[RPG Newswire] Linkdump from July and Early August

So I lied. The previously-reported "loosening up" was vastly over-exaggerated. I'm still here, and I'm juggling the summer schedule and a couple of sizeable editing projects. Hopefully more on those later.

But for now, enjoy another sampling of interesting links.

Image taken from page 204 of 'Z českého ráje. Cestopisné Kresby ... Illustroval A. Nejedlý'
Thank you, British Library!
Game Publisher Sales Numbers
Brent Newhall posted his DriveThru sales numbers for the first half of 2015 on Google Plus. In his words, "Old School Sells". His Old School Renaissance Handbook remains his biggest seller, which gives an introductory overview of 28 systems and interviews with several OSR designers.

Fitz at Moebius Adventures looks back at June in the latest Infinity Loop. We get an overview of current projects, a look at web traffic trends, and an overview of sales numbers. All in all, excellent and useful detail that gives insight into a small gaming business.

As Encoded Designs gets off the ground, it's interesting to read their Q2 Update. The only real sales information they have is for their Dungeon World adventure Dangerous Space Jail. I'm interested to see how Part-Time Gods of Fate fares-Encoded Designs did the writing but that's actually a Third Eye Games product..

Evil Hat released their sales numbers for Q2 2015. That's a large line of products, and it's interesting to see the trends for the spring. I'm curious to see if there's a sales spike around cons, or if sales remain fairly flat. I don't know if there will be any commentary about the effects of GenCon in the Q3 summary, but we'll see.

Freelancer Rates and Industry vs. Hobby Mindsets
David Hill started the ball rolling with his essay Per-Word Rates for Games Need to Go. Basically, the more work (research, editing, change of spec, etc.) you do on an article/book/game that pays by the word, the lower your hourly rate becomes. And most games don't pay much to start with.

There's some good discussion of the topic in the comments on David Hill's post to Google Plus, and even more good comments on Mark Diaz Truman's reshare of it.

Ryan Macklin focused the question a little more with On Freelancers & Their Incentives, where he posits the (paraphrased) question, "How can we create (non-punitive) incentives for freelancers so they do the important ancillary work needed on creative projects, without crippling the publisher in paying for the freelancer's time?"

Michelle Lyons-McFarland tackled the topic in The RPG Industry and Fair Compensation. She talks about the industry vs. hobby attitude and how that's part of the problem. There's an industry, but it hasn't evolved much beyond the one-person cottage companies that sprung up after the d20 bubble burst in the early 2000s. That needs to change, and writing fair pay into Kickstarter plans is one way to address the issue.

Yes, pay rates for game work are mostly crap right now, especially compared to articles in more established "traditional" publications. I think a good first step is to stop treating your game business like a game and start thinking of it a little more seriously. Y'know, like a business. As a one-wombat shop I'm still firmly in hobbyland myself, but I think I'm moving in a more serious direction.

Game Design Contest
For those of you who missed this year's Game Chef (including me), fear not! The Threeforged RPG Design Challenge is happening. This one is a little different. You submit a 700-1100 word almost-playable RPG. These move on to Stage 2, where you flesh out someone else's idea and add 1000 words. Then in Stage 3 you polish up a game already worked on by two other designers and add 2000 words. So your original idea is developed by 3 designers, and you work on 3 RPGs in various stages. There's further discussion in the comments of Paul Czege's Google Plus post.

Image taken from page 388 of 'Gately's World's Progress. A general history of the earth's construction and of the advancement of mankind ... Edited by C. E. Beale. Édition de luxe'
Keep going...
Other Game-Related Notes
According to Christopher Helton at Dorkland, Steve Jackson's license agreement to publish Traveller products will expire at the end of 2015 and not be renewed. Grab any GURPS Traveller supplements before the end of the year, because they will not be reprinted.

Daniel Solis gives us One Thing to Avoid in Game Design, courtesy of Paul Peterson, designer of the card game Guillotine. In a nutshell, "Don't stop players from playing the game." Daniel dives into variations on the theme which actually work. All in all a great thing to keep in mind if you're contemplating any "Skip A Turn" game mechanics.

The Druid, the Murder Hobos, and the Coffee Bean is another excellent exploration of real-world economic machinations in a game world populated by murder hobos from the mind of Emily Dresner-Thornber (aka Multiplexer). Also: Coffee! If you haven't caught up with the whole Dungeonomics series of articles, please do so. They're spectacular and full of big picture ideas to steal and use.

I first saw A Treasure Trove of D&D Gamer History on OSR Today. Clicking through to De viris illustribus, or, fantasy gaming in the mid-70s explores boxes of gaming material packed away since the early days of gaming. The early rulesets are wonderful to look at, but the character sheets and campaign notes make this look back into gaming history well worth the time.

I almost didn't include Total Party Kill: The Architects of Dungeons & Dragons on Medium because of the factual errors: Dragon Magazine came long before Dungeon, and Steve Winter's last name does not contain an "s". (The editor brain never sleeps. Saints preserve us.) Barring that, I liked reading the interviews, and the links to other mainstream mentions of D&D lets me know that tabletop RPG folk have successfully managed to infect popular culture.

Random Cool Stuff
Your D&D Stories by AC Stuart had me rolling on the floor. Submit a brief story about something funny that happened in a D&D game, and it might get written up in comic form. With comments. Enjoy.

The creators of the Americus graphic novel (MK Reed and Jonathan Hill) have put together a free PDF which introduces the world of Americus. It's called The Lorian Gendarme Guidebook for Adventuring Standards, and it's brilliant. It introduces classes, monsters, weapons, geography, and major organizations in an entertaining read with excellent art. The fact that it's framed as a textbook for entry-level fighters ("Greens") is the icing on the cake. All RPG campaign worlds should have a resource like this for potential players.
Image taken from page 117 of 'Popular History of Egypt. ... (The Egyptian War.) Illustrated, etc'
The Aforementioned Image.

The British Library has posted an insane amount of public domain image scans from books in their collection to Flickr. It's unsorted, but if you need Victorian images for anything, have at it. I've included a few examples, and I linked to Page 137 because who doesn't want to see An Assembly of Egyptian Ladies?
Edited to add: Looks like the image rendering for this one is cocked up. Poo.

And since we're talking about free-to-use art, take a look at these Sources for Public Domain/Creative Commons Images posted at Snarglebarf (I love that name). The list doesn't come close to exhausting sources of art resources online, so feel free to add links to your favorite sources in the comments.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Thanks for giving me enough distraction reading to keep me from doing anything productive today :)

    1. My work here is done.

      Oh, wait. "Clean your office!"

      =NOW= my work here is done.