Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bigger, Better, and Quite Insane

So if you've been following along in the RPG pundit-sphere, you know that there's been some thought that RPGs will go the way of wargames and model railroading. That is, as the niche shrinks, more and more products will become very high-quality collector's treasures, and will be priced accordingly.

There's a push-me-pull-me effect right now. In addition to WotC's very cheap new Red Box, there are lots of projects with a strong do-it-yourself vibe, like Fight On! and now Paizo's talking about an intro set to their Pathfinder game.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have things like Raggi's boxed set and the latest version of the Warhammer RPG. I'd thought that things like that, and the Ptolus mega-book, would be what premium RPG products of the future would look like.

That was, until Raggi linked to this today. Ye gods...

I'm a little torn when I see something like that. On the one hand, yeah, very cool. I'd love to be involved in a product that looked like that. On the other, I have to wonder at the utility of most of it. CoC has long been a game associated with props: photographs, coffee-stained letters, edlritch inscriptions and rubbings, and other such. Creating the proper mood and atmosphere is vital to the game, and the props help.

That said, some of this looks cool, but extraneous. The box, for instance, is awesome, but would it really help to set the proper mood? Ditto for the flag. I suppose we could mount it on the wall, crank the AC down to 30, bundle up in our sweaters and turtlenecks, and try to recreate the feeling of being at the bottom of the world, but...

Still, if you shoot for the moon and miss, you're likely to land among the stars. You certainly can't fault the French here for a lack of audacity. If nothing else, they've created a piece of gaming history.


The Red DM said...

"as the niche shrinks, more and more products will become very high-quality collector's treasures, and will be priced accordingly"

Hold in your left hand any D&D product from AD&D or earlier, and in your right its equivalent product today, and tell me we aren't already there.

JimLotFP said...

TSR pushed the envelope for production values (even with nothing competing with it...!).

OD&D box set, $10 in 1974, $43.02 in today's dollars.

Empire of the Petal Throne, $35 in 1975 would be about $98 in today's dollars.

Remember that TSR releasing hardcover books for AD&D made them super-duper fancy in the industry. Was the Monster Manual $12 in 1977? That's over $40 in today's dollars.

trollsmyth said...

And isn't the SRP for the 4e MM something like US$45? So they've been mostly holding steady, except they're not releasing uber-premium items like EotPT anymore.

JimLotFP said...

Has there ever been a top-dog in RPGs that had bargain-priced core products?

To my recollection, Palladium might be the only thing that qualifies. They were never #1, but TMNT, Robotech, and Rifts were big enough and the books were not fancy.

(... and maybe they should have been, as they didn't seem to hold up well over time. Physical product quality counts for more than spectacle...)

trollsmyth said...

To the best of my knowledge, the only five top-dog companies in the history of RPGs are TSR, Steve Jackson Games, White Wolf (and I'm willing to be talked out of including them), WotC, and Paizo.

And no, I don't think they have, though I suppose you could make the argument that the SRD kinda-sorta counts. I don't think it really does. Clearly, to be a Top Dog company, you need to put out Top Quality product, though what qualifies as such certainly shifts over time.