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Sean K. Reynolds talks RPG salaries, puts his on record.

Most ttrpg books sell to GMs, who only make up a certain percentage of the total hobbyists.

I honestly wonder about that.

I'm sure that it's true that a large majority of ttrpg books sell to a small minority of ttrpg customers, but i suspect it's not as simple as the GM/player divide. The hobby has a lot of completionists, a lot of FOMO, and a lot of collectors, and also a disproportionate representation in fields like IT which tend to be high-paid and who can affort to lash out on expensive hobby stuff as a self-indulgence. I suspect with (a near-complete lack of data to support my position...) that a significant proportion of RPG books that get bought (especially non-core or third-party books) get read but probably don't get used in-game.

Example - me. I started buying D&D in the late 2e era. My first actual game was early 3e, which was followed by running a d20 Star Wars game and then a 3.5e game, then a long hiatus from D&D until i joined a 5e campaign (a relatively vanilla Storm King's Thunder campaign where the DM allows material from a limited array of books). There were also various abortive or short-lived forays into playing Champions, V:tM, Mutants and Masterminds, and a couple of others, none of which games probably lasted longer than a couple of months.

Despite that, I own a vast amount of RPG books. Near-complete sets of the various FFG WH40K games, most of Exalted (all of the editions) the core books of basically all the WoD books (and most of the range for Vampire), the entire Mutants and Masterminds range plus a fair whack of third-party material. All of 7th Sea 2nd ed, Alien, Call of Cthulhu, Blue Rose, Ars Magica, Pendragon, RIFTS, Deadlands, Blue Planet, Lace and Steel, and shelves upon shelves of 2nd and 3rd edition D&D material, and that's before i even get into 5th ed or digital products or the boxes and boxes of miniatures i bought back in the 3rd ed days.

Buying RPGs is sometimes a completely separate hobby to playing RPGs, is what I'm saying.
 

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jasper

Rotten DM
4 years college BS degree in IT with Cobol major. Start Salary in 93 25+K so below it was getting tax credits due to family status. I just broke 90K after 27 years. I will break about $2k spend on this hobby before the end of the year. Some creators make big bucks, most don't and should not leave their day job unless they love what they do.
 

I honestly wonder about that.

I'm sure that it's true that a large majority of ttrpg books sell to a small minority of ttrpg customers, but i suspect it's not as simple as the GM/player divide. The hobby has a lot of completionists, a lot of FOMO, and a lot of collectors, and also a disproportionate representation in fields like IT which tend to be high-paid and who can affort to lash out on expensive hobby stuff as a self-indulgence. I suspect with (a near-complete lack of data to support my position...) that a significant proportion of RPG books that get bought (especially non-core or third-party books) get read but probably don't get used in-game.

Though it probably isn't as simple as a GM/player divide, my experience is that most people who buy a lot of books have at least some experience as GMs, and (as you said) that a lot of books that get purchased are never used in-game, for various reasons. That is pure conjecture, of course, since there is no way to back that up with any data.

On a personal note, I have over 800 rpg books, collected over a period of 40+ years. I would say that fewer than 50 of them have ever been used in games, if that many, even though I have been GMing for a long time and play weekly. I mostly buy them to read, for inspiration or fun.
 

Blue Orange

Adventurer
Unionization probably wouldn't help as the companies would then go entirely freelance. It's most effective when you have a bunch of workers in one place who are hard to replace immediately in case of a strike(as in factories, schools, etc.; one of the few successes of unionization in recent years has been hotel workers if I remember correctly).

Wizards/Hasbro could just blacklist the union workers and hire a bunch of wannabes off the street.

(I am not anti-union--the decline of unions in the USA over the past 50 years has been one of the bigger drivers increasing inequality IMHO.)
 

I honestly wonder about that.

I'm sure that it's true that a large majority of ttrpg books sell to a small minority of ttrpg customers, but i suspect it's not as simple as the GM/player divide. The hobby has a lot of completionists, a lot of FOMO, and a lot of collectors, and also a disproportionate representation in fields like IT which tend to be high-paid and who can affort to lash out on expensive hobby stuff as a self-indulgence. I suspect with (a near-complete lack of data to support my position...) that a significant proportion of RPG books that get bought (especially non-core or third-party books) get read but probably don't get used in-game.

Example - me. I started buying D&D in the late 2e era. My first actual game was early 3e, which was followed by running a d20 Star Wars game and then a 3.5e game, then a long hiatus from D&D until i joined a 5e campaign (a relatively vanilla Storm King's Thunder campaign where the DM allows material from a limited array of books). There were also various abortive or short-lived forays into playing Champions, V:tM, Mutants and Masterminds, and a couple of others, none of which games probably lasted longer than a couple of months.

Despite that, I own a vast amount of RPG books. Near-complete sets of the various FFG WH40K games, most of Exalted (all of the editions) the core books of basically all the WoD books (and most of the range for Vampire), the entire Mutants and Masterminds range plus a fair whack of third-party material. All of 7th Sea 2nd ed, Alien, Call of Cthulhu, Blue Rose, Ars Magica, Pendragon, RIFTS, Deadlands, Blue Planet, Lace and Steel, and shelves upon shelves of 2nd and 3rd edition D&D material, and that's before i even get into 5th ed or digital products or the boxes and boxes of miniatures i bought back in the 3rd ed days.

Buying RPGs is sometimes a completely separate hobby to playing RPGs, is what I'm saying.

This is another reason why I don't buy adventures: because the odds are there's at least one player in my group who has already read it.
 

Unionization probably wouldn't help as the companies would then go entirely freelance. It's most effective when you have a bunch of workers in one place who are hard to replace immediately in case of a strike(as in factories, schools, etc.; one of the few successes of unionization in recent years has been hotel workers if I remember correctly).

Wizards/Hasbro could just blacklist the union workers and hire a bunch of wannabes off the street.

(I am not anti-union--the decline of unions in the USA over the past 50 years has been one of the bigger drivers increasing inequality IMHO.)
I concur. I'm pro-union but this isn't the kind of industry it would work well in - it would work great for video game development, and perhaps software development in general, because even without unions, those industries have attempted outsourcing or "hiring off the street" and it has not gone particularly well (outsourcing/offshoring has turned out to be value with certain stuff but you need the current people to get the core of the games set right).
 

I suspect with (a near-complete lack of data to support my position...) that a significant proportion of RPG books that get bought (especially non-core or third-party books) get read but probably don't get used in-game.
IIRC, one of the Paizo bigwigs remarked years go that they know at least half the buyers of their adventure paths aren’t actively gaming. And that’s for Pathfinder, one of the most popular RPGs in the hobby. I’d guess the number of books used in more niche RPGs is much lower.

Buying RPGs is sometimes a completely separate hobby to playing RPGs, is what I'm saying.
Separate, but absolutely vital to the operation of publishers. Smaller publishers, in particular, rely on collectors to survive. Most of the people buying yet another edition of Rappan Athuk will never use it in play, and they probably already have at least one other edition already.

It’s similar to tabletop historical wargaming. The biggest publisher, GMT, caters to a very small of core buyers - maybe 2,000 people - who already own hundreds of games they’ve never played and yet continue buying 8-12 new games a year.

I don’t think the RPG market is quite that narrow. But outside of WotC they’re selling mostly to buyers who have a fair a amount of discretionary income, and an appetite for far more new books than they can possibly get to the table.
 

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