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is the ttrpg market swamped now? could you write a winner?

bennet

Explorer
I think 5e was fantastic, I like it better than 1e, 2e. But the bags of hit points and lack of actions the monsters can do (raw monster manual) is a bit hmm. Also it doesn't have the excitement we used to have in 2e when you hit (because you hit most of the time).

3e I missed that era but looking it over (everyone starts flat footed) I can see it looks quite bloated. 4e looks interesting but not for a roleplaying, just for like d&d chess.

I have the DCC books, I like the art and feel of the game, but not a big fan of massive random tables of effects.

Like writing, or drawing, or playing any hobby I think it would be fun to start from scratch and create your own tailored game.

But I can't help thinking the TTRPG market is swamped, with hundreds of systems, whether d20 based or 5e compatible.

Lets pretend that YOU created your own E&E game, not based on any license. Do you think you could even get anyone to look at it? I'm figuring you would have to spend at least 10k on artwork. Probably 10k on advertising at minimum. And then would you even get more than 100 people to open it up? Hard I think. Level up 5e advanced had 5,000 backers or so, idk how many users total, lets save 10k. But how much was spent to get there, probably a small fortune.

idk my point, apart from it would be super fun to write a new D&D, but not worth it if nobody would ever see it (regardless of how well it was written).
 

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Yora

Legend
I think the real issue is that the poor conventions of the past 30 years have become such common wisdom and unquestioned truth that most people wouldn't recognize a really good RPG if you hit them over the head with it.
The whole market seems to crave always more character options and pre-scripted story adventures, and there simply is no demand for anything better.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Your cost estimates are pretty off. Advertising isn’t as high. Most is through social media these days, which is relatively cheap. You could do a month long FB ad campaign for about a grand.

Art is too low. Unless you use stock art (of which the options are increasing every day, and there’s some really good stock art), you’re looking at a lot of money.

Let’s say you hire artists for all artwork, and want professional quality art you see in most big name products. You’re looking about $1500 just for the cover. A full color character or monster without background (around 1/4 page) will be around $150-$200. With background, add $100. A full page color interior is about a grand. You might get lucky and find someone to do the work at 25% less than I listed.

So go through the book and count how many illustrations there are, and do the math. It adds up pretty fast. For reference, the art budget I’m doing for Twilight Fables is going to run between $25,000 and $30,000, and I’m actually using some stock art in places. The art budget I did for the recently completed Chromatic Dungeons was $7500, and that was a black and white interior with stock art as well.

I do 99% of my own writing, which otherwise would be between 6 to 10 cents a word. CD was 190,000 words, 330 pages. Then you’ve got editing. I paid nearly a grand for initial editing, but had to end up hiring another editor for $1500 for it. (Hopefully done soon).

I think the best way to get a top quality professional looking RPG these days is to either already have a bunch of money, or to have a way to get it to a large audience (going viral like Coyote and Crow, or have an existing large audience like Morrus does or Matt Coville) that raises enough money to pay for all of the above.
 

ART!

Legend
Could I write a winner! Probably not - certainly not on my own

But I think an accessible, clearly and flavorfully presented game based on a major IP could make a big splash. Like, I don't know, make a simple-ish, affordable Mandalorian rpg that's a gateway into an accessible Star Wars rpg.
 


Smackpixi

Explorer
I think the OP is weirdly off topic, but are there too many systems being produced today? I would say...no. But I bet 80-90% of the backers of new systems ever run them, and if they do it’s for a lark, one off. Compared to say board game kickstarters where I bet 90% of the backers eventually throw down the game and give a play, I suspect many backers of new ttrpg systems buy them just cause they like the genre and like new takes on it, but mostly they use them to inform on how they run the games they actually do play. It’s a no, there aren’t too many cause people like new ideas, but a yes also because so few people ever play them. A ttrpg requires sustained time investment, over weeks and months to play, and I suspect very very few backers of new systems invest that time.

that said, majority of purchases of new adventures in popular systems probably also go unplayed too, I think the ttrpg community just wants way more than it can play.
 


Lets pretend that YOU created your own E&E game, not based on any license. Do you think you could even get anyone to look at it?
I wrote a conversion (with the help of Peter Newman) for using VTM 1E to run Traveller. That it keeps getting hits on my website shows people are looking at it. The only thing is none ever comment to me about it other than two friends who said, "It's great."

It's easy to get people to look. It's way harder to get comments. And harder still, without looking like a spammer, to get people to read it before commenting. And harder yet to get useful post-play commentary.

Of course, it would help if I hadn't given up on supporting that conversion... or had a license.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
You typically get a 2-3 ROAS with a Facebook ad campaign run by a service like Backerkit. We spent over $40K.
Oh sure. I was referring to if you spent and ran your own campaign. Using a service like backer kit can costs a lot more, but it varies on how much you raised. Definitely different beast than a traditional ad campaign of paying per impression or exposure.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Oh sure. I was referring to if you spent and ran your own campaign. Using a service like backer kit can costs a lot more, but it varies on how much you raised. Definitely different beast than a traditional ad campaign of paying per impression or exposure.
No, 40K was the ad spend.
 

Haiku Elvis

Explorer
With the art as long as you have something representative like a cover you can launch the kickstarter to raise funds for the rest of the art. That's what kickstarter is supposed to be for.
The trick is the advertising/interest as to get the money from the kickstarter you have to have the interest but until you have the backers you don't have the money to spend on advertising to get the interest.
Mothership managed it but it had three things going for it.
1 A less crowded genre with no dominant player.
2 the designer did all (or most) his own art
3 three years since launch to build a fanbase.
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
It's tricky--unlike a lot of creative areas (movies, etc.) there's one very dominant player everyone's either imitating, riffing off of, or reacting to.

That's something you'd have to deal with, not sure how.

The network effects are also tricky--people can't play your game unless there are other people who also want to play it. The internet makes geographic proximity less of an issue, but I guess you'd have to spread publicity over twitter or discord.
 

bennet

Explorer
The network effects are also tricky--people can't play your game unless there are other people who also want to play it. The internet makes geographic proximity less of an issue, but I guess you'd have to spread publicity over twitter or discord.
not many discord owners like promotion of other peoples stuff though. twitter is a weird place, even the most famous of celebrities don't get many replies to their tweets. super hard to build a (non bot) audience over there. what I hate most about twitter is that its a bunch of people posting generic questions to #dnd5e for example like "what is your favorite spell" just to get their podcast or whatever promoted.

reddit I think is the most likely place, but /r/dnd mods will kick you off the channel for non-dnd promotions.
idk how it would work
 

bennet

Explorer
With the art as long as you have something representative like a cover you can launch the kickstarter to raise funds for the rest of the art. That's what kickstarter is supposed to be for.
The trick is the advertising/interest as to get the money from the kickstarter you have to have the interest but until you have the backers you don't have the money to spend on advertising to get the interest.
Mothership managed it but it had three things going for it.
1 A less crowded genre with no dominant player.
2 the designer did all (or most) his own art
3 three years since launch to build a fanbase.
thats a really good example, even though sci-fi obviously doesn't directly with D&D. there system seems pretty cool, extremely simple but at first glance looks like fun.

$1.5M raised, but I wonder how much it costs to make the books, maybe 1/2 of that perhaps.
 

darjr

I crit!
With the art as long as you have something representative like a cover you can launch the kickstarter to raise funds for the rest of the art. That's what kickstarter is supposed to be for.
The trick is the advertising/interest as to get the money from the kickstarter you have to have the interest but until you have the backers you don't have the money to spend on advertising to get the interest.
Mothership managed it but it had three things going for it.
1 A less crowded genre with no dominant player.
2 the designer did all (or most) his own art
3 three years since launch to build a fanbase.
Matt Colville showed it on his stream a few times, on youtube to I think. I don't think that was a huge deal but it certainly helped.

Also CR ran it for a one shot just before the kickstarter.

It seems like a great game.
 

bennet

Explorer
Matt Colville showed it on his stream a few times, on youtube to I think. I don't think that was a huge deal but it certainly helped.

Also CR ran it for a one shot just before the kickstarter.

It seems like a great game.
CR is a lot of eyes. Matt Colville is banned from my youtube for doing a movie review pooping on Dune 2021 which still triggers me. The movie was my fav in a long time and to talk about how he didn't care for it... sacrilege to not support my beloved childhood book.
 

MGibster

Legend
I can only speak from personal experience, but there are far more games out there being made than I can ever hope to play or even read. I don't really keep close tabs on what games are even coming out and am sometimes surprised when i see something that's right up my alley. Is the market swamped? Well, it's more than I can keep track of.
 

JThursby

Explorer
The initial reasoning from the OP sounds like it's running from the assumption that game rules and systems are the selling points, when I think in reality it's IP and story potential that catches people's eyes and gets them to investigate further. D&D is no exception in this case, it commands the strongest brand recognition by a country mile which I would wager accounts for a large part of it's success. Development of a great set of systems is very valuable and gets players to stick around, but I can't think of any examples of games that successfully sold themselves on the premise of using a certain rule set as their primary feature. The sole exceptions are ones that are direct responses to complaints about wherever D&D is at the time, i.e. Pathfinder 1e or Advanced 5e. Lore, setting, tone, genre, IP usage, all of those seem more important to me in terms of getting attention and initial buyers. I think the reason many of those hundreds of games fail is that they successfully do as I described to an extent, but are ultimately shallow (in some cases barely more than a set of guidelines) or don't have rules that facilitate the experience that was promised; I can recall more than a few 5e compatible or d20 OGL games that didn't mesh rules with the story well at all.
 

Argyle King

Legend
alternative to a D&D game. Like a Tunnels and Trolls or a Mazes and Monsters (I guess thats copywritten)

I'm still not entirely sure how that's being defined.

Would it be something inspired by D&D's mechanical structure or D&D adjacent (like Pathfinder)?

Would a non-d20 game qualify?
 

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