A Big Fat Load of RPGs

Conventional wisdom suggests that making and selling and consuming micro RPGs is all going pretty well. People make them, publish them and sell them for zero, two, five, ten or twelve dollars and people are happy to pay that for those things.

I am never a fan of conventional wisdom.

So a suggestion for all my micro-RPG writers out there: a big fat load of micro RPGs in one book. I’m thinking of calling it something like 1d20 Games, and we try to have 20 games in it. Each between say 6 and 10,000 words. Then we kickstart the whole shebang and make it real purty and printable. Get your game out as something you can put on a shelf. And if it takes off like crazy well then hell, we do it again next year. Like how anthologies gather the year’s best horror and fantasy short stories and such, so as it ends up on the shelf next to novels instead of getting ignored.

I’m throwing this idea out very casually because it’s just an idea as yet, but I’m deadly serious about following it through. I’ll write all 20 RPGs myself if need be. On the other hand, maybe you’ve been looking for a reason to finish something. Maybe you’ve got a threeforged game you’d like to publish. Maybe you’ve made something for free and figure it’s worth charging for but never quite got over that hump of publishing. Maybe together is easier than apart.

If you’ve got thoughts on this, I want to hear them. If you’ve got games to submit to it, I want to know.


13 thoughts on “A Big Fat Load of RPGs

  1. This was done for the French market, for example here : olivier.fanton.free.fr/RR2/ an anthology for the best 10 games created in 24 hours.
    However, there doesn’t seem to be a follow-up, because such competitions (game-chef alike) are not renewed every year. And even if they are, the games proposed are in .pdf form, meaning the “best-of” compilation/anthology is also in .pdf. Hence, having it printed boils down to only a print-on-demand service.

    Except if, of course, you request that all writers create all-original games that were never online.

    Also, customers want quality. If a unique writer – or you – is writing all 20 games, could you guarantee they’re the best ? That they would trust the first 20 places in a competition?

    Of course, there are other angles ; “20 games written by XX” – XX being extremely famous and having a cult-like following (Robin Laws, Sembieda, etc.). Or “20 games by Australian Designers”.

    Lastly, you have to ask yourself what is interesting in micro-games. you read micro-games because of their new ideas and concepts. So each of the 20 games better be revolutionary. And the same next year.

    Most micro-games are actually not played ; maybe even play one (or two) sessions, but then it’s over. And you have to learn new rules (or new concepts) to play the next micro-game. These are appetizers; not main courses; they do not provide enough food for a campaign. Regarding commercial success, why does White Wolf sell loads of sourcebooks? Because every sourcebook enlarges the WoD universe, and avoid to the GM the task of creating new things himself. On the contrary, micro-games…

    Just my two cents

  2. I agree with much of what Rappar notes above. Having a clear ‘brand’ will make it an easier sell. I hope it’s not “20 Games by Australian Designers” as that would exclude me! But a good hook or theme will be essential. I also agree that the games will all need to be really special – revolutionary is a strong word, but I think it does give an indication of what would make this a unique anthology of small-press games worthy of supporting.

    None of that is meant to dissuade anyone from giving this a go. It can and should be done!

  3. I guess for me if I could spend $30 on ten or twenty games I’d rather do that than spend $5 on one because buyer’s remorse is about products not amounts. $5 for something I never run is much worse than $30 for something I only run one tenth of.

  4. Also, the 24hr challenge runs most years in the US and Australia, Game Chef has run like ten years straight, more. I don’t know maybe the French are too relaxed and continental for this rapid pace stuff…:D

    • I see the concept and I see it’s interest, let’s improve it. šŸ™‚
      The obstacles I see are twofold:
      1) “Why would I pay for something that it pdf-free on the Net? Because it’s printed? Where’s the added value?”
      2) “this is only an appetizer, and not original content”
      Here’s the trick to answer both.
      – Having the experience of translated your Daughter of Exile; having it augmented, written a introduction scenario; edited it; illustrated it; and discussed some issues and above all, taking the reviews into account, everyone can safely state that both in style and substance, the Second Edition is better than the first one. šŸ˜‰ Be it only because we had more time to (re)write it šŸ™‚
      – similarly, one winner of Game Chef (2011 or 2012) – “90 minutes” – is improved by its author to version 1.3.

      Hence, 3 issues are addressed :
      – guarantee of quality : you publish the best games of games competitions. And, as we both have been jury in such championships, we know that the top 10 games deserve their position. šŸ™‚
      – originality : sure, the draft is free. But you requested the authors to provide an enhanced version. Which they’ll easily do, thanks to the edit work the reviewers have already done! šŸ™‚ and they have more time to polish the second edition to shininess… šŸ™‚
      – length and depth (transforming an appetizer into a main dish) : raise the word-count limit. The authors were forced to cut down to the bare bones, let them re-flesh it.

      The end product is sufficiently different from the first draft, that it deserves being bought, and has a kind of high-quality tag to it. The basic concept is still strong, indie, and not bastardized into swathes of sourcebooks šŸ™‚

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