GMing at a LGS, Meeting with Owner Soon...


GM Discussion


So I am meeting with the owner of the LGS in a couple of days to discuss the future of PFS at his store. I've run 3 games on a trial basis to great success (having to turn away players so many want to play).

He has reimbursed me for the cost of downloading the three scenarios.

He thinks that to continue doing this could be an extra expense on his business with little payoff. His experience is that gamers don't buy product (and he's right). Most of the players at PFS are sharing rulebooks or buying PDFs from Paizo (which is not bad - but it doesn't help the LGS).

So I suggested a fee of $1 per player to cover the expense of the adventure. He thinks that will kill the program - what do you think?

How do other places handle this?

The Exchange 5/5

Many stores can pull this off. I haven't heard of any specific examples of a pay-to-play model resulting in PFS death. Locally there is a store where the policy is as follows:

-GM rewards. Instead of free concessions they shall be paid in $5 store credit/per game.
-Due to the costs of organizing and hosting regular weekly games, the store will be charging $1 per player to play in any Society games the store hosts.

This encourages people to GM for store credit, and $1 isn't asking much. I can find that on the floor of my Civic.

I believe that in the Bay Area there's a store that charges $5 a slot to play. That $5 becomes store credit for things like drinks & snacks, stuff the player was probably going to buy somewhere else and bring with them. It helps support the store and keeps the welcome mat out for PFS play.

The question you should ask is how badly do the players want to play PFS and what are their options if they boycott the pay-to-play model. These game stores aren't getting rich--many are struggling to make ends meet every day. A dollar for 4-5 hours of entertainment is not asking a lot.

Grand Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

$1 per player would be totally reasonable.

I can give you three examples from up here:

$2 per player, $1 goes to the store, $1 goes to the GM as store credit, store supplies the adventure and prints the chronicle sheets. Have never heard anyone complain.

---

$5 total if you want to use a private room, $0 to play in the common room. GM supplies the scenarios. Players are asked to support the store by buying sodas there rather than bringing in outside bottled sodas. Have never heard anyone complain.

---

$5 per hour per table, paid a day in advance, fee only applies to roleplaying games (not card gamers.) No one plays there any more. (the exposed electrical, the nasty (locked) bathroom, the scary food safety, the increased noise problems after they tore down the privacy wall around the gaming tables all contributed.)

---

The lesson is, if you have a nice space, and you explain where the money is going and why, and if it seems fair, you will have no problem.

That said, don't just put the fee in place and tell people when they show up. I would ask everyone "hey guys, I want to go on running this game, but I'm worried that between printing costs and buying scenarios, it could get expensive. Would you guys be willing to chip in $1 per person per game? Or would someone like to sponsor games? "

Sovereign Court 5/5 Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Harles wrote:

So I am meeting with the owner of the LGS in a couple of days to discuss the future of PFS at his store. I've run 3 games on a trial basis to great success (having to turn away players so many want to play).

He has reimbursed me for the cost of downloading the three scenarios.

He thinks that to continue doing this could be an extra expense on his business with little payoff. His experience is that gamers don't buy product (and he's right). Most of the players at PFS are sharing rulebooks or buying PDFs from Paizo (which is not bad - but it doesn't help the LGS).

So I suggested a fee of $1 per player to cover the expense of the adventure. He thinks that will kill the program - what do you think?

How do other places handle this?

Hi. I'm a store owner, as Paizo's messageboard tag likes to point out. (-:

First, you're both wrong about OrgPlay not selling books: it will sell lots of them. Pathfinder is the #2 revenue point in my store, behind Magic - The Gathering. The reason is because of PFS.

Aside from that, here are my thoughts (again, as a store owner).

If someone who was new to this were to approach me and ask for advice about running PFS game days it would sound something like this:

- Don't schedule 1 or 2 tables per week. Instead schedule 3 or 4 tables every other week (or, better, twice a month; for instance we always run ours on the 2nd and 4th Monday every month). This way people know what to expect and when to expect it, regardless of whether they are watching your schedule.

- Once per month schedule a "double slot" on Saturday or Sunday (so 3 or 4 tables at two different slots during the day, starting in the morning). This will allow different players to join who cannot ordinarily make a weeknight game.

- Use an "announce ahead of time" format. Meaning you know what your games are going to be and will announce for them several weeks ahead of time. This gives you plenty of time to market it, recruit GMs, and get those GMs properly prepared (So, on a side note, the idea of what nosig and crew do in St. Louis makes me loose my mind just thinking about it).

- Charge a fee to play. Use that fee to reward your GMs for their time. (We charge $2 in Colorado, and give our GMs a $10 gift certificate to them for each slot they run. Any excess money I will keep to pay for other things, or to make up for those times when we only get 4 players).

I highlighted that last point. It's that important, as far as I'm concerned. Yes, it makes me a tiny amount of money (reimbursing me, indirectly, for the fact that I do buy all the PFS scenarios for my GMs' use. Also, it makes people care about their game. They have to schedule it if you are following my advice, and the fact that they have to pay for it means that they will actually pay attention to the announcements you send out about it. Adding value to it (no matter how small) makes people want it.

Organized Play (for any game system) is the lifeblood of a game store's business. Ask your store owner how much Friday Night Magic means to him, or how much the Warhammer leagues he runs means to his sales.

If, on the other hand, he says those things are unnecessary to him, then you are in the wrong store. Go somewhere that actually wants to run a business predicated on people getting together and gaming. More importantly, go somewhere that the owner will appreciate what you are doing for him.

Hope this helps. And if you need any more detailed advice (or want him to get in touch with me directly) feel free to send me a private message.

Silver Crusade 2/5

I seriously wish I lived where Dragon's store is. I don't understand why more stores don't do this. Two dollars is seriously nothing. When I move to Michigan, I will hunt down a store that has this policy, and if not I will find a game shop that will do this and install it.

Use 4 dollars to reimburse the scenario and then give 5 dollars of store Credit to the GM.
The Store keeps whatever is left over.
The store gains loyalty with product.
The players are invested in the community.
People will want to GM.
People that don't want to GM don't have to because they are actually helping the community by funding it.
No one is a leech in this system.

And the negatives are?

Grand Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

I don't actually have the authority (I don't think? I'm just the store liaison.) to charge for play in my area. What I have done instead is try to foster a tradition that the players club together to buy the GM a $5 store gift certificate.

That way the GM gets something for his time (GM's buy their own scenarios or borrow mine, depending on what they run and how much they can afford.) and the money comes back to the store, so they will be happy having us there.

Dark Archive 4/5

I instituted a $2/ table policy at our store not long after we opened, largely because of the fact that most RPG players tend to only rarely purchase things.

The $2 fee actually becomes $1 in the player's store credit, and they get a $1 token that they hand to the GM - in some cases, players have purchased extra DM tokens as "tips" when a GM has run a really great experience. Each token that a GM turns in becomes a $1 credit for their own account.

In actuality, the player is paying $1 for 4-5 hours of entertainment, and the GMs do pretty well for themselves. We've been able to purchase a handful of scenarios and have them printed and sleeved in binders for on-the-fly games, and have even retained some minis that people have traded in so GMs need very little by way of materials to start.

tl;dr -- the $2 table thing was NOT an issue for our players, and our GMs have really enjoyed it!

3/5

Maybe I am an exception, but if the store lets me play for free, I buy something.

If I am asked to pay a dollar or two. Well that removed my guilt of buying something.

There is a store in our area that does not charge and I go there everytime. When I want to buy I book I wait until they have it.

They do not provide us with scenario.

If I was rewarded for DMing I would use that dm reward to buy drinks or whatever for the table.

If I lived near drogon I would go to everyone of his events. Because from everything I have seen from him is awesome.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

While I haven't attended PFS at Drogon's Enchanted Grounds, I have been there often to game with the Spacey Gamers board game group, & he is absolutely correct. Easily one of the best stores in the Denver area (there's a lot of them, but few are good like this) & it's because of the way they encourage & appreciate people coming in to game. I haven't been there and NOT seen someone who's playing a game not buy something (including myself haha).

Grand Lodge 5/5

FLite wrote:
I don't actually have the authority (I don't think? I'm just the store liaison.) to charge for play in my area.

This is something really not covered much regarding PFS and likely is a case by case basis. If the store owner you coordinate for is alright with you doing it, then you should be fine. It's really the store's perogative, but if you and the store owner/manager think it would be a good idea, I doubt Mike would stand in your way.

My lgs hasnt decided to charge a fee to play, except on our 3-slot Saturday game days, and that is just because he opens the store early and keeps it open later than normal for us to be there to play. Every once in awhile, though, I hold a raffle for a gift cert to the store (usually $20) and allow anyone participating that day to enter a bid for $.50 as often as they want. Once we hit the $20 mark, we know the raffle is going off. Everything else goes into the GM Fund, which I use to purchase scenarios/maps/books/minis/drinks/etc for GMs who have helped out a lot lately (none coming to me, since Im holding the excess money).

Dark Archive 4/5 5/55/5 **** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Midwest

Finlanderboy wrote:


If I lived near drogon I would go to everyone of his events. Because from everything I have seen from him is awesome.

I agree with that! In fact, It looks like I'll be in the Denver area mid-July, as my wife will be at a conference there at that time. I fully plan to make a trip to The Enchanted Grounds during my time there... as well as other local FLGSs.

Especially hoping to get a game in there (and depending on the time frames, etc., maybe I'll have a chance to GM as well? This only to get experience GMing outside of Minnesota, not for any rewards!)

AS I am sure has been said before, most of the local host stores do not require any upfront payment in Minneapolis/St Paul. The GMs typically buy their own scenarios, but many organizers are willing to buy them for GMs as well (personally, I just buy my own as I can afford it). One store charges $3, but this is redeemable as store credit, so no big deal.

I always buy something while at a store... even if it is only a couple of sodas and a snack. I've managed to collect a decent quantity of minis because this has been my preferred purchase, though I am now starting to buy flip-maps (yeah, I'm now sold on them). In one store that just opened in September, I suggested that they stock the player character folios, since I always make a deal about them when I GM... and suggest that people pick one up.

The goal is to help the stores stay in the black, while we get a place to play! That way, everybody wins!

Grand Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Seth Gipson wrote:
FLite wrote:
I don't actually have the authority (I don't think? I'm just the store liaison.) to charge for play in my area.

This is something really not covered much regarding PFS and likely is a case by case basis. If the store owner you coordinate for is alright with you doing it, then you should be fine. It's really the store's perogative, but if you and the store owner/manager think it would be a good idea, I doubt Mike would stand in your way.

Well, it is really a thing that I would have to run by the store, the players, and the local VO's. Which is too much work when I can use social pressure rather than personal power or authority to get the same result. It also means that if some of our players can afford it, and some can't, we don't shut people out.

Silver Crusade 2/5

FLite wrote:
It also means that if some of our players can afford it, and some can't, we don't shut people out.

Oh no. This person who can't "afford" it can GM twice a month and then spend the credit he has to play twice a month and still have a 6 dollar bonus in credit, and 2 scenarios for free. Seriously if a person plays 4 times a month (once a week), then he is spending 8 dollars for 16-20 hours of game play. The person who can't afford this are straight up lying. If some one told me 8 dollars would break them a month I would be hard pressed to believe them.

If you don't do this, your GMs carry a huge load versus playing. They have to do the following
*Spend 4 dollars on the scenario
*Spend 2-3 Hours of Prep
*Spend money on Materials
*

Player
Just show up and consume.

5/5

If I lived near Drogon's store I'd be upset, but only because he wouldn't let me GM at every game day. He's mean like that.

Grand Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

Ill_Made_Knight wrote:
FLite wrote:
It also means that if some of our players can afford it, and some can't, we don't shut people out.
Oh no. This person who can't "afford" it can GM twice a month and then spend the credit he has to play twice a month and still have a 6 dollar bonus in credit, and 2 scenarios for free. Seriously if a person plays 4 times a month (once a week), then he is spending 8 dollars for 16-20 hours of game play. The person who can't afford this are straight up lying. If some one told me 8 dollars would break them a month I would be hard pressed to believe them.

Except as you noted, GMing isn't free. Unless your store has a lending library*, you need maps, you need minis, you need scenarios, etc. $8 isn't likely to break someone, but given the choice between spending $8 to come to game, and staying home and having an extra $8 dollars for food, some of our players really are that close some weeks.

Also, you just said poor players should GM's to get scenarios for free, then you turned around and said GM's have to pay for scenarios? Players also have to buy books. (GM's get to just use the free prd, but players need to have whatever books have the things they use.)

This isn't really a thing about producers vs consumers. This is an issue of how can we make game fun for everyone, and keep the store happy to have us.

*I'm actually in the process of building a new store lending library.

Silver Crusade 2/5

FLite wrote:

Except as you noted, GMing isn't free. Unless your store has a lending library*, you need maps, you need minis, you need scenarios, etc. $8 isn't likely to break someone, but given the choice between spending $8 to come to game, and staying home and having an extra $8 dollars for food, some of our players really are that close some weeks.

Also, you just said poor players should GM's to get scenarios for free, then you turned around and said GM's have to pay for scenarios? Players also have to buy books. (GM's get to just use the free prd, but players need to have whatever books have the things they use.)

This isn't really a thing about producers vs consumers. This is an issue of how can we make game fun for everyone, and keep the store happy to have us.

*I'm actually in the process of building a new store lending library.

Flite. I am not going to tell you how to run your area, I am saying that your area will be healthier in the long run if you can establish a community that has actually invested capital in it. As someone who has GMed in an area where they do not do this, they are consistently scrambling for GMs and you have a large part that are purely consumers. You will burn out your GMs if they are not getting more then the players. There is a reason why at conventions like Paizo Con or Gen Con, they Shower Gms with gifts.

I think you might have skipped over a post earlier where I explained that the GM would buy the scenario, and the store would reimburse them. Gming doesn't just start in a vacuum, but if you want to play PFS you have to have a GM and thus someone is going to have to suck up the bill to buy all that stuff. Usually that is the person who is already committed and is setting up the event.

Send me your address and I will send you 15-20 minis to help start your Lending Library if you buy 2 plain Flipmats for poor judges to use.

Yes, players need books if they want to use things in them, you can make a pretty good character out of CRB, you don't have to buy every book and if you can spend 10 dollars on a book for an awesome feat, you can spend 8 dollars to use that feat for 16 to 20 hours.

Flite, you do what you think is best.

Grand Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

I'm always open to more minis for my GMs. You have a deal. :)

Currently I have a blank flipmat for them to use, do you have a recommendation for a second? A second blank flip mat or something else?

Most of our players do invest heavily, we just have a small number (people currently job hunting, 14 year olds with no income beyond allowance etc.) who I want to keep around and don't want to embarrass. :)

(PS: if you want to trade addresses, you can send me an email at: flite@whitehatgamers.com

5/5

Ill_Made_Knight wrote:
*Spend 2-3 Hours of Prep

Hmm..

I spent 5 hours prepping a scenario I wrote. Clearly I'm doing something wrong. :-)

Grand Lodge 4/5 *** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

People really don't want to know how much time I spend prepping :)

Shadow Lodge 2/5

I think most of the stores in the Colorado region do the $2 per player with money going to GM gift certificate at the store. And a number of them give rerolls for same day store receipt. The store I game at is a little less organized and we mostly do the receipts and just give $2 directly to the GM to help reimburse their purchase of module etc. and the GMs get 15% discount on purchases the night they GM.

Silver Crusade 3/5

FLite wrote:
Currently I have a blank flipmat for them to use, do you have a recommendation for a second? A second blank flip mat or something else?

The Basic Terrain set is pretty good. Two flip-maps, both blank on both sides. This is the most versatile, and the best investment for lending out.

1/5

Kyle Baird wrote:
Ill_Made_Knight wrote:
*Spend 2-3 Hours of Prep

Hmm..

I spent 5 hours prepping a scenario I wrote. Clearly I'm doing something wrong. :-)

ahh hah,

i knew Kyle was trying drown us in a quagmire of his obscure designs... those poor GM's never stood a chance. :(

The Exchange 4/5

Talon89 wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Ill_Made_Knight wrote:
*Spend 2-3 Hours of Prep

Hmm..

I spent 5 hours prepping a scenario I wrote. Clearly I'm doing something wrong. :-)

ahh hah,

i knew Kyle was trying drown us in a quagmire of his obscure designs... those poor GM's never stood a chance. :(

i think this is more due to the fact that kyle woks hard to make sure he has everything down when he gets to the table.

Silver Crusade 5/5

Get the prison flipmat. Blank Light gray squares on one side, prison that's used in 4+ scenarios on the other. The city map is pretty good too, but I'm not a fan of the color of the squares on the blank side; they are too dark.

Sczarni 4/5

What scenarios do you plan on running? This hasn't been updated to include season 5 yet, but take a look at this list for season 0 through scenario 3-12. Darklands was very popular at that time.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

I think Drogon and Flite have well and truly hit the nail on the head in regards to this.

If you charge per game, then people are able to plan for that. They might now regard it as a 'real' event, something that organise other events around to attend. With the price of other forms of entertainment which can go for 5 hours.. consider sporting events where the cost to attend can be a lot more. If your team loses, do you generally consider it money well spent? :)

If you set a certain time every 2 weeks again you are creating repetition, the foreknowledge that there will be a game on at say 5:00 pm every second Saturday. Repetition breeds familiarity and soon people will again start to plan to be there for that time.

If you chop and change dates around you will get the effect 'Oh Sorry, I turned up on Friday because the games are always on Friday' or 'Wow, I forgot the day!'. It gets harder and harder to forget the game day if its always the same day of the week (or days in the week)

What happens locally is that we charge nothing in one location and 3-5 dollars in another and another amount again at another location. The first is in a dedicated gaming store, the next 2 are actually at gaming clubs which obviously rent a space and need to recoup costs. Each gm buys their own stuff, I for instance have purchased all my pawns, flip maps, mats, dice, minis, paper and printing off my own bat. Also Scenarios. So yeah its been a substantial investment for me.

My major concern is more the player base. Now each player is assumed as part of the core assumption to own the Pathfinder core rulebook. Yet from all the games Ive run, lets say only half of the people there have had a core rulebook present. The same will go with the guide to organised play. Many gms think if they pressure players into purchasing what they should have already, this is gonna cause issues with the players. Look at it from another way though, its going to slow the immersion of your game if people dont know what their spells do, or how to resolve a grapple.

Anyway stuff to think on.

Sovereign Court 3/5

I try to build a culture where the game store is just as vital a part of our group as players, GMs, and my role as organizer.

Its hammered in - we could play at someone's home (if they had multiple tables) or a library, or whatever - but only at the game store do we get walk-in gamer traffic that helps us grow. And as we know, if we're not growing, we're dying.

Players get "talked to" if they bring in outside drinks. Yes, they can get them cheaper at the store down the street, but that doesn't help the store stay open. They're (relatively) good to us, we're going to return the favor.

Yes, books are cheaper on Amazon - but players are encouraged to support the store that supports us.

A lot of players just don't make the connection, but once they start to internalize that this is how we support the store that supports us, they usually get on board.

Sovereign Court 4/5 *

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber

I charge $5 per player (not per slot) for my game days. This is used to buy gift certificates from the game store that are divided as follows:

$10 for each GM. Any left over are raffled of to the players.

I don't charge per slot to encourage people to play the whole day.

So far it seems to be working well and encouraging both GMs and our game stores to be more enthusiastic about PFS.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

Glen: How do 'you' pay for your flipmats , paper costs (to print) , marker for said flipmats and so on? From what I read you get vouchers for running games than can be spent at the store.. but what happens if they dont have the flipmat/markers you are after? You would have to go elsewhere to get them im guessing or wait till /if they can order them in.

The voucher thing is great sure, but If actually getting to play isnt enough for some people and they need to be lured in with boons and gift certificates it says more about the expectation culture than anything.

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