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Beyond here lie dragons

Poisoning the Magic Well: RPG Distribution

Jerry Stratton, September 7, 2007

I love it when these things pop up out of the blue. Brad on the Forge asked “what makes traditional publishing poison, or at least something to be avoided by Indie game designers?” Ron Edwards’s response starts with a longish summary of the history of distribution in the role-playing world.

The original role-playing games didn't have a fixed venue. The mall store didn't exist; hell, malls hardly existed. The game materials first began to be available in classic hobby stores, which were small crowded shops in secondary locations (ours, in Monterey, was continuous with a gas station). They typically carried a full selection of train gear, military-colored paints for models and miniatures, trading cards, and everything one might want for building models, as well as novelty items like toy gliders and sundry small objects. They'd recently incorporated a wide range of Star Trek and monster-movie products, mostly rubber novelty stuff and glow-in-the-dark models. The main promotional device for the new hobby was a banner reading "Dungeons & Dragons Headquarters." The trouble for them was a lack of product: the 1,000 copy print run that debuted at GenCon didn't really have much of a follow-up, so exactly what you bought at the D&D HQ was a bit vague: a kid tended to walk away with a staple-bound Judge's Guild supplement, a box of lead miniatures, and a meetup date with local gamers, usually including one or more guys from the local military base.

Go read Poison Pages for more. And follow the other links in the thread, as they’re just as interesting.

  1. <- Deep history
  2. Dragonsfoot Adventures ->