Friday, June 18, 2010

Outright Robbery

Starting with the U.S. 3-2 win over Slovenia being nullified by extremely poor officiating. English fans might feel it fair after the "cheap goal" that allowed the U.S. to tie their national team, but that's on England's goal keeper (an "own" error) not a gift from the referee. Of course, Seattle sports fans like myself are no strangers to "robbery" - the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, the "theft" of the Sonics by Oklahoma City - but it's pretty irritating to see it take place on the international stage...especially when the sport is just starting to get legs under it in our historically disinterested country. After all, why am I bothering to get up so damn early anyway?

Between matches, I was down at Gary's Games shooting the breeze with Tim regarding game design, local companies, and the price of shrink wrap. And checking out the new inventory, of course.

[by the way...Big Note: don't forget that tomorrow, Saturday, is Free RPG Day around the sure to rob your local game shop of the complimentary swag that's available!]

While at the shop, a youngish man (okay, probably my age, give-or-take a couple years) game into the store with his 3-4 year old son to buy some model planes. While there he asked Tim about the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons, specifically regarding the new Basic edition that he heard about on the news, and wondering if it was something a dude in his 30s-40s could get back into after a multi-decade hiatus. He also mentioned he'd heard it was a little more "linear" in nature with set-piece encounters and a scripted story. The guy stated...really!...that he couldn't imagine how that could be "fun" when someone was used to having more leeway in creating their own settings and open-ended adventuring.

Well, at that point I couldn't sit quietly on the sidelines and keep my damn mouth shut...I told the guy about Labyrinth Lord.

Now is this robbery? I admit that, even at the time, I was feeling a little bad about giving the guy information on a game that can be downloaded for free, certainly purchased for cheaper than the core books of 4th edition, potentially depriving my favorite local game shop of a ton of cold hard ca$h. Was I thieving money from the till?

After consideration, I don't think so. For me, B/X D&D (the precursor to the Labyrinth Lord retro-clone) was a "gateway drug," allowing me to get into the RPG hobby and leading me to hundreds of dollars in game purposes over the years. For a returning "old dude" player, wanting to introduce gaming to his young children, I would think a game with an easier learning curve would be a good thing.

Likewise, I think that selling this same individual a stack of huge ass "core books" of arcane rules and phraseology is a surefire way of getting him to throw up his hands and say, WTF? Probably alienating him and/or his kids for good.

Which would suck, of course.

On the other side, getting the guy to purchase (or download) a copy of LL will mean, introducing newbies (and oldbies) back into role-playing...not to mention, adventure purchases, dice purchases, used book/game purchases (recycle and re-use, baby), etc.

At least that's the way I see it. As a guy with a family, a full-time job, and a house that needs upkeep, in addition to a couple random hobbies (like trying to self-publish my own RPGs), I know I don't have the time or patience for WotC/Hasbro's latest greatest. Even if I didn't already object to their stuff on general principle.

So I guess, the only folks I am intentionally robbing by speaking my opinion is the WotC folks. I'm pretty sure Gary's makes most of their money on things other than RPGs (like cards, dice, Bridge products, model kits, etc.). However, I'd certainly encourage ANYone (even a crappy World Cup ref) to give role-playing a try. I just wouldn't encourage them to give it a try with Wizards/Hasbro.
; )

All right...back to Algeria and England. Come on, tie!


  1. Do they stock Goblinoid Games products? If so, boom, instant sale right there. If not, why not?

    Sure, he's not going to be selling a metric crapload of 4e or Pathfinder rulebooks, splatbooks and modules to the guy, necessarily, but I think there's probably very good money in bringing casual gamers from the '70s and '80s back into the fold by selling the retroclones and the support products folks are turning out.

  2. They do carry Goblinoid Game products (I've purchased TWO copies of Labyrinth Lord there), but they were sold out this particular day.

    They did have a HUGE selection of 4E "stuff." The guy left without buying anything. Hopefully, he will do some further research to find what game will meet his needs.
    : )

  3. And a "tie" was had. Although you seriously have to wonder...

  4. You should've given the guy your email address. Maybe you found a player!

    I hardly ever go to the game store. The ones around here either everybody's half my age or younger and I feel out of place, or there's just not a lot of "there" there. I swear I only go to a game store every 18 months or so.

  5. I'm blaming you JB - grrr!

  6. Oh no. The USA/England goal was the result of an English error. That's fair, and no one can blame anything or anyone else.

    The disallowed goal from earlier today was a result of poor refereeing, and American fans have every right to be angry.

    England's performance this evening, while by no means a self-destruction on the scale of the French, was an embarrassment. I would hope that it shocks them and the fans out of this deluded sense of entitlement they have, but I doubt it.

  7. Most countries have to concede that can't match the USA militarily or economically so they have to fight back any way they can. e.g. Screwing us when refing World Cup games, educating their children better, etc.

  8. I think you did the right thing, not because of it being Labyrinth Lord, but by introducing someone into a hobby in a cost effective way. I would test drive something for $20 than $100.

    What is thievery is buying the Blood Bowl Dark Elf Edition last week, playing it, then finding out that later this year the Blood Bowl Legendary Edition will be out with eleven more races than the current game.

  9. Even if you did snatch a customer from WotC... I suspect they'll live. Fuck 'em.

  10. It's interesting, the staff at my local FLGS have no particular love for 4E, since many of their customers are buying pathfinder, but The Sentry Box has a broad enough clientelle that they don't need to flog product, They actually listen to the customer (gasp!)