The earthquake in Haiti is a tremendous tragedy, and I know a mix of survivor guilt and philanthropic spirit is driving a lot of people to donate money to help out. You can dump a couple bucks when you're buying your groceries, or text some places to drop a few dollars, or even just find online charities and send them money, straight-up.
But the coolest way to help out that I've found so far is at DriveThruRPG.com. In case you're not familiar with this site, it's a place where you can go to buy downloadable game stuff. There are big publishers uploading their source books, paper model companies gouging you for dungeon floors, small-press guys trying to scratch out a little profit with games you never even knew existed, and mile after mile of short, worthless PDF files with virtually no useful content.
And until the end of January, DriveThruRPG is going to let you download more than a thousand dollars of games, adventures, stock art, maps, paper models and lots more for nearly nothing. Just hop over there, donate twenty bucks, and they'll give you download access to a treasure trove of free crap that will make your head spin. Your twenty clams will go to Doctors Without Borders, so it's not like they're actually planning on sending a bunch of nerds down there to see if the Haitian survivors would benefit from lightning bolt spells and healing potions.
Here are a few highlights, to whet your whistle:
The Serenity RPG. If you ever wanted to play a gorram Browncoat smuggler in Joss Whedon's fantastic sci-fi-meets-Old-West 'verse, now's your chance. I only saw the base game, but then, I've just started opening up all the files I got to look at them, so there may be more. But even if there isn't, that's pretty bitchin'.
Wormhole. The funny thing about WorldWorks Games' big space table-top game is that I think the guy who owns that company is something of a wormhole. But even though I sincerely dislike the man, nobody can claim his stuff isn't gorgeous. He's talented, even if he does have all the business ethics of a used-car salesman in a plaid sports coat. And this space battle game isn't the only thing he donated to the Haiti Relief fund - there's a cool dungeon tile set, some interesting dioramas, and a couple other things, too. If you ever wanted to check out WorldWorks Games without having to actually put money in their pockets, now's your chance.
Fat Dragon Stuff. Where WorldWorks Games makes me want to take a shower after I visit their site, Fat Dragon is the cat's pajamas. They also have a lot of cool paper model stuff, including an awesome 3-D inn where you can start every adventure off right - by meeting a mysterious old man. Plus there are some cool dungeon tiles, and they make a lot more dungeon tiles to go with the set you can download. I would donate $20 if the Fat Dragon stuff was the only thing in the package.
For the Love of Dungeons. This just caught my eye, and I think it's really cool. Basically, this little PDF is a collection of dungeon maps with short descriptors. That's about it. But these dungeons are pretty cool, and you could probably use them all, sooner or later, to house a collection of ugly monsters that some heroes can burglarize at swordpoint.
Music. There's a decent-sized handful of MP3 files in this collection. I don't know that I would play them at parties, or anything, but some of them make pretty cool background music. I'm listening to one right now called Vampire Castle, and it would make great music to have running in the background while you investigated some scary tomb, unless you really were in a scary tomb, and then you should probably unplug your iPod and pay attention.
There's so much more in this download package that I can't even begin to sum it up. There are models of spaceships, prestige classes, plants and veggies, even a book of dumb tables (I'm not making that up). It's an amazing collection of downloadable stuff, and while I'm usually very out on the whole idea of PDF stuff, even I couldn't pass this up. It helps that I was planning on donating to the Haiti thing anyway, but this way, you get a double whammy - you can feel less guilty and tell people that you donated, thus making you feel better about yourself, and you can score a pile of gaming crap so huge that it will take you a couple days to download it all.
If you want to help out in Haiti and score some sweet swag for it, go here and get loose with your wallet - but do it soon, because the offer ends at the end of January: