Who needs more stuff to buy?

At the end of last month, the HUGE RUINED PILE posted an entry about the proposal of going a year without gaming purchases. Without hesitation, I decided to borrow that as my own new years resolution …and I just realized that I broke that promise yesterday when I ordered a book online that had some of my illustrations in it and for which I did not get a contributor copy, so I had to buy one… grrrr! Technically, I suppose my promise to myself still stands, since I promised to avoid purchases for 2011 (and, technically, 2011 hasn’t started yet — but I wouldn’t respect such justification from someone else so I can’t accept it from myself).

Part of what makes HUGE RUINED PILE’s suggestion appealing to me is that since I don’t have a job (and, thus, no money), many purchasing decisions have already been made for me. But I also have a ton of books on my gaming shelf that I have never used and will probably never use… and will never read. I just don’t devour rule books like I used to when I was 15. I also think my game mastering days are over — no one in my current circle seems to want to play the kind of game I want to run… and my interest in (and patience for) running anything they do want to play is too low. I just don’t see that changing.

If I were to run a game tomorrow, I doubt I’d use published stuff anyway. I’ve got some continent maps that I drew when I was much younger with such “inspired” names as, “The Dales” and “Elfwood” and “The Sinking Lands” that I would probably use as my setting, hokey names and all. My pantheon of gods would include a few borrowed from mythology, some who were made up and the rest stolen from The Church of the Subgenius. Monsters would include stuff from my old D&D manuals, borrowed from movies or comic books (Fin-Fang-Foom is perhaps a minor god), and other sources (i.e.: dero from Shaver). There would be mole people. And robots. And, of course, both magic and ancient ‘technology’ a la Gamma World and the aforementioned Shaver. I’d be shooting for ‘Hiero’s Journey’ meets Lankmar with heavy detours through HG Wells and Barsoom. Of course, given that everything in it would be someone else’s IP, it would be unpublishable.

It also becomes ethically problematic for me not to be buying (i.e.: supporting the efforts of others) if I’m working on stuff that I expect other people to buy. Maybe the solution to that dilemma is to just offer it for free. Which is what I am thinking of for Mines of Khunmar. I may just take the document that Geoffrey McKinney typed up from my notes, add the maps and dump it on the internet for all the world to have for free instead of toiling on it for 100+ more hours and then trying to sell it via Lulu. This would probably make more sense. I worked many hours on ‘Exquisite Corpses,’ and, if I figure how much work I put into it versus how many dollars I got out, I would probably be making less than an Indonesian twelve year old making shoes for Nike.

I might make more money if I had it printed and bound and then shipped it out myself, but I lack the front capital to make that happen and don’t want to spend all that time packing and shipping copies to individual customers. I also don’t want to invest the hundreds of hours it would probably take to make Mines of Khunmar ‘print ready’ with all of the editing, writing, redesigning, etc. The maps alone have taken a lot of time so far and I am not even finished with them. And then there are the illustrations. Even if I were to do just 20-25 illustrations (which doesn’t seem excessive for a 150+ page book), that would represent at minimum 100 hours. I just don’t have that kind of time.

In addition, I have to admit that the RPG business, with all of the drama, chest thumping and shilling that goes on, seems less and less attractive to me the more I look into it. The fact that it pays so poorly, making Khunmar more of a ‘Vanity’ project than anything else, makes me think that it may not be for me.

This probably isn’t the last word on this. I am considering the options, however.

3 Comments on “Who needs more stuff to buy?”

  1. Church of the Subgenius – I loves!

  2. Kent says:

    Your multifarious Mines of Khunmar is a good piece of work, no doubt. Artists have the advantage in dungeon design. Very thoughtful post.

  3. Andrew says:

    What kind of fucking world are we living in where a struggling illustrator has to BUY a copy of a book he contributed to? That definitely shouldn't count as a resolution breaker in my opinion.

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