Buying to not use

So I am curious.
Disposable income is a resource and being a TTRGP hobbyist is often about managing that resource. I am curious as to how my spending compares to others.
Specifically, I buy RPG books knowing that my real use of them in a game may not exist. I have games in my collection, mostly PDFs, that are for games I honestly can't expect to ever run, while others I may only run a handful of times. Even for games which I actively play, like DnD and CoC, I own books that I expect to never use more than a handful of pages of in any meaningful way.
So why do I buy them? Two fold.
1) I buy books to read them, for me. I do homebrewing and I benefit from reading materials and taking in new ideas and approaches, even if I am not going to use them directly.
2) I want to support my hobby. This matters more for small publishers and kickstarters but also most content in charity bundles I pick up. I vote with my dollar.

What about you? Do you only buy materials you intend to use at your table? Do you buy materials just to read or just to push the hobby in directions you appreciate?
 

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the Jester

Legend
I buy as much rpg stuff for inspiration and reading enjoyment as I do for actual use in game. For instance, I buy older edition material still; I buy a few setting and adventure books that I know I'll never use (I'm an inveterate homebrewer); heck, I buy entire games I'll never play because they look or sound interesting (Blue Rose, hello there).
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
I won't lie, buying games became my way of compensating for not being able to play them during the first two years of the pandemic, so I kind of broke my own rules. But here's my list, do not that some of these categories overlap.
  • There's games I intend to run. My bookcase is full of them. I have the luck of working with other people that have similar interest and so access to a large pool of players, it's very easy to find players.
  • There's games which books are fun to read, and I might buy the books to read the flavor, the lore, look at the art. I buy them for the same reason you'd buy an art book, they're beautiful objects.
  • There's games that I don't intend to play, but out of professional curiosity I want to read through to stay up to date, be exposed to new mechanics and just have fun theorizing about its mechanics.
If a product does not fit one of these categories, I tend not to buy it. Where I fail at being responsible with my disposable income is in splatbooks and sourcebooks. I tend to buy additional books for systems I haven't ran yet. I bought literally product for Forbidden Lands because I've been excited to run it for months, but I ended up not being too crazy about the system. Yeah, that feels bad.

Also, I don't really buy products just to support someone or a certain genre of games. It's rarely been a factor in my purchase decisions.
 

Ulfgeir

Hero
I buy books for different reasons. Sometimes because it feels interesting, and might have mechanics that are novel, or an interesting setting. I also buy the books that I have helped proofread (very seldom have I been given copies of them, think that has happened only 2 or 3 times). Or I have nostalgic reasons for something that I have had fun playing. And Yes, I buy books even if I am only a player and not the gm.
 
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FriendlyFiend

Explorer
I'm a writer/story editor; often I'll buy a game book (or a pdf bundle) knowing I probably won't get to play it but being equally sure that something in there - not the crunch, more the way the material is approached - will spark a thought I can use in the day job. That said, I've bought many, many books desperately hoping to get to play them sometime ... even if, years later, I'm still waiting for that time to arise. Right now, any actual gaming is pretty much Ironsworn and the occasional foray into D&D 5E.
 

Yora

Legend
A lot of the books I bought over the years were just to butcher them for choice pieces and then discard.
I don't do that much anymore as the amount of actually interesting stuff I actually found wasn't worth it most of the time.
 


payn

Legend
I prefer PDF for running games, but do enjoy books to toss on the shelf or for reading. I have been jumping on kick starters that give me both which is really nice! When that's not an option, I usually buy PDFs of stuff I know I'm gonna run, and buy physical for stuff that I really like but likely wont run. Despite having disposable income, I'm guessing I'm on the lower end of hobby spending for my age group.
I share some similarities to the OP. I like to support the hobby economically and mine for ideas too.
 

tend not to buy it. Where I fail at being responsible with my disposable income is in splatbooks and sourcebooks. I tend to buy additional books for systems I haven't ran yet. I bought literally product for Forbidden Lands because I've been excited to run it for months, but I ended up not being too crazy about the system. Yeah, that feels bad.
The impulse to engage in completionism is strong. Definitely have bought things I should not have bothered with as a result. Or just dipping deeper into a game or setting because, "well if I did run it, I would want rules for X". Hell, most White Wolf purchases I made were for this reason.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I buy a lot of RPGs for their potential use, i.e. that I might use them in the future. I might not be running a desert campaign now, nor do I plan to anytime in the foreseeable future, but I might someday, and since bestiaries, compendiums of spells and items, environmental supplements, etc. all have a long bookshelf-life (see what I did there?), I figure "why not?"
 

I avoid buying anything that I know I would never run, is about the best I can say!

Generally I only buy RPGs now under one of two conditions:

1) I am definitely interested in this RPG and would like to run/play it, regardless of whether or not that actually happens.

2) This RPG sounds extremely intriguing and I can't find out enough about it to determine that I would never run it, so I decide to risk it.

Re: supplements etc. - I usually manage to limit those to games I definitely want to run and am excited about after reading the core book, but there have been a couple of times where I've ended up buying supplements for an RPG I couldn't tell if I wanted to run until I had the supplements that covered X.

If I know I dislike a system I'm pretty good at never buying anything for it. E.g. Cypher system, terrible system on so many levels (imho), like worst of so many worlds, so despite some vaguely intriguing stuff, I've never bought anything past Numenera and a couple of books for that.

I no longer buy hardcopy RPGs as I'm still trying to work out how to get rid out huge amounts of material from the 1990s which I will definitely never use. It's a pity as there are a few RPGs I'd love to have in hardcopy, but living in the UK I just don't have the room.
 

I buy a lot of RPGs for their potential use, i.e. that I might use them in the future. I might not be running a desert campaign now, nor do I plan to anytime in the foreseeable future, but I might someday, and since bestiaries, compendiums of spells and items, environmental supplements, etc. all have a long bookshelf-life (see what I did there?), I figure "why not?"
This is what I have told myself for years. But on reflection, I know I was being very optimistic.
 

Also, like, if we look at the success of Free League's '80s-nostalgia-property stuff, I feel like I can safely guarantee that the vast majority of people backing the new Blade Runner RPG, or who own the Alien RPG, or for that matter Tales from the Loop RPG, will never run it, and neither had nor have any serious intention of running them. It's the concept that appeals, not the actuality. Otherwise people would discuss the rules a lot more in these situations, and they just never do. So the market of people buying RPGs not to play them, merely to own them as sort of nostalgia-products or the modern-day equivalent of coffee-table books is pretty significant. I mean, Blade Runner coffee-table book will actually get you LESS kudos/cool with most people my age and younger than owning a Blade Runner RPG that is basically the same thing.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
What about you? Do you only buy materials you intend to use at your table? Do you buy materials just to read or just to push the hobby in directions you appreciate?
Everything I read eventually gets used in some way, it's just a matter of time :)

I buy a lot of charity bundles - Humble Bundle, Bundle of Holding, the various itch bundles. I'll never actually run all of those games, but I pull things from what I read into my games, even if it's just ideas or approaches to the game so I feel like it's worth it.

I've been running a "summer con" for the last few years - an online event for my friends who couldn't go to Origins due to the pandemic - and I'll go through all of the games that I have and pick a handful to play over the course of a few nights during the week. Lots to check out this year - still trying to narrow down which games we're going to try out.
 

payn

Legend
Also, like, if we look at the success of Free League's '80s-nostalgia-property stuff, I feel like I can safely guarantee that the vast majority of people backing the new Blade Runner RPG, or who own the Alien RPG, or for that matter Tales from the Loop RPG, will never run it, and neither had nor have any serious intention of running them. It's the concept that appeals, not the actuality. Otherwise people would discuss the rules a lot more in these situations, and they just never do. So the market of people buying RPGs not to play them, merely to own them as sort of nostalgia-products or the modern-day equivalent of coffee-table books is pretty significant. I mean, Blade Runner coffee-table book will actually get you LESS kudos/cool with most people my age and younger than owning a Blade Runner RPG that is basically the same thing.
I can see this. I can also see that folks get into the particular "bespoke" experience the RPG is supposed to deliver. So you get more subjective discussions on delivery than getting into heavy mechanics arguments. The mechanical heft isn't a necessary drive of the RPG like D&D is. YMMV
 

FriendlyFiend

Explorer
Also, like, if we look at the success of Free League's '80s-nostalgia-property stuff, I feel like I can safely guarantee that the vast majority of people backing the new Blade Runner RPG, or who own the Alien RPG, or for that matter Tales from the Loop RPG, will never run it, and neither had nor have any serious intention of running them. It's the concept that appeals, not the actuality. Otherwise people would discuss the rules a lot more in these situations, and they just never do. So the market of people buying RPGs not to play them, merely to own them as sort of nostalgia-products or the modern-day equivalent of coffee-table books is pretty significant. I mean, Blade Runner coffee-table book will actually get you LESS kudos/cool with most people my age and younger than owning a Blade Runner RPG that is basically the same thing.
The funny thing is, Alien is a game I have run, and thoroughly enjoyed - it's a system that works very well, at least in cinematic mode. Plus, it's ideal for one-shots and the IP behind it meant I got people involved who'd never played an RPG before. And I'm fascinated by Blade Runner's attempt to hack the Year Zero engine into a game where investigation will take centre stage.
 

The funny thing is, Alien is a game I have run, and thoroughly enjoyed - it's a system that works very well, at least in cinematic mode. Plus, it's ideal for one-shots and the IP behind it meant I got people involved who'd never played an RPG before. And I'm fascinated by Blade Runner's attempt to hack the Year Zero engine into a game where investigation will take centre stage.
I do think Alien probably gets more play than Blade Runner ever will. I honestly would be shocked if we somehow found out more than 10% of the people who bought BR actually ended up playing it.
 

payn

Legend
I do think Alien probably gets more play than Blade Runner ever will. I honestly would be shocked if we somehow found out more than 10% of the people who bought BR actually ended up playing it.
I guess time will tell? I often think how often would I even run an Alien RPG? Though, if it hits the targeted experience well, it might be encouraging to revisit (It is). BR will largely determine how good that similar experience is in the BR RPG (it might). I'm hopeful.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
What about you? Do you only buy materials you intend to use at your table? Do you buy materials just to read or just to push the hobby in directions you appreciate?
I prefer materials, especially physical products, get actual use at the table…mostly because the price point is often drastically higher than non-gaming materials. If the plan is to only read, I prefer novels or cheaper non-fiction takes on the same material. Such as a paperback or hardback about the lore and world of Legend of Zelda instead of a $60-70 game book set in the LoZ universe. I don’t feel the need for bespoke and custom-designed rules for every world or setting. But I will buy products (or refuse to buy products) that I want to see more (or less) of.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
I only buy stuff I intend to use and I always buy physical copies. One of the things I've loved about D&D is all the money I've not had to spend on it.

Guess I'm just cheap.
 

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