Prompted by a recent post by J. Walton where he mentions something called Dungeonhearts in passing, I thought I’d take a swing past drivethrurpg and see what all’s out there these days in the PbtA world.
There are 404 items tagged with “Apocalypse World Engine.” More than four hundred! Granted a loooot of those are one-off playbooks for AW or DW, and quite a few of them are weird things like drawings of “post-apocalypse survivors” for $2 or whatever. But even taking all that into account, there are probably easily more than 50-or-so titles.
The vast swath of iffy supplements is interesting to me. I suppose it’s really no different at all than the swaths of iffy OSR supplements or whatever. Does anyone actually make a buck selling a $4 playbook?
On the one hand, it’s a little intimidating. As I look at my own potential future design work, it feels like riding the PbtA train is useful for brand and audience reasons. On the other hand, how on earth do you stand out? So many titles. My god. So many titles. On the other other hand, heck, maybe I oughta just throw some half-assed design doodles up there and charge $5.
Folks kept yelling at me to “publish” something more complete for Tiny Dragons. Is this what they were talking about?
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I’ve made $30 on Dungeonhearts so far, so no, you don’t really make a lot of cash through mini-supplements on DriveThru. But if you produce a visually striking product that’s pretty solid, then I think there’s a good chance of moderate success over several months or years. And having a couple of small products makes it easy to be included in a Bundle of Holding down the road, which tends be fairly profitable, in my experience.
I can’t possibly say I “made it” in the OSR (albeit I’m doing better than OK I guess) or that my lessons apply to PbtA but the way I stood out was to kill it with style and to do something different that was usable with OSR games.
Also, handmaking books and boxed sets was a smart idea marketingwise, because they look dope and people that want them but don’t feel like forking cash can get the PDF for a few bucks or the normal print copy. For those you might need bookbinding classes and a whole lot of work.
There are currently 45 separate RPGs in the RPGGeek database that use some variation of “Powered by the Apocalypse”…
Believe it or not, you have a pretty good “brand”, Paul. I think anything you produce, assuming it’s good (which I think it would be), will gain a certain amount of exposure and give you PbtA-designer-cred, and maybe also some cash.