[CARD.BOARD.BOX] #12 – RPG EVOLUTION

***I endeavor to make [Card.Board.Box.] about gaming in the broadest sense possible, and not about the Games and Stuff retail location specifically.  In this way, the column is of value to folks that may not be anywhere near the shop or even the state of Maryland.  But just this once, I’m gonna get store-specific.  This is not something you’ll likely see again, but you’ll see why I chose to go that route this time…***

We are, as a species, addicted to stories.  Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.”  -Jonathan Gottschall  The Storytelling Animal

There are those who will tell you that traditional table top Role-Playing Games are dead.  More often than not, you will hear this cry from brick-and-mortar retailers.  They will point to the popularity of online games such as World of Warcraft.  They will direct you to the proliferation of PDF sales and suggest that they have cannibalized hardcopy sales.  They will hold up examples such as White Wolf publishing, who, for all intents and purposes, now only publishes print-on-demand.  They bemoan the fact that DUNGEONS & DRAGONS has fallen from its pedestal of “best selling role playing game.”

Role-Playing Games are dead?

On behalf of myself, our Assistant Manager George, every gamer who turns out every Thursday night for Open RPG night, and the whole staff here at Games and Stuff, I respectfully say:  Bullshit.

 
PathfinderCoreYes, D&D has been knocked from its pole position by PATHFINDER.  But by most counts, if you add up current sales of D&D 4th Edition and PATHFINDER, you’ll discover that the number exceeds the sales figures of D&D 3.5 alone.  So more people are playing some current edition of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS than previously.  And who would have thought, a scant five years ago that Fantasy Flight Games would return to publishing RPGs and become a giant in their own right?  Their sixth game line, ONLY WAR comes out later this year.  SHADOWRUN has been going strong for over 20 years at this point and is regularly in the top five nationwide.  Not to mention there’s all sorts of smaller RPG lines that have been making big splashes upon their release and continue to do well.  DRAGON AGE; THE ONE RING; the new MARVEL HEROIC ROLEPLAYING; MOUSE GUARD; DRESDEN FILES… the list goes on!  I’m really excited about Cubicle 7’s forthcoming YGGDRASILL myself.

There is also a remarkable quantity of independently published RPGs out there, and some of them are quite ground-breaking. Stuff like DREAD, the horror RPG that uses a Jenga set as its resolution device.  Or games that stretch the definition of RPG by eliminating the Game Master entirely… stuff like FIASCO, recently featured on Wil Wheaton’s TableTop, or LOST DAYS OF MEMORIES & MADNESS, or CHRONICLES OF SKIN.

So let’s sum up.  Most retailers are claiming that the sun is setting on RPGs.  Games and Stuff says “bullcrap.”

So what are we doing about it?

Heh.
DarkHeresyTatteredFatesWe’re expanding our RPG section.  A lot.  You may have noticed that the Fantasy Flight RPG line now has its own dedicated space on the FFG wall.  We also ripped down the old triangular RPG “spinner” and replaced it with a full-sized floor rack.  Role-playing accessories and associated miniatures have a new look, and we’re looking into expanding our REAPER inventory levels.

PATHFINDER; SHADOWRUN; TRAIL OF CTHULHU; DARK HERESY; DEATHWATCH; ROGUE TRADER; ONLY WAR; BLACK CRUSADE; WARHAMMER FANTASY ROLEPLAY; LEGEND OF THE FIVE RINGS; A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE; THE ONE RING; DRAGON AGE; THE LAUNDRY; and HOLLOW EARTH EXPEDITION.  We are currently committed to carrying the full line of all of these games.  We also let things run pretty deeply with SAVAGE WORLDS, CALL OF CTHULHU and of course DUNGEONS & DRAGONS 4th edition.

 
Diaspora coverIn addition, I recently placed a gigantic order through Indie Press Revolution, with more on the way.  By the time you read this, a lot of it will already be on the shelf.  Scores of new titles.  Stuff some of you have been asking about for a while (like the aforementioned DREAD, or DIASPORA), some stuff that may have escaped your radar but will knock your socks off (REIGN anyone?  How about A DIRTY WORLD?)  You might want to plan to give yourselves some extra time this Thursday to browse those racks, trust me.

As always, if we don’t have what you want in stock?  As long as it’s currently available, we’ll get it for you.  At 10% off.

And we’re continuing our emphasis on having the most amazing second-hand RPG section you’ve ever seen.  (And we’re always buying, by the way.  Talk to George about what we’re currently offering cash or store credit deals for.)  We’re also stocking up on non-system-specific accessories like THE WORLD’S GREATEST SCREEN and more GAMEMASTERY back catalog.  And of course we will continue to run our monthly THOR’S DAY open-gaming-til-midnight events, which were created with RPGers in mind.

RiderWaiteTarotFinally, we’re bringing in non-gaming items that will serve storytellers in any game.  Products like the Creative Whack Pack, RORY’S STORY DICE, plotting toolkits, and of course Sherrilyn Kenyon’s wonderful Character Naming Sourcebook. We’re even bringing in some divination devices like rune stone sets and tarot cards.  If you’ve never used these sorts of things as random creative elements in your games, you’re missing out.

So yeah, I’ve seen stores with bigger RPG sections, but they’re mostly populated by dusty tomes that have been out of print for years and nobody wanted in the first place.  But better?  No.  I’ll put the RPG section at Games and Stuff up against any you’ve seen in the state.  Probably further. Think we can do something better?  Let me or George know and we’ll see what we can do.  It’s hard for me to express just how excited I am about this.

We’ve done our part.  Now it’s your turn.  There are stories to be told.  The world needs more Game Masters.  Get on it.

-Paul Alexander Butler is the store manager of Games and Stuff, where he is the resident Board Game Nerd and the pied piper of Tuesday Night Board Gaming.  Don’t be fooled, his first love is RPGs. [Card.Board.Box.] is his monthly gaming column for gamesandstuffonline.  He and his assistant manager George have recently started a series of workshops for Game Masters called the GameMaster Guild.

 

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