This week not one but two incidents inspired this blog post. Both were potentially problematic but fortunately they were handled and hopefully won’t be an issue in the future.
Incident One: Homebrew
A customer and fan of Nord Games contacted me with the desire to publish the monsters from ‘Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde’ to the Homebrew section on D&D Beyond. I wasn’t even aware that this feature had been enabled on the D&D Beyond website, but I checked it out and wow what an awesome tool! BUT… our published content is not homebrew. In the hierarchy of RPG content out there there is First Party Content (from a company like Wizards of the Coast for D&D, Paizo for Pathfinder, Frog God Games for Swords & Wizardry, etc.), Third Party Content (from a company like Kobold Press, Frog God Games, or us for D&D), and then Homebrew Content. I suppose that the main difference in my mind between Third Party Content and Homebrew Content is Third Party Content has commission artwork, is published under a registered corporation, and is typically on par with First Party Content. Homebrew Content typically has images ripped from Google, Deviant Art, Pintrest, etc. and is “published” in PDF form by an individual or group of people without a company.
I explained to the fan that our content is Third Party and not Homebrew which means it should not be put onto the D&D Beyond Hombrew section anyway, but the even larger issue is that if our content is out there for anyone to use then it cheapens our books and PDFs which hurts our company. Fortunately the fan accepted my answer, although I’m sure they were a bit disappointed. I did however point out that they could use our creatures as inspiration, just as we use other content for inspiration, to create their own content to put in the Homebrew section of D&D Beyond.
Incident Two: Misprinted Product
As many of you know, we had an issue with misprinted product in mid 2017. The short version is that we had tens of thousands of card decks printed on the wrong paper. It was a single ply card stock, but it was supposed to be a two ply card stock. These things happen sometimes, so we explained it to our Kickstarter backers and expedited a reprinting on the correct paper. We also sent back 9 pallets of product to our production facility via FedEx. Six weeks later we received the correct product and fulfilled the Kickstarter… so that should have been the end of it right?
Well as it turns out it wasn’t the end of the story. It was brought to my attention that an eBay seller was selling our Treasure Deck CR 17-20 in lots of 10 for $30. This meant each deck was selling for $3 which is 1/5 of the standard retail price. My first thought was “how did this person get so many of our decks?” and “why are they selling them for so cheap?” Well we reached out to them and simply asked. As it turns out, this seller had purchased them from a FedEx auction.
Apparently FedEx auctions off damaged, lost, or returned product if it’s never claimed by the shipper or the recipient. I used the tracking number of the shipment to find out that one of the boxes in the shipment containing 144 decks of Treasure Deck CR 17-20 was lost in transit. It was later found and FedEx (to their credit) attempted to contact the recipient (our production facility) but was unsuccessful. For some reason they never thought to contact me. Apparently when a lost packages is not claimed, it goes to an auction. However this was not disclosed anywhere on my paperwork.
Fortunately the eBay seller was willing to work with me after I explained the situation and I was able to purchase the entirety of the box from them. My main concern in all of this is that a customer purchasing a misprinted product. The secondary thought being these decks being sold for 1/5 of the regular price and undercutting our website sales.
The takeaway from both of these incidences is that protecting our intellectual property and company image are very important to me and indeed everyone at Nord Games. Fortunately the people in both of these cases have been very amenable. I’m hopeful that future issues are as easy to resolve.