A thousand years ago, back in April, I recorded a month of videos talking about indie RPGs under the hashtag #ReadIndieRPGs. I did this in response to another hashtag going around, #ReadtheDMG, in which folx were recording quick videos reading a paragraph from the D&D Dungeon Masters Guide. At a time when people were going to need distractions and creators were going to need support, I thought it only fair to remind folx about all the amazing games and creators in our hobby.
I set myself some guidelines for the videos. As you can see if you watch them, I decided to do them very rough, always in one take. I wanted them to be very much my honest thoughts about the game from which I was reading, without scripting my way to the perfect soundbite. I also focused on creators often marginalized in the TTRPG space, because I knew I hadn’t always been as mindful about their work as I could have been up to that point. And lastly, I wanted to pay for everything. I started off my series with games I already owned, but roughly two-thirds of the games I talked about were games I purchased and read that month. Including games I had previously purchased, all told I spent $274.01 on indie TTRPGs.
That sounds like a lot of money (and it is, and I am privileged to be in a position where I can afford that) but if you break it down I came away from the end of that month with thirty different TTRPGs at an average cost of $9.13 per game. And considering that I got a few of the games by picking up the excellent San Jenaro Digests which contain 6-8 games each, that price per game is lower. And frankly, cheap at twice the price.
This led me to believe two things. One, when bigger TTRPG companies put out a new game or supplement and expect me to pay $30-$50 per book, that book had better be stellar! As an editor, my tolerance for a poorly edited book is already low, so when a company presents me with a badly edited $65 rulebook (rhymes with salamander), you can bet I’m never touching that game or anything else they do.
The second thing is that we (myself and you) as TTRPG consumers need to develop a tolerance for proper pricing on indie TTRPGs. Indie creators should not have to spend weeks and months working up a new game and then have to release it for $5 in the hopes that we’ll pretty please buy it (unless they want to; I’m not here to dictate any creator’s price point). I think we as players and consumers of Indie TTRPGs should realize the time and effort put into an indie game, as well as the many, many hours of enjoyment we will get from the game, are worthy of equitable compensation. More simply put, if you dropped thirty bucks for the latest from WotC, tae the fuck wi’ ye for balking at an indie game costing $10-$20.
All of which is a long and winding road to my point today. Which is, during December I am going to be buying up more Indie TTRPGs and recording daily videos again. In fact, if you search for #IndieGamesDec on Twitter or head to my YouTube channel you can watch the first seven in the new series. I’ve already covered some excellent Indie TTRPG content with twenty-four more games to come! I encourage you to check out all the games I talk about and grab them for yourself. Not only will you get excellent games for your table, but you’ll support Indie creators in our space, ensuring we keep enjoying their skill and imagination. And if you don’t want to miss any videos going forward, please hit the Subscribe button if you are so inclined.
But it isn’t enough just to have a spike of interest for December. I have a certain amount budgeted for TTRPG purchases each month. Going forward I am allocating half of that budget to buying Indie TTRPGs, then coming here or to YouTube and telling you about what I picked up. Recently I reconfirmed my return to critiqueing of Wizards of the Coast, because if I’m going to tilt at windmills to improve my hobby, might as well start with the one using the most wind. But I can’t only be about yelling at WotC. If I truly want to help TTRPGs grow then I have to support the creators out there doing it right. I’m doing some long-term work around that with the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games, but in the shorter term I need to be another voice singing the praises of Indie TTRPGs.