Saturday, March 19, 2011

I Want You to Make LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Your Regular Game

There, I said it.

Not many people do seem to say that, maybe for fear of seeming egotistical or "looking at things realistically," but I bet you anyone who releases a game wants people to play the damn thing. It's fine to release something that people think is "interesting" or a cool "collector's item," but when you make a game, you want it to be played.

There's a million games out there, old and new school, commercial releases and for-free. Role-playing and not. Even quality games get lost in the crowd.

But while we're being honest here, we all know I'm an attention whore. Getting lost in the crowd just isn't acceptable. So how to cut through all that to make my game your regular game?

If you're serious about making LotFP your game of choice, I'm serious about helping you.

Order at least 5 copies of LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing at once - one for everyone in your group - direct from me and you'll get them for 24.37€ each (regular price 32,50€ before shipping or VAT when ordering direct).

Non-EU orders will have them listed at less than 1/3 their regular weight so not only will your shipping cost be reduced, you can add more items and in most cases not get charged any more shipping since at that point it's measured by the kilo
. EU orders will get free first class shipping with only Finnish VAT added.

So what else can I do to make LotFP your regular game?


  1. Thats what I am working towards. I was going to houserule AD&D, but who the hell has time to do a rules re-write for the "perfect" system? After a lot of consideration, I realized LOTFP has more of the basics I want in my game than other game out there. It fits my sensibilities the best. I didn't do AD&D because I would be subtracting too much, while at the same time adding. With LOTFP I dont have to subtract that much at all.

    I appreciate the help Jim gave me with the flier. I used his artwork and modified it to make an "announcing a new game" flier, and I wanted to get the LOTFP logo in blood red. So Jim sent me a pic with the logo in red, which I inserted into the flier. I am heading out to the various places I want to spread the word to this afternoon, hoping to get the campaign up and going. I am going to use the grindhouse rules, so damnit hurry up and get the shit published!

    Here's an idea--one of the reasons I also chose grindhouse was because the rules were freely downloadable, and they didn't have to scrounge ebay for AD&D books. What if---the GM buys the grindhouse books, and that gives the players (either on their own or through the gm) the ability to buy the pdf color art version more cheaply? Sort of a gaming group discount. Who knows, it might lead to print purchases.

    The other idea I already mentioned---making it easier to houserule the game by providing a word version of the base rules and spells, so the DM can just insert changes simply.

    Anyhow, that's my 2 cents.

  2. I think the ability to buy a set at a discount is the strongest method available - I've wanted to do that with Swords & Wizardry but handling the fulfillment of it is difficult since I work through other people for that.

    The reason it's powerful; one thing I have learned from years of this is that (a) only a fraction of any given gaming group is on the internet at all, and (b) therefore a new game is often being proposed by only one person in the group.

    The strategy has to be to support that ONE GUY in whatever way you can. Giving him the ability to do a group discount is a winning strategy if he's got enough cash to buy for the whole group.

    I also think that you should - as you are - focus on the fact that you're a shameless self-promoter and a promoter of your game with a money interest. This is identity that separates you from most of the crowd, and this is good for you. Some people will be turned off by it, but many (I think more) people will actually enjoy being in contact with the energy of it. Nobody hated P.T. Barnum.

    From my perspective, although I definitely want people to play Swords & Wizardry, my focus is more on the modules - the game is a way to put OD&D in front of people who can't afford the original books, and I am totally even-up whether they play the clone or the original. If people use LotFP to play Swords & Wizardry modules, although it's "of track" in terms of my trying to support OD&D, it's perfectly on track in terms of the "commercial" side of what I publish. So I don't see LotFP as competition as much as the LotFP game is actually a source of potential module users.

    That's even more pronounced given that my approach to publishing is more prudish and traditional than yours. I'm guaranteed to pull module purchases from some LotFP players who like the game but think your resources are too close to the edge. The same thing works in reverse, although it would improve your module sales rather than your game sales from people who like the more traditional OD&D approach used in Swords & Wizardry but think my resources are too "buttoned down" and want to use the rules with something further out there.

    I'm veering from the real topic here to do navel-gazing about the market, but I think it's relevant in some way.

    One thing that's also important, somehow, is that you're taking the opposite approach from the clones. They (we) have free games that are a "gateway drug" because they're free. Your game is high-end and expensive, but your resources are the inexpensive gateway drug. There ought to be some way to "work" that. Use your ability to do an inexpensive digest sized resource to give a sliver of game-rules, mix it with a module, something like that. Problem is that then people aren't seeing one of the major benefits/selling points of what you do, which is a tremendous up-front outlay on production value. So I don't know.

    Hmm. Bottom line, I think you're taking the right approach in both sales and promotional strategy.

  3. I love the idea James but $172 for five copies is going to be a hard sell, even to me. And I'm someone for whom LotFP is my preferred fantasy rules set already.

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  5. As Herb points out there's a significant investment involved to pull the trigger on this deal. I don't think it's insecurity to encourage people to invest in the game more in terms of actual dollars.

    Business-wise, this isn't giving the farm away or anything. My cut is smaller if people do this than just buying individual copies, but for instance distributors still get a bigger discount and my business plan is built upon a lot of distribution/retail coverage.

    As for the PT Barnum comparison and not blinking, it is important for me as far as my own piece of mind to not bullshit people while shilling. I'm a person here, not a corporation. Part of the joy in doing this is being able to let it all hang out. If I'm a bit nervous, it's no fun to pretend I'm not.

    And my nervousness right now is more of the "I've got a big date with the hot girl" variety, giddiness instead of panic.

    And the fact that when pre-orders go live, the books will already be at the printers so when people download the PDFs and find the typos that inevitably will sneak through it'll be too late to fix them. :P

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  7. Deleted a post above - it didn't come across the way I intended.

  8. I know you've disagreed with me on this before, but I'm a customer and you're asking - what would help would be a single hardcover, with reasonable font size, at a price point comparable to other hardcover rules. The box sets are unwieldy and expensive, and the small fonts are hard on the eyes.

  9. You'll be happy to know at least that I'm using a bigger font size and more spacious layout this time around - the font size issue is a criticism from the first box that I took seriously.

    I also don't know that a single hardcover book with all the material would be cheaper. Judging from the quotes I'm getting for Carcosa and Isle of the Unknown it would be pretty close, but even things like paper stock could make a significant difference in final cost. (Europeans might have a legit gripe here though, as VAT is different between boxes and books)

    As for being unwieldy, we're just going to have to disagree there as the ease of use from having separated bits in the box is the whole reason it's a boxed set in the first place.

  10. I've been looking into Noble Knight for a used copy or a break down on the pdfs but my printer isn't being the best right now. Believe me I like what I see but as others have pointed out its a cost issue not a quality issue.

  11. So what else can I do to make LotFP your regular game?

    Include my houserules in the final print version! (I mean, seriously, dude, no Shields Shall be Splintered? WTF?!? ;D )

    Actually, that's not too far off from my suggestion: keep making with the good stuff. High production values are great, but what really sells me on LotFP is that you make with the honestly useful rules changes: encumbrance, d6 "thief" skills, improved character sheets, etc.

    Keep that up, and I'll keep buying. I'm on the edge of my seat to see what Zak does with Vornheim. I'm even more curious to see what you do from what he teaches you with Vornheim. If you can sell books that are easier to use full of tools that make it easier to run/play games, you're golden.

    That said, yeah, still gunna houserule, so word.doc versions would be extremely useful.

    Best of luck!

  12. Make some shirts, it might not increase player numbers directly, but with some of the art you've put up on here if saw someone at a con wearing a sick LotFP shirt I'd wanna know where it came from. I'd probably be the guy wearing it though, brutal fantast art makes for the awesomest shirts

  13. First of all - I personally would prefer the option of a single book for Grindhouse. It doesnt have to be hardback, Im quite willing to use a perfect bound softback. I just want the ability to grab a single book as Ive had historically poor luck with boxed sets, as they damage entirely too easily with me. Im ok with it being a black and white interior even - just give me something sturdy and complete to so I dont need to baby it and I dont need a bag to carry all the books. This is one of the reasons I love the old Rules Cyclopedia.

    Second - I like the TShirt idea. Id enjoy a variation of the "Hot Naked Elf Chick takes it in the face" and the other artwork youve promoed looks great.

    Third - utility products like Zak's Vornheim (sp?) book are far more appealing to me as a purchasing product. I dont really use modules as I have plenty of old OD&D and early AD&D modules to steal elements from. A book that gives me some examples or ideas to pull out on the fly is much more helpful for adding the Weird to an advantage.

  14. Just want to make sure I throw my "vote" in **for** more boxes and separate books. I understand the comments above, but one of the reasons I jumped on LotFP (and plan to do the same for Grindhouse) is the box and bits. It's one of the things that makes the game nearly unique, the game a game, and that harkens back to the games I still love. I've got plenty of books, HC and SC. Your box is not *at all* unwieldy (to me).

    Matt's got it right: do things to support that ONE guy (in my group, me). One thing that I loved about BHP's S&W WB was the option to buy extra players' booklets. I may very well take advantage of your volume pricing option, and work it out with my group. Getting the group invested in it makes it easier to make it our goto game.

    Vornheim and Carcosa are also great moves on your part. Keep showing me how to do "weird fantasy", and how it's more fun than my other options, and it could become my regular game. I'm looking forward to these and will likely want to see more.

  15. Without negating those who want a single book (that format works for them) I'm with RSJ: I like the boxed sets. It was a big selling feature for me when I bought LotFP and the S&W Whitebox. I made S&W my rules-set, as I was able to purchase the complete S&W set plus 5 players books so each player had their own copy. I could totally go for a Grindhouse deal like that, though it sounds like your 5-set bundle is structured a little differently.

    I'll be buying a copy of Grindhouse (despite my squeamishness about some of the art). What you can do to make LotFP my regular game? The above. Also, keep releasing material that exhibits economy (not financial, but rules), imagination, and high production values. Give me more tools for my toolbox. Blaze your own trail. While everyone else is zigging, Zack.

    I would love to see more adventures with separate illustrations books, like Tomb of Horrors. My suspicion is the art costs would make it prohibitive, but adventures that include illustration books are among my favorites.

    Price is secondary to me. If it's a high quality product, i'm willing to pay.

  16. For me, focus on the early modern tone of the game. It sets the game apart and could beat out a niche with those who prefer warhammer sensibilities over dungeons and dragons ones. But that's just me, I don't play any DND and the art is the only reason why I'm going to buy the Grindhouse edition; on the basis that the game has an early modern feel.

  17. Personally, I don't need you to do anything to convince me to buy the boxed set (& Vornheim too), as I fully intend to. More, once my current campaign ends in a few months, LotFP will become my new gaming system to play :)

    I like what you do, the way you've approached the game, and your adventures are excellent. So, thanks.

  18. Working on it, mate. Come April, LotFP will be my regular game. ;)

    Even though the LotFP agenda says every monster should be unique, I'd love a mini monster book. It could be the size of a LotFP adventure booklet, and contain only unique monsters, complete with an adventure vignette that could be dropped in anywhere. Say, 16 monsters, each with a page or two of interesting adventuring material to mine.

  19. Hang on. This is already my go-to game. I dimly remember shelling out a field of cabbage for the 'deluxe' edition only to find out that it was almost immediately to be superceded.

    I'm the only guy in our group that spends gaming dollars (one player purchased his own dice, that's it) and I'm spent.

    So you've already won me. To keep me you'd need to stem the urge to pump out another edition of your game anytime soon and once I'm financial again I'll think about Grindhouse... Although the prospect of every character being an 'architect' still makes the bile rise...

  20. I had no idea the first box was going to sell so quickly, or I would have made more. But they did. I was caught off guard and at that point had to have a good think about what to do. Here were my options:

    * Do another short run of the same box; same contents, same price. Keeps the previous buyers happy, but this is a moronic decision on a business level if I think the thing might have legs (which the quick sales of the first box indicate), which would have an effect on future projects.

    * Do a bigger run of the same box, keeping the same price. My costs would be way down though because of the larger run and the fact that the art's already paid for, leading me to feel like a ripoff profiteer.

    * Do a bigger run of the same box, but lowering the price to reflect the lowered costs per box on my end. I'm sure people would love finding out the exact same box they bought a few months ago is now 25%-40% cheaper.

    * Treat the next printing as effectively a brand new project and do the very best I could on it, just like I did the first time around. This changes the game a bit, but at least the first box is a unique thing, with elements (like the two adventures) that aren't in the new one.

    Every option was going to make someone unhappy, I think. Is there an option I missed?

    There are 2000 of the new box being printed. If those sell out, it won't be for at least a year I'd think, and I'm going to release numerous books in that time and play a lot of games and people will have a lot of criticism and comments about it all. I'll tell everyone right now that I'm not going to ignore all I learn during this period when it's time for the next reprint...

  21. I'll continue to be a voice of dissent calling out for a hardback rules and magic book (without all the splatter gore art).

    The box idea is a great DM product, with it's premade adventures, referee's advice, and so on. I'll be picking up a grind house edition. But players don't need the extras.

    The other issue is mixed ages. We run adult games, and we also run games with 8-9 year olds. I still think you should consider a version of your rules with art that's appropriate for a wider audience. In the meantime, we can print out the art free rules, but that doesn't put any money in *your* pocket.

    You may not want a wide audience playing LotFP, and that's fine, but of all the retro clones/OGL games out there, you seem to be the guy going for it as far as making the core rules a successful commercial product, and not just a vehicle for publishing modules.

  22. One of the reasons for doing so many of them this time is to be able to not worry about it for a good long while and get back to the business of making the modules and other knickknacks.

    As far as the age thing... I personally don't think I'm doing anything out of line for teenagers (the 18+ disclaimer is for their parents' benefit), but I'm not the guy to supply things for a preteen crowd. Not everything is going to be GRRR EDGY! but I'll follow wherever my muse takes me on any particular project.

    As far as needing the extras - I think every player is a potential game master. I also think games should include specific instructions on how to play it. And all that material gets even experienced people in the right mindset. I like to Show and Tell (even if Show don't Tell seems to be making its way around the blogs...).

    (and Labyrinth Lord surely is a successful commercial core product; they're in their fourth printing now? Dan's just rather shy about tooting his own horn)

  23. Like Hogscape, I'm the only one in my gaming circle who actually buys games/modules. If my players can't get a free .pdf, we have to get by on my copy alone. Last Christmas, I bought soft cover copies of S&W Whitebox (the system we are currently using) as gifts for the group. If print copies of Grindhouse's players and magic book only were made available, I'd buy the group copies as well.