The Awesomeness of Third Party Publishers, A Must Read Article


Product Discussion

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LMPjr007 wrote:
Rite Publishing wrote:
Now to deal with the Pathfinder Society issue, I want a Best of 3PP Pathfinder Compatible book that is edited by paizo and made offical and included in the Pathfinder Society. What WotC did with Unearthed Arcana but done with an editor who is reviewing the options not designers who just pick their own material.
I don't see Paizo as supporting 3PP in PFS since PFS is the most basic terms is a "marketing arm" for Pathfinder. The more that play PFS, the more have to purchase their core rulebooks which in turn increase their "install base". I don't see the reasoning for Paizo to support 3PP that would be basically saying, "Don't buy our stuff, buy these friends of ours' stuff." The PFS is the best way to judge the amount of people playing Pathfinder on a regular basis while getting the fan base excited and interested by the next big release. Talk about killing two birds with one stone. The one thing that PFS did different (and smarter then WOTC's Living Campaigns) is that they charged for their adventures, while WOTC gave them away for free which gets Paizo to generate income and interest at the same time.

Except they have done things like this, with From Sea to Shore, and taking monsters from Tome of Horrors.

Dark Archive

Maybe a licensing fee? Plenty of 3PP would pay a fee to have a given book become "official", and I do think they have great ideas. Similar to previous threads, I generally play PFS, so anything not accepted is no good to me. Similarly, I don't want to try to wade through the mountain of 3PP books to find the "gems"; I'd really like Paizo (or heck, any knowledgeable players) to tell me what is good and at least passes the basic "smell tests".

Meanwhile, I'm sure ther are plenty of gems that pass me up; I just don't have time to wade through them all.


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I don't know if a fee would really do anything.

Reviewers are pretty good about giving a smell test.
Find one you tend to agree with/like and give 'em a go!
Some podcasts even do 3pp stuff.

The Exchange

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I had a different idea but the problem is I only have so much "bandwidth" to work on projects so right now its back-burnered.


Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
The specific guy that I'm thinking of was upset that I got him excited about a book until he realized that it can't be used in Pathfinder Society. Almost all of my truly negative reactions have come from people that play Pathfinder Society exclusively.

PFS players are a whole different animal...


I've found a lot of *great* 3PP stuff, and think there's not enough going for the attacks against them. Products like "Rogue Glory" give new abilities to the Rogue ( if that's your choice in Class ) and there are a lot of new classes that are a lot of fun to play. Outfits like Tripod Machine add a lot of classes which feel like they should have been in the APG except. . . weren't. There are a lot of good - or great - 3PPs out there. . . .


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Rite Publishing wrote:
Now to deal with the Pathfinder Society issue, I want a Best of 3PP Pathfinder Compatible book that is edited by paizo and made offical and included in the Pathfinder Society. What WotC did with Unearthed Arcana but done with an editor who is reviewing the options not designers who just pick their own material.
OhgeezIwouldbuythatinamillisecond.

I would sell my car, my first born, and the left kidney from every one of Toz's personalities for this book. But that's just me, I'm not a hardcore fanboy like some.


Rite Publishing wrote:
Except they have done things like this, with From Sea to Shore, and taking monsters from Tome of Horrors.

Sea to Shore was an adventure done by one of the most respected freelancers for Paizo and good friend of theirs. Who here wouldn't like to have Wolfgang write something for them? Tome of Horror had done the work of stat blocks on the monsters that Paizo would have done but now they don't have to pay anyone. That is a good way to save money (always good for a business) and be a supporter of 3PP.


LMPjr007 wrote:
Rite Publishing wrote:
Except they have done things like this, with From Sea to Shore, and taking monsters from Tome of Horrors.
Sea to Shore was an adventure done by one of the most respected freelancers for Paizo and good friend of theirs. Who here wouldn't like to have Wolfgang write something for them? Tome of Horror had done the work of stat blocks on the monsters that Paizo would have done but now they don't have to pay anyone. That is a good way to save money (always good for a business) and be a supporter of 3PP.

And you get the same thing from the Best of 3PP books, you get the classes like The Time Thief designed by Owen K.C. Stephens, they could get the guttermage by Adam Daigle, machine smith from luis porter jr. design, the luckbringer, the wolf-shifter, the spell-less ranger, etc. etc. and not pay a dime to an author.

They could do this with classes, archetypes, prestige classes, feats, spells, traits, monsters. etc.

Contributor

Rite Publishing wrote:
LMPjr007 wrote:
Rite Publishing wrote:
Except they have done things like this, with From Sea to Shore, and taking monsters from Tome of Horrors.
Sea to Shore was an adventure done by one of the most respected freelancers for Paizo and good friend of theirs. Who here wouldn't like to have Wolfgang write something for them? Tome of Horror had done the work of stat blocks on the monsters that Paizo would have done but now they don't have to pay anyone. That is a good way to save money (always good for a business) and be a supporter of 3PP.

And you get the same thing from the Best of 3PP books, you get the classes like The Time Thief designed by Owen K.C. Stephens, they could get the guttermage by Adam Daigle, machine smith from luis porter jr. design, the luckbringer, the wolf-shifter, the spell-less ranger, etc. etc. and not pay a dime to an author.

They could do this with classes, archetypes, prestige classes, feats, spells, traits, monsters. etc.

I would so be interested in being the editor if they did want to do something like that.


Basically, Louis is repeating the things that one if the PFS leadership said to him at Louis' table two years ago at PaizoCon.

Or at least I'm getting strong flashbacks to that conversation.


Christina Stiles wrote:

I would so be interested in being the editor if they did want to do something like that.

It would need to be a paizo editor who has done no third party pathfinder work or it would be way to biased.

For example even having Mark Moreland as the editor would be bad because he has done work for Rite Publishing in the past (Feats 101 and The Breaking of Forstor Nagar) and could have the appearance of impropriety.

Contributor

Well, Monte was obviously doing 3PP material when he put his book together--albeit was for another 3PP publisher.


I don't know that is entirely necessary as long as the editor(s) is unbiased. I think that is possible in the current gaming universe we play/design in. If Christina is willing to step up to the plate and no company had an objection to it, I would say let her run with it.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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I just want to add that what really drew me into professional game design was the OGL. That was the whole point, that the whole concept of being "official" was really what was holding gaming back, because brilliant ideas became limited by an "official setting" or what have you.
3PP are really creators of house rules aren't they? Like most of us do in our home games.

I even liked some of the crappy 3.0 books because they gave me ideas or got me psyched to try something new, even if I was only going to pull that stunt once or even if the idea was mechanically broken. So really we're all getting this vast avalanche of ideas, and what's not fantastic about that?

I've been playing D&D now for about 35 years, how happy am I that people are cranking out new ideas like crazy. I just call that fun.


I have to agree with Tim Hitchcock here. I think I used more 3rd party sources in 3.0 than I did for any other, "crappy" or not. They were new and fresh ideas even if they needed some work mechanically. Tim, you predate me by a couple of years though. I didn't start playing that "weird game" until 1980! Took me six years to fail my will save.


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Crappy 3.0 books are the like the pulp novels and B-cinema consumed by RPG Tarantinos. I've thumbed through 3e books scraping for OGC, and on some occasions, came back with nothing I wanted to use, but a ton of ideas to make my own stuff.

Minister of Propaganda, Super Genius Games

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I'd love for 3pp material to be included as part of PFS, but I don't really see it happening.

The main reason is the workload it would put on the Paizo staff, since regardless of who does the editing, Paizo is going to want to go over the book to make sure nothing is too out of whack with the goals of PFS. And they would have to, since a good percentage of the hardcore PFS players are really, really good at finding that one hole no one saw and then driving a Mac truck through it. :D


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Sure, there has been in the past some below par 3PP material. But, really, the cream has risen to the top and the field is now, if anything, full of top quality products and designers. I simply don't understand how someone can say '90% crap' when they're often the exact same designers as Paizo use. Maybe they think the design philosophy or something is different, I dunno.

So, there are a bunch of 3PPs I would love to buy stuff from, but I'm really limited to those that produce Hero Lab files for their products, which I use extensively in my game. I have several players who have disabilities in the reading area and wading through hundreds of pages of text simply isn't an option, so Hero Lab is a must have product. This limits me from a lot of the players option type 3PP products out there, unfortunately, although whenever there's a kickstarter with HL files I'm usually there.

Probably just as well, considering the amount of stuff I'd buy if I could use them.


R. Hyrum Savage wrote:

I'd love for 3pp material to be included as part of PFS, but I don't really see it happening.

The main reason is the workload it would put on the Paizo staff, since regardless of who does the editing, Paizo is going to want to go over the book to make sure nothing is too out of whack with the goals of PFS. And they would have to, since a good percentage of the hardcore PFS players are really, really good at finding that one hole no one saw and then driving a Mac truck through it. :D

I guess you would know a little something about that. :)

Liberty's Edge

R. Hyrum Savage wrote:

I'd love for 3pp material to be included as part of PFS, but I don't really see it happening.

The main reason is the workload it would put on the Paizo staff, since regardless of who does the editing, Paizo is going to want to go over the book to make sure nothing is too out of whack with the goals of PFS. And they would have to, since a good percentage of the hardcore PFS players are really, really good at finding that one hole no one saw and then driving a Mac truck through it. :D

Great points. Another potential issue I could see is if Paizo did decide to do this, and they do the editing and PFS vetting ... what happens if they decide a class is maybe 95% OK to use in PFS but they don't like, say one or two aspects. Would the class just be 'denied' or might they ask for a small revision to the class? If a slightly revised version of the class is then approved for PFS, then you end up with two versions floating around. I've never personally played any PFS so I'm not terribly up on all the little PFS details, but it seems like that would be something that would need to be ironed out up front

Don't get me wrong - I'd love nothing more to see the Vanguard, Spell-less Ranger, Battle Scion, Shaman and White Necromancer approved for PFS!!!!

Pathfinder Rules Conversion, Frog God Games

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Dale-

Another thing to remember is that some fans are extremely fickle. I don't mean that to be insulting to anyone, but FGG has weathered a number of fans that have turned on us in an ugly way sometimes, just because product didn't come out (yet), didn't EXACTLY meet their particular vision of what it should be, or something has been promised and ends up being late.

I would love to post a detailed account of the whys and what happends for all those cases, but I don't have the tact or diplomacy to do so without making things worse.

The axiom of "You're only as good as your last product" could easily be appended to "You're only as good as your last product THAT I INDIVIDUALLY LIKED". It tough, frustrating, and a fine line between fun and completely not worth the headache.

Anyway, before this gets off on a tangent, like most things, the one or two people that don't like something are always going to be louder than the hundreds that do. Keep on keeping on, you put out the best material you can, and people decide what they do and do not like. We all can only do so much.

Keep going!
SG


Lol! It's a new monster, the fickle fan. They buy all your products but complain occasionally if a product is late or if something doesn't completely meet with "their" expectations. Part of the nature of the beast of doing business. You can't please all the people all the time and if you can't stand the heat.... Glad my skin isn't that thin that I worry about every time something I wrote didn't meet with someone's expectations.

FGG makes good products and most of them exceed my expectations. Does that mean that every one of them are one's that I personally like? No, and no one should expect that and I should be allowed to express my opinions on those also without fear of recrimination. And if a product is late and I am a bit antsy about getting an update on it, so what? If the product is good no one will remember it came out late once it is released. I would think that is good news that people are excited about it's upcoming release.

As for your opinion that the one or two people that don't like something being louder may be true in the short run, but not in the long run. For in the long run it is the people that like something that will continue to talk and discuss it. And now back to our regular scheduled programming....


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I've always been frustrated by the number of folks who dismiss 3PP goods, then I buy something 3PP and get burned by it.

Keep in mind, it's usually that I'm looking for something specific to add to my campaign and what gets produced doesn't fit, at all, not even a little. Maybe it's my fault for wanting/expecting one thing that is almost impossible to deliver followed by a blind purchase that then sits there unused. The desire to bypass having to commit more work for a game is strong so when a certain class is advertised that isn't on the PFsrd I usually pick it up, and end up disappointed.

I won't name the products I've been disappointed in because the publishers, whom I respect, have all participated in this thread. I will say this though, everyone has a vision of the type of game they want to play/run. You will never please us all, and many of us will just be content with supporting you, even if we don't get precisely what we want.


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As for the original post, I didn't find the linked article that enlightening - the discussion here however is great.

I can remember back to playing 1e and coming across Role-Aids adventures - finely nuanced, offbeat jaunts to other planes such as Deadly Power or staunchly medieval intrigue and dark castle (Throne of Evil whose chief villain wore hose of speed!!!) - these were by a 3PP and were just what a starry eyed youngster needed to open his eyes up to a myriad of ideas - dungeon design and mechanics, flavor and monsters. It also validated for me that the ultimate expression of this amazing hobby could not be closeted within the confines of one publisher.

Dragon magazine published all kinds of articles, some wore an "official" tag, others did or could not. It mattered little to me then, and doesn't now. It has been pointed out numerous times in this thread that Paizo itself is a 3PP, that uses 3PP products "officially" in its Core rulebooks, and frequently and systematically hires freelancers (who themselves are, or work for, 3PPs) to write more "official" canon that is itself not always balanced or usable (by their own admission) in Society play. There really isn't too much more for me to see here except that the moment you as a GM alter one "guideline" in the "rules" you are "homebrewing" and really you were already using a homebrewed system. Once that line is crossed a radiant cascade of wondrous options in 3PP-land awaits.

As far as Society play goes I understand the diehards and truebloods who then adamantly refuse to use "3PP stuff" in their home campaign. Or rather I understand the expression of their point of view, but I cannot understand their logic or empathise with their position. 

I can also understand the expressed desire to run encounters, sessions or entire campaigns using only the "Core" for the sake of "simplicity". (My brother still yearns for a Basic adventure, but he's a sub-grognard who doesn't really play at all anymore.) However I'm not sure more "options" really equals greater "complexity" - I could easily envisage cutting out, say paladins and druids and replacing them with battle scions and shamans or rogues and sorcerors and replacing them with time thieves and luckbringers. It's really a question of GM control and confidence in his/her own ability to contain the system in use and he players interaction with the options available.

As for "3PP in Society" play I remain confident that it is unlikely to happen. Given the amount of unusable and "unpopular" Core options currently I don't see even a "best of 3PP" being ushered in any time soon. I would of course be over the moon if it did, even as a mutant, one off or (inaugural one-off repeatable) gonzo Halloween boon.

But really really really, to be a bit less considered, I too am gob-smacked that anyone wouldn't want to allow the plethora of options out there - RPGs are predicated on creativity and innovation - why not utilise the gamut, and tweak what ever needs to be tweaked. I guess some folk really cleave to the old-school basic stuff, which is totally fine and I have plenty of empathy for - I was there as a kid, it was great - but even then I was homebrewing Pirates, Battlelords,  Sword-Arms, Scouts, Witches, Hunter-Slayers etc. Were they "necessary" or "redundant"? - who cares - I was having a blast. There is to my mind only one quality - that of ideas. Without the expression of new ideas, the flavor is bland and the crunch pedestrian and both become derivative. Being beholden to one publisher to either generate all the ideas, or be the only voice (final or not) on what constitutes quality for me is a death to creativity.

Many, many thanks to Paizo. Many more to Ryan Dancey for enabling the OGL. Even more to the 3PPs who strive to inspire and innovate with their creative output - thanks also to d20PFSRD for the resources and the store and also to One Bookshelf for the hosting.

Most of all though, thanks to all the gamers who use, review, feedback and create whether here in Homebrew or in Product Discussions or the various other sites like Giant in the Playground. Power to creativity!


I still have my Role-Aids stuff in a box somewhere including both of those. Some of there stuff was great, some of it not so but it was new and different and that was what counted then. Mayfair opened the door for 3rd party publishers.


(yep - Clockwork Mage - though now missing from my collection! - was a gem, if weird - Fez series was flawed for me. Ice Elves, Elven Banner - magnificent stuff! I still remember being criticised by stalwarts for my love of the very OP Giants supplements - no-one ever let me play a Forest Giant... AND I only recently found their Witches supplement a few years back - plenty of types of witches to play!)

- back to general discussion!

Minister of Propaganda, Super Genius Games

Marc Radle wrote:
what happens if they decide a class is maybe 95% OK to use in PFS but they don't like, say one or two aspects. Would the class just be 'denied' or might they ask for a small revision to the class?

Given the number of potential submissions they'd have to go through and approve, my bet would be they'd just deny it and move on to the next product.


theneofish wrote:
So, there are a bunch of 3PPs I would love to buy stuff from, but I'm really limited to those that produce Hero Lab files for their products, which I use extensively in my game. I have several players who have disabilities in the reading area and wading through hundreds of pages of text simply isn't an option, so Hero Lab is a must have product

Thanks for pointing this out - it's fantastic that HeroLab provides entry and enjoyment for players who otherwise would be marginalised!

My own unfamiliarity with HeroLab necessarily limits my ability to add this functionality. Perhaps an enterprising member of the HeroLab forums/community could set themselves up to provide HeroLab-conversant support/service to enable more 3PPs to add HeroLab support for their products. Perhaps this has already happened?


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Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I’ve been mulling it over for a few days, and it occurred to me that another really significant factor in my steering away from 3PP material is that the significant majority of it is PDF only. It seems to me that the “electronic only” and “dead tree version only” crowds both overestimate their own importance in the market – nonetheless, in my case at least, a book available in PDF only form doesn’t really count as an option (the only exception being the PDF only books Paizo put out, which I buy for completeness sake and then have printed myself).

Quite apart from the aesthetic preference, I think there is at least a subconscious impression that a 3PP that can afford to put out a dead tree version as well as a PDF version is "better established" than one which cant (even if the decision has actually been made deliberately rather than due to the economic reality).


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I also wanted to make one counterpoint to the arguments re:quality above.

Although the 3PP may well be the same people who are freelancers for paizo, I dont think people are judging the quality of an RPG book solely based on quality of design. Being a good game designer doesnt mean you're going to be a good publisher. There are also other considerations like art, paper quality, book binding, etcetera etcetera.

I'm not someone who shies away from 3PP books based on a perception of lower quality. Nonetheless, I think it's worth bearing in mind that the quality being referred to may not be the rules content.

Dark Archive

Forest Guardian Press wrote:
As for the original post, I didn't find the linked article that enlightening - the discussion here however is great.

Same here. The article didn't interest me at all, but the discussion in this thread has been interesting.

Some of my D&D favorite stuff in 3.X was 'third party,' the Scarred Lands setting from White Wolf. (Monte's Arcana Unearthed and Books of Eldritch Might were also fun, as was Nyambe, or Green Ronin's Freeport stuff, or many of the Penumbra Press books.)

And now, I'm into Pathfinder, which pretty much is 'third-party D&D.'

Kobold Press, in particular, has some brilliant third-party product, but there are surely not the only game in town for excellent third-party products.

Sovereign Court Contributor

My favourite 3.0-3.5 stuff:

Nyambe, Northern Crown, Gygax's Necropolis, Skull & Bones, Freeport, Legends of Excalibur, Mindshadows, Engel, Testament, Rappan Athuk, SpirosBlaak, some 3pp publisher's thing called Rise of the Runelords, Zobeck, and Ravenloft.

Hmm.

I also liked the Planar stuff from WotC, Tome of Magic, Oriental Adventures, Dragon/Dungeon, and PH 2.

That's pretty equal if not weighted to 3pp.


Oriental Adventures was good; One of my most-used books back in the day .. A lot of the Forgotten Realms stuff from 3.0/3.5 is good, too


@Steve Geddes. Interesting and valid points. FGP, currently only one product, is at this stage dedicated to producing PDF-only products from both an environmental and logistical point of view - folks can download and print out the dedicated printable b/w version of my product (or the color version if they really wish) or view the color PDF on their favorite device - created with all the attention to detail you might find in a dead tree book - layout, full color art, graphic design, typography, pagination and layout.

I have seen it mentioned before the perception that you can create RPG PDF's at home in your bedclothes with a laptop and little effort - I can only refute this from my own experience - it takes a great deal of time, effort, patience, organisation and most of all passion. Aside from the initial creativity.
So: creating the content; liaising with Paizo for compliance with OGL and joining the Compatibility Register; liaising with playtesters and colleagues for review and feedback; liaising with other 3PPs for everything from advice to Compatibility licences; liaising with editors, artists, graphic designers and authors (happily I did the first three myself and most of the last); liaising with hosts like Paizo, OBS and d20PFSRD for legals like distribution contracts and consignment agreements etc etc etc. It wouldn't take much more to liaise with printers re: files, proofs, paper stocks, binding etc or to ship the final product - if I could find an enviro-printer and the final price point weren't prohibitive (for me or the customer) I might just do that. Again, with one product in my line, we'll have to see. And, really, I could do all of that even in my bedclothes. But not without that great deal of time, effort, patience, organisation and most of all passion and creativity. Laziness will only stop you from creating anything in the first place.

Do I consider myself a publisher even though I've only produced (so far) one PDF?
Definitely. And I hope to be recognised as a publisher of quality, in terms of content: text
both flavor and crunch, art and layout, graphic design and typography, customer service and community spirit.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber
Forest Guardian Press wrote:
@Steve Geddes. Interesting and valid points. FGP, currently only one product, is at this stage dedicated to producing PDF-only products from both an environmental and logistical point of view - folks can download and print out the dedicated printable b/w version of my product (or the color version if they really wish) or view the color PDF on their favorite device - created with all the attention to detail you might find in a dead tree book - layout, full color art, graphic design, typography, pagination and layout.

I'm certainly not saying PDF-only products are lower quality, just that they are fundamentally a different product (whether that difference matters to many is a moot point).

I consider myself a 'supporter' of 3PP and the OGL movement generally, so there are times when I buy a PDF or support its production. However, there are many of those products that I've never actually downloaded and a PDF is just not on my radar as something I might actually use in a game.

Quote:

I have seen it mentioned before the perception that you can create RPG PDF's at home in your bedclothes with a laptop and little effort - I can only refute this from my own experience - it takes a great deal of time, effort, patience, organisation and most of all passion. Aside from the initial creativity.

So: creating the content; liaising with Paizo for compliance with OGL and joining the Compatibility Register; liaising with playtesters and colleagues for review and feedback; liaising with other 3PPs for everything from advice to Compatibility licences; liaising with editors, artists, graphic designers and authors (happily I did the first three myself and most of the last); liaising with hosts like Paizo, OBS and d20PFSRD for legals like distribution contracts and consignment agreements etc etc etc. It wouldn't take much more to liaise with printers re: files, proofs, paper stocks, binding etc or to ship the final product - if I could find an enviro-printer and the final price point weren't prohibitive (for me or the customer) I might just do that. Again, with one product in my line, we'll have to see. And, really, I could do all of that even in my bedclothes. But not without that great deal of time, effort, patience, organisation and most of all passion and creativity. Laziness will only stop you from creating anything in the first place.

I've also seen the perception that PDF-production is 'easy' and that wasnt what I meant to imply. Merely that some of us are judging a book based on the physical qualities, not on the text/rules. As I said, I dont consider 3PP to be lesser quality, but if those who do are bibliophiles like me, then replying along the lines of "we're the same people whether we write for a 3PP or paizo" might be missing the point.

Quote:

Do I consider myself a publisher even though I've only produced (so far) one PDF?

Definitely. And I hope to be recognised as a publisher of quality, in terms of content: text
both flavor and crunch, art and layout, graphic design and typography, customer service and community spirit.

I think you're right to view yourself as a publisher, even with only one product and the things you list are the things I'm going to look at should I ever be of a mind to 'rate' you as a publisher!

I thought I would acknowledge my own 'anti-PDF' bias and put it out there as a potentially useful observation for 3PPs. I dont consider it a particular reasonable or rational inclination, but it's nonetheless there. Even if printing is a hassle and not terribly cost-effective, perhaps it would help 'legitimise' a publisher.


Thanks for the kind words Steve. :)

I think you are right to point out that the contempt for 3PP's follows from a bunch of often distinct and unrelated personal biases, some of which may not have been mentioned yet. I'm not sure there is a reason to attempt to legitimise oneself by attempting to cater to irrational or unreasonable desires. (As a devout irrationalist I never expect anyone to change their ways to accommodate me!!!)

I'm also of the opinion that publishing no longer needs physical products to generate respect - I have seen plenty of twaddle peddled by both e-book and physical book publishers as well as beautiful works of art in digital and physical form to see beyond format. I guess as a publisher of digital products I'm necessarily going to be painted as biased, but I'm not really. Ask me again tomorrow, I may have changed my mind.

I hope in future I can provide you with some enjoyable moments perusing a Forest Guardian Press product, whether paper or digital; sound-based, text or visual. Thanks also for identifying yourself as supporting 3PP's and the OGL movement!


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Forest Guardian Press wrote:


My own unfamiliarity with HeroLab necessarily limits my ability to add this functionality. Perhaps an enterprising member of the HeroLab forums/community could set themselves up to provide HeroLab-conversant support/service to enable more 3PPs to add HeroLab support for their products. Perhaps this has already happened?

Thanks for your comments! And regarding the above (and I can only speak for myself), but I don't expect publishers to provide this kind of content for free. I'd be happy to pay extra for Print + HeroLab (or PDF + HeroLab) in the same way I currently would for Print + PDF.


While I would agree or would have agreed that there is a distinction between publishers that are pdf only and print publishers I think that distinction is starting to blur as more and more gamers are wanting pdf versions they can put on their electronic devices be it laptop or tablet rather than have a hard copy. I really like FGG model in that they offer pdf only or the pdf with all of their print versions. In this day and age having to pay separately for a pdf for a print copy that you have purchased is a pain to say the least. I have never gone to the extent of being a publisher but as a design house we did everything but the printing, distribution and marketing. We even designed our own covers and did the legal page.

Sovereign Court Publisher, Raging Swan Press

brvheart wrote:
While I would agree or would have agreed that there is a distinction between publishers that are pdf only and print publishers I think that distinction is starting to blur as more and more gamers are wanting pdf versions they can put on their electronic devices be it laptop or tablet rather than have a hard copy. I really like FGG model in that they offer pdf only or the pdf with all of their print versions. In this day and age having to pay separately for a pdf for a print copy that you have purchased is a pain to say the least. I have never gone to the extent of being a publisher but as a design house we did everything but the printing, distribution and marketing. We even designed our own covers and did the legal page.

I totally agree. While Raging Swan Press does offer print products (we've got 12 or so) here and at Amazon the portion of my sales made up of print sales is tiny (probably around 5%) I think the rise of the tablet - as you say - has a lot to do with that. Tablets are awesome game aids and having your library in the palm of your hand is just so handy. Sure printed books are nice, but I think its pointless making products of under 32 pages or so available in print. It's not economical to do so and I'm not sure the demand is there for "super skinny" products.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4; Contributor; Publisher, Legendary Games

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I have to agree with Creighton here.

Our first print product is coming out this month, but in looking at the economics involved I doubt that it would make any kind of sense to produce print micro-products (20 pages or less).

For one thing, the royalty percentage for vendors selling your stuff is much less favorable for print products than it is for PDFs. On top of that, of course, you have your actual print and shipping costs (to send your physical books to your vendor, or to yourself if you're running your own store), plus from the customer's end they have the shipping from the vendor to get the product. There's also the inherent risk in carrying physical inventory - you pay now and you sell later. That's the cost of doing business, sure, but what does that cost really mean?

Warning: If you have no interest in the economics of small press publishing, AVERT YOUR EYES!!!

Spoiler:
PDF: So on the one hand, they could buy a PDF of a 20-page product which you sell for $5. There's no shipping, so their cost is $5. You take out the vendor's percentage, and you the publisher end up with around $3.50-4.00.

PRINT:
On the other hand, they could buy a paper book of a 20-page product which you sell for $10. The print costs vary, but just as an example OneBookShelf has a print program, and to make and 8.5x11 product would be $2.48 in black and white or $3.80 in color, with possible discounts for larger orders, plus shipping to get it. So, figuring some creative number-crunching for the best deal, the publisher is in for about $3 for b/w and $4 for the color book. Amazon CreateSpace is a little bit cheaper but not spectacularly so.

I have heard that if you have the right connections with Chinese printing houses, you could get a full-sized hardback printed for close to the same price if you're willing to buy a couple thousand at a time, but that's not really where most 3PPs are.

The publisher then sells it through the vendor, be it Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Paizo, OBS, or whomever, which will generally take between 40-60% for print sales (vs. 20-35% on PDF sales). Take the middle value of 50%.

So product price for the book version is $10, double the price of the PDF, plus shipping for the book ($2.99 perhaps?). The vendor takes $5, the publisher has already spent $4 on the book itself, which leaves a margin of $1 of profit. That is, of course, assuming you sell every book you print; if you don't that margin can go down below zero.

So, to sum up, for a small print product of 20 pages:
Customer price (print) - $10 plus shipping ($12.99 maybe)
Customer price (PDF) - $5
Wait to get product (print) - depends on shipping options
Wait to get product (PDF) - instant download
Publisher profit (print) - $1 (if you sell every book)
Publisher profit (PDF) - $3.50-$4

Just from a business standpoint, it's harder to sell a product that costs the customer twice as much for the same content and has to wait for shipping, and when you're earning only about 1/4 as much on every sale, that's not much incentive for either the customer or the publisher.

With larger products, the economies of scale start to shift, and print products start to make more sense, and print-on-demand mitigates the inventory risk though it doesn't change the rest of the cost paradigm.

This is the real secret of print product Kickstarters; it allows the publisher to:
1. Mitigate their risk in ordering print copies by knowing how many copies they've presold.
2. Have the money up front to buy art and print copies, rather than buying now and having royalties come in later as units are sold.
3. Bypass the huge hit they take on vendor royalty by fulfilling their initial set of orders (the backers) themselves.

After that, any additional copies you order on top of your backers and then sell through outside vendors are gravy. Yes, you pay Kickstarter their fee, but it's a lot less than the royalty percentage you'd be paying normally.

So, long story short, small publishers doing small print runs of small products does not make economic sense. They can offer cheaper, faster access to their products on the PDF market, making more money to pay the best talent they can to make more awesome products. And then, they can make targeted incursions into print with products that make the best economic sense.


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I feel much better about being an exclusively-PDF-only consumer now. =)


I would worry more about print if more people were buying it. I've sold hundreds of copies of A Fistful of Denarii in PDF; I've sold just a dozen copies in softcover. Print sales are so insignificant, I didn't even remember I need to update the file on Lulu until I started seeing Lulu-powered electronic sales in PDF form...

Which reminds me, time to update that file. :)


Creighton Broadhurst wrote:
I totally agree. While Raging Swan Press does offer print products (we've got 12 or so) here and at Amazon the portion of my sales made up of print sales is tiny (probably around 5%) I think the rise of the tablet - as you say - has a lot to do with that. Tablets are awesome game aids and having your library in the palm of your hand is just so handy. Sure printed books are nice, but I think its pointless making products of under 32 pages or so available in print. It's not economical to do so and I'm not sure the demand is there for "super skinny" products.

The price point which I have found the best deal print-wise is 48 pages using CreateSpace. For PDFs a 5 page or less OR 15 to 25 pages are the best price points versus cost. Well ate least for LPJ Design.


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@Jason
Thanks for writing that all up! It explains the economics there so well, and it helps me to "get" kickstarter. While I have certainly already backed a few projects, this makes me feel better about backing books in the first place, and gives me a talking point for when my back king is questioned.

Grand Lodge

RJGrady wrote:
I've sold hundreds of copies of A Fistful of Denarii in PDF; I've sold just a dozen copies in softcover.

Yay I'm part of a distinguished group! :D


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My god is this discussion civil...are we still on the internet? by the by, I use at LEAST 4 to 5 3pp products a game. My players always have access to racial guide 2 from Little Red Goblin games(since I wrote the feats in it I would have be a pretty big hypocrite to not allow it), All 3 current talented class books plus supplements, the 101 simple templates (my players can never guess what's coming), and sometimes the king of the ring (since my players are BIG pro wrestling fans), and these are just to start. I want to thank 3pp publishers for making my games more enjoyable in general.
sincerely,
The world's mightiest kitchen appliance

Publisher, Dreamscarred Press

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RJGrady wrote:

I would worry more about print if more people were buying it. I've sold hundreds of copies of A Fistful of Denarii in PDF; I've sold just a dozen copies in softcover. Print sales are so insignificant, I didn't even remember I need to update the file on Lulu until I started seeing Lulu-powered electronic sales in PDF form...

Which reminds me, time to update that file. :)

I think this is a very big "your mileage may vary" scenario.

The big thing that having Psionics Unleashed in print did for us was allow us to get out to the masses in gaming stores.

Now, let me put in a caveat that at the last time I checked, we sold several times more in PDF than in print, but the number of NEW CUSTOMERS brought in because our books were on gaming shelves or the book could be passed around?

That type of grassroots marketing is worth it - and once the groundwork is set up, it becomes very low maintenance to keep going with Print-On-Demand services and effectively becomes a marketing service that you get paid for instead of vice versa.

But not every publisher is going to have that kind of book to put out in print to justify the extra work for lower margins (which is why only two of our books are currently released to game stores).


Jeremy, I think your books had the pretty big advantage that it was an update to an already popular rules system. While you are absolutely right that the mileage will vary, I'm not so sure it'll vary much for the average publisher.

Webstore Gninja Minion

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There is certainly the benefit of releasing in PDF first and compiling a print edition of known sellers, also. :)

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