10 Fundamental Contradictions in RPG Publishing

The first thing you need to understand is that in the RPG business, you can never win. Somewhere on the internet there’s the person or small group of people who happen to hate exactly the sort of thing you’ve just published. And then they must go on and on about it on every available forum for months or in some cases years. So just get used to that one right off the bat. But there is more to come, oh yes there is. Here are some real chestnuts:

  • If your core rulebook leaves any room for expansion, you are trying to rip people off by “making” them buy supplements. If you don’t produce any supplements, your game is dead and thus shouldn’t be played by anyone for the rest of time.
  • If your adventure has a discernable plot, you are trying to railroad the players. If it doesn’t, it is dismissed as simply a dungeon crawl.
  • If your book is mechanics heavy, it is boring and flavorless. If your book is mostly source material, it’s useless fluff.
  • If you do a licensed book that cleaves closely to the core rules, it doesn’t accurately reflect the setting. If you make rules changes to reflect the setting, it’s too far from the core rules.
  • If a book is late because you want to ensure a quality release, you are unprofessional. If you rush it out to meet the release date and there are typos or mediocre illustrations, you are also unprofessional.
  • If you try to appeal to the average fan, your products are too derivative and boring. If you try to break new ground, your products are too weird and niche.
  • If you never change your mind about a product line, you don’t listen to the fans. If you do change your mind, you are cursed oath-breakers.
  • If you publish a short setting book, it’s too sketchy. If you publish a long setting book, it’s too intimidating.
  • If you publish a niche product, retailers won’t buy it because it’s too risky. If you publish it as a PDF instead, you are trying to undercut retailers.
  • If you win an award, it doesn’t mean anything. If you don’t win an award, you must be doing something wrong.

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