Tuesday 27 February 2024

Why I Joined Patreon & What it Means for this Blog

Artwork by Barrett Stanley
Writing and games are my passion. I love getting to my desk each morning and sinking into fantasy worlds of my own creation. I love the word-craft of writing stories and filling bestiaries with strange monsters. I delight in the mathematics and probability of rulemaking, of working with dice, of manipulating the flow of stories through randomization. I am driven to create games that give people a reason to gather around a table: to laugh, to play, to create their own stories. This is my work. I feel a calling to do it. One of my main goals at this point in life is to ensure that I can keep doing it. Unfortunately, having ‘work’ to do is not always the same as having a job that earns money.

I’ve considered setting up a Patreon for a couple of years, but every time I seriously thought about it, I decided, ‘I don’t really need it’. My games, published by Osprey Games and Modiphius, have sold well, and my publishers and my fans generally seem eager for more. I’ve even done some self-publishing to help fill in the cracks when other work was scarce. All and all, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to earn a decent living while working so intently on projects I love.

But while I’ve been able to support my family for a few years now, it has never been a steady road. Some months I earn next to nothing, others I land a big score. I live in hope that it averages out. I have no employment safety net, I don’t earn a pension, and I don’t get paid time off. That’s just the price of being my own boss, and I’ve accepted that. However, my industry is rapidly changing. New technologies and changing societal norms are mutating the traditional relationship between creators and publishers. Contracts that made sense when they were signed have become out-dated, obsolete, or sometimes non-sensical. While I work to maintain good relations with my publishers, and honestly hope to continue working with them for decades to come, no one can truly say what the industry will look like in three, five, or ten years. Will there be any publishers? Or at least more than one? And if there are, will they still employ independent creators? How can independent creators hope to retain a stake in their own creations while still getting them out to the people who would enjoy them?

Now, more than ever, it is necessary for creators to interact directly with the fans of their work. So, while the money and the idea of a bit of ‘steady income’ that comes with Patreon is certainly appealing to me in the present, I have really joined in the hopes of better securing a future for my work. To have a place I can always go to write, to create, and to share with people whose passion for fantasy adventure games burns as brightly as my own. A place where my work can be supported even if all other avenues dry up. Additionally, I want a place where I can enjoy the full freedom to write and publish whatever, whenever, I want, without reliance on anyone else. The business world loves to capture and dominate niches, as it has proven a good way to generate income, but people and artists don’t work like that. We thrive when we are free to explore, to take chances and risks, and to push the boundaries of our life and work. I am hopeful that Patreon will give me a safe space for my own explorations into areas and artwork for which publishers have no use. I need to keep exploring and trying new things, artistically and economically, both to survive financially and to ensure I don’t stagnate. I’ve got to keep pushing myself as well as my work.

I haven’t joined Patreon to massively change what I do. My greatest joy still comes from creating fantasy adventure games that are turned into glorious game books! I am just hopeful that Patreon is another tool that will allow me to continue to do that, while also growing as an artist and creator. If you’d like to support me in those endeavours, you can do so here.

What Does it Mean for this Blog?

I set up The Renaissance Troll to be my personal hobby blog, to show off the miniatures I have painted, talk about the games I have played, and to share quick thoughts about anything else that struck my fancy. Over the years, my work has crept into that, but that has always been its secondary function. I still intend to carry on with this blog, showing off minis and talking about games. Occasionally, I will mention Patreon, and maybe even share a piece or two from it, but it won't alter the basic structure of this blog.

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