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RPG Holidays Part One – January to June

Let's take a look at annual RPG celebrations for the first half of the year.

With Free RPG Day 2023 checked off of this year’s calendar, it feels like there’s a 365-day gap until the next tabletop roleplaying event. Or is there? Sure, there are tabletop gaming conventions such as Gen Con, PAX Unplugged, UK Gaming Expo, Origins Game Fair, Gary Con, Big Bad Con, and more to fill the void, but are there any other holiday dates on the calendar specifically for tabletop roleplaying games? This three-part series delves into some of the recognized tabletop holidays that happen throughout the year.

Beyond Free RPG Day, there are a variety of dates related to gaming, both widely observed and those that have a small but dedicated fanbase. Some of these events are on a specific day, others are a month long. Certain holidays are organized affairs with a central direction, others are fan devised dates that celebrate our shared hobby. As with all holidays, some are regional, some national, some international, and your locality’s calendar may have different holidays. With those variations in mind, let’s go through the first half of the year and talk about what holidays might be added to your calendar.
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  • JANUARY. New Gamemaster Month runs the entirety of January. Hosted by Monte Cook Games, Atlas Games, Pelgrane Press, Chaosium Inc., Arc Dream Publishing, and Evil Hat Productions, this initiative promotes the creation of the most vital resource in roleplaying: Gamemasters. Without someone taking the reigns and leading the story, the majority of RPGs are non-starters. Cultivating new GMs is vital for the continued health of RPGs. To promote the position, these well-known publishers provide a website with tips and tricks for new gamemaster, including suggestions and support, veteran GM advice, first time adventures, and novel ideas focused on first time GMs. To learn more about New GM Month, check out their website or these articles on the 2021 and 2023 events. DriveThruRPG has a “New Year, New Game Sale” throughout January. Just as New GM Month supports first time GMs, “New Year, New Game Sale” supports new GMs and players trying new games. It’s a great way to pick up a game you’ve never tried before and, as a holiday, it gives you an excuse to bring that game to your gaming table.
  • FEBRUARY. Hot on the heels of the January initiatives is another month-long affair, RPG Zine Month in February. Originally conceived for Kickstarter, this idea has grown into Zine Month, which puts a spotlight on RPG zines. I enjoy the offerings, whether 5e, OSR, adventures, or original indie games, every February offers a look at new and exciting ideas for your gaming table. As a fan of RPG zines, this is my second favorite TTRPG-related holiday after Free RPG Day. To participate or learn more, including what an RPG zine is, check out the Zine Month website.
  • MARCH. GM’s Day is March 4th, our first single-day event of the year. To be definitive, GM’s Day is not a retread of New GM Month. This is a day to celebrate the rarest resource in gaming, the GM, and I mean all GMs, not just new ones. The job of the gamemaster is a great deal of unseen preparation and passive leadership. This date is a great way to thank your gamemaster for all of their hard work. The holiday includes everything from a “Thanks, GM!” to gifts to sales on specific gaming products. Born on EN World in 2002, this date happens to coincide with the passing of the reason we have gamemasters, Gary Gygax, who left the gaming table March 4, 2008. This is an organically grown holiday built by fans for fans, making it a celebration of your gaming friend, the GM.
  • APRIL. Blackmoor Campaign Day is celebrated on April 17th to coincide with the first session of Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor campaign setting in 1971. As the first campaign and one of the elements that led to roleplaying and the creation of Dungeons & Dragons, this is a monumental date in the history of RPG. For this holiday, choose from OD&D Supplement II: Blackmoor (0e), DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor (Basic), Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Core Campaign, or whatever form of Blackmoor you want to adventure through, grab some dice, and prepare to slay.
  • MAY. Traveller RPG Day is set for May 1st. The Traveller RPG, a sci-fi roleplaying experience, debuted in 1977. This holiday is a fan driven event meaning its more of an excuse to play Traveller than an official product push from Mongoose Publishing or Far Future Enterprises. That said, if I could get into a Traveller game every May 1st, that’d be a great holiday. By the by, the date comes from the RPG tagline: “The is Free Trader Beowolf, calling anyone… Mayday, Mayday… we are under attack… main drive is gone… turret number one not responding… Mayday… losing cabin pressure fast… calling anyone… please help… This is Free Trader Beowulf… Mayday…”
  • JUNE. The first Saturday in June is International Tabletop Day. While the date is focused on board games, it is still a great time for retailers and fans to dedicate a table to roleplaying. In the spirit of the holiday, RPGs like ROOT, Talisman, The North Sea Epilogues, and the upcoming Gloomhaven RPG, to name a few, are appropriate gaming options since they are RPGs based on board games.
  • JUNE. For fans of tabletop roleplaying and game store retailers, the best known RPG holiday is Free RPG Day. Held in June of each year, right around the same date as Origins Game Fair, Free RPG Day is exactly as its name implies: free roleplaying quickstarts, adventures, and dice available from your friendly local game store (FLGS) on the 2nd or 3rd Saturday in June. While it’s been going for years, we’ve covered this event in 2019, 2020 (here and here), 2021, 2022, and 2023, so I’ll let those articles give greater focus to the date.
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That covers the roleplaying-related holidays for the first half of the calendar year. But what about the second half of the year? In the second part of this three-part series, we’ll cover the rest of the calendar events. In the third part, I’ll identify what holidays aren’t on the calendar. Yet.

Here’s a recap of the TTRPG-related holidays in the first half of the calendar year:
  • New Gamemaster Month – January (full month)
  • RPG Zine Month – February (full month)
  • GM’s Day – March 4
  • Blackmoor Campaign Day – April 17
  • Traveller RPG Day – May 1
  • International Tabletop Day – 1st Saturday of June
  • Free RPG Day – 2nd or 3rd Saturday in June
TTRPG holiday-related DriveThruRPG sales in the first half of the calendar year:
  • New Year, New Game (full month of January)
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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