I am astounded to find people asking to buy my trade tables. It is a spectacular confirmation of my work and I do appreciate it.
However ... I won't be selling or providing my spreadsheets on line. I know, I know, it isn't the sort of thing the gentle reader wants to hear, but there comes a point when I know I have something too valuable to throw out into the vast wasteland of the internet. I'm more interested in selling the work to a gaming company legitimately interested in simulation games, who won’t screw me, and who might understand that this is not my only idea. I’ve been warned about gaming companies, and for good reason. Nevertheless, they are the one game in town.
On the other hand, as I said recently in a blog post, I understand that setting is in much demand. I have considered that I could provide the following information as a “half license”:
1. A general description for a given city, say Dresden in eastern Germany (Saxony)
2. That I could provide a map for the region surrounding that city
3. A listing and a statistical outline of the major NPCs
4. A price table for finished goods
5. 2-3 thousand words description, including suggestions for possible adventures
Following that, I could provide additional information for a “full licence”:
1. Encounter tables for the surrounding hexes and Dresden’s hex
2. A Seasonal price table, as the goods available in winter would be much reduced from the goods available in summer
3. 4-5 thousand words description, including suggestions for possible adventures
4. A traditional map of a “lair”, either humanoid or monster, as desired
Let us suppose that the area in question would be somewhat flexible: for a densely populated region like Germany, a 100-mile diameter circle around a given city. For somewhere obscure and largely uninhabited, like central Arabia, we’re probably talking about 400-500 miles in diameter.
All said description would be largely based on the actual locality, from materials I have and which I would be prepared to research. Thus, if you as DM were prepared to research the area further on your own, you would tend to find that your discovered information would mesh with that which I’d given you.
In cases where information is difficult to find, I’m prepared to invent plausible descriptions which would mesh with honest data.
Now, I tell you honestly, I can see myself doing this for any place on Earth which is at present within my already mapped areas. I have no problem with the work, only with the degree of compensation.
You see, I am normally paid 30 cents a word for work which is commissioned. For any given original project, as a bare minimum, I could see myself working for 2 cents a word on the descriptions, and throw in the rest for free. That would mean a full license for any particular region centered on a particular city would cost around $100.
If, on the other hand, I had already done that region, and there was a wider market for it than just one person, the work would already be done and I could afford to sell it for much cheaper ... say $40.
The usual practice is to produce a region, offer it for sale and hope that someone buys. Most of those I’ve talked to who did this wound up working their asses off and never really getting compensated.
Whereas, I remember in the day when I used to hand draw maps for people at conventions in the ‘80s, I never put pen to paper without obtaining a commission first. This is how an artist does it. And although I charged $80 for a map that was 2 feet by 3 feet, I did not have trouble finding clients when I looked for them.
To me, the only rational way to provide settings for D&D (or any other circumstance) is to do them on specification – just as I write on spec for magazines and newspapers when I’m contracted to do so. If someone is prepared to pony up the dough, I’m prepared to work.
But there’s still that problem with the fellow who pays $100 for something that the next person over gets for $40.
It occurs to me that a “kick-back” method might be applied here.
Let us suppose that “Joe” asks me for a full license for the city of Dresden, and that I charge Joe $120. And let us say that once I’ve produced the city of Dresden, I have the privilege of selling it to other people for $40.
Now, just to keep Joe happy, as he has just paid $120 for something that now only costs $40, that I offer a kickback of $10 to Joe for each additional copy I sell to someone else, until Joe has paid $40 for his copy. That would be 8 people altogether.
In other words, once I have sold 8 copies in addition to the copy I’ve sold to Joe, Joe will have paid no more than anyone else. My compensation will be in gaining an immediate incentive from Joe to produce the original work, and the opportunity at some imaginary point in the future to continue making income from that work by selling it indefinitely to other people.
Now, is this completely crazy? Will anyone pay $120 for the original product I’m offering? As I see it, the primary benefit in doing so is my knowledge of history, my imagination and the benefit of being able to choose a personal location.
I think I can add to that the privilege of the payer to have some influence on the final project – if you know something about Hungary, and you want me to work on Hungary, I think that some collaboration on the subject would be appropriate. In such a case, given enough collaboration, the kick-back received from every sale can be increased and may not have an 8-sale limitation.
Okay. Criticism can begin at once.