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RPGaDay2020 Has Been an Experience

31 days later I can say that RPGaDay2020 has been an experience. It’s been a long time since I’ve attempted to be a daily RPG blogger. This challenge brought back all of the mixed feelings from that time, a dozen years ago and more. It reminded me of why I enjoyed it. At the same time, it dredged up all of the reasons why I quit.

As a working writer, there is already pressure to be constantly creating and publishing. If I don’t release new content on a regular basis, I don’t eat. The difference is that I know what a project is going to be when I go into it. I have an outline, and I know what needs to be written. Whether it takes days, weeks, or months to complete, I have some sort of foundation.

Doing a daily blog, even with a prompt, means having to regularly make something up on the fly. It’s a wonderful creative challenge, but it’s stressful. It can also be crushing when you do have a good idea and pour your heart into it, but no one responds to it or even reads it. With a book that doesn’t sell well, there’s at least a long tail. I can throw it into a bundle and pick up enough sales over time to make it worthwhile. For an RPGaDay challenge, people are pretty much going to read the post for that day, on that day, or never read it at all.

Am I going to continue? Yes, but not daily. I think what I want to say can probably be filtered into a weekly column. There are things that I want to talk about, and now that I’ve found my voice for this era of tabletop roleplaying, you may have a hard time getting me to shut up.

RPGaDay2020 Has Been an Experience

RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.

 

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Why Can’t We Have a Decent RPG Portal?

For brief, shining moments of time I remember having a worthwhile RPG portal. Spaces that were civil, fun, and lively. Some people would argue that those places still exist. They’ll point to RPGNet, or some Facebook group, or even Reddit. There was a time when I was incredibly active on Big Purple. I was a minor presence on a couple of large groups on Blue Evil. And I’ve lurked on an RPG subreddit. In the early days of the RPG Bloggers Network I was right in there. The same things drove me away from all of them.

It’s not a problem exclusive to tabletop roleplaying. Some of it stems from the fact that I’m not an internet native, and my standards for behavior are roots in the Real World of the Before Times. I just can’t handle the rudeness, the cruelty, and the willful ignorance. A couple of times I tried to launch my own portal, but the biggest problems weren’t technical or financial. It was moderating people unwilling or unable to act like decent human beings.

When I say “portal”, I’m talking about a one-stop shop. All systems, all settings, all styles of play. People swapping ideas, and being respectful of people that don’t like exactly the same things you do. But this is 2020. I may as well ask Santa Claus to bring me a pony.

Why Can’t We Have a Decent RPG Portal?

RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.

 

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Don’t Be Taken for a Ride

Having been involved in the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, and lurker around various sub-communities of RPG Twitter, I wonder why the latter isn’t more like the former. The writing community has both seasoned pros and aspiring newbees. There are people from every genre and niche. All of them share a love of writing. There may be occasional drama, but it gets put down quickly. Everyone looks out for one another, helps each other. They keep each other from being taken for a ride by bad agents, publishers, and workshops. Everyone behaves like an adult.

Then there are roleplayers, who are the most cliquish people I’ve ever encountered in my life.

I think the difference is that fiction writers have been around a lot longer than game designers. They all know the struggle. The market is a lot larger, and there’s room for everyone. Clearly my litfic isn’t going to be competition for your scifi, but my the success of your romance isn’t going to unhibit the success of my romance. There’s a recognition that, at least on the author level, this isn’t a zero-sum game.

Fiction isn’t entirely dominated by one publisher and one genre, either. There are many monoliths, not just one Dungeons & Dragons. I think there are more paths to success, and greater understanding that you can define your own. Not everyone wants to be a New York Times bestseller. Some people are over the moon to win an award at a workshop, or to get a piece accepted in a magazine or anthology. And people are happy for them.

I wish people in roleplaying could be more broadly supportive of one another. Allow diversity to exist, and stop trying to force the culture into one direction with bad takes and wrong information. It’s sad, and it’s exhausting.

Don’t Be Taken for a Ride

RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.

 

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RPGaDay2020 is Drawing to a Close

RPGaDay2020 is drawing to a close, and I have some thoughts.

First, I want to say that it’s been fun to just speak my truth. I’d like to think that I’ve said some things people needed to hear. Those weren’t the things people wanted to hear, of course, so no one read them. This being 2020, people are nestled in their echo chambers. Outside opinions are not welcome.

Can We Close the Ideological Wars?

Next, it’s been interesting to see how Edition Wars have evolved into Ideological Wars. To some degree, this is great. The inherent racism and misogyny in Dungeons & Dragons is worth scrutinizing and calling out. Recent issues of harassment, abuse, and ableism need to be brought into the light and discussed. It’s handy when people who deny it’s there pop up on social media, because you know who to block. They can have their “opinion”, and I don’t have to read about it.

That said, however, if you have issues with a company and their product, stop supporting that company and their product. Investing X years of your life playing a game and buying its products does not entitle you to ownership. You sound like the people that want the last 3 Star Wars movies remade, because they feel they’re owed a say due to their loyal fandom. That’s not how this works. If you have issues with Wizards of the Coast or any other company, stop giving them money. Stop providing free publicity for their products by talking about how much fun you have playing them.

Find a non-problematic game by a small press or indie publisher. Like, say, me. Give me your money and support. Or whatever creator you think is underappreciated and doing kick-ass work. Stop griping about the monopoly over the industry out of one side of your mouth, and perpetuating that monopoly out of the other side.  You can buy several PDFs for the price of one D&D hardcover. Write reviews. Tweet about games you like that fit your values.

Nothing Close to Business Sense

Some of this dovetails with ideology. There is magical thinking that because people in this cottage industry deserve to be paid more, they should just… be paid more. No though goes into understanding budgets, actual costs, or the reasons why companies pay so little for creative work. To make things better in the future, you need to grasp why they are the way they are now.

The rejection of DriveThruRPG, the largest marketplace to sell PDFs, also baffles me. People who cite censorship clearly have no understanding of what true censorship is. Recently someone had a product taken down because they put an inflammatory political statement, which had nothing to do with the product, in the product description. Seriously? DriveThruRPG is not a platform for your views. It’s a place to sell RPG products. You also agreed to the terms of service.

Having dealt with DriveThruRPG for years, I know that they likely just deactivated the product and asked the publisher to remove the political statement. One that, for the record, I personally agree with. I won’t never put it in the product description when it had nothing to do with the product. Rather than cutting that one like, the person removed all of their products and closed their DriveThruRPG account.

There are reasons that DriveThruRPG takes a bigger cut than Itch; they have the potential to put more eyeballs on your product, and provide more tools. Is the interface dated? Yes. Is it worth learning how to navigate the site anyway? Yes. Does being petulant help you to sell more games? No, no it does not.

Post-RPGaDay2020

I will do a full summary on the 31st detailing what I’m going to do moving forward. Writing updates for the site on a regular basis will continue. I have my own ideologies to spew, after all, in terms of lo-fi publishing, the Black Box Movement, and remix culture. This challenge has helped me to find what I want my voice to be here in 2020, after a decade away from RPG blogging. There are definitely more things that I want to say.

RPGaDay2020 is Drawing to a Close

RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.

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Businesses Don’t Run on Favors

Once again, I mean this in the more aggressively helpful, positive, and upbeat manner possible. There are a lot of creators out there, designing brilliant tabletop roleplaying material, who don’t grasp the business side of things. They think they can Field of Dreams their way through, and that their efforts will eventually pay off. If you build it, they will not automatically come. Your social media followers and real-life friends cannot be relied upon to buy your thing. Businesses don’t run on favors.

Almost every day I see this disconnect on RPG Twitter. I don’t get it. Someone sees that an indie RPG funded for a crapton of money on Kickstarter. That clearly validates that there’s some sort of market for indie RPGs, then, right? Well, maybe. Bolstered by those crowdfunding dollar signs, they go throw their lovingly crafted game up on Itch. Because they’re nice people, they add a bunch of community copies that poor roleplayers and struggling creators can download for free. They are then shocked SHOCKED I SAY when the freebies are quickly gobbled up, but no actual sales result.

Yeah, people don’t download community copies because they’re really excited about your game but can’t afford it. People download free stuff because it’s free. I wish we lived in a better world, but this is the reality of the one we live in. Most of those people are hoarders, and they’re not going to pay it forward by doing you the favor of writing a review. They won’t be telling people about your game. It’s unlikely they have any intention of playing it. Odds are they won’t even read it. Sorry.

Kickstarter campaigns don’t fund because a creator threw something up there and walked away. They spent at least a month prior to launch working on the campaign. Not the game; the Kickstarter campaign.  Then they spent every day that the campaign ran working on the campaign. They work as hard or harder on the Kickstarter than they do on the project itself.

The system is not fair, no. Brilliant work goes largely unrecognized. Mediocre work gets elevated because it has better marketing. People are woefully underpaid by companies that can afford to do better, as well as companies that have no choice because they’re barely getting by. But this is how things are. Do what you can, where you are, with what you’ve got. And don’t rely on people doing you favors.

Businesses Don’t Run on Favors

RPGaDay is an annual event held each August. It asks tabletop gamers to use provided daily prompts to express something fun, interesting, and positive about the hobby. David F. Chapman (Autocratik), the award-winning game designer, created it.

About Dancing Lights Press

Dancing Lights Press is a lo-fi publisher of tabletop roleplaying systems and system-agnostic creative aids, including the best selling Building series, the DoubleZero action thriller system, and Hippogryph, a fantasy story game system with traditional  roots. Our products embrace a minimalist aesthetic in design and presentation because roleplaying is an activity, not a collection of expensive rulebooks.