Sunday, December 18, 2016

What is Epimas? Let's ask Epidiah!

I was lucky enough to chat with Epidiah Ravachol about his yearly event, Epimas! Epimas is really an amazing event and involves much of the indie gaming community, and Epidiah wanted to share the story behind it and how to participate with my readers. Check out our discussion below!
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What exactly is Epimas?

To begin with, Epimas is December 24th. My birthday.

It is also a long standing holiday tradition of giving and receiving gaming PDFs.

According to the stats on the original Epimas site, it's been up since 2009. And that's about as close to gospel as I can get, so I'm going to say that Epimas is a 7-year old holiday tradition. I remember walking with Nathan D. Paoletta and a bunch of other folks in NYC. I had just released Time & Temp that summer at GenCon and was just dipping my toes into my first ever PDF sales around that time. Digital books were still kind of an untested thing, even as recent as that. The first iPad hadn't even hit the shelves yet. So selling PDFs was selling the experience of sitting at your desk and reading a book on your computer monitor. For this indie publisher, it was an exciting time. If people bought PDFs, then all sorts of barriers and costs associated with printing, warehousing and shipping would melt away. Where I was with the budget I had at the time, I needed those costs to melt away. So on that walk, Nathan and I hatched a plan to make it easier for folks to give the gift of gaming PDFs over the holidays.

How the plan is executed changes from year to year, because I don't always remember how it works and I keep trying new gimmicks, but at its core, the Epimas sale where...

...as the customer:
  • You have from now until Dec. 23rd to buy game PDFs as gifts to be delivered to your friend, family member or assorted loved one on Dec. 24th.
  • You immediately receive copies of the game PDFs for free so you can read them over and be prepared to play them with your friend, family member or assorted loved one on Dec. 24th.
...as participating publishers:
  • We all contribute some game PDFs to the cause.
  • Everyone gets an equal share of the profits, regardless of the number or size of the games they contributed or of how well they sold.
That last bit was a lesson learned from Design Matters—a group of game designers and publishers assembled by Nathan and Kevin Allen, Jr. to sell at GenCon. The equal shares invest everyone in everyone else's success.

I've grown overly fond of Epimas over the years. It can be a bit of a chore sometimes. It's never been tremendously lucrative. And I regularly caution people against turning their own birthdays into deadlines. But it's fun to see folks looking forward to it, sending gifts to friends, loved ones, and sometimes strangers they only know from the internet. And I personally like seeing the new games that pop up each time. It's like a retrospective of cutting edge game design at the end of the year.


Why focus on PDFs? What benefit is there to focusing entirely on digital products?

They are cheap to warehouse, easy to deliver, and can be made on a moment's notice. All these things make Epiclaus's holiday so much smoother. They just make the logistics manageable.


Why did you choose for people to get a copy of the games they buy for someone else? 

There's two answers to this: the reason and the justification. I think both are a bit valid, though one may be a bit more valid than the other.

The reason is that folks are not used to buying PDFs for other folks as gifts. We want to cast a wide enough net to capture those who are buying primarily for themselves along with those buying for others. Because, let's face it, indie roleplaying is a niche within a niche within a niche. Sears can sell tools by touting them as a gift for the handyperson on your list, and they're going to reach an audience who are relieved because they know very little about tools but they have a handyperson on their list and won't someone please sell them something to give that handyperson as a gift. We're not going to be able to reach those audiences. We can say, "Gifts for the indie tabletop roleplayers on your list." But if you've heard of Epimas at all, odds are you're the indie tabletop roleplayer on someone else's list.

But the justification is important, too! We justify it by saying you'll need to read up on the games so you can be ready to play them with whoever got your gift on Epimas day. As per tradition. Just like you play Swords Without Master every Sunday morning, you're going to play games on Epimas day. So you might as well come prepared.


How do you find people to provide games? Do you only do open calls, or do you seek people out? Are there any things you don't intend to include in the collections? 

There's an open call every year somewhere around the end of November, beginning of December. I basically broadcast it on my most active social media accounts. These days, that's G+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EpidiahRavachol) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/Epidiah). If time is tight for me, which it typically is, the launch window can get fairly small. So keep your eyes peeled. I welcome all comers as long as they are cool with the equal profit sharing.


What is the most important thing about Epimas to you?

Honestly and truly, it's just that people have fun with it. There's a lot of things that I'd love for Epimas to be, but in the end, I'm all about folks having fun.

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Thanks so much to Eppy for sharing Epimas with all of us. Make sure to check out the Epimas page this season!



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