Audio report – Free RPG Day 2008 is upon us!

In our latest episode, we talk with special guest Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions and Free RPG Day about this Saturday’s second annual event. In just one year, the participating publishers have multiplied, and Aldo tells us both what to look for at local stores, and what it has taken to make it happen. Then we lapse into talk of other industry trends and releases before wrapping up.


  1. BTW, the discounts online don’t necessarily shrink to 10% after shipping, Aldo. I believe Amazon.Com was offering all three 4E DND books together on pre-order for $54.83 including free shipping. Retail was like $104.95. That’s almost at wholesale prices, and may beat some small retailers’ discount rates.

    I bought a PHB from my FLGS, but I was painfully aware that for $20.00 I would have got the whole set of books. Except for used games, I buy almost all my games at a FLGS. The only one I remember buying at a Target was Heroscape. My FLGS’ were charging well above the MSRP on Heroscape. I think because Hasbro short-discounts its non-WotC board games in hobby channels. I’m usually willing to pay MSRP at my FLGS, but I’m not willing to pay well above MSRP. That’s my line in the sand.

    I do, however, go in and make purchases I don’t really need (like store T-shirts, etc.) to help keep the stores in business. With the economy the way it is, they need all the help they can get. That’s one reason why I’m glad that Free RPG Day exists for brick ‘n’ mortar stores. So, keep up the good work, Aldo.


  2. “BTW, the discounts online don’t necessarily shrink to 10% after shipping, Aldo. I believe Amazon.Com was offering all three 4E DND books together on pre-order for $54.83 including free shipping. Retail was like $104.95. That’s almost at wholesale prices, and may beat some small retailers’ discount rates.”

    Spot on. In fact, that may be slightly less then we get it from Alliance or ACD. We recorded a 2d6 Feet last night where I mention how we got several sales from people who had pre-ordered from Amazon, then got emails saying their shipment would be very delayed. They drove right down and bought it from us…full price. Bummer for them and Amazon, hooray for WoTC keeping our channel supplied. 🙂

  3. To bring the topic back around to this Saturday, I wonder how many stores make the effort to really get their full mileage out of Free RPG Day. Last show, we jumped all over WotC for not supporting the 4e launch as well as it should have been, but the “sell” goes both ways – in this instance, retailers can’t just plop the freebies down on a table and expect amazing sales.

  4. At least one retailer has reported that people are trying to ask for set-asides, multiple copies, etc., and are calling and nagging him about it. His method to make sure that there feels like there is enough to go around is to have some players run the modules/games that they get at Free RPG Day so that more people can enjoy them. I think that’s a great idea.

  5. I think the whole issue isn’t customers asking for multiple copies of the freebies, it’s the fact the event is loosely modeled of Free Comic Book day. All my limited experiences of that event show that multiple copies of every book are shipped out each venue, allowing the venue to have to monitor the take-aways less, and to give the attendees a much wider swath of stuff to take home. We have 3s of some stuff to last the whole day. Free Comic Book day just doesn’t have that type of experience for the customer, so I can understand why some people would feel entitled to a bit more than they will get just due to the natural comparison.

  6. Chris,

    FCBD has the money of Marvel and DC behind it to supply the demand – which is a lot more than RPGs – especially with all the movies made about their properties. Free RPG Day is 1) Only two years old, and 2) Is in a marketplace that will always be smaller than comics, thus, will always be of smaller caliber (calibur?) It is great that the demand is there for more giveaways, and I will definitely see about upping the requirements next year…maybe even making four levels of sponsorship from the publishers in case someone like Wizards wants to up the giveaways even more. I’ve always said I am open to suggestions so send the concerns my way.


  7. First store, listed on the FRPG website as participating: “We never got our shipment.” Like they couldn’t have at least emailed to get their name removed?

    Second store: less than an hour after opening was already out of the Dungeon Tile and mini from WotC (even though they had limit one D&D stuff.) Got the 4e adventure and the Trail of Cthulhu adventure, so can’t complain too much. I am a whore for those dungeon tiles though…

  8. I stopped by two stores during my lunch break today – the first was having a sale (40% off all RPGs) and running a couple of games, but didn’t know anything about the promo shipment; the second had *zero* store tie-in activity to the event, but had all the promo stuff available on a card table in the middle of the store. In all, a mixed bag so far.

  9. Oh, and if I’m not mistaken, the Iron Heroes setting intro book, Bloodwood (Fiery Dragon Publishing) and the Hunter: The Vigil Quickstart Rules are both freely available in PDF form at RPGnow today. I thought that was a no-no for publishers participating in the event, but at least those who miss it at stores can grab them from home.

  10. My local store was doing the roll-a-d20 thing and the play space was 100% full of RPG players. (And they had a copy of The Zorceror of Zo for me to buy!)

  11. Free RPG Day was a bust localy, because there were NO participating stores in West Virginia. None. You had to drive to Cincinatti, OH, or Pittsburgh, PA, to get anything.


  12. Phew…lots of things to respond to…

    Dave T. Game – was that Family Game Store in MD? They were the only one that said they did not get…They called us FRIDAY (the day before the event) and said “we didn’t get our stuff.” We did the best we could with emails and updates on the site saying to stores “if you do not get by 6/11, let us know.” Many did.

    Misuba – I heard a couple other stores did that…consumers did not like that option!

    Allan Sugarbaker – The rules are they cannot release until the MONDAY after Free RPG Day…so, yeah, it is a no-no, but that is not something I tend to enforce. Also, you have to tell me which stores were your two experiences so I can make notes!!!

    Michael Erb – I would hate to think you think we determined which stores participated in the event…It is an local stores’ own choice as to whether or not they sign up. A ton of our store sign-ups are because of consumers like you telling the store to be a part of it…let them know about us please!!!

    Thanks to everyone!

  13. Aldo- Yes it was, and as I stormed off from the store, I thought to myself “I’m sure they didn’t make an effort to fix it, since Aldo was on top of everything last year.”

    They certainly didn’t do themselves any favors: I was invited to a D&D game one-shot with players I didn’t know (being one of the more well-connected gamers in MD) and there were several people there who also walked away disappointed from FGS as well. It did give me a chance to talk up Games & Stuff in Glen Burnie, who were all over the event (and were all over D&D Game Day too.)

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