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An indie role-playing game is a role-playing game published outside traditional,
"mainstream" means. Varying definitions require that commercial, design, or
conceptual elements of the game stay under the control of the creator, or that the
game should just be produced outside a corporate environment.[1]

1 Independent publication of role-playing games
1.1 Formats
1.2 Distribution methods
1.3 Business models
1.4 Disputed definitions
2 Indie communities
2.1 The Forge
2.2 Story Games
2.3 Other communities
3 Footnotes
4 References
Independent publication of role-playing games
Indie role-playing games (RPGs) can be self-published by one or a few people who
themselves control all aspects of design, promotion and distribution of the game.
[1] An independent role-playing game publisher usually lacks the financial backing
of large company. This has made forms of publishing other than the traditional
three-tier model more desirable to the independent publisher.[2]

Independent publishers may offer games only in digital format, only in print, or
they may offer the same game in a variety of formats. Some major RPG publishers
have abandoned PDF publication, probably as a counter-piracy effort.[2] Common
digital formats include HTML, text, blog, or PDF form.[3] [2] Gamers may print the
game documents, use a in electronic form on a laptop, or use an eReader.[2] Desktop
publishing technologies have allowed indie designers to publish their games as
bound books, which many gamers prefer.[2] The advent of print on demand (POD)
publishing has recently lowered the costs of producing an RPG to the point at which
role-playing games can be produced and distributed with minimal financial
investment. Indie games are often conflated with small press games, because of the
great overlap between creator ownership and small press publishing.

Distribution methods
Disintermediation is a key concept in indie game distribution; independent
publishers typically lack established business relationships with distributors and
retailers. Indie distribution is often achieved directly by the game's creator via
e-commerce or in-person sales at gaming conventions. However, some fulfillment
houses and small-scale distributors do handle indie products using the traditional
three tier system.[4]

Several organizations specialize in sales of indie games using a two-tier system.

[5] Indie Press Revolution distributes games that it labels as independent.[3]
RPGNow and DrivethruRPG are two companies that sell such small press offerings (as
well as mainstream products) as downloadable PDFs. RPGNow created a separate
storefront for low-selling or new entries to this market. Initial plans called for
this storefront to use the "indie" moniker, but it was eventually decided to call
the storefront RPGNow Edge instead. As of 2007, RPGNow Edge is not operating. RPG
Now and Drive-Thru RPG were consolidated into a single company OneBookShelf, which
still maintains both sites. In August 2007, the two sites were rebranded, with RPG
Now bearing the subtitle: "The leading source for indie rpgs". All of the above
sites include creator-owned content, as well as other products that are not readily
identified with the role-playing game industry mainstream.

Business models
Some publishers have no interest in financial success; others define it differently
than most mainstream companies by emphasizing artistic fulfillment as a primary
goal.[3] The division between what is technically profitable and what would be
considered financially viable for a business is another oft-debated element of
independent role-playing publishing. Some independent publishers offer free
downloads of games in digital form, while others charge a fee for digital download.

Disputed definitions
Some contend that the term "indie" applies only to members of a self-defined
"indie" RPG community. The definition of indie in the context of role-playing games
is difficult, because the role-playing game industry operates with a different
organization and smaller scale than the computer and video games, publishing or
music industries.[4] The dynamics that inspired well-known independent movements in
these industries, such as the independent film movement, are not necessarily
present in the role-playing game industry. Even prominent role-playing game
companies often publish on a comparatively small scale. Thus, the RPG industry is
unlike larger creative industries, whose indie communities formed to react to
elaborate bureaucracies and corporate control of content. The question of whether
indie role-playing games can be defined precisely, abstractly or not at all sparks
ongoing discussion among RPG hobbyists and creators.

Indie communities
As indie roleplaying game publishers are often not professionally trained or
experienced publishers, a number of communities have developed over time where
designers and publishers can share experiences, collaborate, and support each

The Forge
One self-identified indie RPG community is centered on The Forge. Overseen by Ron
Edwards, this community generally defines indie games as those where the creator
maintains control of his or her work[5] and eschews the traditional publishing and
sales model, though there are exceptions. The Forge is strongly influenced by Ron
Edwards' essay "System Does Matter".[6]
In the Forge community, indie RPGs often represent a more narrativist school of
game design, focusing on strong characters confronting difficult moral choices.
These games may be strongly tied to a very specific setting; in this respect, they
can be seen as the antithesis of generic role-playing game systems. This is not
always true however, since many games from that community instead focus on play
dynamics that can be transplanted to a number of settings. For example, a game
might focus on the moral question "What will you do to get what you want?" but is
not tied to playing the question out in any particular fictional world. No matter
the strategy, tightly focused designs are traditionally a hallmark of this

Games of note from the Forge community include, in roughly chronological order:

Sorcerer: An Intense Role-playing Game (2001) by Ron Edwards

The Burning Wheel (2002) by Luke Crane
Donjon (2002) by Clinton R. Nixon
Dust Devils (2002) by Matt Snyder
My Life with Master (2003) by Paul Czege
Dogs in the Vineyard (2004) by Vincent Baker
Primetime Adventures (2004) by Matt Wilson
Shock: Social Science Fiction (2006) by Joshua A.C. Newman
The Forge was started in 1999 by Ed Healy[7] as an information site,[8] with Ron
Edwards serving as the editorial lead. In 2001, Ron and Clinton R. Nixon recast the
site, centered on the community forum that exists today.

Story Games
Story Games is a discussion forum dedicated to role-playing games that focus on
shared story creation. Many of the story games discussed on this site take their
core from improv theater games (like in the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?), but
are played around a table by describing what happens in the story, rather than by
getting up and acting it out. A story game is a type of role-playing game
experience with a lesser focus on "My Character" and a greater focus on "Our Story"
(meaning the story that all the players at the table want to make). As an
experience, most RPGs can be played "Story Games Style" with a little adjustment.
As a game, some games are particularly created by their designers to aim for a
meaningful 'Story Games' experience.

A majority of the games discussed and created on Story Games are indie and/or small
press games. While the site does not offer any games for sale, several creators use
it to discuss design issues, report progress, and promote their games. Some games
are hosted on the Story Games site. The wiki section hosts information on over 80
story games as well as a variety of related resources.

Other communities
Many other groups self-identify as producing games outside the (mainstream. Many of
these primarily sell PDFs, with some supplementary print sales at specific venues.
One example is Wicked Dead Brewing Company. This imprint includes games by a number
of designers. Game designer Greg Stolze has produced games using the Ransom model,
without resorting to traditional publishing and sales. Others, such as the Free RPG
Community, pursue self-publishing without any intent to make a profit. Self-
publishing sites such as also have a number of RPGs available from
publishers unaffiliated with any formal community.

^ The three-tier model is a distribution model with three levels: publisher,
distributor and retailer.
^ The two-tier model is a distribution model with two levels: publisher and retail
^ Example formats are: The Shadow of Yesterday first edition (HTML) and revised
edition (text), and FATE (pdf).
""FAQ: 1a. What is an "Indie" Role Playing Game (RPG)?"". Indie RPG Awards. 2006.
Retrieved 2010-04-11.
Ed Grabianowski (2010-01-22). "eReaders Will Change RPG Publishing Forever". Robot
Viking. Retrieved 2010-04-11.
Cha, Ed; Taylor, Brennan. "Help Zone/About Our Site". Indie Press Revolution.
Retrieved 2010-04-11.
"The Indie Game Movement". Think Services/Indie Games. Retrieved 2010-04-11.
About the Forge
Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 406. ISBN

Independent production
Alternative comics Alternative manga Fanzine Webcomic business Webtoon Minicomic
Co-ops Dojinshi conventions printers shops Self publishing Small press Amateur
press association
Independent music Record label Netlabel Open-source label Radio Station Pirate
radio Cassette culture Dojin music Lo-fi music Tracker (MOD) music Podsafe
Musical instruments
Circuit bending Experimental musical instrument
Home movies Amateur film Amateur pornography Fan film Machinima
Independent animation Cinema of Transgression Independent film Exploitation film
Guerrilla filmmaking B movie Golden Age 50s 60s�70s 80s�present Z movie Midnight
movie Low-budget film No budget film No Wave Cinema Double feature
Cowboy coding Demoscene Free software Open-source software Software cracking
Unofficial patch Warez scene
Video games
Indie games-development-developers Homebrew Fangame Dojin soft Mod Open-source
video game ROM hack
Independent soft drink Homebrewing Microbrewery
Indie art Amateur photography Mail art Na�ve art Outsider art Visionary environment
Indie RPG Independent circuit (wrestling) Independent TV station
Indie design Do it yourself (DIY ethic) Dojin Make (magazine) Maker Faire Social
peer-to-peer processes