1. First off, I am a HUGE fan of Free Comic Book Day. So, I was awfully excited when I learned of Free RPG Day. Now I knew that with this being the first such event, things would likely be awfully low-key.

    I live in Arlington, Texas.

    I set out this morning to visit Generation-X Comics over in Bedford. I called them earlier in the week to validate what I had found on the event website, that they would be participating. I was informed they would be. They have a large selection of gaming items. I arrived to find no signage advertising the event and after walking the entire store began to question whether I had my facts straight concerning their participation.

    “Are ya’ll participating in FREE RPG DAY?” I asked.

    “Oh. Yeah.” The guy nodded, “We haven’t set that up, yet.”

    So he goes to the far nether reaches of the store and lays out the items with a sign stating ‘one item per customer.’

    I snatched up the CHANGELING: THE LOST Quick Start Rules (snazzy!) and made a few purchases as well.

    My mission today was to ask about the event and make purchases in addition to snagging freebies.

    Disappointed with Gen-X, I then headed over to the mid-cities location of Lone Star Comics and Science Fiction. When I asked them about the event last week, they said they were doing it up big with gaming demos and a sale.

    Well when I got there, there was a gaming demo going on… but it was for some card game, which ain’t RPG, friend. Again as I walked the store, I found no indication that Free RPG Day was happening. I asked the clerk and she said, “Oh. Yes.”

    This time, she reached into a box behind the counter and handed me a wad of items which included: Rezolution Quick Start Rules, Little Orc Wars, Wilderlands of High Adventure, Castles and Crusades Quick Star Rules, Tunnels & Trolls, and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

    I was not afforded an opportunity to review the items, or make selections. It was just handed to me. Funny thing, I’m not much of a sword and sorcery gamer. I wouldn’t have chosen any of these.

    Again, I made a purchase and thanked the clerk.

    I applaud the folks over at Impressions Advertising & Marketing for coordinating this event. Free Comic Book Day has become a successful event for comic shop retailers nationwide. I would hope that FREE RPG DAY will one day provide the same excitement for gaming retailers. But in order for that to happen, retailers are going to have to get with the program and seize the opportunities presented.

    Anybody have a better experience?


  2. I managed to get down to my local store around noon. There wasn’t much left of the giveaway stuff. I’ll have to come earlier next time.

  3. I found Free RPG Day to be like Free Comic Book Day in that many store owners seem to be more concerned with making sure the customer doesn’t get very much free stuff than they are trying to hook people on new games.

  4. Only one store here was participating (on one that was listed). When I got there a lot of what I wanted to score was already gone. Still, I scored some stuff I wanted, some I didn’t know was going to be there, and ran into someone putting together a new group. The store wasn’t my usual store, but I did note they had some cool stuff that my usual flgs doesn’t carry.

    I would have liked a demo or two, but I should/could have volunteered to run a couple and didn’t, so… maybe next year. I don’t know how many new gamers were there, but I went into a store that I usually don’t go to and plan to go back. Not to mention that some of the stuff I collected is very cool and I’ll be buying more in the future.

  5. I was able to visit two participating game shops on Saturday.

    The first was Critical Hit in Coralville, Iowa. I arrived early, a half hour before opening time, but Jerod the owner was kind enough to let me in to browse the store. He told me about the free items offered and what games were planned for the day in the shop. He had lined up several game masters who would be running demo games, some being the offered free items such as Goodman Games d20 DCC module and Black Industries Warhammer module. The demos were planned to start at 1:00PM. But I unfortunately had planned on visiting another game shop before then. I really would have liked to have stayed and played the Warhammer FRPG demo having recently picked up the rulebook. Also while there I saw an employee give a demo of the new WOTC Star Wars Pocket Model Trading Card Game to a customer. The game shop filled up pretty quick after I had arrived and there were about 12 to 15 people in the game shop when I left with my purchases of two KODT magazines and a box of War of the Queen D&D miniatures.

    I would like to give kudos to Critical Hit and Jerod the owner for setting up a fun day in his game shop and making the most out of Free RPG Day. Jerod was very helpful and informative and I know he was giving each customer there personal attention.

    Next I traveled to The Core, a game, comic and pop culture shop in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I got to the shop around 2:30 in the afternoon. No games were going on when I arrived and none started in the hour or two while I was there. Several customers came in and left during that time and I know one group seemed surprised by the free RPG items. I do not believe the gentleman working at the shop was the owner. He was very friendly with several of the customers but I never heard him explain to anyone about the Free RPG Day. He was telling everyone that all RPG games were 20% off but I never heard him say this was connected to the Free RPG Day. But I was happy to take advantage of this discount to pick up some Goodman Games DCC modules and the Privateer Press Iron Kingdoms supplement Five Fingers: Port of Deceit book.

    Unfortunately it does not look like this shop took advantage of Free RPG Day to promote role-playing games unless something was planned later in the evening but I never saw any indication that that was the case.

    That was my experience for the day. I was happy to pick up some RPG items I had wanted to get but regret not getting into a demo game of Warhammer FRPG.

  6. Dave,

    Part of that was because most of the stores did not get as many freebies as they thought…Partially our fault, but again, this is a first year event so I bet those same stores will be ready to handle the crowds in 2008.


  7. Aldo,

    Thanks for responding. The store I went to looked as though it was in no danger of running out of anything, and yet the manager was still very insistent that under no circumstances could anyone have more than one. When I posted about it over at my blog, two people posted that they had roughly the same experience. I don’t fault the event for this, especially since the identical thing happens at FCBD depending on what store you go to. I just wish the store owners would think about it a little more (if I can sample more stuff, there’s a much greater chance I’ll buy the products) and stop treating the customers as just being greedy annoyances.

  8. Dave,

    All in all this was a great event. More than anything, it got people into the stores, thinking about RPing, etc. Now standing behind the counter on this one, and choosing what to do with the product was a tough call. I got as few as 2 of one of the items. I was out of it 1 min and 30 seconds after I opened the doors. I made the personal choice to not limit the items taken other than, “Please take only one of each item _you feel you will use._ Please don’t take it if you don’t really have interest in it…there isn’t enough to go around.”

    I mainly did this because I didn’t want to manage the event heavily. I was more interested in just letting people come in, get some free stuff, and have a good time. Do I regret it? Kinda. I was out of the DCC module within 7 mins (Aldo was kind enough to bring me some more.) I was out of the Changeling preview in 8 mins, and the less popular stuff trickled out within a couple hours. So, I do kinda regret not placing a tighter limit on it. I can understand your frustration, but I think we should step back and realize…the items were free. Most would not have a retail value of more than $2. I kinda find it a little hard to stomach to hear that you feel you were entitled to more, when in reality, the way the event was set up, if your venue handled it like I did…5 people could wipe out your whole box if they did take one of each thing. A thing to note, when the event was first announced, were only offered one box per store. I immediately ordered my one box…then got it about a week before the event day. Upon opening it, I grasped quickly what Aldo said above: clearly some stuff had been shorted. I chose to fire it off in a way you would have preferred…and am pretty sure i may have done the wrong thing.

    Ultimately I am not sure how to improve upon the current concept of the event. It’s easy to say that the thing to do would be to increase the free product so there is more of each thing…and sure, that seems like a good solution. But if it’s 10 rather than 5, I am still uncertain if that will be a patch, or solution. Instead of those 5 guys wiping out the box of freebees, wouldn’t it then be 10? And since it’s Free RPG _Day_ you better hope those 10 dudes show up one per hour, through your business hours, right? I, as a venue would be willing to pay more (This event, and free product only cost each location $30 per box) to make it better, but from everything I understand I am in the vast minority. On an aside, I find that kinda sad to the nth degree. I spend something like $600 a month on my phone book ads alone…yet $100 or $200 is too costly for some retail game shops to pony up to make this event even bigger than is planned for next year. Come on people…jeez. I mean…really. Crawl out of the stone age and read a basic marketing book.

    Anywho. There’s my scattered take, from a shop keep’s perspective. Massive props to Aldo for getting this whole thing in play. I am eager to find ways to make it bigger, better, and kinda in your face.

  9. “I kinda find it a little hard to stomach to hear that you feel you were entitled to more”

    Woah, hey, slow down there. I’m an RPG consumer with an income. I certainly don’t NEED free rpgs. And maybe I’m not “entitled” to more than one free rpg. If the goal was to get people who don’t go into game stores much to go in, and you had that experience, that’s good.

    However, if the goal was to get someone like me to try out different RPG lines that I normally wouldn’t follow, then I had a very frustrating experience, and had to pick which of several new RPG lines I was interested in to get the free sampler from, with no option to get more. (I couldn’t even purchase them for $2 or what have you.) As is, I’m probably not going to bother checking some of the other games out now. It was also frustrating that the store I was in decided not to capitalize on the event by having demos or any reason to keep me in the store beyond picking up my one RPG.

    I have the identical complaint for Free Comic Book Day. Some stores restrict how many issues and claim that they’re mainly concerned with having enough for everybody. Others are interested in getting existing comic buyers hooked on series that they may not normally look at, but also tend to run out early. What it means for customers like me is that we’re encouraged to go to multiple stores. It also makes me not want to buy from the store that gives me one thing when I could buy from a store that gives me many things. Just my perspective from a consumer.

  10. Hey Dave,

    Thanks for responding. I was kinda baiting ya, guilty as charged. I was hoping you would say that. For you, FRG day was an opportunity to try and get a sample of some new and different things to experiment with. I think for some others, it may have been a freebie grab. Some people walked into the store expecting it to be a day where people could potentially learn how to play a RPG for the first time. Ultimately, maybe the real issue is that the event hasn’t formed an identity yet.

    In essence, I have listed three ways the event could be approach by three different people. I bet there are more.

    I think along with finding a better way to handle the give-aways…it might be wise to really brand the purpose, rather than the “day.”

    Thanks again for letting me be a jerk 😉


  11. Chris, I think you tagged it. The identity of the event has not really been formed. Truly, I’ve no concern with limiting the items. I’d just like to see some retailer excitement around them.

    Here in DFW, Zeus Comics hosts a fantastic Free Comic Book Day event called CAPE. CAPE is a three-day event including a live art show, HUGE sale featuring box-after-box of 25-cent comics, and a brunch on Sunday morning. There’s a costume contest and celebrities. Folks selling their wares… It’s fantastic. I spend hours there just soaking up the wonder of the community.

    Now then, I have no expectation that FREE RPG DAY will grow into something approaching CAPE. The RPG market is much smaller than that of comics. But energy can still be brought to it.

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