Okay, so over the past few weeks, I’ve had a chance to run two paid sessions already. One was for Call of Cthulhu, where I ran, “The Haunting” Scenario, and the other was for a custom Legend of the Five Rings session.
So far, players of both groups have been happy with their experiences, and I’ve not encountered a situation where they were not keen on paying the fee I was charging. For full disclosure, my fee was a Php 300 ($6 USD) charge per person, with a discount down to Php 250 ($5 USD) if the group size hits at least 4 players. This is for a 4 hour session.
Financially, it’s definitely a boon on my end, as I’m able to use what I’ve earned to offset the usual household expenses. Furthermore, a portion of what I earn here goes into savings that go directly into the purchase of games in support of the Industry.
Part of my success in the pay-to-play format can probably be attributed to the fact that I’ve already a healthy reputation in the hobby community. This blog has been around for a long time, and the Let’s Study series of reviews have been useful resources for fans of all sorts of different games.
Many new hobbyists that discovered RPGs in the country have run into my blog simply due to the name, which admittedly lends itself well to search engine results for “Roleplaying Games Philippines”
Value in Scarcity
The Philippines has a small hobby community, one that’s just begun to grow thanks to the efforts of such groups as the Philippine Adventurer’s League. But with this growth comes a new wave of gamers that are looking to do more than just D&D. They do their research, hear about other games, but can’t find anyone to run it for them.
That’s where I come in. Having reviewed so many RPGs, I’ve got a working understanding of a whole boatload of them!
Advocacy & Quality
Part of the reason why I wanted to do a paid gig was that I wanted to introduce new games into public awareness though with the added insurance of knowing that you’ve paid to have a good time.
From my perspective, if someone offers to run a game for you for free, it’s a zero-risk operation from the point of view of the person running it. There’s no transaction beyond the investment of an afternoon or evening spent at a location. As such if the game is terrible, then there’s no significant loss of face for the person who offered to run it.
However, the moment a person charges for a game, then it becomes a material transaction and that places a real burden on the person running to deliver a quality experience. Whether or not it is “worth” the price of admission is a separate discussion, but the point is that once you’re paid to do something, you’d better do your best.
Art & Patronage
I’ve no illusions that running a game for money is a form of performance art. Much in the way you’d pay a musician to perform at an event, paying a GM means that they (upon acceptance of payment) are obligated to perform a service to your satisfaction. If the performer does a good enough job, then they may earn the patronage of a loyal customer.
Patronage is important, because it has to be earned. And one of the few ways you can really measure your worth and skill in a performance is by the size of your take.
Right now, I’m booked all the way to August. With games of Call of Cthulhu, Symbaroum, Dark Heresy, Mage: the Awakening and possibly more on the way. Things are looking good from where I’m standing, and if I play my cards right and do well in my games, I can make this work for a good, long time.