RPG Evolution – 2015 Q3

Hello, and welcome to the last installment of RPG Evolution, at least as you know it.  Things have been a bit crazy here at Games & Stuff over the last few weeks (opening a temporary holiday pop up store will do that) but today I’m here with the Q3 RPG report, albeit a few weeks later than intended. Why do I call it the “last one?” Well, early next year I’ll be launching RPGEvolution.com

You can go visit now although it’s just a placeholder. While I’ll still be doing these quarterly sales breakdowns, I also wanted a platform to discuss the business of roleplaying games in a way that allows me to a bit more freedom. So you’ll be seeing more frequent articles, and covering a wide variety of topics related to the business of RPG retail. Got ideas for me? Shoot me an email at Paul@gamesandstuffonline.com

And with that, let’s get to the numbers:

  1. Dungeons & Dragons (Q2 Rank #1)
  2. Pathfinder (Q2 Rank #1)
  3. Star Wars (Q2 Rank #1)
  4. Shadowrun (Q2 Rank #5)
  5. Dragon Age 
  6. End of the World (Q2 Rank #16)
  7. Feng Shui 
  8. Warhammer 40,000 (Q2 Rank #4)
  9. The One Ring (Q2 Rank #7)
  10. Dresden Files (Q2 Rank #12)
  11. Fantasy Age 
  12. Cyper System 
  13. Iron Kingdoms (Q2 Rank #13)
  14. Legend of the Five Rings (Q2 Rank #17)
  15. Dungeon Crawl Classics (Q2 Rank #6)
  16. Numenera (Q2 Rank #14)
  17. 13th Age (Q2 Rank #9)
  18. Dread (Q2 Rank #18)
  19. Fate (Q2 Rank #10)
  20. The Strange

DragonAgeRulebookBig news this time around is NEW HOTNESS. No less than four entries in the Top 20 that are brand new releases.  Dragon Age, Feng Shui, Fantasy Age and the Cypher System all ranked this time around.
I honestly don’t expect the Cyper System to have much sales longevity, the market is simply too crowded with “generic” systems at the moment. FATE seems to have developed into the go-to, plus Cypher doesn’t have the weight of a Wil Wheaton webseries behind it like Fantasy Age does.

fengshui2_coveAdditionally, most of the sales of the Cypher rulebook seem to have come from Monte Cook Games aficionados, and even Numenera and The Strange seem to be slowing quite a bit. Numenera was an eight units per release line for me, now it’s three. The Strange is even less, thought there’s a steady trickle of catalog sales from both of them. We’ll see.

ShadowrunDataTrailsShadowrun continues to be really strong for me. It’s been very close to eclipsing Star Wars numbers a few times, which is saying something considering there’s a Star Wars movie coming out that you may have heard about. In my store Shadowrun is really benefiting from in store organized play. If you carry Shadowrun, and you don’t currently have somebody running the Shadowrun Missions program in your store, make it happen.

One Ring and 13th Age are both suffering from a lack of releases.  They continue to have strong ongoing catalog sales, but without shiny new books to sell, they’re not gonna crack the Top 10. We’ve got a Gamemaster’s Screen & Resource Book coming for 13th Age, and Horse-lords of Rohan coming for The One Ring, so both lines should see spikes, that last one especially.

That’s it for now, short and sweet. Go make your stores successful this holiday, and I’ll see you in the new year with an all new all different RPGEvolution.com!

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Director of Retail Operations at Games and Stuff. 

RPG Evolution – 2015 Q2

RPG Evolution is a semi-regular column in which I discuss the retail business side of selling role-playing games.  In addition to periodic special installments, once every three months I break down the twenty top selling RPGs by sales volume at Games and Stuff.

Happy July everyone, and welcome to the halfway point of the year.
Today we don’t have any especially big surprises about our best selling RPGs, but we do have the reappearance of a few old friends, and we get to see if my predictions from spring have proven true. So here’s the Top 20 for the period of April 1, 2015 to June 30, 2015:

  1. Dungeons & Dragons (Q1 Rank #1)
  2. Pathfinder (Q1 Rank #2)
  3. Star Wars (Q1 Rank #3)
  4. Warhammer 40,000 (Q1 Rank #5)
  5. Shadowrun (Q1 Rank #4)
  6. Dungeon Crawl Classics
  7. The One Ring (Q1 Rank #6)
  8. Mutant Year Zero (Q1 Rank #15)
  9. 13th Age (Q1 Rank #8)
  10. Fate (Q1 Rank #7)
  11. Lamentations of the Flame Princess
  12. The Dresden Files
  13. Iron Kingdoms (Q1 Rank #17)
  14. Numenera (Q1 Rank #10)
  15. Through the Breach
  16. The End of the World (Q1 Rank #12)
  17. Legend of the Five Rings
  18. Dread
  19. Trail of Cthulhu (Q1 Rank #14)
  20. White Wolf/World of Darkness

ShadowrunRunFasterNo big shocks in the Top Five, as Shadowrun and Warhammer 40,000 continue their tussle for the number four spot.  The 40K sales are absolutely driven by the second edition of Dark Heresy and the new releases for that line, although the back catalog sales of Deathwatch and Rogue Trader are quite strong.  As I’ve stated before, six months ago I would have never thought that the 40K games would still be in the top five, but the enduring appeal of the grimdark future of the 41st Millennium has proven me wrong.
Shadowrun for its part, didn’t have a core hardback release this quarter, so the flip-flop is expected, but with both Data Trails and Chrome Flesh releasing in Q3, Shadowrun should return the punches next time around.

It’s also worth noting that in April, for the first time since its release, the sales of Dungeons & Dragons were eclipsed by those of Pathfinder, but it didn’t last, and as you can see, it wasn’t enough to keep D&D from the top spot over the course of the quarter. In case you missed it, back in May I wrote a big article about my thoughts on the future of D&D and Pathfinder, which you can check out here.

DCCGhostRingMy personal favorites The One Ring and 13th Age seem to have mostly firmed up their positions in the Top 10, although the appearance of Dungeon Crawl Classics in the #6 spot shook things up a bit. DCC has been in our list before, but my full time Assistant Manager George recently took a shine to the line after hosting the game for a Free RPG Day session, and his excitement for the game (and his own not insignificant purchasing) helped push it back into the Top 10.  As always, never underestimate what your own passions will do for the sales of an RPG line in your store.

MutantYearZeroProductsThe big story this time around is Mutant Year Zero.  Yes, I did in fact predict this back in May.  This is the the post-apocalyptic game you’ve been looking for.  Not as silly as Gamma World, and not zombie-centric, once we got a decent restock (thanks Aldo!) the thing has taken off and never looked back.  It’s got some really cool “Ark” rules that detail the survivors’ enclave and how it grows and changes throughout the course of the campaign.

A lot of fresh and returning titles this month: Legend of the Five Rings makes its return to the list, thanks to a massive and long overdue line-wide reprint.  Lamentations of the Flame Princess had four simultaneous releases in April, including the $42.99 hardback A Red & Pleasant Land.  Dresden Files generated a pile of cash from the release of the game’s third hardback, The Paranet Papers, while the appearance of Dread on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop drove sales of that game.  For those of you that don’t know, instead of cards or dice Dread uses a Jenga set, and sales of that classic game have picked up as a result.

PrimevalThuleOf special note is Primeval Thule.  This setting book from Sasquatch Game Studio (the creative team behind D&D’s Princes of the Apocalypse) is available in both Pathfinder and 13th Age versions.  So while the sales of those books are included in their respective lines above, it’s worth noting that if the Primeval Thule setting was listed as its own game line, it would have ranked at #19.  Similarly the Dragon Kings book, a completely system-free setting book which is a spiritual descendant of Dark Sun (from one of the original designers of that setting) just barely missed the chart at #22.

Looking ahead, I expect the Star Wars Force and Destiny rulebook release might potentially threaten Pathfinder’s hold on the #2 spot.  I doubt it will actually break through, but it might be close.  The second End of the World  book, Wrath of the Gods will give that game a boost, although it’s unlikely it will reach the heights that Zombie Apocalypse reached, although with Cthulhu on the cover, even that’s not certain.  (Not to mention, is there room for two Cthulhu Apocalypse RPGs?  Pelgrane’s Cthlulhu Apocalyse for Trail of Cthulhu is will probably be out before the end of September as well.)  Finally, if Cubicle 7 manages to release Horse-Lords of Rohan in Q3, The One Ring might see a massive influx of new players as the fan favorite Rohirrim enter the game as a playable culture.

Until next time,

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Director of Retail Operations at Games and Stuff.  For those keeping score at home, RPG Sales at Games and Stuff are up 29.3% over this time last year. But August of 2014 was the release of the D&D Player’s Handbook, so NEXT quarter is when those year-on-year numbers will be interesting.

RPG Evolution Supplemental – Super RPG Smackdown

or DungeonPaths & DragonFinders (A False Equivalency)

Well here we go.

Pathfinder.
Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition.

PathfinderVSDD

This has been a topic that has been discussed ad nauseam, eh?  Well too bad, I’ve got a lot of thoughts about it, and if you’re reading this, I imagine you do too.

So this edition of RPG Evolution is a little bit different.  RPG Evolution has been, up until this point, a quarterly column in which I discuss the sales trends at Games and Stuff, from a point of view that will hopefully be of most use to fellow retailers.  Each month I point out interesting information pulled from the list of the Top 20 highest grossing RPG lines in the store over the previous three months, and highlight trends seen from a longer view.  My most recent article, discussing the first quarter of 2015, was just posted recently, and can be found by clicking here.

So about these two games.
It’s been a lot of fun watching the numbers on both of them since fifth edition D&D hit with the Player’s Handbook last year.  I admit to kinda enjoying watching D&D pound Pathfinder into the dirt with sales figures after all the nay-sayers said it was dead.  And just to be clear, I don’t really have a dog in this fight.  As I’ve stated before, I’m not really a D&D player, except for 13th Age.  I believe it was retailer Gary Ray of Black Diamond Games who years ago said to a room full of people (and I’m paraphrasing) “Don’t take sides in the edition wars.  Be an arms dealer.”

DestroWhich is to say, as a retailer, your best bet is to provide everything to both fan bases and reap the rewards. Engaging and encouraging sniping gets us nowhere.
Or as I like to put it, Be Destro.

At any rate, as fun as it’s been watching D&D rake in the numbers, one has to wonder… what’s next?  With a thin release schedule, can D&D really keep this up?  As a gamer, I’m actually far more inclined to appreciate RPG lines that are lean and mean,  with releases that serve to advance story and not necessarily provide volume upon volume of new rules and mechanical content. But as a retailer?

PathfinderRack

And that’s the real rub here.  On one side, you’ve got a VAST line (Pathfinder) that kicks out about 4-7 new books every month, plus various maps and card accessories.  And a good handful of those book releases each year are hefty hardback volumes. (That picture above represents one third of the square footage devoted to Pathfinder in my store.)

D&DOutOfTheAbyssAnd on the other side, you’ve got D&D, with a scant six books in the line, and only one more title (Out of the Abyss) announced so far.  Lean and mean may be great for what Wizards is attempting to do with their “story first” approach, but it can’t be great for the bottom line of game stores.  Or can it?

Let’s think about Pathfinder again for a second.  So, Paizo releases roughly a half dozen books per month.  Let’s say every “Alpha” Pathfinder player in your shop buys all that stuff, every month.  That’s a solid chunk of change.  But how many of those Alphas are enrolled in Paizo’s subscription service, getting Adventure Paths and other books direct through the publisher at a discount?  That certainly doesn’t help us here at the Friendly Local Game Store.

But Pathfinder’s got other things going for it.  A lot of goodwill for one.  Many people have a bad taste in their mouth from D&D 4E and view Paizo as a savior of sorts and will only give up all the crunchy bits of 3.5 when they’re pried from their cold dead hands.
And it’s not uncommon for regular Pathfinder players to come into the shop and simply decide that they want to play, say,  a pirate story, so they plunk down a pile of money for every last bit of the Skull & Shackles Adventure Path.  D&D5E simply doesn’t have the depth of product to support spontaneous decisions like that.  But with that vast depth comes other problems… like bloat.  ‘Cause let’s face it, all those books are intimidating.

As D&D5E gains a bit of longevity, I think Pathfinder’s problems are going to get kinda interesting.

Here’s the thing.
The simple idea of whether Pathfinder or D&D will “win” the edition wars or whether customers will decide to play one over the other is a flawed concept.  The thought that there’s a finite pool of players out there and that they’re either going to play Pathfinder or D&D?  Nonsense. The Pathfinder people, are for the most part are going to continue playing Pathfinder.  Sure many of them may dabble in 5E out of curiosity, but they’ll mostly stick to Pathfinder.  Similarly, the D&D brand loyalists will stick with their game.  So this conversation ultimately becomes about the continuing sales strength of both lines going into the future, each judged mostly against its own success.

But there’s one metric by which D&D will win time and time and time again.

New players.
When lapsed players come in the shop…  When Dad comes in looking to start playing D&D with his young daughter…  When a group of teenage boys comes in wanting to “get into” roleplaying games…
These people, time and time again, want DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.  They don’t want to hear that this “Pathfinder” thing is basically D&D, they want DUNGEONS & DRAGONS.   It is in this way that D&D sales are going to continue to truck along at a steady pace.  In the absence of an active D&D line, Pathfinder was picking up those players, but now there’s next to no reason why it would gain those customers.  D&D is where it’s at.  But how many of those players will continue to purchase more books from the line?  Hard to say.  Indeed, even if they bought everything, it’s not that many books in the grand scheme of things, and we all know most of these newbies won’t become hardcore alpha players, try as we might. (Though we really need to be actively recruiting new Gamemasters… but that’s a whole ‘nother article.)

So what does that mean for Pathfinder?  OK, we’ve got those Alpha gamer sales (those that aren’t subscribing direct to Paizo) and we’ve got the Pathfinder Society perhaps driving some interest, but one has to wonder how long sales will continue.

When push comes to shove, I rather think we’ll see D&D sales level off, but continue at a steady clip throughout the year, although certainly not at 2014 sales levels, unless they modify their release strategy. Pathfinder, on the other hand, I’m not sure can maintain its previous sales levels having effectively lost the best way to gain new players (that being the decided lack of an actual D&D branded product to compete with.)

At Games and Stuff, Pathfinder is… slipping. Make no mistake, it’s still very strong, handily claiming the #2 sales spot, but it’s not the unassailable behemoth that it once was. At the GAMA Trade Show in March, I spoke to two trusted retailer friends (who I like to think of as the veritable Aramis and Athos to my Porthos, but I digress) and when they asked me about my Pathfinder sales, I responded with “they’re… *pause*… ok” which only seemed to reinforce their thinking that sales were on a downward trend. While I don’t exactly think the sky is falling, I do think things are shifting. While new softcover Player Companion books continue to do well, new release hardcover sales and Adventure Paths are a fraction of what they were. That being said, the recently released Pathfinder Unchained seems to be bucking that trend, and in April, Pathfinder beat D&D to be the #1 RPG in my store for the first time since 5E’s release.  That may be a fluke, given the success of Unchained, but we’ll see.  In contrast to that number, in February, Shadowrun came within a single hardback sale of stealing the #2 spot from Pathfinder!  A year ago, that would have sounded like a fairy tale.  So yeah, saying things are in flux is an understatement.

Palantir*Looks up*
That’s a big ramble.  As I gaze into my palantir, what is it actually trying to tell me?

PATHFINDER: Well, things are on the downtrend.  I think after a period of bleeding sales, things are starting to level off, and eventually Pathfinder will mostly sit pretty at #2, occasionally tipping over into #1 when the release schedule favors it. Although once in a while some upstart like Shadowrun might threaten it, and Pathfinder might even slip to #3 on any given month.  And who can say what Titansgrave will do to our RPG sales?

The bloat of the Pathfinder line is a nasty hurdle to clear, although Paizo itself is attempting to address this concern with things like the Pathfinder Society Core campaign, and I know I’ve had some success using the Pathfinder Strategy Guide for its intended purpose, easing Beginner Box players into the full breadth of product offerings.  But it’s still a massive, saturated line, and getting new players into the game is difficult.  The simplicity of D&D’s classic PHB/DMG/MM trio should not to be taken for granted… barring excellent customer service, new Pathfinder players simply don’t know how to proceed after their core rulebook purchase. But we shall see.

And maybe, just maybe The Pathfinder RPG might pick up a player or two from the Adventure Card Game series.  But that’s a big maybe.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: The heat has cooled.  I think we’ll see a steady drip of sales as D&D steals away those incoming curious/new/lapsed players from Pathfinder, but the white hot numbers of 2014 are a thing of the past.  I won’t be surprising anyone to say that the Princes of the Apocalypse book didn’t sell half as well as the Tyranny of Dragons stuff.  (And does anyone else think they shot themselves in the foot by not calling the actual book Elemental Evil?  But I digress.)

Twice yearly storyline adventure books with a handful of player options are great and all, but we need more.  And I’m definitively NOT saying that we need anything remotely like Pathfinder or 4E in terms of multiple Player’s Handbooks and Monster Manuals, but some sort of Advanced Players Option book might be nice, something I can sell to every player and not just DMs.  And for the love of Strahd can we get some campaign setting books?  One book a year, for a single setting.  These, my friends, these would sell, and not serve to dilute the line.  Hell, even a big fat Waterdeep campaign setting book would sell like proverbial steaming maple griddle cakes.  But c’mon, Realms, Dark Sun, Ravenloft?  Dragonlance?

DragonlanceDragons_of_autumn_twilight_1024x768

Anyone?
Seriously?  It’d be like printing money.

Anyway, so third party products from the likes of Goodman Games and Gale Force 9 help the bottom line and pick up some of the slack, but I want just  a touch more than two official adventures a year, got that WotC?  (Though if I told you how many of those GF9 spell decks I’ve sold your head would explode.  My store hosted Flames of War Nationals last year, so we’ve got an excellent relationship with Battlefront/GF9.  If you saw my numbers on those decks you’d probably all hate me.)

So yeah.
That’s where we are and how I see it.  Things are still shifting,  both lines are cooling off compared to last year, but combined, they far exceed sales of when we didn’t have an official D&D at all.  It’ll certainly be interesting to see how things pan out over the next 18 months or so.

Me?  I’ll be adventuring on Athas, the world of Dark Sun, using 13th AGE rules.
😉

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Store Manager of Games and Stuff.  And yes, there is some sick part of him that enjoys crunching all these numbers as part of his job.  He’s excited for Out of the Abyss, solely because he can’t wait to watch Demogorgon destroy that fancy dark elf once and for all.

-RPG Evolution is Paul’s mostly quarterly column for the Games and Stuff website, discussing the business of selling role-playing games.

RPG Evolution – 2015 Q1

Hello to all the retailers just joining us after we spoke at the GAMA Trade Show in March.  I hope you find this little ramble of mine useful.

So, what’s there to talk about? Well, let’s start with the list.  Here’s the Top 20 RPGs by sales volume at Games and Stuff for the period of January 1 through March 31.  (With last quarter’s ranking where appropriate)

  1. Dungeons & Dragons (Q4 Rank #1)
  2. Pathfinder (Q4 Rank #2)
  3. Star Wars (Q4 Rank #3)
  4. Shadowrun (Q4 Rank #5)
  5. Warhammer 40,000 (Q4 Rank #9)
  6. The One Ring (Q4 Rank #6)
  7. Fate (Q4 Rank #11)
  8. 13th Age (Q4 Rank #10)
  9. Mutants & Masterminds
  10. Numenera 
  11. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 
  12. The End of the World (Q4 Rank #18)
  13. The Strange (Q4 Rank #14)
  14. Trail of Cthulhu (Q4 Rank #8)
  15. Mutant Year Zero
  16. Yggdrasil
  17. Iron Kingdoms
  18. Dungeon World 
  19. Monster of the Week
  20. A Song of Ice and Fire (Q4 Rank #16)

I actually have a lot of thoughts about Pathfinder and D&D these days, but it’s enough that I’m going to write a separate article about it.  Keep your eyes open for a RPG Evolution Supplemental in a week or so.

So with that being said, what else is interesting this time around?

dark_heresy_second_edition_frontA huge surprise to me, the Warhammer 40,000 RPGs have climbed back up to their usual perch in the Top 5, largely thanks to increased interest in the second edition Dark Heresy stuff. Though we also did a bit of remerchandising, moving the games to their own endcap display to allow FFG’s Star Wars stuff to spread out.  I was just talking about scaling back on this line in January! Funny how that works- we pulled 40K from a primo position on the FFG wall due to declining sales, and boom! sales go up in its new home.  If you haven’t learned this counter-intuitive merchandising lesson by now, take it to heart.  Move stuff around, and do it frequently.

Shadowrun continues to gain steam, now firmly ensconced in our Top 5, with new hardback releases typically selling as many as 15-20 copies in the first week of release.  We’ll see periodic dips during slow release months, but viewed over time, it’s an incredibly important line for us.  Sales of second-hand product is also great (and as a reminder, no second-hand sales are included in our sales rankings for the purposes of RPG Evolution.)

13th Age is also gaining traction. I love the crap out of this game and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently playing in a Dark Sun campaign using this system. (Nothing will increase your RPG sales like you talking about your home campaign at your store.) I’d like to think this game deserves a regular spot in the Top 10.

13TrueWaysCoverSpread

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay‘s appearance on this list is a complete anomaly. FFG has ceased publication of new material for this game, and I’d long ago stopped restocking it. But I have a lot of love for the game, and even wrote a memorial article about it. As stock levels on my shelves began to dip, I think fans of the game started worrying that it was going to disappear so snapped it all up. It’s all gone now, and at $49.99 and more apiece, that added up quickly.

There’s also a number of games on the list that have shown up in the Top 20 previously, but have skipped a quarter or two.  It just goes to show how cyclical some of these games are, with sales spiking with new releases or when an alpha gamer or two starts a campaign in the store.  These games include (for my store) Mutants & Masterminds, Numenera, Iron Kingdoms and Dungeon World. On a monthly or even quarterly basis, these games don’t seem that important, but given the long view, their impact on the bottom line reveals itself.  Further evidence that a broad selection of RPGs contributes to the health of the department in unexpected ways.  Think beyond your Top 5!

Finally, some games to watch:
The End of the World – this game continues to truck along and sell copy after copy. It’s a perfect pickup game, and the three additional titles forthcoming, we’re gonna see some volume out of this.

MutantYearZeroMutant Year Zero – The newest offering from Modiphius (publishers of Achtung! Cthulhu and the forthcoming Conan and Infinity RPGs) seems to have caught the eye of a lot of gamers. My first batch sold out immediately, and with a hefty restock coming in and the seal of approval from my Assistant Manager, I wouldn’t be surprised if this title threatens to break the Top 10 when we’re back here talking numbers in early July.

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Store Manager of Games and Stuff.  He likes to go to trade shows and loudly pontificate about how retailers could be selling more RPGs than they are.

-RPG Evolution is Paul’s quarterly column wherein he talks about the business of selling Roleplaying Games.

RPG Evolution – 2014 Q4

A little late, but here we are.  Let’s discuss what the RPG sales at Games and Stuff looked like for the last three months of 2014.

DungeonMastersGuide5ENo surprises for the top three spots, as they’ve look pretty much the same since July.  The D&D machine is plugging along a a great clip, with the release of the Dungeon Master’s Guide at the end of November driving sales.  Star Wars is only growing, and with the release of Force and Destiny next year, it’s gonna narrow the gap separating it from Pathfinder.  (It certainly doesn’t hurt that we’ve got a Star Wars RPG contributor on staff.)

  1. Dungeons and Dragons (Q3 Rank #1)
  2. Pathfinder (Q3 Rank #2)
  3. Star Wars (Q3 Rank #3)
  4. Through the Breach
  5. Shadowrun (Q3 Rank #4)
  6. The One Ring (Q3 Rank #5)
  7. White Wolf
  8. Trail of Cthulhu
  9. Warhammer 40,000 (Q3 Rank #6)
  10. 13th Age (Q3 Rank #12)
  11. Fate (Q3 Rank #15)
  12. Legend of the Five Rings (Q3 Rank #13)
  13. Call of Cthulhu  (Q3 Rank #19)
  14. The Strange (Q3 Rank #10)
  15. Doctor Who (Q3 Rank #9)
  16. A Song of Ice and Fire
  17. Firefly
  18. The End of the World
  19. Adventure Maximus! (Q3 Rank #8)
  20. Dread

throughthebreachplayersSo what else is interesting?  The big one of course is Through the Breach.  The RPG based on the world of the Malifaux miniatures game made its debut at #4 on our list, outselling Shadowrun and recent best-seller One Ring.  While I personally listed Through the Breach as my RPG of the year, I don’t really have any thoughts about longevity for this title.  Right now I think it’s in the “I’m checking this out” phase, and any actual table play that develops is going to seriously inform future sales.  I’m sure a lot of volume came from curious Malifaux miniatures players.

White Wolf (which is to say, Onyx Path) has reared its head again, once again proving that it deserves the space it gets on my shelf as part of their POD retailer program. But it’s becoming more and more apparent that the lion’s share of these numbers belong to core rulebooks, the 20th Anniversary editions in particular.   These purchases are largely motivated by nostalgia so aren’t really providing the basis for deeper catalog sales.  We won’t be stocking the supplements or newer games going forward.

Warhammer 40K continues its slide down the chart, with a much decreased release schedule and FFG clearly putting more effort into Star Wars.  It’s just about at the point where I’m considering scaling back on the line and not carrying every single title.  Space for three Star Wars lines isn’t going to come out of thin air after all.

13th age13th Age continues it’s climb to sales glory, finally cracking the top ten.  With five titles plus some third party stuff now in the line, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the game is here to stay, and it has a great deal of appeal to old school D&D players whose tastes swing more toward the narrative end of the spectrum.  And it’s a personal favorite of a few staff members  (My assistant manager and I are now three sessions deep into a 13th Age Dark Sun campaign.)

EndOfTheWorldZombieApocThe first game in the new End of the World RPG series (Zombie Apocalypse) from FFG has  a strong showing at #18 (it was my #9 game for December, the month it debuted.)  Maybe zombies have been beaten to death in the board gaming realm, but this game proves it’s still got some life in it.  Me? I’m waiting for the next volume – “Wrath of the Gods”.

One other thing I’d like to point out.  “The World’s Greatest GM Screen” from Hammer Dog Games.  If this were listed here as a game line, it would rank at #13.  That’s a lot of happy gamemasters out there, and a perfect poster child for how a strong RPG department can generate ancillary sales through RPG accessories.  I plan on talking at length about RPG accessory sales in a future column.

My total RPG sales were up 46% vs 2013.  We’re in a boom time for RPGs right now folks.  Take advantage of it, and use the influx of interest to build a foundation for those lean years.  We won’t always have a shiny new D&D to do all the work for us.

And I’ll leave you there.
We’ll talk again in April, when we see what 2015 has done for us in its first few months, and I’ll be fresh from the GAMA Trade Show, where I’m sure I’ll get some cool scuttlebutt on forthcoming releases.

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Store Manager of Games and Stuff.  He’s been playing RPGs since the late 1970’s and managing specialty retail stores since the early 1990’s.  He likes to think this gives him the authority to talk about stuff like he knows what he’s doing.

-RPG Evolution is Paul’s quarterly column wherein he talks about the business of selling Roleplaying Games.

RPG Evolution – 2014 Q3

MonsterManualWell, well well.  I don’t want to say “I told you so” but well… I told you so.   *Ahem.*

So, new to this conversation? Well, RPG Evolution is a quarterly column where we talk about the RPG sales trends at Games and Stuff.  Why is this quarter’s column particularly interesting?  Well, let’s just say there’s an old friend sitting pretty at the number one spot after a long absence.

Let’s get into the numbers.  Here’s the Top 20 Role Playing Games (by dollar volume) at G&S over the period of July 1st to September 30, 2014 with last quarter’s rankings listed when applicable.

  1. Dungeons and Dragons (Q2 Rank #3)
  2. Pathfinder (Q2 Rank #1)
  3. Star Wars (Q2 Rank #2)
  4. Shadowrun (Q2 Rank #5)
  5. The One Ring (Q2 Rank #8)
  6. Warhammer 40,000 (Q2 Rank #4)
  7. Mutants & Masterminds (Q2 Rank #6)
  8. Adventure Maximus!
  9. Doctor Who (Q2 Rank #15)
  10. The Strange
  11. Savage Worlds (Q2 Rank #19)
  12. 13th Age
  13. Legend of the Five Rings (Q2 Rank #10)
  14. Atomic Robo
  15. Fate (Q2 Rank #9)
  16. Iron Kingdoms
  17. Ironclaw
  18. Numenera (Q2 Rank #11)
  19. Call of Cthulhu (Q2 Rank #7)
  20. Double Cross

So, some very interesting things going on this time around.  First and foremost, it should be obvious to anyone that the 900 pound gorilla has returned to the room, and Dungeons & Dragons is back in the #1 spot where it rightfully belongs.  Just to put this in perspective, Pathfinder had been far and away our shining star for years, out grossing the next three or four games combined.  But D&D is now bringing in over double what Pathfinder does.

I cannot begin to underestimate the impact that this has had on our bottom line, or for what it will do for the RPG department for many years.  Having a well reviewed, very accessible version of D&D on the shelves will continue to bring lapsed players into our stores for some time to come.  I also think it will jump start many conversations about the other RPGs that are out there, as is already happening quite regularly in our store.

For a couple years now, the chatter in various industry forums leading up to the release of D&D fifth edition was about how Pathfinder players were simply not going to jump back into playing D&D.  And ya know what?  That’s utterly besides the point.  Having a new edition of D&D is instead important because of lapsed players and yes, new players.  While there may be a few, a tiny majority of Pathfinder folks that extend themselves back into D&D proper, it was never about that.  Furthermore, what a lot of retailers don’t seem to really appreciate is that many RPG gamers are browsers, playing a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  Many of my most die-hard Pathfinder players have purchased the new D&D stuff just to check it out, and you know what?  They’re playing BOTH.

AchtungCthulhuPacificIt’s interesting to note that RPGs are strong across the board right now.  This quarter’s games for ranks #21-#25 would have all easily made the list during any other time this year. (Those games include Achtung Cthulhu!, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Dungeon World and the new Firefly RPG among others.)

A few other highlights:

Adventure Maximus! is, in my opinion simply the best introductory RPG ever made.  It’s designed for gamers aged 8 and up, and between the awesome production values and the super accessible box, it’s a bonafide hit.  I’ve sold scores and scores of this thing.  Adventure Maximus! is finally, the definitive answer to the dad in your store asking “So, I want to get my nine year old into roleplaying games.  Where do I start?”

13th Age is finally picking up steam here, and it deserves every bit of it.  It’s the Sprite to D&D and Pathfinder’s Coke and Pepsi. A beautiful melding of old school D&D feel with modern RPG design, it’s my personal favorite way to D&D.  It’s a personal goal of mine to do for this game what we’ve done for The One Ring over the past year (which broke the Top 5 this time around!  Go Team Hobbit!)

Mutants & Masterminds is the little engine that could over here.  Quietly chugging away in the Top 10 for over six months (and the Top 20 for even longer) M&M is simply put, genuinely the only legitimate choice for gamers looking for a traditional super hero RPG.

Double Cross is worthy of a shout out, because it’s a perfect example of why any store that’s serious about RPGs should occasionally be carrying stuff from Indie Press Revolution.  Double Cross (currently only available from IPR) is a weird, anime-themed game dealing with the ramifications of a virus that gives people super powers at the expense of their sanity.  There’s currently only three books in the line and they all move at a pretty steady clip.

IronClawBookofJadeFinally, let’s talk about Ironclaw. The current edition (the game’s second) was released in 2010.  It’s not new. So what’s going on that this strange little game is in our Top 20?  Other than a few special orders, we hadn’t really carried the game prior to July.  Well, July was when the Ironclaw Book of Jade (the game’s Eastern-themed expansion book) was released.  We brought it in, and it sold immediately.  So did the restock.  So naturally, I thought “Huh.  That’s interesting” and I brought the two core books in for the shelf.  Which immediately sold.  So did the restock.  And so did the Book of Mysteries that I brought in.

I’ve sold the two core books many times over, and I know I’ve sold the entire line to more than a few customers. Enough to land this thing at #17 during a quarter that was massively successful for RPGs.  So retailers, listen up.  If you’re gonna learn one thing from this article this time around, remember The Lesson of Ironclaw:

Experiment!  Bring in the core book of some line you’ve never carried before.  It may not be new, but you’ve never had it on your shelf, it’s new to many of your customers! Maybe it won’t sell, but maybe it will!  Then restock it, and bring in a supplement.  From there, who knows what might happen?  Will Ironclaw make the list next quarter?  Unlikely.  Will I even be carrying it this time next year?  Probably not.  *Shrug* Who can say?  What I do know is that I’ve made a pretty penny on a game that has contributed in no small way to the bottom line of my RPG sales these past few months.

And with that I’ll leave you.

What about you, dear reader?  What have you been excited about these past three months?  Through the Breach (the Malifaux RPG) is currently on my nightstand at home, and I can almost guarantee we’ll be talking about that come January.  And I hope to see bigger and better things from 13th Age now that the line is reaching it’s maturity and 13 True Ways hits any day now.

Until next time-

-Paul Alexander Butler is the Store Manager at Games and Stuff.  He’s currently running a The One Ring campaign and is about to be a player in a 13th Age conversion of the Dark Sun setting.
-RPG Evolution is his quarterly article detailing trends in the sales and RPG playing habits at Games and Stuff.

RPG Evolution – 2014 Q2

So here we are again.  Another three months have passed, and what’s the RPG department at Games and Stuff look like?  For those of you just joining us, you may want to check out the first RPG Evolution article from back in APRIL, where we talk about what this whole thing is about.

Let’s start with the raw numbers.  Here are the Top 20 best-selling Role Playing Game lines (by dollar volume) at G&S from April 1 through June 30, 2014.  In instances where the game was in last quarter’s Top 20, I’ve noted that position as well.

1. Pathfinder (Q1 Rank #1)
2. Star Wars (Q1 Rank #3)
3. Dungeons and Dragons (Q1 Rank #2)
4. Warhammer 40,000 (Q1 Rank #5)
5. Shadowrun 
(Q1 Rank #4)
6. Mutants & Masterminds 
(Q1 Rank #13)
7. Call of Cthulhu 
(Q1 Rank #11)
8. The One Ring 
(Q1 Rank #7)
9. Fate 
(Q1 Rank #6)
10. Legend of the Five Rings 
(Q1 Rank #8)
11. Numenera 
(Q1 Rank #9)
12. White Wolf 
(Q1 Rank #10)
13. Lamentations of the Flame Princess
14. Dungeon Crawl Classics 
(Q1 Rank #17)
15. Doctor Who
16. Fading Suns
17. Kobolds Ate My Baby
18. Conspiracy X
19. Savage Worlds
20. Dungeon World

So, what’s interesting here?  Well, first of all, let’s look at what’s missing.  A fair amount.  Fiasco, Torchbearer, Dresden Files, Hillfolk, Victoriana, Deadlands Noir, Tenra Bansho Zero… all of them ranked last time, but are missing from this list, to be replaced by seven different titles.  That’s not to say these high ranking games from last quarter tanked for us in the last three months, as many of them are in the #21-30 ranking.  But what this shows is the ebb and flow of these second and third tier games.

Not every game is Pathfinder, or even Call of Cthulhu.  Which is to say that some games do well for us, but apart from slow and steady decent core book sales, may only put out a supplement a couple of times of year.  So a game like Doctor Who for example, may sell a couple pieces a month, but when a new release hits, we might move 6-10 of them, which gives the line a nice sales bump.  Plus the “hot newness” factor and exposure of the new release may momentarily revitalize interest in the game so that folks who have been on the fence about picking up the Core book might make the plunge. Lamentations of the Flame Princess is another game on the list that saw the benefits of a string of new releases, including a new edition of the core rules.

A few specific thoughts about this quarter’s list:

Kobolds Ate My Baby and Fading Suns are both brand new lines (or at least reprints of older lines with a lot of goodwill behind them).  Nice sales out of the gate were not unexpected, but I can’t imagine either game will see this list again.  And to be honest, I never would have guessed we would move so many units of Kobolds.

Dungeon World, the current darling of Indie Press Revolution, is only seeing a stronger and stronger growth curve, and while I expect to see it continue to do well, a lack of supplementary material means it probably won’t see the sales volume needed to stay on this list much longer.  Especially with the recent release of the new D&D Starter Set, folks looking for that old school feel may simply turn to that.  (Speaking of D&D, it’ll be really interesting to see where that old warhorse falls on this list in three months time, eh?)

The One Ring has been given an intense marketing push on Cubicle 7’s website over the past few months, which has really driven awareness.  We started taking pre-orders for the new Revised Edition on June 25th (the tail end of this reporting period) but other than that, there hasn’t been a new release for the game in months.  I expect a massive sales spike next quarter, with the new edition and a much more aggressive release schedule.  (By the way, any retailers reading this should be aware that Cubicle 7, through the BITS AND MORTAR PROGRAM, is offering the full complete PDF to customers who pre-order the Revised Rulebook from your store.)

Conspiracy X and Numenera both benefited from some in-store play as part of our new RPG Lab program.

Meanwhile, White Wolf is curiously still raising its head.  We stock a lot of the print-on-demand titles for World of Darkness (now through Onyx Path) but the vast majority of the sales volume here is from people picking up the pricey 20th Anniversary Editions of Werewolf and Vampire.

So what’s to be learned here?  Well, it’s those seven titles that switched out from last time that are most compelling to me.  Yes, those top five games are basically unchanged except for a bit of position jockeying, so the majority of my RPG dollars are coming from usual suspects.  And Pathfinder is #1 by a rather sizable margin, bringing in more than five times the amount that Star Wars or D&D do.

But those little guys… ranks 6-20 are important.  Those second and third tier games collectively, are as important as Pathfinder.  Yes, that’s right.  As it so happens the first five games are all tracked as individual departments in my POS system at the store.  Everything else is simply “RPGs: Other”.  I talked about this back in April.

That “Other” category? Brings in as many dollars as Pathfinder.  Often more.  This quarter, “Other” made 18% more than Pathfinder.  What’s the lesson here?  In case you haven’t heard it from me before… stock broadly and shallowly.  Yes, by all means go crazy deep with Pathfinder, Star Wars or whatever those alpha level games in your store are.  But providing a broad, shallow selection tells your customer that you’re serious about role playing games.  Your best RPG customers are grazers anyway, and like a little bit of this and little bit of that.

Your board game sections are driven by newness, right?  You’ve got your evergreens, like Catan, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne and what have you… but it’s your selection and new hotness that drive sales.  Your RPG section should look the same way.  Your evergreens are Pathfinder, D&D, Star Wars.  But new stuff, flowing in and out all the time, carefully curated will reap large rewards.

So I’ll see you all in September, when I’m sure we’ll be talking a lot about D&D, Star Wars Age of Rebellion, The One Ring revised edition, and maybe the long-awaited Malifaux RPG, Through the Breach.

In the meantime, I invite all of you, gamers and retailers alike, to chime in with your thoughts.  What are you selling or playing right now that is exciting?

RPG Evolution – 2014 Q1

Hey everyone, Paul here again. As many of you know, I take Role-Playing Games pretty seriously, both as a gamer and a retailer.  It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that for quite a while now, many hobby gaming retailers have been talking about the so-called “death of pen-and-paper RPGs” despite the success of Pathfinder.  Or indeed, perhaps because of Pathfinder eclipsing the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons.

I am of the opinion that many game stores are allowing this to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  They’re not stocking enough RPGs, so they’re not selling.  It’s been about 18 months now since I wrote RPG EVOLUTION in an installment of my [Card.Board.Box.] column, and man, does that seem like forever ago (we were still in our old space)! In the time since then I’ve since gone on to teach a number of seminars at various industry events preaching the good word to retailers about selling RPGs.  I’ve become a bit of a go-to guy in the industry for RPG stuff, and it’s been really rewarding, with many retailers approaching me a year after they took my class and telling me they’ve started to see quantifiable results.

This year at the GAMA Trade Show, I taught my RPG seminar a few more times, and some follow-up conversations with some other retailers have lead me here, to the beginning of a new column, to be published quarterly, called simply RPG Evolution.  I hope it is of value to any retailers that may find this, and at least somewhat interesting to any RPG gamers that read this as well.  What’s the point?  Well, it’s a chance to share what it is that people are playing and buying here at Games and Stuff.  Every quarter, I’m simply going to list the Top 20 Role-Playing Games (by sales numbers) for the quarter.  This whole thing largely came about because when I saw the list at ICV2 for the best selling RPGs at hobby stores in the Quarter 3 of 2013 (link HERE)… I wanted to yell“You guys aren’t even f*cking trying!” Now, admittedly, those numbers from ICV2 are largely anecdotal, but still..

I mean, Iron Kingdoms is a perfectly fine game, but it’s been out for 18 months, and only has four items in the line.  I imagine hobby store owners and managers (those with anemic RPG sections) thinking, “hey, we sell Warmachine, I bet the Iron Kingdoms RPG would sell.”  I’m sorry, but Iron Kingdoms was a best-selling RPG (in the country!) in the months following the release of Shadowrun fifth edition, Numenera, and 13th Age?  You’re not even trying. I’m not saying that I know more than anybody else when it comes to RPGs, but the fact of the matter is that at Games and Stuff we sell a LOT of them.  In 2013 alone, we sold slightly more than $100,000 in RPG stuff.  And that’s compared to the slightly more than $40,000 that we made in 2010… so we must be doing something right… we’ve seen steady growth in our RPG section over the last four years.

So.  The Top 20 list.  A few notes about it.  Yes, Pathfinder is #1 (and will probably remain so for a while.)  It’s #1 by a long shot.  But I want to point something out… in our computer system at the store, we separate out RPGs by a few categories: Pathfinder, D&D; Shadowrun; Star Wars; Warhammer 40K; and “Other”.  So yes, Pathfinder is #1, but if you simply listed Other as it’s own category, it would beat Pathfinder to the #1 spot.  And it’s been doing so for years.  Role-Playing Gamers are an experimental lot.  They buy and play (or at least read) lots and lots of titles from a wide variety of games.  So you retailers out there, if you take away one thing from this article, take this: stock more games.  Yes, support your big boys, but it’s the little guys that are making our RPG section so robust for us.  So anyway, let’s take a look at the list.  Here, in order, are the Top 20 best selling Role-Playing Games at Games and Stuff in the period between January 1st and March 31st 2014:

1.  Pathfinder
-It should be noted that this is in the top spot without even accounting for novels, flipmats, map packs or Pathfinder branded dice or card accessories.

2.  Dungeons & Dragons
-Alive and well at #2 thanks to the reprints of older editions and the success of the two Sundering module releases.  Which I think are amazing, btw.

3.  Star Wars
-Interestingly, this rarely gets played in the store.  But the sales on this line are huge, and will only increase with the release of Age of Rebellion.

4.  Shadowrun
-Conversely, we run 2-3 weekly tables of Shadowrun Missions at the store, and I am personally a huge fan, which translates into sales.

5.  Warhammer 40,000
-At a bit of a sales ebb at the moment, though second edition Dark Heresy should re-invigorate the line.  Now if only I could talk FFG into making a Runebound/Terrinoth RPG!

6.  Fate
-Its price point and clean graphic design combined with its equal emphasis on combat and social challenges make it a game with wide appeal.

7.  The One Ring
-My personal favorite RPG of all time.  I promote the crap out of this, and I think more people should give it a chance.  As soon as people really take a look at it, they are instant fans.  Revised edition, and the addition of Rohan and Gondor as playable cultures should blow this game up in a big way later this year.

8.  Legend of the Five Rings
We have a small but VERY loyal following for this game.  I can count on every new release selling 6-8 copies in the first week, without fail.

9.  Numenera
-The new kid on the block.  It will be interesting to see what kind of legs this thing has.  It’s certainly got the aggressive release schedule to back it up.  One to watch.

10.  White Wolf
-This includes all World of Darkness products.  We are part of a beta program with Onyx Path, the current license holders.  So while these games are not available to stores through traditional distribution, we are able to get them via Print-On-Demand services through a deal with the publisher.

11.  Call of Cthulhu
-We stock this line pretty deeply, and we have a couple of Lovecraft fans on staff.

12.  Dresden Files
-This thing sells itself.  It’s only two books!

13. Mutants & Masterminds
-Easily the best superhero RPG on the market.  It’s got great support, it looks amazing, and the DC license if that’s your thing.

14. Burning Wheel/Torchbearer
-Burning Wheel in general seems to do pretty well.  Torchbearer had quite a bit of buzz upon release, but I don’t expect to see this on the list again next quarter.  If only we could get Archaia to reprint Mouse Guard!

15. Fiasco
-Thank you Wil Wheaton.  And thank you Jason Morningstar for creating an easily accessble GM-less RPG!

16.  Hillfolk
-Listed as one of my Best RPGs of 2013.  Really innovative.  Classic RPG play crossed with the collaborative storytelling style of the indie games like Fiasco.

17. Dungeon Crawl Classics
-The preeminent old-school retro D&D experience.  Having a stand up floor display gives this line the exposure it deserves.

18. Victoriana
-Steampunk RPG with Cubicle 7’s excellent production values. ‘Nuff said.

19. Deadlands Noir
-Another new entry.  A bit of nostalgia for Deadlands, plus the appeal of the weird Noir setting propelled sales on this.

20. Tenra Bansho Zero
-I don’t imagine this will stay on this list, but a pretty, good looking anime inspired rulebook with a $50 price point lands it a spot on this quarter’s list.

So there’s that.  What’s actually being played in our store?  Lots of Pathfinder.  A fair amount of Shadowrun.  Plus a little bit of D&D 3.5 and 4E.  And it’s not uncommon to have a group or two that rotates through different stuff every week or month…so there’s a sprinkling of all kinds of weird stuff.

And that’s all I’ve got this time around.  Hopefully useful to other game stores, and at least interesting to gamers.  How about it retailers?  What else would you like to see me talk about here?  I’m here because you asked me to be.

And what about you Role-Playing Gamers?  What were you playing in the first three months of 2014?  Which of your current favorites aren’t on the list?

You can respond here, or email me directly at PAUL@GAMESANDSTUFFONLINE.COM

[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; MO– USE 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.