Wanting to Make A Commitment

A little bit ago, I published a post about feeling very insecure about the weight of writing in this community. I also wrote earlier about my desire to re-work, re-write, and re-release my game, Legends of Ryllia. but feeling way too awful about it to actually do it. I wrote this game back in 2004, self-published it myself (in a very limited way) and overall was so disappointed in myself and the experience that I walked away and didn’t work on the game again. I had originally planned to tinker with it, expand the magic rules, write more of a complete setting release, etc. Ultimately, my point is — I regret not working on this game and finishing it. I regret not making Legends of Ryllia all that it could be. Today I read a post over at DiceMonkey about feeling similarly. It was refreshing to see how I’m not alone on this one.

In between 2004 and 2010 my views about gaming and the possible avenues of self-publishing have both changed dramatically. I also had a really ugly early part of this summer and as I’ve crawled out of my hole, started writing again — and started thinking really hard about gaming again — I find myself really wanting to complete this project. I’ve considered this from a few different angles and I want to do a few things differently from the first time around. But I also want to ask a few questions/make a few assertions.

Assertions
1. This time around, I want to really focus on the system and what (I feel) shines about it and how to make that system applicable outside of Ryllia. I don’t want people to have to assume that they have to play in the setting. I think that many games that I’ve loved to read but then didn’t play were systems that were neat — but way too tied to just one setting.

2. I want to revamp a lot of what I did, but keep the core ideas.

Questions
1. Is there any market for a new system/world? Am I going to sell anything if I try to publish in this market?

2. Is there any reason to create a physical book or only go the PDF route? Or should I attempt to do both?

3. Does anyone out there who’s actively worked/working on their own stuff have any suggestions about good resources for learning about copyright/trademark? I’m sure in the last 6 years enough has changed that what I learned then is not so useful as it once was.

Any help, advice or suggestions are much appreciated. Starting next week I think I’ll begin dedicating one day a week to writing about the project as a way to keep me “on-task.”

As Always — Thanks for reading.

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8 responses

  1. Of course… now that I’ve written this — I want to hide.

  2. 1) If it’s good, yes. A lot of gamers buy new games just because. Indie games come out all the time and plenty of them sell. The question is more if you’ll make any money off the sales and the answer is “not much.”*

    2) PDF is significantly cheaper, but if you want to print a book you should use one of the print on demand sites like Lulu. That way, there’s no risk of sitting on dozens (or hundreds) of extra copies of your book if it doesn’t sell.

    3) I haven’t done it, I just hang out in the right parts of the internet to hear it talked about. If you’re seriously interested in self-publishing, go ask around the RPG.net forums, there are a bunch of industry people there, from people who publish out of their garage to White Wolf regulars. Not all of the could help, but you should get a response to these questions and more.

  3. Well, what little bit of publishing knowledge I have comes from my dad, who has had a couple books published.

    If you want to print over 1000 books, there are lots of companies that are very easy and cheap to work with. They charged my dad about $2.20 a book to print 2000 150pg books, and you just need to send them a pdf (You save some money if you can do the layout yourself).

    If you want less than 1000, I think Campbell Copy here is town is pretty accommodating. Dad needed a couple small print runs (like 50 books) and they charged him about $6 per book. They also had a very fast turn-around time (which might not matter for you, but just saying).

  4. I absolutely think there’s a market for it. I love new rules and settings. I agree that Lulu is definitely the way to go, if you don’t want to spend a ton on printing. I’d do the PDF/Lulu route.

  5. Oh, one thing I forgot:

    If you want this to be a profitable endeavour, you are going to have to advertise. There’s a market for new games, but it’s not a huge one by any stretch of the imagination. The RPG market is a niche in and of itself and the Indie RPG market is a niche within a niche. You’re going to have to go on forums and talk your game up, get some playtesters from outside the area so that you can have word of mouth going around and pay for some ads. You’re going to need some sort of website, possibly an online store (though you could easily just use a link to Lulu or DriveThru).

    If you just want to make a small print run and sell it at Madicon, you can do that without any of this but it’s not going to get you any money (or at least not enough to make the time and effort put in worth your while). Not that you shouldn’t sell the game at Madicon, but don’t use that as your only venue. If I were doing it, I’d even try to get it into some game shops. Talk to Harry and Mike about putting a couple of copies in their stores, even if they don’t pay for them unless they sell. If you get the word out, sales will follow.

    I wish you luck with the project and I’ll definitely be up to buy the game when it’s done.

  6. @ Everyone…

    Thanks for the support and the encouragement. I actually have no intention of “making money” on the project. I mean, I’d like to break even — cover expenses and all — but this is a fun project, to share what I love in gaming and get something finished. Money, at this juncture, is secondary.

    I actually have a pretty good idea of where and how I intend to try and sell and Callyn is pretty much right in my head. I intend to work through the internet, local gaming stores and conventions.

    And Lulu/PDF is probably the way I’ll end up going — along with a print run of my own to sell as mentioned before.

    Strangely enough, even though I will advertise through blogging, I probably won’t hit the forums. This may seem like a bad idea to some, but forums are, for the most part, cesspools. I’ve sworn off gaming forums period. Reading forums makes me hate gaming. So that’s antithetical to what I hope to accomplish…

    Though, anyone here who wants to help share what I’m working on should feel welcome. The more the merrier.

    Thanks again everyone.

    1. Say what you will about forums (I do kind of agree on the cesspool part, but I also revel in it) but they are good advertising. I’ve heard about a lot of weird indie games that way and even bought a few of them. Even if you can’t do it yourself because it will make you hate people, I’d try to get someone to hype your game a little on some of the bigger RPG forums. It’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to get the word out about your game.

  7. cauldronofevil | Reply

    FWIW:

    1. No. There is no market out there for new RPG systems or world. Everything has already been done. If it’s a ‘traditional’ world, then no one needs it. If it’s a ‘different’ world then most people won’t want it. Will you sell some? Sure. There are some gamers who will buy ANYTHING. But not enough to make it worth your time.

    2. You’re ego probably won’t allow you to not print a physical book, but there is no real reason to unless you have a price tag on it.

    3. I don’t, except that you probably shouldn’t care until you’re SURE you’re going to get sales.

    The best advice I can give you is to read and do the work from this article with your game.

    http://www.thefreerpgblog.com/2011/11/how-to-write-free-rpg-prologue.html

    Then post it for free.

    If you get that far, you’ll get enough of a reaction (positive or negative) to know if you should keep going. Then the ‘deluxe/second/not-free’ version is the one you charge money for.

    If you REALLY think you have something new and worthwhile to contribute, then you’ll be able to do all the actual work that it takes to produce a new RPG.

    If you really DO have something new and worthwhile to contribute, the RPG community will let you know and vote with their dollars on a non-free edition.

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