So this morning I ventured out of my lair to Red Raccoon Games of Bloomington, IL, my friendly local games store. (RIP Armored Gopher Games of Urbana, IL) Red Raccoon doesn't offer a large variety of products in an old school vein, so I don't spend a lot of time or money over there. But I dropped by today to attempt to score a copy of Vaginas Are Magic!, this year's Free RPG Day offering from that rascal James Raggi of Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
There's some sort of festival going on downtown and some streets are closed to motor traffic, so I end up parking a couple three blocks away and walking to the store. Here's what I see as I approach:
I think it's great that they've put out a special sign for the event.
Though maybe specifying the year was unnecessary.
I arrived 15 minutes before the open time as posted on the internets, assuming I was going to be standing outside the joint like a dork for a while. But I was willing to do that to score my copy of VAM! Apparently, they opened early today because when I get there the place is hopping. People are setting up a half-dozen demo games of various sorts (I saw 5e and Savage Worlds for sure) and the large basement play area has been take over by the Pathfinder Society. After searching the store I finally find a spinner rack with the Free RPG Day stuff on display.
Sorry the image is so blurry but the store was so crowded I couldn't snap a pic without someone bumping into me. Anyway, I see something that looks like the RuneQuest and DCC RPG offerings of recent years and a maybe new sci-fi thing from Paizo called Starfinder. At the top is a little sign that looks like the VAM! cover art telling me to ask for it at the counter. So I go over there.
I don't really know the owner. My sister Jenn tells me he's a good guy. (She spends way more time at the store because her thing is collecting and playing eurotrash games and such.) But he's already having a bit of a day. People are getting a little rowdy, his point-of-sale stuff is not behaving, and his employees unpacked and placed a bunch of new 40K releases on the shelf without putting them into the inventory system. In my experience game store employees tend to be nice people but they also tend to be game nerds first, dependable workers second.
So I eventually get to the head of the queue at check-out and ask for the new Lamentations offering. He looks around confused and finds a single copy with a post-it note on it, declaring that copy to be reserved for Tim So-and-so. I didn't know reserving copies for Free RPG Day was a thing, or I would have called ahead. The owner guy says he knows he received five copies of VAM! and calls over one of his henchmen. Dude says he put one on "the table."
I don't know what table he means, so I end up wandering around the store trying to find it as the owner continues his interrogation of the employee. He ends up admitting that he scarfed up one of the copies for his own personal use (not exactly the point of Free RPG Day promotions, I think) and that he took another copy for a prize for one of the demo games. That second part catches me off guard a bit, as this is a family friendly place with lots of kids. Why give a book away as a prize which you deem too unseemly to put on public display? That just makes no sense.
(This is, of course, setting aside the whole problem that apparently the word "vagina" is dangerous, but vast product lines devoted to murdering people for experience points are harmless family fun. But that's a bigger argument for another day.)
Anyway, the employee eventually retrieves the copy he was going to use as a prize and hands it to me. He mentions that I am the first customer to ask for it. That leaves the location of two other copies an unsolved mystery for the ages.
So I get back in the check-out line and end up behind a guy who is buying one of every new thing for 40K. You know, the stuff not in the inventory system. Honestly, that took time to resolve but a lot less long than I thought it would. Since VAM! is free, I only went through check-out because I bought a copy of World Wide Wrestling: The Roleplaying Game, partially because I'm a mark and partially because I'm not going to get a freebie and not buy some merch.
James asked everyone getting VAM! to take a selfie with it. I've never really done a selfie with a phone before, so I go back to my car and spend a few minutes trying to figure out how to do so.