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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Basic Fantasy RPG

I really like this game, as I've noted in previous posts. Unfortunately, the main publisher has not been able to publish anything other than the rulebook and Morgansfort (both of which are excellent). I kinda wish some of the supplements that are currently on the website could get finalized and put into print. I do believe that it was a mistake selling the books at cost.

There's no reason that a publisher should not make money from his books. There is a lot of work involved in getting a book finalized and into print, and doing it for free, while really cool, is not something that an author is going to do for too long. It's just not worth the effort, especially considering the majority of publishers do this as a side gig. I'd hate to come home from a long day of work to spend 3 or 4 hours working on a supplement to a game, if I knew I wasn't going to make any money on it. And I think it shows when you compare publishers and how they charge. Guys who charge more and make a profit publish more books. Guys who publish at cost put out a couple books and stop. Good intentions only last so long, unfortunately.

(Of course, when I win the Powerball, I'll be funding several publishers so they can work full time on games :)).


Restless said...

I look at BFRPG as Google or MySQL. All their betas (or playtest versions, in this case) are pretty much as good as everybody else's release versions. Also, if you check the thread here you'd note some regular releases.

I admire him for releasing at cost. BFRPG is more of an open-source approach to publishing the game, although I don't like the "you can publish what you want, but if I don't like/approve of it then I won't put it on the website" approach sort of rubs me the wrong way.

Chris Gonnerman said...

"I do believe that it was a mistake selling the books at cost."

Why? I think I made my point clear on the home page:

I'm a believer in sharing. Some have expressed the opinion that I'm a fool not to profit from these rules, or the supplements or modules; but I have a job already, and it pays my bills. I'm not sure there's enough demand for this game to make it worth the effort of selling. But more than that, I'm committed to sharing. If I profit from the game, I enrich myself (cash) and a few who purchase (enjoyment). But I give it away, and I thus enrich many (myself, with a warm glow of generosity, and many others with the enjoyment of playing it).

Your statement that "Guys who publish at cost put out a couple books and stop" is patently not true; yeah, I take breaks from time to time, but I always come back to BFRPG. I just released a new revision of Wandering Monsters, and am planning a new update to the Field Guide (as soon as we hammer out some monster details). More to the point, by using Open Source methods, including "release early, release often," I ensure that whatever goodness we have created is available NOW, no waiting.

It's not a product to me. I can't put it any clearer than that. "Market" means nothing in the context of the Basic Fantasy Project.

Besides, if I charge for it, it becomes a job. Then I have an incentive to pump out crap, just to get a buck. What I put up on Lulu for sale is as good as I can make it. In other words, as I said when discussing the game with another fellow, "it's done when it's done."

Dan said...

I'd be quite happy if you had an incentive to publish more product. That was the point of this post. Anyways, I really like your game, I just wish you did more with it.

Chris Gonnerman said...

I guess it all depends on what you mean by "publish." If you mean "in print," it'll be a while. If you mean "finished," that may be a while too. But if you mean "playable right now" then take another look at the site... there are a lot of things there which are far enough along to use in your own game. For instance, BF2 Fortress, Tomb, and Tower contains two complete, ready-to-run adventures, and one that needs a bit of fleshing out yet. BF5 Megadungeon is ready to go right now, but it won't be publication-ready until it's had two more iterations (you'll just have to look for yourself to understand why). There are numerous supplements containing additional classes and races, some practically "finished" while others are still a bit rough; many new monsters and new spells in their own supplements; and other nice bits like the Wandering Monsters supplement (which, even though largely incomplete, already has much that you could use in it) or the Sentient Weapons supplement (which I updated today).

The Basic Fantasy Project is an Open Source project. We aren't building a cathedral where only authorized people can work, but rather a bazaar where everyone can contribute. So what gets done is what people want to finish.

Like what you see? Want to see more of it? JUMP IN. The Project is always looking for new members, and the dues are cheap... just contribute something.