Charging players fees for playing Encounters.

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This week, the game store where I normally play Encounters started charging a fee to each player, and said that this will continue every week from now on.  Previously, Encounters games had cost nothing to play.  I have a very strong opinion about this, and several questions, but for now I will limit myself to two questions:

1) Are there other locations that do this?

2) What does WotC think of this idea?

Any feedback on this would be helpful.

Thank you.
wizards is the one who came up with the idea.  even back in season one they were suggesting it in their emails.  i'll try and find you a quote.
the oldest quote i could find is from an email on March 11, six days before the first encounters season's first session:

"D&D Encounters adventures are exclusive to WPN stores, so you're offering players a unique play experience and prize support they can't get at home. That makes D&D Encounters an ideal event to ask players to pay a small fee for the opportunity to play."

actually, i'm surprised more stores aren't doing this yet, but i would expect them to slowly go this route in the future.
To a certain extant I can't blame a store for doing this but let's use next season as an example and say that a store would charge a buck or two per session. That would end up costing a player a min. of $20-$40 for the season. For that kind of money I can definitely see complaints coming if the DMing or Mod. are found lacking.
At Uncle'g games where I play they have two options.

1. dont Pay and take a chance on not being seated
2. Pay $10 for the entire season and garuntee being seated at the table of your choice.

all of the money collected goes toward gift certificates for the DMs.
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wow, kedrith, that's awesome.  i get absolutely nothing for organizing and DMing where i'm at.  i do, however, buy stuff to give to others who DM other tables for me (for instance, the DM for our 2nd table will get to choose between PH3, Dragon Magazine Annual, or Revenge of the Giants at the end of the season, though he doesn't know it yet).

i wonder how the payment scheme at Uncle's is gonna workout as the seasons get longer and longer (next season is gonna be 20 sessions).
Yeah it is AO Chris and Uncle's treats DMs really well....they treat the players pretty darn good too, 10% discount on all D&D products on Encounters night, Game days etc.
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i may be in the minority here, but this really bothers me.

as an encounters dm, i'm not looking to get anything out of it other than having fun playing d&d, meeting new people, and maybe teaching some new folks how to play.

i talked to my store owner (dan, green lake games, seattle) and he has no intentions of ever charging to play. wizards offers it up for free, i refuse to take any payment for playing a game that i enjoy, and it gets bodies in the door which ultimately benefits the store. we've already had plenty of people playing d&d for the first time at encounters, and i think it would be a huge turn off if new players to have to pay to play a game that's, essentially, provided for free.
at the store where i host encounters, it is definitely not free for them to provide it:

1) most nights we don't get out of there til 20-30 mins after the store was supposed to close, so the employees have to stay late.

2) we practically take up all the floor space in the store with our tables of players.  it is an extreme hassle for the shoppers coming in and the employees.

the owner of the store wasn't even going to run the program there before i approached him about it, because he didn't think there would be any interest.  at that time, he said that he hadn't sold a 4E book in over 6 months.

he went ahead and agreed to it in hopes up building up the D&D community in the area.  to promote this, he gives all encounters players 25% off all D&D branded stuff in the store on encounters nights

the sad thing is, people still rarely buy anything.  this season on encounters nights, i've seen my players buy:

 - 1 dungeon masters screen
 - 1 player's handbook 3
 - 1 dark sun campaign setting

that's it in 10 weeks!  i even have people talking out loud about getting the dark sun campaign setting or the player's handbooks on amazon because they're so much cheaper there.

i feel like the owner is very frustrated about the program and i think if i asked him right now if he wanted me to run season 3 there he'd probably say no.  him charging a fee might help him feel better about the huge inconvenience we are to his store.

i like how where kedrith plays they take all the money and put it towards giftcards.  i think i will pitch this idea to him, but have all the proceeds for any given night be randomly given to one of the players or dms that night as a giftcard that can be used toward anything in the store.
I've written about this in other threads, but as an organizer I work hard to create business for the store. I have created fliers pushing product. I have organized discounts. I raffle away extra stuff I have to players that bought product. I encourage DMs to buy stuff. It all goes a long way towards a healthy relationship between players and the store.

If you object to the fee (I do) I would encourage you to speak to them about other options. For example, maybe every $10 someone spends at the store exempts them from paying for two sessions. Some sort of deal can likely be struck, though this will be more true if you have a stable group of participants that come to the store. The more you have repeat players, the more the relationship can be built.

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Wow how stores differ. I walked into mine last Weds and there were five or six Dark Sun campaign books and four of the monster compendiums, I got into a chat with some folks then maybe 15 mins later I looked back to the shelves to grab my copies and all lf them had been sold.
at the store where i host encounters, it is definitely not free for them to provide it:

1) most nights we don't get out of there til 20-30 mins after the store was supposed to close, so the employees have to stay late.

2) we practically take up all the floor space in the store with our tables of players.  it is an extreme hassle for the shoppers coming in and the employees.

the owner of the store wasn't even going to run the program there before i approached him about it, because he didn't think there would be any interest.  at that time, he said that he hadn't sold a 4E book in over 6 months.

he went ahead and agreed to it in hopes up building up the D&D community in the area.  to promote this, he gives all encounters players 25% off all D&D branded stuff in the store on encounters nights

the sad thing is, people still rarely buy anything.  this season on encounters nights, i've seen my players buy:

 - 1 dungeon masters screen
 - 1 player's handbook 3
 - 1 dark sun campaign setting

that's it in 10 weeks!  i even have people talking out loud about getting the dark sun campaign setting or the player's handbooks on amazon because they're so much cheaper there.

i feel like the owner is very frustrated about the program and i think if i asked him right now if he wanted me to run season 3 there he'd probably say no.  him charging a fee might help him feel better about the huge inconvenience we are to his store.

i like how where kedrith plays they take all the money and put it towards giftcards.  i think i will pitch this idea to him, but have all the proceeds for any given night be randomly given to one of the players or dms that night as a giftcard that can be used toward anything in the store.



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The store where I DM Encounters hasn't started asking for fees yet but plans to at the beginning of next season.  I'm actually completely okay with it because he's doing it in such a way that makes sense.  Every time someone plays D&D Encounters there's a $3 fee and that goes into credit to spend at the store.  So as they play D&D Encounters their credit to spend goes up and they can spend it on anything in the store, even just getting soft drinks and snacks that most players get anyway.  

I personally buy all my D&D product from the store and I wish everyone who games there would do the same since the owner actually has our own D&D room that can't be used for anything else but D&D.  The owner really supports us and I wish the gamers would support him in return.

~Will 
The store where I DM Encounters hasn't started asking for fees yet but plans to at the beginning of next season.  I'm actually completely okay with it because he's doing it in such a way that makes sense.  Every time someone plays D&D Encounters there's a $3 fee and that goes into credit to spend at the store.  So as they play D&D Encounters their credit to spend goes up and they can spend it on anything in the store, even just getting soft drinks and snacks that most players get anyway.  

I personally buy all my D&D product from the store and I wish everyone who games there would do the same since the owner actually has our own D&D room that can't be used for anything else but D&D.  The owner really supports us and I wish the gamers would support him in return.

~Will 



That seems like an excellent idea.  Everyone wins.  The store gets guaranteed sales from DDE players.  The players have to fork over a little money - but they can then use the fees toward merchandise. 

I also like the model that is used at Kedrith's store (where I'm a player.)  Players wanting a reserved spot pay up $10.  Then the money is used to buy gift certificats for DMs.  So the money is spent in the store.  Again, a win-win deal.
Since I'm one of the DMs, the idea of getting a gift card for the store merely for DMing sounds great but that's a bit selfish for me to ask the owner about something similar.  I DM because I love the game and enjoy entertaining the players.
Those complaining about paying a fee, ... does your FLGS run Magic games? Do they charge fees for playing? Aside from paying for packs of cards in drafts I mean? I bet they do.

Space in stores is not free as others have stated. There is a physical cost for that space to the owner, and opportunity costs as well. I've had a conversation or two with my store manager about the fact that they could be making more money by using the tables from D&D for Magic. Or for other events. But they want a diverse offering of games so we've been able to keep playing there.

If the fee is too much for you, feel free to vote with your feet and with your dollars (or lack thereof) and play elsewhere.
I agree with everything Tirianmal just said.  The space being used for D&D purposes could definitely be used for something else that makes more money.  If you go to most stores that are active in Magic and Yugioh tournaments, you'll find most of their money comes from selling cards...more specifically individual cards that are rare.  If you go to stores that carry a great deal of Warhammer and have a lot of space used for Warhammer, you find that Warhammer is the main product that keeps the store alive.  Usually D&D products represent a small percentage of the money coming in at majority of the stores out there that deal with gaming.  

The owner of the store I game at is incredibly kind in how he lets us have our own gaming room just for D&D since the amount of D&D product he sells is only a small drop in the pond compared to the profits he makes from Magic and Yugioh.   I try to do what I can to help get product sold since he's really doing us a favor.  I personally refuse to buy my D&D product from anywhere else but my local gaming store, no matter what deals are out there.  
Interesting discussion and actually one I am just now broaching with the store owner where I organize D&D Encounters. With Season 2 approaching its final chapter, I've been thinking about how we can give back to the store so that we can continue to enjoy playing the game we love. That said, I'm considering charging a fee for play ($3-5) but that all of the money would go toward store credit (as Will had described) that they can save up and buy D&D products with. This is a model that I've seen work quite well at a very succesful Bay Area (California) gaming store I play LFR at.

My only fear is that players will balk at having to come up with this fee each week. I probably wouldn't start it until Season 3, and will maybe feel the group out to see if this is something they would be willing to do if the store owner stocked books... especially the essentials line going forward.

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The store owner at where I game most likely will start the charging the fee next season as well.  Personally, if a player is not willing to at least pay a $3 fee that goes toward spending at the store, then I wouldn't want him/her participating anyway.  It's a huge pet peeve when players come to a store regularly to play D&D but then doesn't support the store by buying product.  I'm even fine with paying a fee without going toward product.  The owner is doing us a favor by letting go it toward store credit.
About a year ago our store started charging for table space in general. For LFR, since we take up a LOT of room 3-4 nights a week, it's $2 to play, and the money goes to a gift card for the GM. They do the same for encounters (but your first session is free). I know I'm collecting my gift cards and going to use it to buy new maps, DSCS, and some other stuff if I have extras. However, I know a couple LFR judges that are only judging for the gift card, and putting in NO effort for the players that are paying for the experience. This sort of annoys me and one of the reasons I mostly play LFR privately with a large group of friends (20-30 people?). If I know people are paying for the experience, I try and make sure they get their monies worth :-p

I like the idea others have mentioned where some of the $ the player pays actually goes back to them in store credit. I might broach this with our FLGS and see if they want to do that. ($2, half for a card for the GM, the other half going to a store credit account for the player.). Don't know if they're register/computer system can handle something like that though.

All in all, I like the idea since it's sort of like buying stuff you want on layaway anway, with the added benefit of table space, etc.
I like the idea others have mentioned where some of the $ the player pays actually goes back to them in store credit.


I greatly prefer the model where all of the money is credit. The reality of such systems (as with gift cards) is that a lot of the credit will not be used and will end up being the store's anyway. Plus, they will move more product and be better off through getting better deals and more store traffic.

I am really not a fan of stores that charge and then the money goes to either the store or the DM. There are far too many gamers that can't really afford to pay even small fees every week. Money is tight, they are unemployed, etc. - it can be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I greatly prefer models where there is an incentive for everyone's benefit. Ideally, the model should encourage anyone to participate (regardless of income level), make everyone a fan of the store (instead of creating resentment), and create a lasting relationship between participants and the store.

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I wouldn't pay. Encounters is fun, but not that fun. Personally, unless a store has to turn away more money than they make from Encounters, they make enough from the increase in sales and visibility.

Seanchai
they make enough from the increase in sales and visibility.



not true.  the store i run encounters at hasn't seen any kind of significant sales from this program after running for almost 2 full seasons.  like i stated earlier, the only thing i've seen anyone buy, (and i'm there from the time most players arrive until all players leave) is 1 PHB3, 1 DSCS, and 1 DM Screen this whole season.

this is nowhere near enough to justify them even bothering with the program.  we're talking about 11 weeks of employees staying late and all else they have to do to set up for us and clean up after us, just for $40 profit.

I wouldn't pay.



you wouldn't pay $3 for a 2 hour session of Encounters (that you'd get back in store credit anyway), but i bet you'd pay $7 to go see a 2 hour movie, wouldn't you?  you need to learn how to put things in perspective.  this is these store owners' livlihoods on the line and you'd rather give your money to the big movie studios.  what a shame...
Seanchai,
Why are you against playing $3 a game for store credit?  Aren't you buying product from the store anyway?
the store i run encounters at hasn't seen any kind of significant sales from this program after running for almost 2 full seasons.



As I said, "...and visibility." Moreover, as you noted, they have experienced an increase in sales. It may not be great, but they're making more than they otherwise would.

this is nowhere near enough to justify them even bothering with the program.



Then they should stop, right? If they continue with a program that's costing them much more than its worth and they don't stop, they're poor business people and have earned whatever financial/retail hardship comes their way, right?

Of course, they're not going to stop. Because they recognize that just getting people into their store on a mid-week evening is worth the small efforts on their part.

we're talking about 11 weeks of employees staying late and all else they have to do to set up for us and clean up after us, just for $40 profit.



How much do you think an advertising campaign would set them back? Fourty dollars? Or significantly more? Because whether or not people buy right then and there - and based on what folks have been saying here and what I've at my store, many retailers have experienced a pleasant increase in sales - Encounters is excellent advertising for the store.

you need to learn how to put things in perspective. 



I have. It's that perspective - and not an emotional attachment to the store or some idea - that allows me to see Encounters is a worthwhile undertaking for a retailer without charging an additional fee.

Seanchai
Why are you against playing $3 a game for store credit?  Aren't you buying product from the store anyway?



I do. I've been shopping at my FLGS since 1993. Most months, I easily buy more than $100 from them.
So why would they want to take advantage of a loyal customer such as myself? Are you suggesting that loyalty and purchasing products from the store rather than Amazon.com isn't enough, that I should be charged a fee to attend promotional events? When Free RPG Day rolls around again, should they charge me for my free RPG product? Should I have to pay to pick up a free Tacticon booklet? What about just entering the store? Should they set up a little booth outside and charge admission?

Again, participating stores reap benefits from Encounters. Just the advertising or ability to draw people into the store is worth the trouble, much less whatever sales are generated by the event. It's worth participating for the "blue sky" alone.

I don't recall seeing anything on WotC's site or in the advertising that mentions that Encounters is a free promotional event. So that's what I expect - a free promotional event. In my opinon, charging for something that's free is uncool.

Seanchai
"Most months, I easily buy more than $100 from them." 

If  you're spending that much money there, then $3 paid that becomes store credit for four games a month would have absolutely no effect on you.  You play 33 games a month with  $3 fee that becomes store credit and still have nothing lost.  Are you arguing due to principle? 


"When Free RPG Day rolls around again, should they charge me for my free RPG product? Should I have to pay to pick up a free Tacticon booklet? What about just entering the store? Should they set up a little booth outside and charge admission?"

It seems you're implying that charging fees for Encounters is a slippery slope.


"I don't recall seeing anything on WotC's site or in the advertising that mentions that Encounters is a free promotional event. So that's what I expect - a free promotional event."

Keep in mind it was actually WOTC that sent out emails to store owners with the idea of charging fees.  
We ran another raffle for Encounter players and judges that purchased the Dark Sun books. We had 12 people buy across two sessions. Not bad business for the store (they are sold out on two of the three books)! Winner received $10 discount coupon on a future purchase and I gave an extra gameday adventure I had to a second winner (arguably worth more if they were to sell it).

The store recently expanded, and it is interesting that every table we used to be using in the main area is now being used by wargame minis or CCG players - who generally produce more revenue. At the same time, the store clearly values the participation. Having a lot of success helps with WotC programs and they due value the WotC sales - they want to be a full-service store.

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Well, one solution (not the greatest, granted) is to have another event running at the same time, if you have the space.

We already had a weekly Magic standard tournament running when we decided to pick up Encounters. And those Magic players spend like they're on the street with their dealer.

That being said, I am specifically given the Wednesday afternoon shift so that I can run Encounters, so we must be recouping at least 2 employees' hours worth, myself and whoever is running the Magic tourney. The books don't sell like hotcakes, but I guess they sell decently enough.

In a space any smaller or less divided than ours, obviously the double-event thing isn't an option, but I thought another PoV would be nice.

One thing I've found that seems to be hurting book sales: DDI. If you can just get most of the stats from the books on DDI, use the full character builder to build the character, and the other tools to print off all the monsters for your campaign, etc, then all you really need is a PHB for rules lookup. 
Are you arguing due to principle?



Yes. Again, I'm a great customer. Why should I be charged for something that's free? Why should I be charged any amount, regardless of how convenient or miniscule it is? Moreover - and more importantly - why should I be charged when the retailer is already being "paid"?

It seems you're implying that charging fees for Encounters is a slippery slope.



No, I'm arguing that charging for something that's free is a poor practice.

I'm curious: How do you feel about retailers who sold Free RPG Day materials? These materials were explicitly free to gamers who came in for them - that's why various companies participated in the project and provided the materials. Some retailers, however, either sold them outright or put additional requirements for picking them up (such as making another purchase of some kind).


Keep in mind it was actually WOTC that sent out emails to store owners with the idea of charging fees.  



I did keep that in mind. Read what I wrote - I didn't see anything in WotC's advertisements or on their website about there being a charge to play. WotC may have suggested to retailers to charge a fee, but they didn't indicate anything about fees to the public. Thus it's a perfectly reasonable expectation that the event be free unless you were one of the few to get the e-mail. I'm not a retailer.

Seanchai

Most people are under the assumption that Free RPG day is free to retailers.  It should be known that there are product costs involved, the material is not free to the retailer.  It was only a few of the smaller brick stores that charged for Free RPG days, most likely to re-coup the costs.  Not that I endorse that in any way Free RPG day should have been FREE, atleast to the customer at the minimum.

I don't see a problem with stores charging for Encounters, unlike a playgroup that likes to spend time at their local store, this is a program ran by the store, which normally has to pay an employee, if not two, to organize and DM the program.

I have been doing both for my local store, as nothing more then a customer.  I do not get paid or re-imbursed for my time, but I still believe, if they wanted to that they have the right, and deserve to make money for the time the tables, and store would normally have to pay someone to run it.  At the very least, that is space in which a Magic Draft or YGO game could be bringing in far more revenue.

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Luckily my local store won't start charging for playing DDE. I can understand WOTCs posts as well as the reactions for and against it. Personally I'm thinking that DDE should stay free whenever possible.

Being the organiser for this season I encourage the DMs and the players to contribute to the store through purchases. One of my players this week created his own character for the final chapter and was very proud that he got the last of the campaign setting book from the store (so it seems to work for us).


I don't see a problem with stores charging for Encounters, unlike a playgroup that likes to spend time at their local store, this is a program ran by the store, which normally has to pay an employee, if not two, to organize and DM the program.



Right. And in return, they get people in their store, which is pretty damn valuable to small business owners; publicity; advertising; and blue sky.These are not as concrete as money in the till, but they're still very valuable, something companies pay quite a bit of money for. Without fees, the FLGS hosts get plenty in return.

At the very least, that is space in which a Magic Draft or YGO game could be bringing in far more revenue.



Then why aren't they running more CCG events and dropping Encounters? If it really would be more beneficial for the store, I think they're making a big mistake - particularly in these economic times. But I think they're not because they recognize what Encounters does for their stores, even if it doesn't fill the till with cash or credit card receipts...

Seanchai
I'm a judge at the same store where Kedrith and gold_piece play, and there are a couple details to `our' system that might not be clear:

  • Anyone can play for free, no questions asked. 

  • All players are given (B&W) photocopies of the character sheets to keep, and we keep a fairly large stock on hand for new players, replacements if people forget, etc.

  • We have signup sheets for our two time slots (we run a second, early slot at 5pm, because when everyone came at 7pm we really did over-fill the store).

  • If people want to pay $10, they can join at ``Reserve Status''.  This gives them a few perks, including:  
    • Bypass the signup sheet

    • Guaranteed seating (although we basically never turn anyone away, the reserve players don't have to wait for the last table(s) to muster in those awkward ``7 people left but someone's buddy should be here in 5 minutes'' situations.

    • one of the glossy, color character cards and matching table tent for their character



The money is pooled and used for DM rewards at the end of the season.  Although I wouldn't personally object to it being used to defray costs (largely photocopies) also, I don't think we're doing that at the moment.

If someone were to ask my *advice*, I would definitely suggest that people try to maintain a way for people to play for free, at least once or twice.   We've had at least a couple parent-child groups come in to `check it out', and I believe that the ``try it for free'' aspect was a powerful incentive to getting those new people in play.  Even if they decide that Encounters is not for them (it's not for everybody, IMHO), getting new people a) into the store and b) playing the game should have real follow-on benefits most of the time. 

Just be careful that your jaded grognards don't start chanting ``the first one's free!'' too loudly when the parents come by. :-)
 

Why in the world would a store charge a $3-$5 fee for Encounter players per week that they then turn around and give back to the player as a credit to use at the store?  If the store is wanting to generate extra revenue from the event to offset extra costs, then this is the number one thing not to do.  As previously mentioned, people buy $3-$5 worth of snacks anyway.  So you take a process which is my handing the store a $5 bill in exchange for drinks and snacks and turning it into my handing the store a $5 bill, the store registering some kind of voucher or gift card, my using said voucher or gift card to by $5 worth of snacks and drinks.  We've just accomplished the opposite of the objective.

Get people's wallets into the store.  The loss leader.  It's Retail 101, folks.  Someone mentioned the $7 movie ticket.  There is no profit here for the theater.  They need you to buy $12 worth of popcorn and Coke.

If a store doesn't care for the event and essentially wants to kill it, let them charge a fee.

Ive dmed the first 2 seasons but i will not take part in charging the players to play.  Mark me down as opposed, and surprised WotC would suggest such an ill thought out scheme.
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I'm a judge at the same store where Kedrith and gold_piece play, and there are a couple details to `our' system that might not be clear:

  • Anyone can play for free, no questions asked. 

  • All players are given (B&W) photocopies of the character sheets to keep, and we keep a fairly large stock on hand for new players, replacements if people forget, etc.

  • We have signup sheets for our two time slots (we run a second, early slot at 5pm, because when everyone came at 7pm we really did over-fill the store).

  • If people want to pay $10, they can join at ``Reserve Status''.  This gives them a few perks, including:  
    • Bypass the signup sheet

    • Guaranteed seating (although we basically never turn anyone away, the reserve players don't have to wait for the last table(s) to muster in those awkward ``7 people left but someone's buddy should be here in 5 minutes'' situations.

    • one of the glossy, color character cards and matching table tent for their character



The money is pooled and used for DM rewards at the end of the season.  Although I wouldn't personally object to it being used to defray costs (largely photocopies) also, I don't think we're doing that at the moment.

If someone were to ask my *advice*, I would definitely suggest that people try to maintain a way for people to play for free, at least once or twice.   We've had at least a couple parent-child groups come in to `check it out', and I believe that the ``try it for free'' aspect was a powerful incentive to getting those new people in play.  Even if they decide that Encounters is not for them (it's not for everybody, IMHO), getting new people a) into the store and b) playing the game should have real follow-on benefits most of the time. 

Just be careful that your jaded grognards don't start chanting ``the first one's free!'' too loudly when the parents come by. :-)
 



Chadley's description is spot on.  I think it's a great model.  It allows new/casual players to play for free and more devoted players the chance to get a reserved spot for a small fee. 
Yep no one has ever been turned away from playing at Uncle's because they didn't pay but they may not get seated at the table of their choice. At uncles we had three full tables and 5pm and 5 full tables at 7pm last Weds.

 I dont know if my tables are average but one regular paid for my five pm table and 5 regulars paid at my 7pm table.

I'm guessing that's pretty average figuring 3 paying to play at the table and time of their choice per table.

At a venue barely filling a table or with more DMs than required I wouldn't be to hip on a store charging unless it was returned as store credit to the players.

Just an FYI I started out DMing there with no expectations of any rewards at all to defray the cost of running the season but it is nice that the coordinator and store are looking out for us DM's even though we asked for nothing.
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The store credit makes sense, except that it might end up more of a pain for the smaller stores to handle vouchers/gift cards/credit logs.  But this way they know the money will be spent in their store, at no real cost to the players.  The problem is players who show up and play, and never buy anything at all from the store.

Personally, I don't buy books (character builder/compendium has everything I need).  I ordered my Castle Ravenloft months ago, when it was $20 cheaper on Amazon (and I had 2 day free shipping at the time).  My normal group does online, so I don't need mini's.  My FLGS doesn't do snacks, outside of a couple vending machines, so I bring my own food/drink.  When I started getting dungeon tiles, I got them online as well, because some that I needed were out of print, and it was just easier to get them all in one place.  I'm specifically getting the red box from the store, because I've been doing most of the last 2 seasons, and have yet to buy anything from them.  At least this season, I don't feel as guilty because I'm DMing but some people don't make even think of what the store is providing them for free.  And if the store doing nothing, then those people are just encouraged to buy more D&D stuff... From Amazon, or wherever their favorite discount retailer is.  So yes, I'd back some fee to players, I'd really charge as minimal as possible that would require little effort.  So if its $1 per session of store credit, or $5 per season of store credit.  I wouldn't expect any prizes/awards as a DM, but I also wouldn't expect to be charged as a DM.

Always a GM, never a player (not really but sometimes feels like it).

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Just from a personal perspective

I had never been to the store I play encounters at, and if they charged a fee I would walk imeadiatly.

I didn't even know the store existed until I was looking for a place to play encounters

I don't buy everything from the store but I certainly purchased more than I would have if they didn't have encounters (read: nothing)

     Things that I have (or tried to purchase)

MM3  - Purchased
                Munchkin Babes - Purchased
Munchkin Quest Counter - Purchased
M&M's - Purchased
                Dark Sun Campaign - Tried to buy but the didn't have any.  Asked at the counter they just said they didn't have any, didn't offer to order or hold or anything.  Fine I'll buy it from Amazon then
                D&D Mini's - Wanted some but they don't stock them and have no intention of doing so.



 
Which Uncle's?  I frequent the Bellevue one, and used to DM season 1 (before life got in the way). 

Last I heard, the Uncle's in Bellevue pools the fee ($2?) into a gift card for the best player at the table, as voted by the table (you are not allowed to vote for yourself).  For $2-$5, 15% off all D&D plus a potential gift card seems pretty good, plus you can also keep those who may be more...disruptive then normal away. 

Just my two cents. 
South Center Uncle's
Which Uncle's?  I frequent the Bellevue one, and used to DM season 1 (before life got in the way). 

Last I heard, the Uncle's in Bellevue pools the fee ($2?) into a gift card for the best player at the table, as voted by the table (you are not allowed to vote for yourself).  For $2-$5, 15% off all D&D plus a potential gift card seems pretty good, plus you can also keep those who may be more...disruptive then normal away. 

Just my two cents. 



I'm second from the left in the picture.


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