Have you always wanted to make money from your tabletop role-playing hobby? If you’re reading this, the answer is probably yes.
The good news is that there’s never been a better time to make money playing tabletop role-playing games. Industry leader Dungeons and Dragons is at an all-time high thanks to the 5th edition of D&D and the popularity of series like The Big Bang Theory and Stranger Things. And as the saying goes, the tide lifts all boats.
So how can you make money with role-playing games? Yes, you can make money with role-playing games. You can create a blog, a YouTube channel, podcasts, or develop your own game. The money comes mainly from advertising revenue, affiliate programs, selling your own creations, and subscriptions, which can come from YouTube or Patreon. Ideally, you want a mix of as many different revenue streams as possible.
The different platforms come with their own challenges. You also need to consider your skills. What skills do you already have, and what skills would you need to learn. There are many commonalities across most platforms, but some require different skills, from writing to video editing to design.
Welcome to the Tavern Adventurer
All good role-playing games begin in a tavern, which inevitably leads to a quest. Your task is to find a way to turn your hobby into role-playing for money.
Your passion for role-playing will help keep you motivated while finding a platform for your voice. There are a variety of ways to make money in the ttrpg scene.
Let’s look at the town bulletin board and see where you can start on your journey to role-playing for money.
Write a blog
Unpack your ink and quill, grab your parchment and write a blog. It’s a quick way to write down your thoughts on a topic. When I write something down, I think about an issue more deeply. It can help you find your voice, and you’ll quickly focus on the part of the role-play that interests you the most.
You don’t have to be tech-savvy to start a blog. You can just use a website like WordPress or find a cheap subscription website that will take care of everything. All you’ve to do is find a name and write it.
You don’t have to have an actual gaming group to start your blog, which can be the downside if you’re trying to do live gaming on YouTube or a podcast.
Initially, you’ll make your money primarily from advertising, affiliate content, and sponsorships. As your blog grows, many exciting opportunities will open up for you.
Create a YouTube channel
It’s never been easier to create a role-playing YouTube channel. You can simply use your cell phone and upload directly to YouTube. You don’t even need high-quality videos to get started. Try it out and see if it’s the right medium. If you really get into it, a wide variety of affordable tools will help you along the way.
When most people think of using YouTube to make money for role-playing games, they think of the big channels like Critical Role. You won’t be able to compete with them unless you and your friends are all voice actors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find your own slice of the community.
When you create a YouTube channel, you’ll at least have goals to reach to make money: You need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours viewed to fund your channel.
YouTube also makes engaging with the community in the comments easy, which can also help grow your audience.
Start a podcast
When you set up a podcast, you have various options for creating different content. It can be as simple as talking about a topic to breaking down an entire game.
Your topic knowledge and confidence in speaking on the microphone will determine how much you’ll need to edit your cast. If you’re talking about ttrpgs, a podcast is usually easier to create than any other type of content. But honestly, if you’re interested in role-playing, you’ll probably feel comfortable in front of the mic pretty quickly.
Podcasts often work best with at least two people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it alone, and there are fantastic examples. A two-person setup allows for conversation as opposed to a lecture. With a second person, you can share ideas and motivate each other.
A podcast can also be an excellent platform for live games if you can organize and run a campaign. Or you can use it as a second platform to repurpose your YouTube content, especially if you filmed a live play.
The path to monetization can often feel opaque with a podcast, but you’ll find that it follows a similar approach to a blog. The main difference is that you’re interrupting the content with an ad, which can’t be skipped as quickly as an ad on a blog.
Create adventure scenarios
If you’re used to creating new adventures for your gaming group, creating exciting adventures with a view of selling them seems like a no-brainer. This can be a fantastic way to reuse the hard work you’ve already put in to make some extra income.
Creating an adventure for yourself and one for others (possibly first) requires a different set of skills. Your writing needs to be clear and concise. After all, they may not have the same wealth of knowledge as you. Therefore, your adventure must be structured in a way that’s easy to follow. It doesn’t even have to be particularly long. Start by designing the kind of adventures you’d like to play.
Many game systems allow you to create adventures and sell them. Many game systems use a Creative Commons license or have licensing mechanisms to allow this. Just make sure you’ve done your homework first. You don’t want a lawyer knocking on your door.
You can sell PDFs of your adventures on a website like drivethrurpg.com or itch.io, but you should ideally build an audience quickly through a blog or social media. People won’t search for something if they’ve no idea it exists. There are examples of people using social media as their primary platform for selling the adventures they create.
Design your own ttrpg game
It can be a huge undertaking to create your own game, but it doesn’t have to be. Plenty of indie role-playing games range from a single sheet of paper. Whereas other indie games are huge leather-bound books.
Where you start is up to you!
Most people make their own role-playing system because they want to do something unique. You can use your role-playing experience to create the rule system of your dreams.
When you create and sell your own game system, you can sell just a digital copy as a PDF file or go all out and use a crowdfunding platform.
Many independent game makers are successfully making money with one-page RPGs. Remember that you don’t have to create a colossal ttrpg to compete with D&d 5ed.
As you know, playing role-playing games with props often feel more alive, and players feel more connected to the world. Physical props have been enjoyed in every game I’ve ever played.
Most dungeon masters don’t have the time to create their own props, so you can step in here. You can create a set of props that someone can buy and incorporate into their own campaign.
There’s an endless list of items you could make. For example, you could make chared or aged like letters and cards. Or you could aim for the high end of the market and make larger props that can be commissioned, such as large magical devices or glowing “scrolls of magic.”
If you’re good with 3D software, you can use it to create 3D models and sell the digital files so people can print them out with their own 3D printer.
For example, many Dungeons and Dragons players use miniatures. You can create 3D models that people can print on their 3D printers. This isn’t limited to characters, which can be very time-consuming to create, but also backdrops.
You can create props and sell them on a platform like Etsy or another store-like website, including your own if you’ve one.
If you’re artistically talented, you can also make merchandise. As long as you don’t use someone else’s intellectual property, anything goes. Wizards of the Coast doesn’t have a monopoly on dice and dragons.
You could open your own online store, upload your artwork and print it on anything from t-shirts to pillows.
This is just the tip of the iceberg regarding role-playing games for money. Each of the above areas can be broken down into smaller niches.
As you can see, there are many avenues you can take to turn your role-playing into money. Whether you jump headfirst into one of the above platforms or choose a mix. The possibility of turning your hobby and passion into real money has never been easier to achieve.
Let’s make a quick summary of the different possible platforms:
- Write a blog
- Create a YouTube channel
- Start a podcast
- Write adventures
- Create your own ttrpg game and rule set
- Create merchandise
- Design miniatures
- Paint miniatures
- Design props
You don’t need a large group of people for all of these ideas. You don’t need 10 consistent players every week. Pick an idea that you can do on your own. Don’t rely on others to do the work for you. You have to use your passion to drive your business.
These avenues can be monetized with advertising revenue, affiliate programs, sponsorships, crowdfunding, selling a product, or building support networks like Patron.
What’re you waiting for? Roll the dice! And may you always roll well.