those are pretty much pick up games, as they're asynchronous. But the difference between that and other types of pick up games is that I can take them as I get a chance, as long as I get my turns in by the scheduled time.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
11 comments - Show more...
Board games were mostly scheduled, because they need physical presence (simulators really don't do it for us).

RPGs have mostly been scheduled so people can plan to be there or not. I've been in a few pick up games and would like to be in more... but I've been on an RPG hiatus because of COVID.

Not because of personal infection. I work in the social sector, and while I'm not front line (I work in a data warehouse, almost as far from that as you can get) I provide data to people trying to get a grasp on what's happening and provide financial assistance as best we can.. I don't have the energy to game right now.
Normally yes and no. Right now, heck no, I game when I can.

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Saturday of every month I ran board game events at local venues. In addition, I had a home game night on Mondays where we were supposed to play RPGs but never got a full group so played board games. I also played and live-streamed Gloomhaven every Friday.

In addition to this would be random pick up games that would happen randomly throughout the week. Sometimes with my kids or the whole family or I would get together with other local games.

Now I play a lot of BGA throughout the day and once a month sit down with one of our Patreon patrons to pay a game online somehow, other than that my wife and I have been getting together about every other weekend to play two-player games and now and then I game with the kids but they are actually busier with school now than they were when in school.


Tabletop QOTD 2020-05-28

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Which tabletop gaming item do you wish you had never given away?

I had to move in a short period of time, and had to leave behind close to a third of my collection. Most of those were Palladium books and esoteric GURPS books that I hadn't looked at in forever, but sometimes, I go to find a reference, and only then realize that it was in those stacks.

I also got rid of the SAGA system games (Dragonlance/Marvel Super Heroes). I had copies of the book for the Marvel system, but not the cards. Both of those have been hard to come by in good condition.

On the boardgame side, I've given away a lot of boardgames recently to my local library because of space concerns. But I haven't had anyone to play them with for a while- if I start to play again, I'm sure I'll miss something there, but I've been pretty methodical in the ones that I've given away, so I hope not.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
7 comments - Show more...
I'm a hoarder. I don't give things away unless I'm really absolutely 100% sure I'm never even going to think about it.
I do occasionally loan something out, though. Like GURPS Russia, which I loaned to a friend, and I have no idea who it was, and nobody seems to have it. Or maybe my brother had it? I should ask him.
Nothing I can think of. I still have most of my gaming collection and what I gave away/sold/traded I really didn't need anymore.

#music #ice-t #rap-metal-fusion-rock #Bodycount bodycount (x) ice-t (x) music (x) rap-metal-fusion-rock (x)

#music #hip-hop hiphop (x) music (x)

Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

Buy the bundle, get good games, support the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund


#Tabletop #RPGs #ComputerGames
#Tabletop #RPGs #ComputerGames ComputerGames (x) RPGs (x) Tabletop (x)

#BLM #BlackLivesMatter BlackLivesMatter (x) BLM (x)

#music #hip-hop

YouTube: Police State (dead prez - Topic)

#music #hip-hop hip-hop (x) music (x)

My heroes didn’t tolerate Nazis. I don’t either.
Image/Photo
Image/Photo

Gary Clark, Jr on Howard Stern

Props to Howard Stern. This is the first time I've heard him perform him live where it wasn't censored. #music #GaryClarkJr #bluesrock
#music #GaryClarkJr #bluesrock bluesrock (x) garyclarkjr (x) music (x)

#music #GaryClarkJr #bluesrock bluesrock (x) garyclarkjr (x) music (x)

#ThisLand #Gar #music #GaryClarkJr #bluesrock bluesrock (x) garyclarkjr (x) music (x)

Tabletop QOTD 2020-05-23

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Which games that you liked when you were first exposed to them do you feel less enthused about now? Which games that you disliked when you were first exposed to them do you feel more enthusiastic about now? What changed your mind?

When I first played Cards against Humanity and others like it, I liked the social experience. But being the non-social person that I am, I like to interact with the rules more than just the social aspects, so I find that it now is more of a job to play than an enjoyable diversion.

I have fond memories of D&D, but left it behind a while ago. So when the idea of OSR games came about, I was less than enthusiastic about them. Kevin Crawford single-handedly changed my mind, and made me look at OSR as it is- bring older sensibilities in gaming back to the fore but with the benefit of newer design concepts.


#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
19 comments - Show more...
Pathfinder. For a long time 3.x was my preferred D&D because it was easy to design for. Pathfinder came along and buffed it up (and I admit, I was somewhat cheesed with how WotC botched 4e -- 3e marketing was great, 4e marketing was underpants gnomes all the way down and they lost me).

Then it went to 11 and got crunchier and crunchier with more exceptions to remember. It became something I no longer wanted to play because of the expertise required. I went back to old school games.

That said, I do still mine Pathfinder for other game projects. Just because it's more fiddly than I want to play doesn't mean it's not a good place to get ideas for other systems.
GURPS. When they announced D&D 4 was coming down the pipeline, we jumped ship and bought into GURPS. But, because we didn't game very often, we never really figured out how to do GURPS the right way. This meant we spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME flailing around in the rules book vs. time playing fluidly. That's more on us than the rules, but there are LOTS of rules. We finally realized that if we stuck to the basic stuff, we didn't have nearly as many issues with it. But it took a while to figure that out. Plus, it just has a different feel than other engines we knew at the time.

I bought the core books for D&D 4 years later, but I have never played it. My read of the rules made it seem like they drifted too far into video game territory. D&D 5 seems to have corrected most of what I disliked there, but not 100% (mostly around things that reset immediately at the end of a combat sequence).

D&D 3.x had too much reliance on miniatures. I enjoy miniatures -- to a point. But you basically couldn't do combat in D&D 3x without them, due to how many things relied on knowing exactly where things were. Feats, primarily. Oh and gods there were too many feats and prestige classes!

Tabletop QOTD 2020-05-19

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

What is the pettiest reason that you've ever passed on or gave up on a game?

I wanted a Kickstarter project, but was in on too many at the time to spend the money. I messaged the person asking if I pledged $1 would I be able to get in on the pledgemanager and still get the stretch goals. He said that they'd have the same offerings in the pledgemanager after the project. Apparently there was some communication issue, because they didn't have that in the pledgemanager, so I got disgusted with the whole thing and just passed.


#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
10 comments - Show more...
I passed on playing several different versions of the same home-brew RPG some friends cooked up. It was a fantasy game and they'd tried to basically make it possible to play any class you could possibly imagine -- from farmer to wizard to whatever.

This was a train wreck. Each class had a set of specific skills with names. But there was NEVER a single description written for those skills. And so I'd pick up a character, choose some profession/class/whatever that seemed legit, spend my skill points based on what the skills were named, and then find that they were useless in any situation I could find. Asking "what do these skills mean?" would lead to vague waffling that didn't actually tell me anything. But the moment I'd try to use those skills, I'd be told that they didn't work that way.

I got fed up and quit. I hated not being able to understand my own character's abilities.
Tbh this doesn't sound petty at all, it's a totally legitimate reason to quit a game
@Eric Franklin No, perhaps not, but I'm generally not an especially petty person, I don't think, and not buying 5e because of his presence is at least more petty than not buying books he actually worked on.

Tabletop QOTD 2020-05-15

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Has the advent of affordable 3d printing tools affected your gaming at all?

I haven't actually bought a 3d printer yet- I use thingiverse to print what I need. But it's getting to the point that I am looking at one. I've been getting a lot of use out of printing scenery for games, extra (or improved) pieces for games, and other accessories for the table.


#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
17 comments - Show more...
FDM printers don't have that curing time issue - but they're still not fast.
Just made me very tempted to get a printer. Along with that I really regret not getting a laser cutter back when I could afford it. Deanna and I looked into and and strongly considered it and decided against it. Looking at what people charge at cons and even on Etsy for the stuff I think it would have been a very good investment. I don't think a 3d printer would pay off as well, not now that so many people are already in that market. It would just be nice to be able to print my own stuff instead of paying someone else to do it.

#CoronaVirus #humor coronavirus (x) humor (x)

Tabletop QOTD 2020-05-09

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Last time we talked about layout, design, etc as distinct from playability. How about we focus on artwork? If the product uses stock art, are you more likely to dismiss it?

As long as the art is good, and tastefully presented, I don't usually discount something because of artwork. If I recognize a piece from somewhere, it might catch my attention. However, good artwork does have a way of conveying the initial reaction to the book, and I think for that, you have to have the artwork tailored to the work- especially the cover.


#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
9 comments - Show more...
heh, Thilo (Endzeitgeist) has called me on it, even. Something along the lines of "doesn't have much art, but swirls and other pictures really wouldn't add much, and would in fact interfere with the elegant simplicity of the presentation".
And I have to admit, it tickles me when I recognize stock art. Not in the "oh, that looks generic" sense, but to the point of identifying which stock art it is (publisher and artist). For instance, it made my week when I saw the (previous; they redesigned it) menu at Storm Crow Tavern, and realized the art was all by William McAusland.

Tabletop QOTD 2020-05-02

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

How important are the layout, graphic design, and typography of a game, as distinct from its playability? Have these elements strongly influenced your positive or negative reaction to particular games?

There was a point where a game with very good production values would draw my attention before others. But I've been burned a few times by games that look good, but don't play good. They end up 'looking good' on the shelf, rather than being in play. So I like to think I've evolved beyond that, though editing and typography have made me put down games before I've ever gotten them to the table.



#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
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It varies. Some games with dirt cheap or no graphic design are great, and the lack of fancy layout suits the game. Some games have technically great graphic design, yet something about it puts me off. Generally, though, when done right, I do think it enhances the game. Edge of the Empire would not be the same without gorgeous Star Wars art. In Shadowrun, and cyberpunk games in general, the aesthetic of the game adds a lot to the atmosphere. That said, in many ways I might enjoy the more primitive layout and art of WEG Star Wars and '90s FASA Shadowrun more.
"How important are the layout, graphic design, and typography of a game, as distinct from its playability"

The key here is playability,

I want to be able to read the cards in whatever zone they need to be read in. For example if I only need to read the cards in zone one (my hand) then the font can be small and there can be lots of flavour text and information on them. If I need to read them in zone 4 (the comunal play area) they better be large text and or symbols that I can easily see from across the board.

Now as for distinct from playability, for board games I care more than I would like to think. I've been playing a growing number of prototype copies of games as I get more involved in tabletop game reviews and playtesting and there's a distinctly different feel and level of enjoyment from playing something with abstract functional components to playing something fully artistically realized. Graphic design, layout and typography should tie everything together and should express the theme of the game. Distinct styles should be used for different elements of the game to separate them during play. And more of all none of that should affect playability (to bring things full circle).

Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-28

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Do you game with kids? Yours or other people's? What do you play with them?

I don't anymore. My youngest just turned 19, so I'm not allowed to call her a 'kid' anymore. But I played with them when they were younger. Mostly boardgames- they liked Carcassone, Once Upon a Time, Storydice, and my youngest liked Hive and Hey, That's my Fish.

But other than that, just the staples- Risk, Monopoly, Life, and a lot of other Parker Brothers games, and card and dice games (they loved Spoons, Farkle, and Golf).

I've rarely played with other people's kids- only when my kids had their friends over and actually wanted to hang around the adults.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
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We just tried an 8+ game with our 5 year old: Rollecate. Went perfectly. It helps that he's a train nut of course.
My kids, other people's kids, friends kids, strangers kids. I game with kids quite often. I've got I think 5 different articles written about gaming with kids. What to do and what not to do, how to get kids hooked on gaming, etc. As well as a ton of board game recommendations for playing with kids, trying to suggest games that are still fun for adults too.

If anyone wants to check them out here's a link to a sitewide search for kids:
https://tabletopbellhop.com/?s=kids

The best games are the games where the players have actual choices and there are consequences for those choices. So I try to avoid deterministic games like Candyland and purely random games like Snakes and Ladders.

Some really quick suggestions starting from toddler up to teen:

Bingory, Zimbbos!, Laundry Jumble, Monza, Animal Upon Animal, Viva Topo, Mr. Fox, Outfoxed, Kids of Carcassonne, Catan Junior, Ghost Fightin Treasure Hunters, Hey That's My Fish, King of Tokyo, King Me!, Blokus, Qwirkle.

#StarWars #StarWarsDay StarWars (x) StarWarsDay (x)

Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-22

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Do you watch/listen to other people play games? Let's play, twitch, or any other formats?

Sometimes I like reviews, but I get the better feeling for a game watching someone else play. With #RPGs I prefer to listen to podcasts to get the feel of the game, though I have watched a couple of solo sessions of Me, Myself, and Die- mostly because his characterizations are entertaining. But #Boardgames, I have to watch to get the feel of them.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
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I watch a lot of watch it played style tutorial videos but very few actual plays where it's just people playing the game.

I usually watch to remind myself of rules for games I've not played in some time, or to check to see if I played anything wrong.

I do listen to some AP podcasts but those are all closer to radio dramas than actual plays.
I generally do not like watching others play games. The only time I was interested is with the game Techno Bowl. I find a hard time finding players to play this game. I also want to see how other play this game as it allows for a wide variety of different types of plays. It is a football boardgame that plays like you're a coach drawing up plays for your team to execute.

I think that showing how a game plays to an audience in a video needs to really improve. If you look at how poker is shown on TV, you will notice that the audience gets to see the entire state of the game. That includes information hidden from other players, namely the players' hands. All of that information is shown graphically on the screen. The size of the pot, blind level and size of individual bets are also shown graphically on the screen. All of this information is necessary for the audience to understand the state of the game. If you just show a video of the table, the audience will generally have little or no idea what is really going on and it makes it difficult for the audience to appreciate the game.

I've watched videos of Magic: The Gathering. At the time, I wasn't a hardcore player anymore, so when they name certain cards, I have no idea what many of them do. For a MtG broadcast, they really need to do the same thing with poker. They need to graphically show the hands of each player as well as the table state. When a new card is played, they need to pause, show the card and perhaps give an explanation of why that card is played an how it interacts with with is on the board or other cards in a player's deck that has yet to be drawn. This is the information I as a view want in order for me to understand what is going on.

They need to do the same thing with boardgames. Take a game like Ticket to Ride. You need to show the audience each player's hands in a graphic. You need to show the board and state. You need to show the score. The commentary can indicate how close the active player is to completing certain routes. You need to show cards that are draw, etc. A lot of this needs to be shown graphically. TTR is not a very complex game and still needs a decent amount of graphic support for a view to fully appreciate what is happening in the game and to be able to follow the game. So far, I have not seen anything like this in order for me to be interested in watching a play through of the game.

Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-25

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Are there any games that you subjectively just don't find 'fun' that you still play for other reasons?

I've played games that I don't find 'fun' just because I want to hang around in company that I enjoy/because the family wants to play them. The company makes them entertaining- I dont' find the game itself 'fun'. Examples for me are Monopoly, Life, Cards against Humanity.



#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
12 comments - Show more...
Yep, just like that :D
Many Euros. I play because my friend's wife tends to like Euros, so I play them when I game with the couple. I find Euros excite me less and less. The mechanics start to feel the same to me and it is about pulling the right levers at the right time to max your results. The lack of excitement and suspense in most Euros is what makes them generally not so interesting to me.

I do play with a variety of different gaming groups. I do get opportunities to play games I really enjoy. I understand everyone has different tastes and there may be times others play games that I like that they may not like so much. This is a social activity with diverse interests. I play to enjoy the company of others primarily and playing something I really like is secondary.

DMs Guild, Storytellers Vault to Give 100% Revenue to Creators May 4-17

#Tabletop #RPGs

This post goes into all the pertinent details, but the gist of it is that as part of their "Play It Forward" initiative, Dungeon Masters Guild and Storytellers Vault will be waiving their usual fees from sales on those sites, so 100% of money spent will go to the content creators (less printing fees for POD titles).

Additionally, the site will be having a 20% off sale for the duration.
#Tabletop #RPGs RPGs (x) Tabletop (x)

GAMA has created an FLGS locator

#Tabletop #Boardgame #RPG

To help find game stores to support during these challenging times, GAMA has created an FLGS Locator

https://www.gama.org/page/flgs-locator

If you need anything, find an FLGS to patronize!
#Tabletop #Boardgame #RPG Boardgames (x) RPGs (x) Tabletop (x)

Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-17

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

Do you read-through/learn the rules before you play? Or as you play?

For #RPGs I prefer to have done at least a read through of the rules. I'll learn a one-shot on the fly, but I like to have read through at least the more prevalent rules and have made a test character or two. The only time I've seen that I might do otherwise is through PbF, PbEM, and other asynchronous methods. If I'm not GMing, then I have more time to work through the rules as I play.

For #boardgames it seems that the opposite is true. I think nothing of cracking open a game with a group and learning, or learning online as I play through there.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
6 comments - Show more...
That's a big part of it, @Patrick Marchiodi. Boardgames tend to be very prescriptive in their nature, so it's relatively easy to provide instructions. Part of the appeal of roleplaying games is that they are more open-ended. Rules up front can take you only so far.
I don't understand how you can play the game properly without reading through the rules first. Most rule books are not designed to play as you go. There may be a few that are, but they are in the minority.

Where do your game dollars go?

Interesting bit on where your game dollars go when you buy from certain outlets.

#Tabletop #RPGs

Where does your money go when you buy a game?



Over the years I’ve been asked a bunch of times questions like “What’s the best way to make sure you get the most money when I buy your stuff?” And, y’know, I’m me, so I tend to answer it at length.

There always seems to be one detail or another about my (usually very similar) responses that surprises the querent, which is a good reminder to me that despite my own increased understanding of how things work in tabletop games publishing, for many customers and fans it remains a smooth opaque surface with few windows in it.

So today I want to dig into the territory I typically cover when answering this type of question.

To me, it feels pretty relevant during the global quarantine. A lot of creators, publishers, and supporting businesses are struggling during the economic impacts of this, and that has prompted some folks to think a bit more about where their money goes.

So wash your hands and take a seat.

Direct Sales


I could end my answer to the question right here (but I won’t), because this is very often the way to make sure your intended recipient gets the most money from the transaction.

So, buying directly from the publisher or creator themselves (from their own website, in person, etc) very often is the way to go when you’re most concerned about making sure they get the majority of each dollar you spend on their stuff.

Generally the only thing cutting into the transaction itself is the payment processor fee (credit card, paypal, etc). These usually manifest as a small flat fee plus a small percentage (3–5%) cut of the overall total per transaction. The flat fee is the main snag here. It tends to mean that making series of small-dollar purchases of single items leaves the recipient with less money than if you’d put all of those items into your cart and buy them all at once, but once you get past a few dollars as the pricetag on each item, the flat fee isn’t that big of a percentage of the overall total.

After the transaction’s done, there are fulfillment costs. These are the costs of actually delivering the goods purchased to you.

If you buy digital stuff, the fulfillment costs are incredibly low; however much it costs to run the website for your specific interaction with it and push the modest amount of bandwidth needed so you can download the items. (Please make local, backed-up-to-the-cloud copies when you can; each time you re-download increases that bandwidth variable just a little.)

If you buy physical stuff, there are a few more variables, most of which have a pricetag. Key considerations are * How much of the actual shipping costs are you picking up, and how much is the seller subsidizing that shipping cost so you don’t have to (free shipping isn’t free, it’s just free to you)? * Are they doing the shipping themselves (spending more time on fulfillment) or are they paying a third party to ship to you (spending more money on fulfillment)? * What’s the cost to the seller of maintaining the inventory so you can buy it? (Storage fees here, plus some tax considerations around held inventory; plus, they have to spend to manufacture the physical units in the first place.)

Even with those slices into the costs, it’s often true that physical products remain king. They usually have a higher pricetag, so direct-sales revenue of physical items tends to be pretty great, which is one reason why Evil Hat sells its physical books with the electronic versions included for free; it produces a greater incentive for folks to buy the physical item.

Recipients: Creators and Publishers


As I talk about the receipients of your expenditures, I should ask you: who do you think the recipient is?

If the creator of the thing you want is not the same as the publisher you want, and your agenda is solely about making sure the creator gets the most possible money… you shouldn’t really stop at buying the thing they made, even if it’s direct. That creator was either paid a fee for the creative work up front (or upon publication, which is not as good), before it got turned by a publisher into an actual product, or will get a royalty percentage which is near always less than (likely far less than) half of what you paid for the thing.

If the publisher is doing work you want to see continue, great, buying direct from them when possible is a good strategy. Hopefully they’ll continue to hire the designers you like for future projects, thanks to your money. Publishing isn’t a low-cost endeavor by any means. One way or another, Evil Hat spends the majority of every dollar it gets on being able to continue to function, launch new projects, pay more creative folk.

If the creator is a big concern for you (and I’d argue they should be), look for ways that get them money more directly (their patreon, their publicized paypal donation link, etc). Creative work is a tough way to go. It’s a buyer’s market, and within gaming the margins and total sales dollars are low enough that that means it’s hard to muster the economic capacity to increase what the designers end up with. At Evil Hat we still try to make those increases when we can, while acknowledging that the costs of taking a design into product form (artwork, manufacture, fulfillment, maintenance, et al) tend to significantly exceed the costs of making that design in the first place.

Plus a lot of design work is not salaried, it’s freelanced project-by-project, which means that unless the designer keeps a constantly full plate with paychecks resulting at regular intervals from those projects in aggregate… the income’s just not regular or reliable. Income from other sources – whether that’s a day job (reducing the time to design) or some flavor of crowdfunding/donation support – is key for keeping the creatives in gaming afloat. So if you’re able to be one of those other sources, it can have a big impact for them.

I’ll continue to talk about recipients and publishers below, meaning both creator-publishers and other publishers in aggregate. Just remember to filter that word through this understanding. Not all recipients are the same, and if you’re interested in understanding where your money goes, it’s worth taking the time to figure out who the actual receiving party is.

Kickstarter


Kickstarter lives pretty close to direct sales. Kickstarter itself just adds another 5% cut on top of the payment processing fee, so aside from 8–10% of your payment going to the payment processor and KS, the rest will get routed to whoever’s running the project.

That said a lot of folks who run a Kickstarter don’t have a lot of experience on the manufacture and fulfillment side of things. Experience and (sometimes for a fee) experience surrogates are more available these days than ever, but I still see project runners getting goosed by unexpected cost factors in these two categories.

The more complicated your manufacture is, or the less established your relationship is with your manufacturer, the more there’s a chance that there’s a cost factor in there you didn’t expect, especially if there are multiple refinement rounds. The cost of getting the product delivered to your fulfillment center(s) can vary quite a bit. And in total, shipping to your backers is way expensive and many backers have been trained not to expect to have to pay much for it.

If a projectrunner has a good grip on all of that stuff, then backing for a physical goodie works plenty well; like I said above, physical games are still king. And with the higher pricepoints, your backing is a more significant step towards the project’s funding goal. But given all the potential gotchas, I will often back at a digital-only level, because the manufacture and fulfillment process and costs are much less fraught, especially for a first-timer. And as someone interested in the health of the project-runner, I’m very interested in producing the highest value for the lowest cost to them.

Pledge Managers


Pledge managers have really caught on, largely because Kickstarter continues to lag behind what pledge managers can do to provide robust tools for handling what goes on after a project funds and the campaign phase concludes.

I’ve personally only used Backerkit, but many other options abound. They have a few packages you can buy into (which have changed over the years), which essentially amount to: the bigger of a cut they get of any post-campaign money spent, the less of a percentage of your campaign’s take they’ll ask for as an up-front flat fee. Regardless, the cut they take is only a few percentage points of the campaign’s funding level, plus maybe a few percentage points of whatever you spend after the campaign in the pledge manager itself.

Patreon


Patreon warrants a specific note due to its subscription-style crowdfunding model, as opposed to Kickstarter’s fixed-length campaign model. That said, their fees aren’t that far off the norm, taking around 5% for the site plus whatever the payment processor costs were (sometimes baked into a somewhat larger cut, sometimes externalized in addition to the cut). What Patreon really brings to the mix is the potential for ongoing, semi-predictable (whether upon post/release, or on a monthly ongoing basis) income for the recipient. Ongoing income is really a different beast than “burst/event-based” income like Kickstarter, in terms of its effects for the recipient, but the net dollar amounts are usually quite small.

Itch.io


Itch has emerged recently, particularly in “indie” and creator-centric digital RPG sales, as a potentially interesting marketplace (I still find it difficult to use the site itself for discovery of games, preferring to visit itch when I’m directed to a specific publisher or creator’s branded sub-site, e.g., https://evilhat.itch.io/).

If I’m spending money on a PDF and want to be sure the most money makes it to the intended recipient as possible, itch is a great way to go, because itch lets each publisher set what percentage they get of sales (I believe there’s a minimum amount itch needs to get, but a publisher can always let them have more if there’s a solid reason for that).

In practice this means most publishers are getting a good 90% of sales money from itch, which is in nearly the same space as a direct sale via a Kickstarter or similar.

Beyond that I find that the site is fairly features-light, but as a fast and easy way for a creator to spin up a storefront for their digital wares, getting revenue nearly the same as spinning up their own with no added costs, itch is hard to beat…

DriveThruRPG


… but DriveThruRPG remains the big beast on the block in RPG PDF sales. And by big beast, I mean that they easily represent a good 80–90% of the market for gaming PDFs, if not more. The volume of sales you can do on DriveThru has trounced pretty much any other PDF sales venue (some of which have come and gone) that I’ve seen over the past 15 years.

DriveThru cements its position two big ways.

One is simply due to inertia and momentum: because they’re biggest, they’re good at staying biggest, because being the biggest means that most popular publishers and many others besides sell their stuff there. It’s about as close as you can get to a one-stop shop for gaming PDFs.

The other is the toolsets they offer. As a publisher you can also offer print-on-demand (POD) versions of your books (more about that below), and even POD cards and cardstock items like battlemaps (great for prototyping even if you don’t sell the items publicly). They’ve got some decent sales reporting and promotional tools too.

Both factors come together for their customers, because a) they have the large majority of all RPG publishers on the site, and b) all your past purchases go into a virtual bookshelf, allowing you to recover from, say, a drive failure without losing all your digital gamebooks for good, as well as allowing folks to just download books when they need them without much thought put towards local storage. (I still prefer local + cloud backup to the DriveThru bookshelf, but from listening to my own customers over the years there are plenty of folks who don’t.)

All of which adds up to DriveThru having quite a lock on the PDF segment of the market. Which is why they charge a lot more than, for example, Itch.

If a publisher agrees to be exclusive with DriveThru, listing PDF products nowhere else (I think there may be an exception for the publisher’s own website, if applicable), DriveThru gets a 30% cut. If it’s not exclusive, DriveThru gets a 35% cut. This can be blunted, slightly, if the publisher is good about providing a referral code in any links around the internet to their stuff on DriveThru; there’s a 5% kickback on “referred” purchases. But regardless, it’s a big cut.

In my opinion, you shouldn’t feel bad about this. If DriveThru’s tools are useful to you, it follows that it’s okay (even good) to pay them for developing and maintaining those tools as well as a site that’s available to you and able to push the bandwidth needed for all those downloads. The bigger a company is, the more robust the service offered, the higher the costs of just existing. It’s okay to pay both them and the publisher for the game you just bought — just don’t tell yourself that the publisher is getting more than 65–75% of what you’re spending.

Print on Demand at DriveThru (and elsewhere)


A quick note about print-on-demand stuff. When you’re buying POD, by and large you’re paying the folks manufacturing the physical product. The only way a publisher makes money on POD is through the mark-up on top of the (high, in a per-unit sense) manufacturing cost. So while POD can look like a direct sale, it’s really not.

On DriveThru, it’s only the mark-up that gets divvied up via the percentage agreement. So if I, a non-exclusive publisher, sold you a $20 POD item there that behind-the-scenes cost $10 to print a single unit, then the remaining $10 would be $6.50 to me and $3.50 to DriveThru. The POD printer would get $10 (plus what you paid for shipping) to go towards their actual costs of manufacture and getting the item shipped to you.

Distribution, the Funnel into Retail


Distribution is the term for the middle-men in game sales, situated between publishers and retailers. Their job is to provide a single source for the games of many publishers, so a retailer can place a single order to get most of the stuff they need from their store, rather than buying publisher-by-publisher, and saving on shipping fees.

Publishers sell their stuff to distributors for typically 40% of the cover price of a book. Distributors sell to retailers what they get from publishers at a price that’s between 50% and 60% of the cover price.

So, the distributors are making between 10–20% of the cover price, the retailer is making 40–50% of the cover price (less discounts offered to secure your purchase), and the publisher is making 40% of the cover price regardless of how discounted your purchase is. In fact, it’s largely the case that the publisher already made that 40% some time before you make your decision to buy their item from a retailer, the way things work.

It can be tempting to look at that and think, hell, why ever do anything other than buy direct? But a publisher is “buying” a lot of reach and, potentially, support with that 60% they’re not getting. For Evil Hat, a large majority of our income is from distribution sales, even if we’re only getting 40% of the cover price on each sale. And if we lost this sales channel (which, during COVID shutdowns, we nearly have), other sales sources (especially digital, which can continue to operate with little trouble) simply don’t make up for what we’d lose. Our stuff would be in front of fewer customers, and would sell less, which would lead to us making less stuff. Bit of a snowball there.

More to come on this piece of the puzzle in the next several sections.

Consolidators


I don’t have any personal experience with consolidators, but here’s the gist.

As a publisher selling to retailers, I take purchase orders from each distributor that wants to sell our stuff, make sure the folks handling our warehoused inventory for us (Alliance, as it happens) ship them what they ordered, and invoice them so we can get paid within a couple months (and chase them down when they don’t pay on time).

I don’t mind this work. Some publishers do.

For those publishers, a consolidator condenses the whole distro-retail pipeline to a single party (and cynically, to a single potential point of failure).

In essence, consolidators act as middle-men to the middle-men. Where distributors sell to individual retailers (so a publisher doesn’t have to make each of those connections and hope there’s enough interest to make a shipment worth it with each of them), consolidators sell to individual distributors, handle storing product and shipping it out to distributors as orders come in.

As I understand it, for this service consolidators generally charge about 10% of cover, so a publisher’s cut drops from 40% to 30% when using a consolidator. Those prices may have shifted around since I last learned of them, so if you’re a publisher reading this and you want this, do your research.

For my math, losing a quarter of my distribution revenue in order to not have to deal directly with each distributor is not good math. But each publisher’s capacity varies in flavor and magnitude, so that’s far from universal.

IPR (Indie Press Revolution)


IPR is a wonderful and weird hybrid. For its publisher clients, IPR is a distributor, a direct sales site, and a route for convention presence. They operate on a consignment basis, which is to say that publishers own the inventory that’s stored with them, and IPR pays when it sells one of those copies.

As a distributor and convention presence, IPR offers slightly better terms, paying publishers 44% of cover when they sell a game in either of those contexts. IPR retains 11%; their retailer clients buy the game at 55% of cover price.

As a direct-to-customer sales website, IPR pays publishers 80% of the list price for PDF sales, and 70% of cover price for physical sales. These percentages being as high as they are have made them a viable option for small publishers who don’t have the time or resources to commit to running and maintaining a website store of their own.

Outside of the numbers themselves, IPR is useful to small-scale indie publishers with physical products, because IPR is oriented on exactly those sorts of publishers, whereas a number of large distributors won’t have any interest in doing so. As a result, IPR is sometimes the only opportunity an indie has for getting their games onto gamestore shelves. Evil Hat started with IPR, and they’ve done right by us for over a decade.

(At the time of this writing, IPR also remains open and operational during the global quarantine. They’re located in the middle of a desert in Nevada; really isolated, and as a shipping company, designated essential by the state.)

So IPR getting a smallish chunk of your money (11–30% depending on the who, what, and where) as part of a purchase through them, whatever the context? Yeah, worth it. You’re supporting a business that’s truly valuable to a bunch of publishers at the smaller end of things.

Friendly Local Game Stores (Brick & Mortar Retailers)


As noted above, game stores are typically buying items from distributors at between 50% and 60% of the cover price. These sorts of seemingly big discounts are necessary for retailers to do business.

The margin retailers can make as profit on a sale goes towards to be able to pay rents and salaries, and to take the occasional risk on new games, re-buy games that do sell, and offer modest-sized discounts to their customers.

That margin also shores up those gambles that don’t pay off. By the time a game is on a shelf at a book-store, the publisher who produced that game has already been paid for it. But if a retailer buys a copy of a game and it doesn’t sell, they have to rely on the sale of other items to absorb that sunk cost. If they buy a copy of a game and it does sell, that’s also where they get the money to buy it again.

As a publisher, initial orders are great, but repeat orders are superb. And remember, for Evil Hat, distribution (which relies on retailers to buy publishers’ stuff) is the majority of our company’s income.

So, yeah. Buying a game from a retailer is mainly about supporting that retailer; they’re getting about half of the money you’ve spent for themselves, while the other half goes towards covering the expense they’ve already paid to have what you’re buying in stock. A healthy, supported retailer in turn extends the reach of publishers to customers who might not otherwise know about them, and that’s what drives future and ongoing sales, keeping many a game company afloat.

So especially in times of economic crisis, support your local game store! Your money goes towards preventing the collapse of the ecosystem that allows our hobby to thrive.

Amazon (and other online-only retailers, to an extent)


Amazon and other online-only deep discounters leverage their lower-than-a-physical-store’s running costs by selling games (and other things) at discounts that put the sale price much closer to what they paid for it, themselves. This can and often does undermine brick and mortar retailers, who can’t afford to give up that much margin if they want to survive. They can also afford to do things which would, in terms of subsidized expense, kill smaller businesses (and they often end up doing exactly that), and they can also afford to treat their workers poorly.

But hey, free shipping, am I right?

Evil Hat’s stuff on Amazon gets there via a single Amazon-focused distributor called Flat River. Flat River buys our stuff at the distribution rate, like all our other distributor clients do. They just sell to a different kind of retailer.

And, really, I can’t ignore the revenue benefits of getting our stuff onto Amazon: fairly consistently, Flat River is our largest single source of revenue each year, beating out the largest national games distributor, Alliance by at least a little. Add up all the distributors selling to brick & mortar retailers, and the brick & mortars are in aggregate still doing better for us overall.

When we added Amazon as a customer of ours through Flat River, our revenue from the other distributors didn’t drop that much at all. That’s a strong indicator that Amazon is also reaching customers that won’t buy from a local game store, or can’t because there simply isn’t one near at all, or at least one that carries what they’re actually interested in. Which… makes them even less ignorable.

So while their discounts and free shipping inject a certain amount of poison into the overall picture of gaming retail, Amazon is also getting games where they can’t otherwise go, and serving customers who might not be able to buy games otherwise, for whatever reason.

Still, in terms of putting the most good into the world with your dollars, they should be the last option you consider. Money that’s needed to maintain the health of the hobby’s industry (see all of the above) ends up staying in your pocket instead.

And, hey, if that’s the way you need to go, I get it. Being able to pay more than you strictly have to for games is a privilege that many simply don’t have.

4000 Words And You Still Haven’t Given Me a Quick Reference, Fred


Well, that’s true. Thing is, I really, really like to make sure that when I’m sharing facts that I’m also covering the context in which those facts operate. So, I made you read or at least scroll through all of that valuable context crap first. Sorry not sorry.

Still, here’s your quick reference.

I’m buyingFromSo the publisher gets
PDF or Physical The Publisher 95-97%
PDF or Physical Kickstarter 90-92%
PDF or Physical A Pledge Manager 90-92%
PDF or Physical Patreon 90-92%
PDF Publisher’s itch.io 90%
PDF DriveThruRPG 65-70%
Print on Demand DriveThruRPG 65-70% of what remains after deducting the cost of manufacture.
PDF IPR Website 80%
Physical IPR Website 70%
Physical IPR at a game convention 44%, plus making sure the publisher’s stuff continues to show up at conventions
Physical Local game store or online retailer 40% (or 44% if supplied by IPR) or 30% if sold into distribution through a consolidator; supported stores help in other ways long term.
Physical Amazon 40% in the least best way, but hey, free shipping!

Image/Photo

http://www.deadlyfredly.com/2020/04/where-does-your-money-go-when-you-buy-a-game/
#Tabletop #RPGs RPGs (x) Tabletop (x)

Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-19

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

How do you feel about the idea of virtual conventions?

During this pandemic, we're having to figure out different ways to continue to the hobby. Not just in the keeping the regular sessions going, but in our other activities- like conventions. There have been a few so far: GaryCon went virtual. FnordCon is virtual going on right now on https://discord.gg/7sPjhRU. Cyclops Con (Goodman Games) is also online this weekend - https://tabletop.events/conventions/cyclops-con. Kobold Con is May 1-3, Tabletop's Con of Champions (raising money to support Tabletop.Events) is also coming in May.


I tried out FnordCon this weekend, and it was actually the first con I've gone to in a while. The great thing about this one was that there were no registration costs, so I could try it out risk free (as opposed to Cyclops Con, which is the reason I didn't choose that one).

It's definitely more accessible- no hotel costs, no food costs, no travel costs, and able to just jump on and off. There's definitely a loss in the sights and the non-hobbyists that you see there, and a certain energy is lost. There was a dealer room, and the dealers were not shy about saying how this was the best experience that they had at cons money wise, and the ability to engage with their customers without other concerns that you have on the con floor were very much appreciated. Also, being able to jump around between rooms without the travel time and the uncertainty of where an event was, and the press of people trying to get good seats was a definite plus. And even before the pandemic, I'd always get some sort of ConCrud that I'd carry home with me after the event- that's not a consideration here.

But I haven't been able to go because of monetary and/or scheduling issues in more than 10 years, so the pros for me definitely outweighed the cons.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
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@check Dee see I find that odd, they have been all over my social media feeds going back to the G+ days. I would have sworn that the organizer of Aether Con contacted very gamer on G+ asking them to take part back when it first got started. I ended up having to block the guy because he wouldn't give up :D

Aethercon was big enough it got featured in Wired magazine in 2012

In addition to gaming, there were panels, meet and greets, publisher speed dating and even a online dealer hall. Everything that a normal con would have just in the virtual.
@Moe Tousignant - odd or not, it's my experience, and apparently the experience of others on this thread if the feedback is any inidcation. I've been involved heavily in gaming and at least took a look into everything offered, and was heavily on G+ (enough so my archives of G+ groups I was in is a couple of GB in size). Other than that, my heavy social media was RPGGeek. And in neither of those did I see this mentioned.

How much is a human life worth?

#Coronavirus #Politics
#Coronavirus #Politics coronavirus (x) politics (x)


Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-15

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

If while playing a game you come across a rule that's either unclear or broken, how do you handle it during that play?

The answer is the same for me for both #Boardgames and #RPG - unless it's debilitating or will completely make the game not fun, play through the best that we can, and figure it out later. If it's something that we can't play through, then if it's an RPG and I'm GMing, I'll just make a ruling and figure it out later. If it's a boardgame, if someone has a strong opinion, that's usually it for the night- the conversations take so long that we end up never getting back to the game.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
8 comments - Show more...
This is another topic we've covered on the blog.
https://tabletopbellhop.com/gaming-advice/bad-game-rulebook/

Now a days we look it up. Actually it's a bit of a game within a game where everyone grabs their mobile device and it's a race to see who can find the proper answer first.

I still remember the days of having to mail away to a company to get an official rules clarification. I've still got a letter from the Mail Order Trolls at Games Workshop, all the way from the UK clarifying some rules for Talisman that we found ambiguous back in the 80s

How times have changed.
Roleplaying games, ideally spend just a short time on it and then make a ruling, come back later if needed. If it's wrong, well the world is strange sometimes.

Board games, we try to puzzle it out. First by what's written, then by what we reckon is consistent with other rules and expressed intent. If we're wrong it usually becomes evident (such as the time we played Carcosa and Ian beat our asses... turns out you don't score under the circumstances he racked up all his points -- but you do in Carcassonne, so we guessed wrong. We fixed it next time), if we're right it plays out fine. Either way we come to a solution and move on, and look it up after. If we can't, figure out an acceptable solution for that play, we bail on it and play something else.

Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-13

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

What percentage of the time do you play the same games vs trying something new?

Most of the times for #BoardGames and #RPGs we just play the same things. I'd love to try new games, but in general, when we try a new boardgame, we never get through with it, and never pick it up again. As far as RPGs, I only play online, and though those were new when we started, the campaigns are all several years old.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
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I try new RPGs all the time. The kinds of games I like tend to be for one shots, and the rules are explained right before playing (it's almost never a problem). I rarely do campaigns (or, for that matter, anything that isn't one shots).

I don't have a stable group either, but there are many people I have played with many times (with different group configurations).

@Chuck Dee @Charles M @Craig Maloney @Curt Thompson @Douglas Bailey @Eric Franklin @frasersimons @Jesse Butler @Joseph Teller @Keith Davies @Marsha B @Martijn Vos @Martin Ralya @Moe Tousignant @Nathan V @Patrick Marchiodi @PresGas (OSR) Aspect @silverwizard @Stephen Gunnell @Stuntman
Due to being a tabletop content creator there's always the push to talk about something new which is part of why I got into doing this. While I'm not at all about the new hotness, I don't care if a game is hot or new, I do love trying new games.

Given the choice to learn a new game or play something I know I will almost always try something new. Now that said I do try to play that something new about 5 times before making a judgement on it, though some games I know right away they aren't for me after 1 play.

The main problem with this is that my wife, the person I game with the most is the exact opposite. She would always prefer to play something she already knows how to play. She hates learning new games. So this is a constant "fight" in our house.

It's especially difficult with having to isolate due to COVID-19. Normally I get my new game fix on the weekend when I run public play events. I get to try the new stuff with the general public and Deanna can play stuff she knows already. Also I get my fix in so when it's the two of us sitting down to play I don't mind picking up something we both already know.

Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-11

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

We know that the current COVID-19 crisis will hit our hobby hard. What are you doing to help support your favourite tabletop publishers and designers during this time?

Supporting on Patreon and Kickstarter. But honestly, I was doing it before that time. I'm just continuing my level of support even through the crisis, though I did add a couple of ones that I'd been on the fence about. Also considering purchases from Pelgrane and Evil Hat that I was planning to put off- I know that they aren't shipping, but I'll have the PDFs. And I've got a backlog so long that it's ridiculous so I'll probably not read them before they start shipping in any case.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
7 comments - Show more...
Alright, I'll see if there's anything I need to order. Probably through that shop.
Unfortunately not much. Our income has taken a huge hit so there isn't any room in the budget to help out others, we are just trying to make due with what we have.

What I have been doing is trying to promote the things I can on social media. If the local store has a sale or is doing curbside I share it. If a publisher has a sale I share it. If a write is putting out their stuff free or cheap during this period I promote it.

That's about all I can do at this point.

Tabletop QOTD 2020-04-07

Borrowing from the idea of the Pluspora Check-in get some tabletop conversation going. If you have any questions that you want to get on the list to be asked, let me know. Also, if you'd like to be added or taken off the list of participants, let me know.

How do you prefer to learn a new game?

Roleplaying games, I love to read. I realize that some nuances might not be understood in that fashion, so changes might be required, but I don't really like to have things explained as a whole- reading the RPG is one of the necessary things to me.

Boardgames, I don't mind as much. I've learned quite a few from being explained- but I like having that done during play to learn by experience. Rules without that experience of being during play don't really stick in my memory.

#Tabletop #QOTD

@Eric Franklin
@frasersimons
@Board Games Forum
@Curt Thompson
@Douglas Bailey
@Jesse Butler
@Keith Davies
@Martin Ralya
@Martijn Vos
@Nathan V
@Marsha B
@Stuntman
@Moe Tousignant
@PresGas (OSR) Aspect
@Craig Maloney
@Patrick Marchiodi
@Nathan Norway
@silverwizard
@Stephen Gunnell
@Joseph Teller
@Charles M
6 comments - Show more...
I like to read the rules. I do so to also learn the rulebook. In the event that we need to look something up, being familiar with the rulebook helps me find the rule I need to look up faster.
I read rules cover to cover, the first time always. Doesn't matter if it's a 5 page board game rulebook or a 400 page RPG tome.

For most games I read the rules once. I then punch the components and get things organized, then review the rules once. Then play.

Always after the first play re-read the rules and find out what I did eXtreme, as your first play of any game is always going to be eXtreme as there will be something you mess up.

About 5 plays or two weeks later go back and re-read the rules again to see if there's anything else that was missed.

I like to use videos for refreshers. When it's been a month or years since I've played a game but I mostly remember what's going on. I put the video on at 2x speed and just make sure I haven't forgotten anyt