Free RPG Day 2011 – my San Francisco experience

I live in Colorado, within walking distance of the excellent Enchanted Grounds game store / coffee house. Last year I went there for a Dark Sun game on the morning of Free RPG Day and then went back in the evening because they offered a discount on RPG books in addition to giving away free stuff (I didn’t really know what the free stuff was). This year, however, I’m out of town, on a business trip to San Francisco – so I don’t get to participate in Free RPG Day at my friendly local game store. Frown.

Of course, given that San Francisco is a decent-sized city, you’d think that there’d be at least one store that’s participating in Free RPG Day, and in fact there is exactly one – Gamescape (which does not appear to have a functioning web page of its own, so here’s its Yelp page). I used to go to this store when I lived in San Francisco, although I went for board games (it has quite the awesome selection). I found out that Gamescape would be opening its doors at 10:00 AM Saturday, and since I’d heard that other stores had run out of Free RPG Day stuff quickly in past years, I decided to get there early. It helped that I randomly woke up around 6:00 AM local time.

Thus at 9:15 AM on Saturday, I found myself sitting on the sidewalk in front of Gamescape… all by myself. No massive mob for Free RPG Day, it seems. Five minutes before the doors opened, one other guy got “in line” behind me, though I don’t think he was even there for the “event”.

As it turned out, Gamescape was not running any actual Free RPG Day events, though they did have the standard box of goodies to give away – one item per customer. I was interested in the items for D&D 4th Edition, Pathfinder and Savage Worlds. The D&D item was an addition to the Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond boxed set, which didn’t look especially interesting. Since I’m starting to play Pathfinder pretty soon, I opted for the free Pathfinder adventure (not sure I’ll ever actually run a Pathfinder game, but if I do I now have an adventure ready to go).

I also want to support stores that participate in Free RPG Day, so I browsed through all of their gaming stuff, eventually deciding to buy my own copy of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook (rather than continuing to rely on the copy I checked out from my local public library). Message to game store: You buy stuff to give away for free to me, I spend good money in your store (50 bucks plus tax – which is 9.5% here in San Francisco!).

So, Free RPG Day 2011 was… well, not at all exciting. Had I been back in Colorado, perhaps it would have been more interesting. Oh well; at least I got something for free, and bought something I’d been meaning to buy anyway.