There were lots of good freebies to be had this year, including Goodman Games' Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Adventure Starter, Paizo's We Be Goblins module (curse ye Pett, you've done it again!), the usual nice offering from Wizards of the Coast, and much more.
I'm fully in support of Free RPG Day. So-called brick and mortar stores are disappearing at a frightening rate. Case in point, I headed over Cedar Grove, NJ the other day for a sit down lunch with frequent co-conspirator and kick-ass RPG author Mike Ferguson. The Cedar Grove area was home to two cool stores within arms throw of each other—Time Warp Comics & Games and New Moon Comics. Did the use of the word was there serve as a tip-off?
I've developed a comfortable rhythm on my infrequent visits: stop at Time Warp, grab some pizza next door and talk about upcoming RPG projects (many a published project has been thrashed out there over a slice), and then ride down Rt. 23 a mile or so to New Moon. Alas, no more. We pulled up the the former location of New Moon to find an empty storefront, blank sign, and vacant lot. Yikes, how I hate when that happens. A quick Web search revealed the unsurprising culprit—the dreaded down economy. Now I should note that New Moon continues on as an online entity (link above) and I heartily encourage you to shop there. The owner is a first-rate fellow and the staff was always very nice. I intend to give them my continued business. But I shall miss the storefront greatly.
Online shopping is great. I have a family now, and gamestore runs frankly are harder to plan than in the past. But there is something wonderful about picking up the latest boardgame, turning the box to read the back, and getting the heft of the game. Likewise, flipping through a new RPG book and seeing the art, glancing at the maps, and instantly understanding the length of the work tells me more and is more enjoyable than the best online preview. It's a part of my shopping experience, and an important ritual.
So resist the temptation (I'm guilty sometimes too) to shop online or via ebay, when possible visit your friendly local game store, and spend a few bucks. Not just on Free RPG Day (definitely go then!) but whenever you can. They'll thank you and you'll benefit the hobby as a whole.