Free RPG Day 2024 Guide

Free RPG Day is Saturday, June 22, an annual event encouraging fans to visit stores and pick up free adventures, quickstarts, dice, miniatures, and RPGs.

Free RPG Day is Saturday, June 22, an annual event encouraging fans to visit stores and pick up free adventures, quickstarts, dice, miniatures, and RPGs.

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For tabletop RPG fans, this is the biggest retail TTRPG celebration of the year. Darryl Mott shared the list of free items in his column, and, as I do each year, I’ll talk a bit about what’s available in the Free RPG Day kit for 2024 and how popular these settings are. Before we begin, how do you find a FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Store) that’s participating in Free RPG Day? Go to the “For Gamers” page of the Free RPG Day website (here) and search by your city and state.

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FREE THIRD-PARTY FIFTH EDITION BOOKLETS

Are you a fan of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition? If so, you have a variety of adventures to choose from. Each of these adventures offers an experience playing in a company’s signature setting, suggesting why gamers should pick up the full sourcebooks for use in their home games.
  • Mayhem at the Truffle Festival: An Obojima Adventure is a 5e adventure from 1985 Games for two to four 3rd-level characters. Obojima: Tales From The Tall Grass is a 5e campaign setting. The Kickstarter for this book reached over 23,000 backers and $2.6 million. This book gives you a chance to see why so many fans want to play in Obojima.
  • Heliana’s Guide to Monster Hunting: The Shining Shrine from Loot Tavern is a 5e monster hunt for 2nd-, 7th-, or 12th-level characters. In this adventure, you experience the secret sauce of this TTRPG, tracking monsters, fighting them, harvesting their remains, and using that carcass for crafting and cooking. That’s right, fight the orc then eat’em. On Kickstarter, Heliana's Guide To Monster Hunting: A 5e Supplement reached over 18,000 backers hungry to supply $1.8 million to bring this to life.
  • Humblewood: Shock in Stormcrag from Hit Point Press takes place in the anthropomorphic fantasy setting of Humblewood. The adventure is for four 6th-level characters. Kickstarter for the Humblewood Campaign Setting for 5e book reached over 14,000 backers and a million dollars.
  • Shards of the Spellforge from Kobold Press is an adventure for use with both Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition and Tales of the Valiant RPG. This one-shot is for four to five 1st-level characters and follows “a trail of malfunctioning inventions to a mysterious machine, the last remnant of a forgotten civilization.” If you want to try out the Tales of the Valiant RPG (a 5EC or 5e compatible engine), this adventure is an amazing opportunity. Tales of the Valiant RPG reached over 10,000 backers and $1.1 million on Kickstarter.
  • One-Shot Wonders from Roll & Play Press provides two 1st- and 2nd-level, one 3rd- and 4th-level, and one 5th- and 6th-level encounter settings. This book gives the GM the tools including the set pieces and some random elements to craft an adventure around. On Kickstarter, the campaign that created the One-Shot Wonders reached 4,000 backers and exceed £176,000.
  • Fateforge: Epic Tales in the World of Eana: A Journey in Eana - 1 from Studio Agate is a look at the 5e campaign setting as well as a quick adventure. Fateforge uses a setting specific version of the standard 5e ruleset where characters are questing for the Fateforge, an opportunity to ascend to godhood. The Fateforge Kickstarters (here and here) reached over 2,900 backers and $250,000. The core book won the 2022 Silver Ennie Award for Best Writing. The Fateforge Tetralogy is four books and Pay What You Want for the PDF version at DriveThruRPG.
  • Not a Drop to Drink from Loke Battle Mats showcases an adventure and battlemap from their upcoming Calendar of Many Adventures 2025. This adventure is for four 2nd-level characters, all provided. The calendar was crowdfunded on Backerkit and reached over 700 backers and $17,000. With this one-shot, gamers get to sample one of the twelve 12” by 12” battlemaps from the 2025 calendar. This let’s you get a feel for the quality of the product (Hint: It’s high quality). In Q4 2024, these calendars will be available to purchase. Not a Drop to Drink will help retailers gauge interest in these calendars before ordering. If you enjoy this one, let you FLGS know.
  • Sink Treasures of Deep Grotto from Crimson Herald Games, Samurai Rusk, and Hit Point Press is an introduction to the SINK! 5E campaign setting which is coming to Kickstarter on September 4th. The booklet provides a one-shot and a link to download four 3rd- to 4th-level pre-gen characters that use their setting-specific subclasses such as Buccaneer Fighter, Mist Breaker Ranger, Spellskin Wizard, and College of Tide Song Bard.
  • Nord Games contribution to Free RPG Day are several deck of cards that 5e GMs are going to want to get their hands on: Wandering Monsters Deck: Dungeon (5E); Treasure Trove Deck CR 1-4 (5E); Treacherous Traps Deck Level 5-8 (5E). To appreciate Nord Games’ products, you need to see them. These decks offer playing cards with either monsters, traps or treasures. Draw a card for an encounter or a reward. The retail products are a good price point, perfect for retailers to display by the register.
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FREE PATHFINDER, STARFINDER, DCC, & OTHER d20 TTRPG BOOKLETS

Beyond Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, there are more Free RPG Day booklets. Let’s start out with the non-D&D d20-based products.
  • Paizo, the publisher of D&D’s main competitor, Pathfinder, offers two books to choose from. Pathfinder: The Great Toy Heist from Paizo uses the Pathfinder Second Edition ruleset. This fantasy adventure is for 2nd-level characters. You’ll play as four poppets (animated marionettes) that risk being kicked out of their home if they’re not able to steal back the deed to their toy shop.
  • For fans interested in a look at Paizo's Starfinder Second Edition Playtest, the Starfinder: Second Contact offers a dozen creatures compatible with that playtest as well as Pathfinder Second Edition. This preview will help fans and retailers determine their interest levels in the upcoming playtest of Starfinder’s new system and revised action economy.
  • In terms of identifiable properties, I don’t think any of the Free RPG Day 2024 products are better known than G.I. Joe / Transformers / Power Rangers / My Little Pony : Unnatural Disaster from Renegade Game Studios. Using Renegade’s Essence20 system, you’ll feel the essentials of D&D’s core principles along with some options for, say, Transformers transforming, chases, and the power of friendship. This adventure involves a mystery as the heroes discover the sources of an artificial earthquake.
  • For Free RPG Day, Goodman Games is offering a 1st-level DCC adventure, Dungeon Crawl Classics: Across the Veil of Time. As with all DCC adventures, prepare for gonzo encounters and the possibility of a TPK.
  • TRIVIA: Not to take away from Free RPG Day, but did you know that Dungeon Crawl Classics has its own version of Free RPG Day called DCC Day? On Saturday, July 20, 2024, participating FLGS (Friendly Local Gaming Stores) will offer free DCC products as well as Xcrawl Classics adventures and zines to fans. These products come from companies like Goodman Games, Blind Visionary Publications, Dragon Peak Publishing, and Orbital Intelligence. If you can’t make Free RPG Day 2024, check out DCC Day 2024.
  • From Free League Publishing comes Dragonbane: The Sinking Tower. This is a tournament-style adventure and quickstart giving up-to-seven players an introduction to Dragonbane. The latest edition of 40-year-old Swedish TTRPG, Drakar och Demoner, includes seven pre-gens, among them is a mallard (duck person), a highlight of the setting. The Kickstarter for the core Dragonbane rulebook has over 11,000 backers who pledged SEK 7.8 million (over $700,000).
  • Hollows Quickstart: The Sins of Grisham Priory from Rowan, Rook & Decard is an upcoming project from the individuals behind Spire, Heart, DIE, and Eat the Reich. As a new product, they went the extra distance and provided the core rules, including combat, printed on the backside of the pre-gen character sheets. If the prior products interest you, the Hollows core rulebook is currently crowdfunding on Backerkit, HOLLOWS - TTRPG Boss Fights Done Right. If you want a PDF of the quickstart, it’s available via the Backerkit campaign.
  • Rojo: A Kurosawa Inspired Bloodshed from Need Games is the game for TTRPG artpunk layout fanatics. Those fans that love the look of Johan Nohr’s work on MÖRK BORG and CY_BORG, Brian Colin and Ross Brandt’s layouts on Vast Grimm, Marie Enger’s CASKET LAND and Death to the Wizard Kings: DIY Vat Spawn Kit, and Gavriel Quiroga’s HELL NIGHT, those DIY artbooks with rules. Rojo takes that design sensibility, adds a layer of animated artwork, and offers a quickstart and adventure for 1st-level characters. Provided with pre-gens with the games’ rules printed on the back (the Terror Target Gemini RPG which uses a d20 plus skills against a target number), this is a beautiful book with an adventure based on Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo.
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FREE NON-d20-CENTRIC TTRPG BOOKLETS

For Free RPG Day, there are TTRPGs that aren’t d20-centric. For gamers interested in systems beyond that polyhedral, there are a variety of options during this year’s event.
  • In terms of popular properties among non-d20 based games, the best known may be the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game. For Free RPG Day, you can try out the game using the X-Men Free Expansion Preview from Marvel. This TTRPG uses Marvel’s original engine, the d616 Role-Playing System. In it, you’ll get a look at the X-Force section of the full sourcebook including their history, some characters, and adventure ideas.
  • Based on the highest-grossing TTRPG Kickstarter of all time – over 81,000 backers who pledged $9.5 million – Magpie Games provides an adventure to draw players to the gaming table: Avatar Legends: Rebels & Refugees. Set during the 100 Year War Era, you’ll play through the darker times of the war. This adventure uses the Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game system, which is a variant of Powered by the Apocalypse engine. Since the system uses 2d6 for all rolls, Magpie is also giving away a pair of Avatar Legends d6s.
  • R. Talsorian Games provides a preview quickstart of their upcoming project, Shadow Scar. Influenced by anime and Asia in general, the game is set in a fantasy 1920s-esque Asia full of powers, animals, spirits, combat, and neon. This quickstart release provides a view into the rules (d6 dice pools counting numbers of successes), pre-gens, and more. Gamers and retailers can use this book, Shadow Scar: Eyes in the Darkness, to gauge interest before the full ruleset drops.
  • Renegade Game Studios has a second offering this year, Werewolf: The Apocalypse: Red Tundra. Using the Werewolf: The Apocalypse Fifth Edition engine, you and your pack return to your Canadian homeland where you discover the rich are shooting wolves for sport. The adventure comes with six pre-gen werewolves that are not going to let these hunts continue.
  • Studio Agate has a second offering as well, Shadows of Esteren: A Journey in the Shadows – 1. This book is a solid adventure introducing the guiding concepts of Esteren. This is a world that’s darker than merely fighting monsters, it’s a world of roleplaying, flashbacks, and character arcs. Shadows of Esteren many crowdfundings reached thousands of backers and nearly a million dollars via crowdfunding. The TTRPG won multiple Ennie Awards over the years. If you’re interested in learning more about Shadows of Esteren then check out Book 0 – Prologue on DriveThruRPG.
  • CMON provides an adventure for the Plague Bearer: Dark Fantasy Roleplaying. Death Out of the Stars puts your characters into a world of zombies. Your only hope? Fleeing to an island with its own curse. To try out this game, the manual includes a QR code to get the Plague Bearer Quickstart rules for free.
  • Arzium Roleplaying Game introduces the World of Arzium to tabletop RPG. Based on the setting of board games Above and Below and Near and Far, Red Raven Games brings an original system that feels part TTRPG and part board game. In terms of the game engine, this is a game that requires rule fluency. Tests are d10s plus points against a target number. If a player roll of a NAT 6 on their d10 then the GM rolls a d6 to add a complication to the encounter. These extra rules make the game feel like its own project, not a derivative of a “standard” game.
  • Steamforged Games brings the RuneScape Kingdoms: The Roleplaying Game with a Quickstart Guide. This guide gives you a pretty in-depth view of this 3d6 fantasy TTRPG including world details. You get the core rules, a taste of the magic and character options, an adventure, and a look at a boss. If you’re a fan of RuneScape Kingdoms boardgame, this TTRPG may speak to you.
  • One of my favorite TTRPG systems is Polymorph, as I’ve discussed here. Used for MAZES and other 9th Level Games, your character’s abilities are tied to a single die. With each action, you roll the one die against a static chart. For Free RPG Day, 9th Level Games provides a 30-minute adventure that is easy to run for MAZES or Return to Dark Tower, both of which use the same fantasy version of Polymorph. The Free RPG Day product is for Return to Dark Tower and ties into Restoration Games’ board game of the same name. The TTRPG version by 9th Level Games reached over 1,200 backers and nearly $100,000 on Kickstarter. The best part about this adventure? Experienced GMs do not need to know the adventure or the system. Just read the instructions on the pad (maybe 5 minutes), tear out the sheets, and play. It’s extremely easy and fun. If the Polymorph system interests you, check out the MAZES City of Skull - A Low Prep, Rules Light RPG crowdfunding on Backerkit.
  • Level 1: The Free RPG Day Indie Anthology (vol. 5), which is also from 9th Level Games, provides a diverse selection of short, indy TTRPGs. This product appeals to indy gamers looking for new and different ways to play.
  • Wet Ink Games’ Free RPG Day offer is a quickstart for their anthropomorphic raccoon TTRPG, Garbage & Glory. Using their +One system, you’ll play pre-gen trash pandas eager to get into a dumpster. This is excellent for fans of playing animals that still want some gross in their game. The Kickstarter for the core version of this game reached over 1,400 backers who pledged $50,000.
  • Unlike many of the products in this kit, this next one is not a booklet, it’s a deck of cards. These cards are square and designed to inspire story ideas. The Story Engine Deck is a set of system neutral cards that, when randomly pulled and connected, can inspire ideas for NPCs, encounters, and plot hooks to save on GM prep time. It’s an interesting product and worth trying out at the store.
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FREE RPG ACCESSORIES

Beyond booklets there’s, well, a limited number of RPG accessories. Here’s the quick list.
  • There’s a Free RPG Day dice bag.
  • Dice trays from BCW. These are beautiful products.
  • Free RPG Day 2024 Rococo Red Iconic D20 from Dispel Dice. This D20 is black with undertones of red and would sell for a lot more than free.
  • The Legend of Drizzt Dice Set from Sirius Dice. A full set of standard polyhedrals. But, really, they had me at “Drizzt.”
  • Lucky Duck Games is offering pencils that double as d6s. They’re for use in your game or with Lucky Duck’s Paper App Dungeon.
  • Wizkids offers three different D&D Icons of the Realms miniatures. If you’re fortunate, you may be able to get a Topaz Dragon Wyrmling, and Amethyst Dragon Wyrmling, or a Strahd miniature. All would be great additions to any game of D&D.
  • Foam Brain Games has a zombie pin that’s a miniature that they dubbed a “pinature.” It comes with an amusing game store encounter written on a card. The package is dubbed the Lost Tome of Monsters: Free RPG Day Edition.
  • Last, but not least, is a complimentary Roll20 Subscription + Exclusive Playable Content postcard. If you want to try out Roll20, this is a good option to sign on.
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SATURDAY, JUNE 22, 2024

If you’re interested in attending in Free RPG Day, check out the website to learn which stores are participating (here). Participating Free RPG Day stores are not allowed to charge for these free products on June 22. However, many stores limit the number of products you can obtain or require fans to spend a certain amount to get the freebies. Why? Because the Free RPG Day kits are not free to the stores, so they have a limited number of ways to make sure every gamer can pick up something from the kit.

Looking for a game? For my part, on Free RPG Day June 22, 2024, I’ll be at Kapow! Comics and Games in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. If you’re in the area, come out and say hi.

Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, Noble Knight Games’ Affiliate Program, and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG, Noble Knight Games, and Amazon.
 

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Egg Embry

Egg Embry




Von Ether

Legend
Sigh. The Free RPG map shows no one in South Florida is running Free RPG Day and it also turns out to be a friend's birthday, so I am not participating this year.

I tried to get one of my FGLS stores to sponsor it but I was new to the store and didn't realize what their model really was.

They tend to run card/wargaming tournaments so they usually have volunteer judges who organizes their events. Some who get compensated for their time. They also have a Wednesday night D&D night that is popular so I find it strange their D&D team didn't know about Free RPG Day but who knows as the store owner didn't know about it either. Though I can see that if you are fan of D&D and promoting your D&D nights, lots of these freebies seem like competition? I didn't really think of them since I've started up a little game on Sundays. I should reach out to them for next year. Or more likely, volunteer to run the event next year.

On a side note, a store owner should order responsibly for their business, but I've seen store owners have little to no stock from the companies participating in Free RPG day. It seems they use the event as a sort of bait and switch to sell whatever else they have on their shelves.
 
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Thanks for bringing Mazes to my attention! I just bought the book and PDF after reading the Free RPG quickstart. It's a fun system and the graphic design is excellent...
MAZES is a gem! I love running it, I love playing it, I love reading the books! It's a winner!
 

MGibster

Legend
On a side note, a store owner should order responsibly for their business, but I've seen store owners have little to no stock from the companies participating in Free RPG day. It seems they use the event as a sort of bait and switch to sell whatever else they have on their shelves.
I try to run something every Free RPG day. They're nice enough to let us run games they don't even sell, so I'm not going ding them for not having a game in stock even if the company sponsors the event.

I did get this cool d20 for running a game on Free RPG Day though.

d20.JPG
 

Nytmare

David Jose
I try to run something every Free RPG day. They're nice enough to let us run games they don't even sell, so I'm not going ding them for not having a game in stock even if the company sponsors the event.

I did get this cool d20 for running a game on Free RPG Day though.

View attachment 369501
Yeah, I'm not typically a dice guy, but those Dispel dice are freaking beautiful.
 

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