Free RPG Day, First Impressions

And So He Started Driving

I was determined to get in on the Free RPG action last Saturday come hell or high water. My wife worked a 3-11 that day so I basically had the entire day to myself, which was nice but there was one minor hangup. By minor hangup I mean I had two goblin minions at my side and no babysitter, how was I supposed to get in on any gaming goodness with these little healing surge suckers?

The answer: bring them with!

I packed up the minions along with some of their adventuring gear, fired up my scroll of navigation and pointed it towards the nearest FreeRPGDay participant, which happened to be Critical Effect Games in Hobart, IN which was about an hour drive from the corn riddled wastelands I call home. I’d called ahead of time to several game stores closer to me but they were all not participating, I wonder why? I don’t run a FLGS so I’m probably missing out on logical explanations as to WHY a store would not participate in this. Anway, the folks at Critical Effect ensuredthis was no illusion and that there was still loot to be had, so we embarked!

A buffet of Free RPG awesome sauce.

The Arrival

About an hour, one bathroom stop and one “I’ll turn this car around right now you two!” moment later we were there! Oh there was awesomeness to be had! This FLGS had tons of miniature terrain and a solid table full of people playing Fantasy Flight’s new “Black Crusade”. The kids were super amused at the role playing and just stood and watched for a good few minutes while I paroused the selection of free goods.

I was told I could only score one item, but since the kids were with me the staff said “I suppose I can’t stop them from each picking one up too, right?” with a grin and my greedy kid-in-a-candy-store eyes lit up and I dove in. I did only wind up taking two items though, I’d feel guilty robbing someone else of potential stuff that might get them into RPG’s while here I was, already eye deep in dice rolling madness every day of my life.

Selections, Elation…

I opted to grab the World of Darkness “Nightmare on Hill Manor” because I’ve never gotten to check out anything from White Wolf and it seemed pretty much right up my alley. You can grab a copy too if you’d like because it’s up as a free download on DriveThruRPG right now. Other publishers are promising to make free PDF copies of their wares too, including Green Ronin’s Dragon Age RPG offering, so keep your eyes peeled if you missed out.

Grognardic Goodness!

My main motivation for wanting to attend FreeRPG day was the Goodman Games Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure though, it was the first thing I grabbed. It actually contains two adventures inside, both relatively short but intense none the less. Like the beta rules released online for Dungeon Crawl Classics, this starter adventure didn’t skimp out on any awesome artwork or evocative atmosphere from 70’s era gaming.


I’ve yet to run either one of these adventures yet but I’m hoping that will change in the near future. My players are a bit resilient to change (among many other things) but that’s a blog post for another day. So while Black Crusade looked very enticing, none of my players other than my wife would give a shit about the Warhammer 40k universe or the seemingly intricate rules Fantasy Flight has created to go along with the setting.

In hindsight I really wish I would have picked up a 3rd module since I had the option, it’s not like the store was super busy or that I’d really be detracting from anyone’s good times but I had a hard time finding a 3rd to pique my interest. Honestly the Pathfinder adventure seemed bland as hell “look, some goblins and a shipwreck” and as much as I’m into how cool D&D 4e’s “Misthaven” adventure looked, flipping through it looked like a mountain of stat blocks dashed with pure combat shenanigans that I could honestly give a fuck less about. (Update: I was totally wrong about the D&D adventure, see comments below.)

Conclusions, Lead Poisoning

The whole concept of FreeRPGDay is great – free introductory game literature for those old and new to the hobby all for the good of promoting your product and getting more folks into the exciting realm of tabletop RPG’s. Next year I hope to participate more (you know, actually play/host a game) and hopefully not drive so far. I will go where the RPG’s are though so if a small road trip is in order again then so be it! Only…next time I won’t let my kids play in the giant box full of old lead miniatures from decades ago just because it was a nice distraction. HEY IT WAS WRITTEN IN FINE PRINT, I didn’t see the warning until it was too late! Don’t worry though, the kids are okay aside from gaining super powers and whatnot.

Anyway, here’s to next year! Who wants to meet up and stumble through some games you’ve never played before?!

The bumper sticker wasn't free, but I couldn't pass it up.

Update: The Dragon Age RPG quick starter is up! Thanks to newbiedm for the link.


  1. Its sad but true that many FLGSes do not want to shell out the $75+ to participate in this event. In southern Ontario, Canada, where I reside the closest was in a different city. The same was true a year ago but a different store.

    So, I feel the problem is that people like me will just walk into the store, look around quickly, grab some loot and then leave without buying a game.

    Of course, this could be fixed by putting some items on sale for the event (like comic book stores do for Free Comic Day).

  2. My freerpgday was awesomesauce as well. My father-in-law picked me up a whole ton of extra stuff, and i’m gonna review it all and then give each one away on my blog.

    Just wanted to say, though, that you’re really missing out on D&D’s Histaven. It’s more like the Vor Rukoth setting booklet: no combat maps, stat blocks for the important NPCs, a deep backstory in an interesting setting, and, ultimately, a situation the players CANNOT solve with violence. It’s a million times better than last year’s Dark Sun offering. So if you want a chance at a copy, leave a comment on my blog when I post up my full review!

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