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Blond Gamer Girl

The Frugal GM: Are Gaming Supplements Necessary Evils?

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As a GM: When running a game, of course I have my core rule book either in electronic or print format, sometimes both. If a newer version is published, I don’t necessarily buy it. If the old version suffices, I keep using it. When it comes to supplements, I buy what I consider important to the overall grand plot. For instance, if the setting is New York and the system has a New York supplement that I think is quality and at a reasonable price (usually used or electronic), I purchase it. Otherwise, I might have an older supplement and simply tweak it if needed. If a player has a nifty tool they want from a supplement I don’t have, I ask them to bring the book to me fifteen minutes prior to the start of the game for my perusal. If approved, I type it up in and save it in their character file (fast typist here). Basically, just because it’s published doesn’t mean I have to buy it.

Further to save money, I use supplements from other systems and translate into the current system. My favorite is the DnD Monster Manual because of the full color excellent artwork and well defined index. I simply translate stats which is easy enough. I had a player who nearly fainted because I wasn’t using the monster manual for the system we were playing despite the fact that most of it was the same. Conversely, they owned every supplement published and bought the moment something came out.
Why spend extra money on a monster manual for the two other systems I need it for when I can take five minutes to convert stats and the PCs are going to try to kill it anyhow? Another translation of that is: paying $20 for 5 minutes of use roughly equals $240 per hour that I have paid – not much bang for the buck. Whereas, the DnD Monster Manual that I bought used for $5 has been used at least 20 times.

Anyone else have similar philosophies? Should a GM own ALL the supplements?

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  1. SDJThorin's Avatar
    I have basically everything for AD&D 2e (except for adventures) when 3 came out I was gifted with the core 3 books, and never bought anything for 3, yet I ran many 3 games. (Hasbro didn't get any $$ from me LOL)

    As for Sci-fi genre games I find that I shop around for interesting supplements and do my own conversions between all the various systems.

    So, I'd agree with you, just get the core book(s) and you can use all your old stuff to sup. the new stuff

    I still use some of my 1e stuff -- it was so well write it works for any fantasy like game
  2. micalus's Avatar
    I don't think All the supplements are required. I am planning to add some RIFTs components to my Shadowrun campaign. I am also trying to make a New Orleans campaign and I think the Shadowrun universe is sparse on stuff for that area. I also totally game out the monsters from Shadowrun. I think some of them are Way too tame like vampires.
  3. templeorder's Avatar
    Mix and match all the way