A Word to Creators - VTTs will be where the money is at


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There have been a number of articles and discussions in EN World over the past few years about how difficult it is to make money as creator in the TTRPG industry.

At the same time I'm finding myself buying fewer and fewer physical materials or PDFs and struggling to find what I need to make my life easier for running games on-line.

Things can change, but it looks like in 2021, nearly ALL of my TTRPG budget will be spent on on-line assets and tools, whether it be from subscriptions, Kickstarter, Patreon, DTRPG, or the publisher's web site.

The one exception is Frog God Game's, because I'm a sucker for the Lost Lands and FGG's printed books. BUT one reason I love FGG's Lost Land's setting is that the setting book is available on-line in World Anvil, taking advantage of all of World Anvil's features. Also, they release token sets for a lot of their material, and have digital battlemap sets for their new adventures.

And, of course, with WotC adventures, you can get them fully prepped out for a number of the major VTT platforms.

So, say you create a great adventure and want to sell it. It seems to me that if you want to maximize your ability to capitalize on it, you have to look beyond a PDF on DTRPG or Kickstarted print materials. At a minimum, make token sets and digital battlemaps and offer them with the PDF purchase. There are free tools online or for local installation that make creating tokens really easy. Maps are a little more difficult, only because if you do it right, you should be able to tell your customers the pixel settings for the grids, so you need at least a basic understanding of how maps get prepped in the various VTTs. This bare minimum of digital assets does not add much work to the overall creation of your adventure material, but makes it much more valuable to the increasing number of people playing online. For those sticking to pen & paper, it is still nice to have quality battlemaps and tokens to print out. Before going online, I used to take VTT tokens, size them to 1" scale and print them on card board and cut out.

But really, if you are technically capable, or partner with someone who is, fully prepping your adventure for multiple platforms would make your work more enticing and increase your channels for selling it. Foundry is probably the easiest to sell, since you don't have to rely on the developer's platform to sell it. I think Fantasy Ground is similar. You could sell the Foundry and Fantasy Grounds files via DTRPG. Roll20, I think, would require having to sell via their online store. I'm not sure what the requirements are or what cut they take. Now, I realize that this is a lot of work, especially if you are not familiar with VTTs. Even if you are, having to create the assets and test them for multiple VTTs is no small task.

I'm not sure if that level of effort it worth it now, but it certainly seems to be where the industry is heading.

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The Virtual DM
I could not agree with you more. 2020 saw a lot of TTRPG folk give VTTs a try in order to keep their games alive. My hats off to all of you that did. Some loved it, and some hated it. As the dust settles, it can not be denied that there are MANY more people playing RPGs on VTTs now than ever before. I may be biased due to my love of playing on VTTs, but I see that trend continuing in the future. You only need to look at all of the new Twitch streams of folks playing their favorite RPGs online to know that this is catching on big. As @MNblockhead discusses, the opportunity is here for RPG content creators to set themselves apart from others by making their content easily uploaded to people's favorite VTTs.

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