The Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying game (DFRPG) was a nifty experiment, which aimed to deliver something that games based on GURPS sorely needed: an entry point to the game that was ready-to-run as-is.
Not telling anyone anything they don’t know, but games Powered by GURPS are subtractive. Much like the cliche about making a sculpture being removing everything but the subject matter, playing in a campaign is a matter of deciding what flavor of game you want to play, and then subtracting out all of the core and supplements that aren’t the game you want to play.
I’m going to refer to the whittled down versions of the rules as Powered by GURPS, so that I can distinguish between the entire GURPS line, the Dungeon Fantasy sub-line, and the altered and updated Dungeon Fantasy RPG rules that take the approach I mentioned. Take the core of GURPS, throw out what you don’t want, tweak the rest, and then play. So when I say that you’re playing Powered by GURPS (PbG) you’re using 3d6 roll low, four attributes, roll high for effect, all d6s of nearly any flavor. That’s the engine, while the DFRPG or any particular campaign is the game. Perhaps this will be a distinction without a difference, but for my own sake and for clarity, I will make it for this post.
The DFRPG went through Kickstarter, and the campaign went well, raising over $175,000 from over 1,500 backers. It suffered some delays in production. It was promised in May 2017, went to the printers at the end of April 2017, and started shipping to US backers in September (I actually got my copy in August, as a top-tier backer that went to GenCon to play with the ever-delightful Sean Punch). So the entire thing was about 4-5 months behind schedule, and the planned development time was 8 months, and a total of about a year was realized.
A lot was riding on this experiment, as “we’ll see how the DFRPG sales go” was the answer to the oft-repeated question to inquiries of “what about [this other genre]?!”
The game that was produced is gorgeous, exceeding the usual production values for GURPS books and PDFs in its use of interior color printing, and shipped with five books, the largest of which was 128 pages. It also came with dice and a few full-color printed maps for the included adventure. While it was available bare-bones in the Kickstarter for $50, the retail game hit the stores at MSRP of $60.
So . . . how did it go? It went well and not well. The game sold through its initial (reduced) print run, but was declared a failure in the 2017 Report to the Stakeholders, which SJG publishes each year to let the gaming customers know what’s going on.
There were bright spots and dark spots in the report for the DFRPG and the reports that followed, and I just want to muse on them a bit.
It must be noted: I am speculating ruthlessly in the following post, and I have no special knowledge that I’ve included in the post that would lead me to believe my numbers are accurate. I’m guessing. But a game that relatively quickly sells out its first print run apparently will not be reprinted, despite being #6 on the revenue charts . . . that means a cost/revenue imbalance on the cost side of things, and in the game industry, that’s not that hard a place to arrive at.
Continue reading “Dungeon Fantasy RPG: Aftermath of Report to the Stakeholders”