This Saturday is the sixth annual Free RPG Day. Inspired by Free Comic Book Day (which has been held annually since 2002), Impressions gathered some of the biggest RPG publishers together to help promote RPG’s and the bricks and mortar stores that sell their products.
Roleplaying has always been a social event, but so many physical stores suffer competing with online sellers of gaming products who are able to sell at cheaper prices because of lower overheads. Even though physical stores offer space to allow gamers to play, they still don’t see the returns they should for the service they offer. Promotions like Free RPG Day and the Bits and Mortar system aim to bring players to stores to buy products.
The benefit of being able to go in to a store is two-fold. One, you get to see the products firsthand before you commit to buy, as well as benefit from the experience and knowledge of those who work there. Looking for a new system to try? Tell the staff what you’ve played already and where your interests lie and they’ll point you in the direction of a product you might never have tried. And two, and probably the biggest reason, if your store has a gaming area, you can try the product before you buy and probably find you a group to play in if you like the product.
Last year was my second free RPG day. The first year I picked up Final Sanction (An introduction to the DeathWatch RPG by Fantasy Flight Games, based on Games Workshop’s products) which is available now on PDF, and also the introduction to Legend of the 5 Rings 4th Edition by AEG, which was a beautifully put together book, like all of the 4th Edition L5R books that have followed. Both products I picked up from the Orc’s Nest in London, but they had no space to play, or to even chat to like-minded gamers, so customers just went in, picked up their free products and left, most without even buying another product from the store.
But last year, I had the pleasure of visiting Leisure Games in North London, where I spent the whole day watching and participating in games. I got to play in the Broken Chains demo, FFG’s Black Crusade introduction where you get to play the enemies of the Imperium (A PDF of Broken Chains is available in the support section of the FFG website). I usually play stealthy assassins, but I decided to branch out during the demo and played the Khorne Berserker, which I then took on as my campaign character when my group started playing Black Crusade.
I also observed a game of Fiasco by Bully Pulpit Games and then immediately bought it from the store. Anyone with a love for RPG’s or caper films should look up Fiasco immediately. If you love both RPGs and caper movies, then you should buy Fiasco without thought. I would never have tried, or probably even heard about Fiasco if it wasn’t for the demo I saw that day, but it’s now one of my favourite RPGs.
But what does this year’s Free RPG Day have in store? A selection of the free products available are as follows:
- D&D 4e Adventure “Dead in the Eye” – Wizards of the Coast
- Pathfinder Adventure “Dawn of the Scarlet Sun” – Paizo
- Warhammer 40k Only War Adventure “The Eleventh Hour” – Fantasy Flight Games
- Cosmic Patrol Quick Start – Catalyst Games Labs
The full list is available on the Free RPG Day website.
What can you expect at Leisure Games on Free RPG Day?
- 09:30 – Fiasco (Fully booked)
- 09:30 – Only War Demo (Spaces available)
- Throughout the day will be Shadowrun and Pathfinder taster sessions, along with further demo’s of Fiasco and Only War.
The Free RPG Day website has a location checker so you can find your closet store. The UK, compared to the USA, is lacking in Free RPG Day stores, so if your local store is not involved, get on to them and get them onboard next year.
If you make it to a Free RPG Day store, let us know where you went, what you played and what you picked up. A report on Free RPG Day 2012 will follow after the weekend.