Topic: LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing
So I've been making some inquiries here and there about retail distribution. Three things seem to be clear:
Adventures are very low margin product, and distributor cuts chop chop chops even deeper into that margin.
However, as a sustainable business model, "Just get a few internet vendors to sell the stuff" doesn't seem to be pulling in the big bucks.
Going into distribution with adventures means depending on Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry to get to the distribution destinations first, else I'll be sitting on shelves as a support product for a game that's not there.
One solution stands out: Make my own game. Which would of course be a retro-clone. But this would give me a higher-margin item (since full games seem to sell much more than adventures do) and a proprietary brand, which is good for business, and it would solve the problem of relying on other companies to be present in markets I want to be. If people carry my modules, chances are they'll be carrying my game, too.
The Paizo plan, basically.
Three problems with this:
The world needs another clone game like it needs a hole in the head.
It seems skeezy to make product decisions based on business need, instead of treating the creative and the financial portions of the business separately. I'll be "selling out."
I'd then be in competition with Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord, and the scene doesn't need further fragmentation of that sort, nor do I want to cause any friction with either Finch or Proctor.
So if this is going to be done (and I have other priorities for some months yet), the product would have to be justifiable on a level beyond "It helps Jim's business." It would need to be a product that would be awesome on its own merits.
I'd talked about this some time back, but I always hoped it would be someone else that would actually do it.
But my idea would be to make an all-in-one box set. Rules, tutorials, dice, even a friggin pencil and graph paper. Everything you need to game, right there in the box, and accessible even to someone that's never played RPGs before and doesn't have anyone to show them how.
The present plan for the box:
1 Tutorial Booklet, introducing the rules and concepts, doing a "choose your own adventure" solo adventure, and basically using the Mentzer Basic intro as a guide to format
1 Rules Booklet. Character creation, combat and adventuring rules, spell descriptions, etc.
1 Referee Booklet, including monsters, treasure, adventure design
1 Beginner (for referees and players) Dungeon Adventure
1 Beginner Wilderness Adventure
1 Inspirational Reading Booklet
Pencil + Pad of Graph Paper
It probably won't be cheap, but I won't go for extravagant either. I'll do saddle-stitched booklets, color covers for the booklets and adventures but black and white interior art. A5 sized box.
I'm putting this here instead of on the blog because right now this is just an idea, and not anything actually happening. And I'm looking for feedback and ideas about how to move forward. The priority for the next long while will still be adventures, with the full game idea being something that gets constructed little by little over time.