Wednesday, April 04, 2007

RPG in a Box

Old Geezer, one of my favorite posters over at, recently said this about a c-note burning a hole in his pocket:

I would gladly pay $100 for a "campaign on the hoof" for Star Wars. Give me EVERYTHING I need. Much like Ptolus, maybe, but not so narrowly focused. I would gladly pay $100, no questions asked, for something that I could skim and then start to GM.

He later explains his thinking:

And to be fair, I'm stealing an idea from a different hobby (which I've ranted at length about).

Model railroading manufacturers hit this realization about 15 years ago.

There are still some people who build an engine out of brass sheet metal and patience. But they do it because they want to, not because it's the only way to get an engine.

You can buy a model that cannot be told from the real thing in a photo for under $100. You can buy just about everything you want.

So, people who wouldn't otherwise be in the hobby are spending money, and people who ARE in the hobby are able to go broader and deeper.

I hope this marketing strategy drifts into RPGs.

If I could buy out of the box RPGs I'd run at least once a week.

Frankly, I think this is a workable model. It would require either grafting on to a well-known system (like maybe d20, but I think Old Geezer would prefer something a tad more user friendly) or a very simple system that’s traditional in its design and easy to pick up. You might be able to get most of what OG wants in PDFs as well, though I imagine he’d rather buy a real, physical box.

I think this is the direction Ptolus is pointing us. As gamers age, time becomes a serious factor in our gaming. Spending time working on our campaigns starts to cost you real money when you really start to hit your professional stride. Everything you need to start, run, and end a long-term campaign in a single box would mean you could still indulge your yen for good gaming, without sacrificing time with your family or spent on your profession.

Others in the thread discuss selling a complete campaign under a magazine model. Frankly, as a designer, I’d much rather create and sell a single box, but I can understand as a publisher you’re assuming a lot more of the risk up-front that way.


Jason said...

I get the impression that this is exactly what Pathfinder's adventure paths are. I guess I'll find out when we start one this weekend...

trollsmyth said...

Jason: It is... if you know 3.x pretty well to begin with. The learning curve on that game can be a bit steep. Also, I imagine Old Geezer would prefer something more like a sandbox and less like a railroad.

Best of luck with your own game. Do you know which adventure path you'll be playing in? Do you plan to blog about it?