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How viable is a print-it-yourself game?

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OldScratch
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I have a game that I'd say is about halfway done. It's a game in the style of the HeroQuest games. Rules are all set out, just need to be playtested some. The thing is, it's a zero-budget game. I'm not paying anyone to do anything with this game. I came up with the mechanics, I write the story and I draw the artwork (I'm a writer and artist, so I don't particularly suck at either :) (http://www.smackwell.com)). As such, I also don't have any money to get the game printed. So, I had the idea of selling the game online as a downloadable PDF, with absolutely everything you need included.

The game will come with all pieces needed, though they'll need to be printed out. Alternately, you can use figures you already own and draw out the boards with graph paper and crayon... either way the game experience would be the same. The rules are pretty solid, the game's genre has a following, and there are tons of options for playing the game, most of which are not available in like games. The game isn't anything completely new, ground breaking, or anything like that. However, with all the options given to play the game and the expandability of it, it does have a sort of unique quality.

I genuinely think it's a game that could sell if it was sold in a box at a store or something, and it would probably be quite expensive. Especially if figures were included. The game attracts roleplayers and boardgamers alike, has a clean, simple system with lots of optional variations, all that stuff. With figures included this game could cost upwards of 100 bucks. Probably more. Without sculpted figures, about 50 bucks. This is all going by today's game standards. I plan on selling it online for about 10 to 15 bucks, with expansions costing only a couple bucks each.

My big question is how feasible do you all think it would be to sell a game online that people could print out or use their own materials to play?

It's not your typical 3 page rulebook and a few boards. It's set in a world with background, contains quips of story here and there, with things such as weapons and monsters thoroughly described, meanwhile the system itself is very simple and can be played with people who've never played anything like it (that's been tested).

If any of you are familiar with Warhammer Quest or HeroQuest, picture those games but with dozens of extra material and options, but without preprinted game components.

Okay I do seem to ramble on and on. What do you all think? If I've been unclear, I'm happy to answer questions.

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Re: How viable is a print-it-yourself game?

OldScratch wrote:
//edit: Seems I've posted this in the wrong forum. Could one of you moderators move it over to the correct one? Thanks.//

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I have a game that I'd say is about halfway done. It's a game in the style of the HeroQuest games.

Congrats on your new game, and welcome to the group!

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The thing is, it's a zero-budget game. I'm not paying anyone to do anything with this game.

I could be misunderstanding you here, but bear in mind that there's nothing philosophically wrong about investing in professional services to provide components for the games in quantities and qualities that are inaccessible to you. On the other hand, this may not be an investment thta you're willing/able to make. That's certainly the case for me and my games!

Quote:

The game will come with all pieces needed, though they'll need to be printed out. Alternately, you can use figures you already own and draw out the boards with graph paper and crayon... either way the game experience would be the same. The rules are pretty solid, the game's genre has a following, and there are tons of options for playing the game, most of which are not available in like games. The game isn't anything completely new, ground breaking, or anything like that. However, with all the options given to play the game and the expandability of it, it does have a sort of unique quality.

There's a new game from Hasbro called "HeroScape", I think, that sounds a very little bit like your idea. Although I think that that game may be more of a fighting game rather than with the scope that your game will have. Still, it might be worth checking out.

From my end, both as a designer and player, a gazillion options aren't necessarily a desirable thing. On the one hand, the more flexibility the system has, the more you'll have to playtest it, and inevitably, imbalances will slip through the cracks. On the other hand, when I'm learning a game, I don't want options, I want rigidity; I want to be told the "best" way to play. But of course, I'm not an RPG player, and I would guess your open system would appeal very much to people of that ilk.

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I genuinely think it's a game that could sell if it was sold in a box at a store or something,

As nicely as I can say this, everyone thinks this about their game. Of course, since you're not trying to actually sell the game in a store, at least you're not making a major investment based on this (possibly wrong) opinion.

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My big question is how feasible do you all think it would be to sell a game online that people could print out or use their own materials to play?

I can only speak for myself here, and I can say that I wouldn't really be interested. For me, the quality of the components is an important part of the game experience and I'm willing to pay more for it. Having to cut out and assemble a game is unattractive to me, even if the game is free, so there's simply no way I'd pay $10 or $15 for it.

On the other hand, my suspicion is that I'm not your target audience. I believe that there are lots of RPG sites where you pay to download RPG modules. Those kinds of people are probably also the ones who'd be interested in your board game, and they might be more likely to shell out the cash and get more involved in creating the physical game. There must be RPG newsgroups that you could float the same question to, and that might give you some additional info.

Good luck with your game! I'm sure we'd be very interested to hear more about the mechanics and such, to the extent that you're interested in talking about them...

-Jeff

OldScratch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: How viable is a print-it-yourself game?

jwarrend wrote:
Congrats on your new game, and welcome to the group!

Thanks, I plan to stay for a while. :)

Quote:
I could be misunderstanding you here, but bear in mind that there's nothing philosophically wrong about investing in professional services to provide components for the games in quantities and qualities that are inaccessible to you. On the other hand, this may not be an investment thta you're willing/able to make. That's certainly the case for me and my games!

First off, I don't have the money to pay someone to do anything for my game. Second, I'm quite capable of covering all sides of the game and its contents, so on top of not having the money to pay someone, I also don't feel the need to.

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There's a new game from Hasbro called "HeroScape", I think, that sounds a very little bit like your idea. Although I think that that game may be more of a fighting game rather than with the scope that your game will have. Still, it might be worth checking out.

Yeah I've seen HeroScape, it looks quite good. However, you're correct in assuming that the games are different. With my game you create your characters and keep them from game to game, all the while making them stronger.

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From my end, both as a designer and player, a gazillion options aren't necessarily a desirable thing. On the one hand, the more flexibility the system has, the more you'll have to playtest it, and inevitably, imbalances will slip through the cracks. On the other hand, when I'm learning a game, I don't want options, I want rigidity; I want to be told the "best" way to play. But of course, I'm not an RPG player, and I would guess your open system would appeal very much to people of that ilk.

Believe me, I'm with you when you say a bunch of options aren't desirable if you don't want them. The game is written with the basic rules in one PDF, and all other optional rules are set in a separate PDF. This makes it so you can read the main rule book (25 pages) and be ready to play the game right away. Everything else is completely optional and is given to you in separate documents so that if you like the game the way it is, you don't even have to glance at the other rules.

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As nicely as I can say this, everyone thinks this about their game. Of course, since you're not trying to actually sell the game in a store, at least you're not making a major investment based on this (possibly wrong) opinion.

Heh I understand that. :)

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I can only speak for myself here, and I can say that I wouldn't really be interested. For me, the quality of the components is an important part of the game experience and I'm willing to pay more for it. Having to cut out and assemble a game is unattractive to me, even if the game is free, so there's simply no way I'd pay $10 or $15 for it.

I think this is my game's biggest flaw. If I could sell the game with figures and board pieces, then I think it would definitely appeal more to people, but it would drive the cost way up. However, I've been toying with the idea of selling pre-printed parts for people without the means or will to print, but this will also drive the cost up a bit. However, there's still the fact that there's no figures that come with the game. I personally hate paper/cardboard standups, but I'm including them so that anyone without their own figures could play. A quick remedy to this is I'm going to have a list of third-party miniatures and where to get them, so if people are like me they can give the standups the finger and be on their way.

However, one of the things that would appeal to me about this game is that I already own scores of miniatures that I could use for this game. If companies like Games Workshop sold their games without miniatures and cut the price down by 40 bucks, I would be more interested in their games. The thinking here is that if you already have a bunch of miniatures, you've got yourself a game for 15 bucks and the figures to play it.

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On the other hand, my suspicion is that I'm not your target audience. I believe that there are lots of RPG sites where you pay to download RPG modules. Those kinds of people are probably also the ones who'd be interested in your board game, and they might be more likely to shell out the cash and get more involved in creating the physical game. There must be RPG newsgroups that you could float the same question to, and that might give you some additional info.

Good luck with your game! I'm sure we'd be very interested to hear more about the mechanics and such, to the extent that you're interested in talking about them...

-Jeff

Well you have some very good arguments there, all very valid. Thanks for being straight, by the way. I'm sick of places where people sugarcoat everything.

I do believe I'd have a hard time selling my game to you, as you're not a fan of the genre. However, games like this are selling for over 100 bucks, new ones and old, used ones. I think it's a good game for budget gamers.

My game is being provided with the players in mind. I'm offering options that will make the game simpler or more complex, all completely optional to use. The basic rules are the ones included in the rulebook. You could get away with never reading any other rules that come with the game and be happy with it. For those who want something simpler, there's a simpler set of rules with less options, and even simpler still, turning the game into a simple traditional boardgame. On the other side of the spectrum, there's the rules for turning the game into an RPG, allowing you to do things not outlined in the rules, extra options, etc. I'm really trying to have 'something for everyone' in this game. I know it still won't appeal to everyone, but it's my goal.

I'm really covering all my bases for this game. I've played many games of this genre, and the things that people have the most complaints about, I look at those in my game and improved them in my game. The people that have playtested it (fans of the genre) have given me some pretty excited reports, so I think those people will like the game.

Well thanks for hearing me out and giving me some feedback. Anyone else have any opinions?

Dralius
Dralius's picture
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Joined: 07/26/2008
How viable is a print-it-yourself game?

I think finding a way to get people interested enough to pay for down loaded game will be your challenge. This is a matter of advertising something I personally have little experience with, but I still have some thoughts. To start with $15 seems high. I can buy a box game with nice components for $30-$45 and with no more effort than pulling out my wallet. Truth is people can be lazy and many don’t trust their ability to perform assembly tasks. How can you hook them, it’s like free ice-cream day. They are not giving it away to be nice, they want you to come back for more. If you can offer a mini version of the game that is easy to assemble and fun then after you audience gets hooked you can offer up expansions like RPG modules for a few dollars each. Also get the player community involved, set up a forum/board for comments suggestions etc. Plus short of shoving it down peoples throats get every one you know and meet to play if you can. Hopefully once you have built your community and keep it alive with ever growing collection of offerings your audience will be in place and you will be earning a little pocket cash to boot. At this t time you could pitch the game to a big company with your online community as proof of guaranteed sales or save up and produce it yourself.

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
My thoughts

My personal perference is that I'd RATHER play with cardboard foldovers or stuck in T-holders. I just think it's neat. Plus you could provide folks with templates to create their own characters. I know I would appreciate that. My advice is this: Provide folks with an inexpensive game for about $10 to $15, and include everything they need to play (except for perhaps dice and notepads, but if you can include them all the better) including the paper miniatures. However, design the game so that it can use both. If someone wants to use metal or plastic miniatures, then they can if they want to go out and purchase them or use ones they already have. A good marketing ploy might be to sell miniature packs seperately, or sell a deluxe version that includes the miniatures. Even if it's a desktop publishing quality game (and I think a game such as your describing, a DTP quality game would be entirely appropriate/acceptable), people might still buy it, especially if it was highly expandable. The possibilities are really limitless. You have to consider too, what sort of financial goal are you hoping to achieve from this venture? Do you want to do it to see how far the project will go? Do you want it to be a hobby that makes you a little money? Do you simply want to fill a need in the gaming hobby? If I were you, I would even go as far as to allow people to download the base game for FREE, AND sell a premade copy. That way, someone could go over the rules and decide for themselves if it was something they really wanted to buy. Good luck with your venture, I hope it comes to fruition (and I wish I had the time to try it out once it did become available).

-Michael

OldScratch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: My thoughts

Darkehorse wrote:
My personal perference is that I'd RATHER play with cardboard foldovers or stuck in T-holders. I just think it's neat. Plus you could provide folks with templates to create their own characters. I know I would appreciate that.

I think it's cool that you'd rather play with the standups! I didn't really know there was anyone out there with that preference... Makes me feel better about including them. I hadn't thought of templates for the standups. That's a great idea... I know if I were to be using the standups, I'd want to draw out my own character.

[quote0My advice is this: Provide folks with an inexpensive game for about $10 to $15, and include everything they need to play (except for perhaps dice and notepads, but if you can include them all the better) including the paper miniatures. However, design the game so that it can use both. If someone wants to use metal or plastic miniatures, then they can if they want to go out and purchase them or use ones they already have.

You pretty much hit the nail on the head here. This game is all about print-and-play, and options. The only thing you'll need after printing is some dice and some pencils. Everything else (everything!) is provided for you- Standups, character sheets, floor tiles and game boards, everything. And it would definitely be able to use both types of 'pawns'. A lot of people might have a bunch of Hero figures and Orcs, but where's that huge dragon? Eh, just use the standup. It's a lot cheaper than shelling out 30 bucks for something you might only use once.

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A good marketing ploy might be to sell miniature packs seperately, or sell a deluxe version that includes the miniatures.

If the game takes off and sells enough copies, I would definitely contract someone to create some miniatures. Another option is I could design the miniatures in a 3D program and send it off to one of those places that does "3D prints" of 3D models and sends them to you. I'm not much of a sculptor but I can do some 3D modeling. Have them print a model on a runner, and I could hast them myself (that would be a pain in the arse, but well worth the money that figures would get me).

Anyone here used one of those 3D printers (or used a company with one)?

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Even if it's a desktop publishing quality game (and I think a game such as your describing, a DTP quality game would be entirely appropriate/acceptable)

I'm taking the time to make it look very good. I'm trying to achieve the 'entirity' of books like the Games Workshop ones, which have good layouts and pieces of story here and there. I just want it to look like something you would actually buy at a store.

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people might still buy it, especially if it was highly expandable. The possibilities are really limitless.

I plan on releasing numerous inexpensive expansions for the game, with things like new Hero types, new dungeon boards, above ground and below, new monsters, etc. They will normally be packaged in sets like 1 New Hero, 2 or 3 new Monsters, 4 or 5 (or more) new dungeon boards, and 5 to 10 new Adventures per expansion pack. Again if the game takes off, I plan on adding in user suggestions, numerous expansion packs, everything that will make the consumer come back for more.

Basically the way I see this game is kind of what I would have put out, as a game publisher, in competition with a game like HeroQuest. I've taken the things that people complain about most in these types of games and made them enjoyable. I've taken every "Man, I wish this game had this" I've heard, and incorporated it into my game if possible.

As far as doing all this for expansion, I plan on making rules variations for different timelines. Sci Fi, post-apocalyptic, WWII, modern, wild west, etc.

I'm also adding blank dungeon boards so that people can make their own, by just printing out a blank and using a marker to draw in walls and whatnot.

I've really got big plans for this game and its system... it's really not something I want to release and let it float out there. I want to support it all the way. It's just a matter of selling it in the right places and getting people to notice it. I hope.

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You have to consider too, what sort of financial goal are you hoping to achieve from this venture? Do you want to do it to see how far the project will go? Do you want it to be a hobby that makes you a little money? Do you simply want to fill a need in the gaming hobby?

Well I've always been a game maker, so this is really a kind of hobby of mine. However, I know there's people out there that will want this game, so I'm going with it 100%. Normally if it was a game I'm making for me and my friends, a lot of the info wouldn't be there... There'd be a lot of on-the-fly ruling and such.

As far as an actual financial goal, then, I'm not really sure. Since it's a zero budget game, any profit off the game is profit. Sure I'm putting a lot of time into the game (a great deal more than I expected), but as it's a hobby, I see it as free time well spent. How many copies do I plan to sell? No idea. How many copies need to sell? None, really. But it would be nice. :)

Also, I was thinking I could burn it onto CDs and sell them that way. Maybe send a few out to hobby stores. All that would cost me is the price of a CD and postage... that's not bad.

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If I were you, I would even go as far as to allow people to download the base game for FREE

I plan on doing a 'crippled demo' version, where it's just the main rules, a couple of dungeon boards and only a few character options, so people can check out the mechanics and all that, and hopefully get them hooked with all the stuff they could be missing.

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AND sell a premade copy. That way, someone could go over the rules and decide for themselves if it was something they really wanted to buy.

I'm still pondering selling the game pre-printed. I was thinking selling it in different qualities, like a cheap black and white laser print, a low quality color print, and a high quality color print, with the option of having anything assembled and mounted on thicker card. Each option would have it's own different price, according to how much it costs me to print all the stuff out.

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Good luck with your venture, I hope it comes to fruition (and I wish I had the time to try it out once it did become available).

-Michael

Thanks! I hope so too. When I get a good working demo, I'll let you know, and you can try it out.

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
Re: My thoughts

OldScratch wrote:
Darkehorse wrote:
My advice is this: Provide folks with an inexpensive game for about $10 to $15, and include everything they need to play (except for perhaps dice and notepads, but if you can include them all the better) including the paper miniatures. However, design the game so that it can use both. If someone wants to use metal or plastic miniatures, then they can if they want to go out and purchase them or use ones they already have.

You pretty much hit the nail on the head here. This game is all about print-and-play, and options. The only thing you'll need after printing is some dice and some pencils. Everything else (everything!) is provided for you- Standups, character sheets, floor tiles and game boards, everything. And it would definitely be able to use both types of 'pawns'. A lot of people might have a bunch of Hero figures and Orcs, but where's that huge dragon? Eh, just use the standup. It's a lot cheaper than shelling out 30 bucks for something you might only use once.

Ok I guess you didn't understand me. When I said provide them everything they need to play, I meant PROVIDE THEM with everything they need to play. I don't mean provide them the files so they can print everything they will need to play. I hate to be a naysayer, but I can almost guarantee that you will have a VERY difficult time selling something that the players will have to assemble themselves. People are lazy, they don't want to have to assemble things. It's too time consuming. It's also a matter of perceived value. If they spend $15 for something, they want to get something for it. They want to be able to turn it over in their hands, they want to be able to open the box and look over the rules and components. A little assembly is to be expected and can be tolerated (such as the fold over paper miniatures). However, people who are computer illiterate are going to have a hard time figuring out how to print the game correctly, or what if they don't have a printer? Do you really want to do tech support in addition to developing the game? Think how hard it will be for the average joe to print and properly cut out/setup the paper miniatures. Sure a good deal of your target audience might be computer savvy, but do you really want to limit your audience?

You don't seem like you can or want to invest money in producing this game, but I think it is necessary to get the game to take off. I think your initial investment could be modest however. Especially if you print the game on demand, then the costs could be displaced evenly over each purchase (I.E. use the $15 from this sale to go towards paper, use the $15 from the next sale to go towards ink, etc). I seriously think you should consider a hard copy version of the game.

-Darke

OldScratch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How viable is a print-it-yourself game?

Well, I do want to do a hard copy version. When I sell the game I'll be offering the different quality printouts of everything for people who can't print everything out. At the moment I don't have the funding to start selling it completely assembled and packaged. Believe me, I'd like nothing more than to see this game in a box on a shelf in a store, but realistically, this is the way to go for me. I guess I need to put more consideration into selling everything as a hard copy though. I was thinking of doing that once I made a few bucks with the game, but I'll probably print on demand on the launch of the game.

For me, I guess, I'd rather just download the thing and put it together myself, but I guess I do have to consider the lazy/computer illiterate/not so bright people.

One of my goals with this game was to make it totally flexible, in playing and buying it. I suppose with a fully printed version the price will be jacked up, but if that's what the people want, then that's what they get.

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
How viable is a print-it-yourself game?

OldScratch wrote:
Well, I do want to do a hard copy version. When I sell the game I'll be offering the different quality printouts of everything for people who can't print everything out. At the moment I don't have the funding to start selling it completely assembled and packaged. Believe me, I'd like nothing more than to see this game in a box on a shelf in a store, but realistically, this is the way to go for me. I guess I need to put more consideration into selling everything as a hard copy though. I was thinking of doing that once I made a few bucks with the game, but I'll probably print on demand on the launch of the game.

For me, I guess, I'd rather just download the thing and put it together myself, but I guess I do have to consider the lazy/computer illiterate/not so bright people.

One of my goals with this game was to make it totally flexible, in playing and buying it. I suppose with a fully printed version the price will be jacked up, but if that's what the people want, then that's what they get.

Selling something complete and packaged doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a Rio Grande quality game. The early versions of Tom Jolly's Wizwar came in a zipblock bag and you had to cut out the components yourself. My advice is to do the best you can with what you can afford. If you can't afford to do anything, perhaps find a partner who is willing to do more of the production side of things.

-Darke

Anonymous
Re: My thoughts

OldScratch wrote:

I think it's cool that you'd rather play with the standups! I didn't really know there was anyone out there with that preference... Makes me feel better about including them. I hadn't thought of templates for the standups. That's a great idea... I know if I were to be using the standups, I'd want to draw out my own character.

Have you discovered the paperworlds site yet? Theres an entire gaming board called paperworlds.com that has nothing BUT folks who use paper miniatures and the exact type of games you're talking about making.

I'd suggest also visiting those folks and bounce your ideas off of them.
They're a very supportive and creative group.

Good luck

Ed

OldScratch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
How viable is a print-it-yourself game?

Hey thanks for the tip! Very helpful!

Anonymous
How viable is a print-it-yourself game?

Looking over the portfolio on your website I would say that you're a very gifted artist! I for one would be very interested to see how the final game turns out.

I would add that your concept for selling your game may be trying to be too many things. You say it is a board game, but the boards are simple enough that people can draw them on graph paper. You mention that characters are created (I assume they are not from a set of pregenerated characters) and kept through the different games to grow and expand their abilities. All of this adds up to what, to me, sounds like an RPG.

It may only be coincidence, but that is the impression that I get and the impression that many others may get as well. To that end, I don't think I would pay $15 to download what is essentially the core rules for an RPG (I can generate my characters and run a game without any further materials). Consider the cost of a core rule book available at any store and you will see why someone would be hesitant at the price you mention. Especially since there is an overcrowding of RPG's out there already.

I'm not sure how your game works, but are the encounters random (by a chart of some kind since there are no cards/tiles needed for play)? Is a GM required? Is there a narrative development aspect to the game?

I guess where I'm going is to suggest that you make your game stand out more somehow. Perhaps either embrace the RPG interpretation and offer the rulebook as a download for $5 or so (if you're doing it as a hobby and spending no money on it, ANYTHING you make will be profit). Otherwise make it stand out with specific pieces/tiles/cards that are also needed and integral to play (don't include dungeon tiles and then not include a meaningful mechanic for using them that adds to the game play...make it more than something that can be mapped easily enough on graph paper).

Good luck and keep the updates coming! I know several avid RPG players that are interested in new and different things such as yours!

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