Pay What You Want – by the SeaBy Paul Baldowski
I enjoy writing stuff. I wouldn’t spend time creating the games and supplements that I do if I didn’t get a kick out of doing it. Therefore – you can now get Stench of the Sea on Pay What You Want. If you want to know why, read on – or go grab a copy and then come back.
At the same time, I buy stuff to play with care and attention to my pocket. I read reviews, consider the options, balance the possibilities, and I only pay what I can afford for the stuff if I have the option. That often means that I will hang around eBay for a few weeks, or months, waiting for a second-hand copy to come up rather than buying something brand new. Equally, I will consider Amazon Marketplace or picking up a PDF instead of a hard copy. I have no qualms about reading of the computer or even a smartphone.
In the end, I have a trimmed down library of games that I have purchased because reckon they fit me or suit my immediate needs. I can understand the principle there that many people hold back from purchases because they’re not sure. When you see a product for even a few pounds (dollars, euros, etc.) you might opt for the Wish List rather than the Shopping Cart because you don’t have any reviews to go on. You need someone else to take the plunge before you, and then you need them to write a review.
I don’t know what stats around review writing are, but I’m guessing you don’t get a 1:1 ratio on sales and reviews. I guess you probably get a 10:1 or 20:1 ratio on sales to reviews at best. I have found that wringing out reviews can take a lot of patience indeed, and much personal plugging to get attention. I have actually taken part in the Iron Reviewer Challenge on RPG Geek this year precisely because I want people to have reviews to read. If a bunch of mad people (myself included) pumping out solid reviews every week can make a difference and offer a greater wealth of review material to reference – all the better. I’m willing to make that sacrifice for the needs of the many.
Anyway, where was I going with this, you might ask… Or you may simply have drifted away already. I write because I enjoy it, but people often don’t buy because they don’t know what they’re paying for.
The solution – allow the potential customer to pay what they want for your product, or at least some of your product.
I write Stench of the Sea for the joy of it, and I put a fair amount of thought and time into creating something with a lot of extra facility and support for the gamemaster. Not only does the supplement contain an adventure, it also contains a mini-dungeon (with a map by Tony Dowler), notes on a coastal village where the characters can base themselves for a while, details of the key personalities, their relationships and goals, maps of local monster lairs, reference cards for key personalities, creatures, and treasures, and a system for generating mines and caverns that involves paper clips, a Sharpie and a bit of minor creativity. All crammed into 72-pages.
I thought it worth writing, and I also think it’s worth buying and playing. I ran it for my local group and they thoroughly enjoyed it (mainly because they mercilessly made fun of me for my vanity in publishing this adventure, but also because they’re cruel that way). In the end they didn’t feel it had enough Steam Dwarves and Cloud Elves in it (actually it has none of either, but they demanded them so I added them into the adventure when I ran it).