Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.



Yesterday was Free RPG Day.

We had originally wanted to participate in Free RPG Day by having our Mutants & Masterminds Beginner's Guide included (an introductory product for our flagship game that we specifically had printed up to take advantage of opportunities like this -- we promoted it at the ALA Midwinter show, we had it on hand at New York Comic Con, we've been sending it out as a prize to stores and conventions, etc) but the rules for Free RPG Day were 1) no products that had been released previously and 2) no products that had a price associated with them.

Instead we looked at what we could do in the time allowed and decided that we'd offer a Bleeding Edge adventure instead. "You can have it in our warehouse by this date?" we asked the printer. Yes, they assured us they could do it.

Except they didn't. (In fact, as of this writing we STILL don't have the adventure and I'm not sure when it will arrive, not that it matters at this point.) We tried to see if the printer could do the mailing separately but they couldn't handle it. So, we had to adapt. Again. We decided to price the adventure at $2.95 (print OR PDF, either one) and offer it as a promotion that way. It's not quite as nice as being able to give them away for free as part of the event but I like to think it's still something pretty cool.

We also decided to celebrate Free RPG Day by offering the products we originally wanted to include as print offerings (the M&M Beginner's Guide and the Bleeding Edge adventure) plus our True20 rules (since True20 deserves a little Free RPG Day love, too) as free PDFs for the 24 hours of the event. Our online store has some functions that would allow this to go smoothly and we'd upgraded to a shiny big new dedicated server earlier this spring. After promoting Free RPG Day on our site for months we didn't want our fans to feel they'd been left empty handed.

We had no idea the crush of people willing to come out for FREE STUFF. Holy crap. In fact, we'd been worried because we only really publicized the changes to our Free RPG Day plans a day before it was all set to go live! When the product when live at midnight Pacific time, European fans, insomniacs, and dedicated night owls wasted no time in logging on and getting their downloads. By the time the bulk of working-stiff US fans were up and logging in, our spiffy new dedicated server was crashing under the load, taking out our websites and message boards as well. Our heroic webmaster worked all through what should have been a beautiful, sunny summer Saturday with his wife and babies just to keep the site limping along.

Today, in the aftermath of the whole thing, we seem to be at about 50/50 happy people and disappointed people. The happy people got in, got the freebies (sometimes after long waits but sometimes it all worked as it was supposed to) and liked what they saw once the product hit their hands. The disappointed people were frustrated that the site couldn't accommodate the demand, were angry that they had to register to use the webstore interface (an anti-credit-card-theft precaution that we instituted after a rash of stolen credit card numbers passed through our store last year and something we didn't dare disable for the freebie event), were critical of us for not "predicting" there would be problems (and our "inexcusable" lag time) and so on. Of course it's always a bummer when something that's supposed to be fun and cool and good turns into something that makes people angry instead but at this point I'm satisfied that we did all we could do.

July 21st is UK RPG Day, sponsored by the fine fellows at Esdevium Game Distributors. I'm giddy with delight that Esdevium were willing to be more flexible in their requirements and were happy to take our offering of Mutants & Masterminds Beginner's Guides and Bleeding Edge Adventures. I'm so pleased that Esdevium made it easy for us to participate and that once we shipped the product to them the whole thing was out of our hands. I'm glad that someone is trying to organize something like Free RPG Day and I don't mean to disparage the effort, because it is indeed quite an undertaking but it was also a huge lot of trouble and stress for us from beginning to end and I'm glad to be done with it for now.



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