Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at what happened when he brought Kobold Quarterly into his store.

Kobold Quarterly has flown under the radar here at the store until the past week.  We hadn't heard much about it, positive or negative.  This is the advantage of advertising, folks.  Relying on the internet, blogs, websites and other free social media is all well and good, but that is reactive promotion, not proactive.  You are only going to reach people who already are aware of your product.  Advertising, i.e. paying someone else to talk about your product, will help you reach those people who aren't already aware of it, like me.  But my always on top of things sales representative at Alliance, Brian Sirois, mentioned it when going down the list of new releases of the week and thought it might be something that would appeal to our Pathfinder customers.  Did it ever!  We brought in a couple of copies of issue number 21 and it sold out immediately.  So I called Alliance back and on our next order, brought in some more back issues, half a dozen or so.  They arrived last Thursday and by Saturday, we had sold out of all but one.  In the words of one of our employees, who posted this on the store Facebook page:

I bought a couple of issues and have been reading over them the last couple of days... wow!  This is exactly what I think fantasy role-playing has been missing recently.  A good shot in the arm!  Great articles, wonderful artwork!  It really brings the old role-playing spirit into the new editions.

I have to agree with him.  Granted, almost all gaming magazines have moved their content to the web, and it is much cheaper to publish on the internet, none of that worry about paper and binding and web delivery is instantaneous and free, but the web is very consumer focused.  Normally this is a good thing but one of the downsides of web based publishing is that readers find it much easier to skip or bypass content that they do not find directly relevant.  Paper based magazines invite browsing through their pages, moreso than web based ones do.  Internet magazines are hyperlink driven, readers click from one page to another and may find themselves eventually far away from the original magazine base.  Paper magazines are more linear, the reader progresses page to page never sure what they might find on the next page.  It might be something they thought they had no interest in at the start but the first paragraph catches their eye and before you know it, you are sucked into the material.  Both have a place in our society, I just wish more people still supported the existence of the print format.

Back to Kobold Quarterly, the current issue reminds me somewhat of the old Shadis magazine, as while  the focus is heavily on Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons  3.5, there are other odd items found within its pages, such as a comic strip titled "d20 Monkey," an article on the ecology of succubi, "Ask the Kobold" reminiscent of and written by Dragon Magazine's 'Sage Advice' columnist Skip Williams and an interview with  ex-Dungeons & Dragons R&D Director Bill Slavicsek.

Past  issues of Kobold Quarterly will soon hit the store shelves again as well as future ones.  Hopefully, you are smarter or better tuned into things that I was and, if you do a good business in RPGs, already stock it.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of