In a strange sort of way, Free RPG Day was a weird success.
As I Chronicled Previously. I found that I was going to be in Boise on Free RPG Day 2010. I had found the closest participating store to be in Mountain Home (A smallish city [population aprox. 13,000] about an hour drive from Boise). The store seemed odd on the internet—and it was odd when I got there.
Picture a normal hobby game store. Then Randomly pick a place in the middle and put a shelf up that has collectible statues on it—not the kind of collectible statues that you normally find at a game store like superheroes and nerdy movie properties. No, there were no Star Trek Crew Members, No Star Wars Heroes, no Marvel or DC properties, not even a Cthulhu Idol. There were tiger busts, fairy figurines, cowboys and indians, Precious Moments, and Hallmark type stuff. Then another wall and two random aisles get stocked with Model Airplanes and Model Airplane Parts (The Kinds of Models that you actually fly). Add 2 Cats and one Rather Large Dog into the Mix; put Grandma and Grandpa (who know nothing about hobby gaming) behind the counter to run the cash register.
I'm getting a little ahead of myself. If you recall, I had called around to all the game stores that I could find in Boise, and none were participating. When we got to Boise, I spent some time going to different game stores when I had nothing else to do—it filled the time nicely and I enjoyed it, but I still was unable to find a store participating in Boise Proper.
I had planned to run down to Mountain Home on Saturday morning, and one of my Wife's cousins (Jacob, Age 14) opted to tag along—I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce him to the role playing scene; unfortunately it turned out badly.
We couldn't communicate very well due to the road noise while driving there. I arrived a few minutes early and we waited for the store to open. We were the first non-employees in the store, and when asked if they could help me find anything particular, I indicated that we were there for Free RPG Day. The woman behind the counter told me that the person in charge of that would arrive soon ("the boys" had gone for a food run to the McDonalds down the street). So I browsed the merchandise, and took in the sights.
Fist thing I noticed was the complete and utter lack of cool dice—all they really had were the opaque flat colors from Koplow. With the board games, they had a lot of expansions for games that I want, but not the base games (Cut Throat Caverns for instance, three expansions but not the base game). They had a lots of figures to paint, for every table top war game I've ever heard of, and more variety than my game store has in many cases (Malifaux had not only starter sets and cards, but single figures as well). I looked for Savage Worlds product and only found one, it was an Adventure for Savage Worlds, published by one of Pinnacle's Licencee's, which is a really strange thing to have in your store if you don't carry the core product.
So a few minutes later someone came in and the woman told him what we were there for, so I walked over to talk to him and he informed me that they were starting Free RPG day at Noon. I plead may case...that I was from Utah, that I drove an hour from where I was staying just to get Free RPG day stuff, that we were in town for family and we had things going on to which we needed to return. My pleas fell upon deaf ears, he just reiterated that they would be starting at noon.(He was the epitome of the Role Player Stereotype: awkward, quiet, could use a little more attention to personal hygiene) So I browsed the store, my compatriot was less than thrilled (read: bored) but there was enough there to keep me busy for an hour, but not two.
After about half an hour the guy running free RPG day told me they would be starting soon, this excited me because soon in my mind was early.
Their prices really were good, so I picked up some new things for myself: Zombie Dice Game, Cthulhu Dice Game, Warhammer Fantasy Role Play Dice (I'll probably never play this RPG—but it has cool dice). I wanted to get a Chessex Battle Mat (I noticed that they had a good price online), but they only had the ones with 1½ inch squares, and I wanted the one with 1 inch squares. At this point Jacob borrowed 4¢ and went down the street to the McDonald's, and I entered the Gaming Table Section of the Store to open my new stuff.
When Jake got back we played Zombie Dice, no they had not started and it was about a 11:30. Shortly thereafter, they got a box out from under the counter and laid out the Six free adventures, did they tell me it was okay to pick up the free stuff? No. It's not like I had been there since they opened, waiting specifically to pick that stuff up. I thought to myself that perhaps they would make some announcement to the store that the festivities would begin. (And I guess when he told me they would be starting soon, he meant on time. . . weird.)
Then this other guy walked in ans asked about Free RPG Day and they let him take some adventures. So I got up and took the two I knew I wanted, Jake picked up two that were a maybe (He didn't want any so he was just going to give them to me anyway). I didn't want to be greedy, and my game store puts up signs that says two only please.
We left immediately. I think the reason they were waiting, was that they had people scheduled to run the adventures that were available. There were supposed to be some Dice and a Dice Tower as part of the give away; I didn't see the Dice, and it looked like they only had one dice tower, and it looked like they were going to raffle it off. Perhaps they were saving the dice for people who played, but I didn't have time for that.
On the way back I ran into one of the game stores I had been to earlier in the week and grabbed a Formula D dice set (I wanted a set of these a long time ago and when I went to get them the store no longer had them and the game was out of print), I quickly checked if they had Battle Mats and I was glad that I did, it was even cheaper than the Mountain Home Store (and a dollar less than it would have been to buy a factory second directly from the manufacturer).
Our story doesn't quite end there however. I was in the neighborhood of my Local Gaming Store this week and I stopped in and found they still had copies of the two adventures I had not picked up (and of the four adventures I had picked up, they only had copies of one), so I got all six adventures, and a bunch of stuff I've wanted at discounted prices.
I would call Free RPG Day 2010 a Success.