Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Makes You Support an OSR Product...or Not?

I've been having a discussion with a few other OSR bloggers about the reasons why someone would support an OSR product or why they wouldn't.  Some of the factors that came up were:
  • cost of the product
  • saturation of the product
  • quality of the product
Other factors, more personal, that come into play are:
  • buyer's current financial situation
  • like or dislike of the author
  • personal interest in the product
I'm aware this is not a complete list, but base to use.  Besides I need to be to work a half hour so time is precious.

There are tons of OSR products out there and more and more folks are getting into the game.  Two of my personal favorites recently released were Weird Adventures by Trey Causey and Blasphemous Brewery of Pilz by Dylan Hartwell.  It should also come to no surprise I really like both of their blogs.  I can say that I bought Trey's because I've been getting samples of Weird Adventures on his blog for a while, I like the genre he selected and the art was fantastic, so my interest in his product was a done deal when it came out.  As for Dylan's adventure, he released his soon after he had a discussion on his blog whether to sell it or not.  I encouraged him to sell it.  Did I know much about it?  Nope.  I bought it purely because I wanted to see his style and what kind of adventure he would create.  I was not disappointed.

But there are a ton of other products which I can't list them all, but just off the top of my head, Micheal Curtis's Stonehell Dungeon and Dungeon Alphabet (Three Castles Award winner) and how could I forget Realms of Crawling Chaos.  I bought Stonehell in print because at the time I wanted to check out how a mega-dungeon was built.  Michael came at it from a fresh approach that I think is still one of the best ways to go.  The ever changing dungeon.  Dungeon Alphabet I wasn't all that interested in, but after the hype and chatter about it I got it on PDF.  I like it, but haven't used it for much.  Then the Realms Of Crawling Chaos, I bought on PDF and will buy in print in the future.  I really enjoyed this one and will definitely use it in the future.  I use Micheal's three products because most everyone knows them and the important thing, at least to the publishers, I bought all three.  I like supporting Micheal's products, because so far he is given me value for my money.  So when he releases his next product and I may not know many details, but because I have enjoyed his work in the past I'll probably get it.  The only real decision is whether get it in PDF or print.

One of my favorite OSR publishers is Expeditious Retreat.  Before I knew to much about them I bought A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe on PDF.  Than I immediately bought it in print.  Then I purchased several other items from Joseph Browning and crew, A Magical Society: Ecology and Culture in print, and one of my favorite bestiaries Malevolent and Benign which I lucked out and was able to purchase from the damaged bin with a few adventures.  Great stuff.  But his Sorcery & Super Science! has not interested me.  Again, not because I think its bad, just at this time I'm not interested in mixing genres like that for my games.  Hell when S3 came out and all the PCs were running around with laser guns I lost interest in the game.

Magazine wise we have Fight On!, the original OSR backed magazine.  Which I like, but if I only have enough for one magazine I prefer Knockspell overall.  And Christian's zine Loviatar is a favorite of mine.  But if I have money for both I usually buy both.  Because you really can't go wrong with any of them.  I know there are other magazines out there like Land of Nod and though I am a big fan of John Stater I haven't bought any of his magazines yet.  And this is due to I only have so much money to go around.  And those who saw my running total for 2011 it was long, but still I have only so much I can spend on gaming.  So for Land of Nod, which I still want, the only reason I haven't supported it was money.

Rob Conley had a great success with his Majestic Wilderlands.  I helped him out with a small portion of it.  He's been running the same campaign world forever and it shows in its depth.  I got a free copy because of my help, but also bought a couple of copies to give away to others, to help support him.  Rob and I have been friends for 20+ years and if he ever needs help with a project he knows he can always call on me and the reverse.  But, we dropped the ball on this one a bit.  Rob was giving me small segments to edit then would give me another small portion with some of the last portion that was the unedited version so our organization stank for that.  Then as time wore on I got a new job that required a ton of my time and the second half of the book shows that.  Because of this we changed our strategy, when he wrote Blackmarsh it was given to me as a complete manuscript, I did the edits and then we went over it together.  Then we sent it out to test readers to catch things both of us had missed.  Again, I bought two print copies to give away to support him.

I can't go through every product out there or the reasons why I buy or don't buy a product.  I think my two main reasons why I buy is does the product fit my interest and do I have the mula.  Why I don't buy a product, I admit that if I am not a fan of the person I am less likely to buy it.  This rarely is the case, but it does happen.  And the other reason why I don't buy a product is mainly there are so many to choose from and that you just have to pick.  Doesn't mean the others aren't fantastic, but choices need to be made.  We only have so much money and time.  And real life demands its share.  Just like now.  I have to go to work.

So if you get a chance let me know what influences you to buy or not to buy a gaming product. 


  1. If I like your blog, I will usually like most all of your products. I buy PDF first... then get hard copy unless I'm sure to be running it soon. In the case of works by James Maliszewski and Michael Curtis, it has been a mistake to have it in PDF-only. There are other magazines, but Fight On! is the voice of the OSR as far as I'm concerned.

  2. The factors that influence me are (in no particular order):

    1. Quality of the product – especially content and editing. Artwork is nice but in the end, for me, it's just icing. What I really want is the cake. And in addition to solid content good editing is vital to me. If a work is riddled with typos and/or grammatical errors, I probably won't buy a second product from the same author/publisher.
    2. Potential usefulness – even if I don't actually play something, I'll buy it if it looks like it has ideas in it that will provide inspiration in games I do play. Most materials I buy serve as idea generators to spark my own imagination.
    3. The author – many of the OSR products I've picked up have been written by people whose blogs I read; my thinking on this is if I find that the author's blog contains interesting and inspiring ideas, I'll no doubt find the same in a product s/he has written.

    Also, like Jeffro, I often buy things in pdf first. Then, if I find I'm using or consulting a particular item frequently, I'll follow up and buy it in hard copy.

  3. Largely I make my purchase decisions for gaming stuff on:

    - can I use this in my own games or game writing somehow?
    - is the price right for how much I expect to use it?
    - do I think it's done well?

    I won't even buy stuff by people I like if it's stuff I don't think I can or will use in my games. If it's something I think I need to see because of projects I'm working on or will work on, it gets a little more leeway. But not much.

    Every once in a while I'll buy something I don't actually need, to support someone who I think deserves the support. But that's not common - and it still needs to be well made and well priced. I won't buy something I perceive to be poorly done or overpriced.

    So I've bought some OSR stuff, and I've been using to help my GURPS game along. But it's why I own more supplements and toolkits than settings and core rulebooks.

  4. I love anything coming from The Land of Nod, i'm a huge fan.

    I'm a collector so if its for the OSR I want it and do my best to get hardcopies.

    LotFP was a big hold up for me and so is Carcosa, because of the "adult" content. I did grab the PDF version of LotFP when it went on sale over the holidays, I would love to have the hardcopies, but I have youg kids in the house that love looking at my books. So I may have to wait.

    I did grab the Xplorers limited box set, I love box sets and I love the game.

    Like I said I would rather have a hardback copy of a book than anything else.


    (Dont get me wrong I love Raggi's stuff and I really want Carcosa, I even did some artwork for a Carcosa supplement coming out soon.)

  5. What Peter said. My finances do not permit me to purchase stuff for which there is no obvious need. My gaming group is all kids, so certain types of material are not going to be suitable for that audience. And the product has to gel with my gaming style - there's no point in me buying something on which I have to do a ton of work before I can use it.

  6. I wish I could comment more on this one but to be honest I've never purchased an OSR book of any kind... Yet. My game of choice is BFRPG an OSR variant and the rules, supplements and adventures for it are all free in PDF form, or you can order them from LuLu. However I will probably order the first Adventure Anthology from LuLu since 2 of my small 1 page adventures will be in there..

  7. I think the most important criteria is:


  8. I want to know if I can kick it. Or pump it up. I need to work it, work it.

  9. I've been involved for about 3 years. This is my entire list of OSR purchases:

    S&W White Box (BHP box set)
    Savage Swords of Athanor
    Weird Adventures (pdf)
    Dungeon Alphabet
    Exquisite Corpse
    The Random Esoteric Creature Generator

    I'm going to pick up a hard copy of Weird Adventures and I'm intrigued by Realms of Crawling Chaos and Majestic Wilderlands to the point that I will likely pick up hard copies.

    I wont buy adventures, or any more books like the Dungeon Alphabet (it's nice, but I have gotten no use out of it). I'm also not going to buy any house ruled versions of D&D- I've got my own.

    Also, I wont preorder. I learned my lesson with the BHP White Box set. It took too long to arrive, the booklets are poorly trimmed and the box is flimsy. Actually, based upon said experience, I wont be buying anything more from them period.
    Furthermore, I wont buy anything twice (e.g. Carcosa).

    None of this is set in stone of course, but as a rule, this is how I roll.

    Perhaps I've said too much, but I hope that's helpful

  10. Porky... be careful dancing in here, man.


    Porky... you can't break dance in here! You'll hit Tim's TV!

    PORKY... NO!

    { // C/R/A/S/H // }

  11. There's your block-rocking beat. Did I get the VCR? Good - that was for the radio star.

    But when there's not room to swing a tomb cat in here, I have to ask - are Time and Ivy living in a box?

  12. I tend to buy most of the stuff that comes out. I'm fortunate to be in a position to do so and am more than happy to support the community. I also try to give back or contribute where I can. If I had more time, I'd love to be involved more than I am. I'm a HUGE supporter of the OSR and love what's being done by all involved. Gaming has been a part of my life for a long time, and I'm thrilled to give back and participate and hope to do so for a long while to come.

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  14. -Cool/Buzz Factor
    -OSR Support

  15. I tend to base it on perceived content and coolness of presentation, first off. I'm not so much concerned about immediate utility: good ideas I can appreciate on their own merits and they'll often force me to come up with a way to use 'em.

    I'm more likely to buy something that doesn't rate quite as high in the first two factors if its an author I like and want to support.

  16. In the early days of the OSR I bought to encourage and support publishers. Given that there is now such a wide range of products to choose from (and ever growing), these days my purchases are all about what I can afford and will most likely use.

  17. Being in my FLGS is huge incentive. I want everyone in the distribution chain to know there is OSR demand.

    I like fan stuff. Fight On! Dislike business stuff / people trying to make a business out of it / being profit driven rather than passion driven.

  18. Thanks for the early nod, Tim. I also really appreciate all the advice you've given me over the past few weeks. Just this post alone has inspired a few sales for Pilz!

    BTW everyone, just like Tim, I reinvest all of my "profits" back into the OSR (and more)! I don't see this as inbreeding, but as synergy. That is, inspiring people to share their creativity in a hobby I love.

  19. Like others, I have to know that I can use it, or can find a use for it (though I have allowed myself to be talked into some less-than-useful choices, though happily not many of those). Another consideration for me is if it is available in print. I hate spending money on pdfs, though I will if I want it enough.

  20. Lately, I don't have a lot of discretionary income and so I have to be quite careful about the gaming merchandise that I purchase. Saying this, my primary consideration about purchasing ANY gaming merchandise, OSR or otherwise, is the cost. While I love free stuff, I recognize that people deserve to get paid for their Intellectual Properties.

    Quality would be the second factor.

    Third would be supporting someone with whom I'm acquainted in the Blogosphere.

    Fourth would be usefulness; as others have said, I'm not going to buy something for which I have no apparent use. However, there's a lot out there that, with just a bit of fiddling, will work in most settings/systems.

  21. If my budget allowed I would probably buy much more in the way of OSR products. As it is I can't get much right now. Hopefully, in the future that will change.

  22. I guess the one thing that won't influence me is the saturation of the product. If I don't like the author, or at least what they write on their blog; then I probably wouldn't buy their product.

    Quality is important, but I do prefer substance over style. If that makes sense? In other words a book may look nice and professional, but if the stuff inside is garbage, I probably won't buy it. This goes for anything, not just the OSR.

  23. Big one for me is the look or presentation of the product, I like things that just click for me...and I am a rather fickle bastard. Sometimes I want something really polished (see any Pathfinder product or something like Secret Santicore), other days I prefer something more old school like Christian's Loviatar zine. One thing that has not clicked for me is Raggi's work, I get it that people love it, but I just don't.

    The biggest thing that makes or breaks me buying something is a preview. Nine times out of ten, if there is no preview, there is no sale for me.

  24. I'm not concerned about utility much at all. The amount of actual gaming I can fit in is tiny and not likely to increase anytime soon. I buy stuff that interestes me. My first OSR purchase was Labyrinth Lord and the AEC book. I was very pleased with both so I then got Mutant Future. Liked that too. Since then S&W Whitebox and Core, OSRIC (the SC and A5, both of which I love), Stonehell, Anomalous Subsurface Env., and several other adventures, X-plorers boxed set (I got #200 :)) Stars Without Number, Red Tide, Realms of Crawling Chaos...damn I've bought quite a lot of stuff! I've got Weird Advenrtures on the way too... :)

    I certainly don't need so many different versions of D&D, but I find each of the retroclones has a specific flavor/style that appeals to me in a different way. I also really enjoy the new "oldskool" artwork which I think is in many cases better than the stuff from the original games.

    Part of the appeal too is the fact that I find the prices to be remarkably reasonable for most of the stuff - particularly Lulu stuff with their almost constant 20-30% off coupons. It just makes it much easier to click the buy button.

    Most of the stuff won't ever get used at a game table, but I love to pull a book off the shelf and flip through it and just read random bits or look at the maps or artwork...its like vitamin B for the imagination. :)