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 previews some striking offerings for Free RPG Day.

This upcoming Saturday is one of our favorite promotional events of the year:  Free RPG Day.  We like it here because we gets to give away stuff and see increased sales, far beyond what we spend for the Free RPG Day kit, in return.  We don’t schedule a lot of games to run during the day mainly since most of the items in the kit are for small press RPGs and it can prove pretty difficult to find GMs for things like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the Valiant Universe RPG or The Dark Eye, all of which people will want to pick up but no one, at least here, will want to sit down and play a session of during the day.  Most of our customers come in, score whatever of the promos they can, and take off.  Speaking of the promotional items, there are a goodly number of them this year.  Since Wizards of the Coast dropped its support for Free RPG Day a few years ago (a bit of a short-sighted move on their part and one I hope the company chooses to rectify next year), here are some of the more striking offerings from this year’s offerings:

The Derelict—A Tale of Terror
By the Godfather of Call of Cthulhu, Sandy Petersen with Mike Mason.  While taking a voyage across the North Atlantic, the player characters encounter a derelict vessel.  Of course, in the world of Call of Cthulhu, nothing is quite as it seems.

Sixteen Tons
Adventure for Through the Breach, the Malifaux RPG.  The life of a miner in the town of Temperance is already hard.  Add in strange creatures moving through the mine tunnels, disappearing miners and the strange woman with her own plans for the town and things just got a whole lot stranger.

We Be4 Goblins
The fourth annual Free RPG Day Goblins adventure offering from Paizo Publishing.  This time, goblin whelps hope to prove themselves worthy of joining the Licktoad tribe.  Since WOTC stopped participating, the annual We Be Goblins adventure always proves our most popular selection.

A creature companion book for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG.  Each year’s Lamentations of the Flame Princess item always proves the most controversial offering of the year, usually necessitating stores keeping it behind the counter and only giving it to customers who request it specifically and who are over 21 years of age, and Slugs, of course, proves no exception.  A slug-filled themed bestiary, Slugs actually would not prove a problem this year if it wasn’t for the inclusion of the "Love Slug" and accompanying illustration.  I will leave it to your imaginations as to what they are.

The Dark Eye Quick Start Rules
The Dark Eye is pretty interesting for two reasons:  1) It has a 30-year track record of play in Europe, but has not successfully garnered a foothold in the U.S. despite a couple of tries; and 2) last spring it appeared The Dark Eye would release under the auspices of an American publisher but now the game is coming to American through its European publisher.  For these reasons, I expect customers to quickly snatch up our copies of the Quick Start Rules.

There are also books for 13th Age, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Castles & Crusades, Feng Shui 2, Atlantis and several others, as well as limited runs of pencils, t-shirts, dice towers, dice, Reaper figures and even cards for the Pathfinder Deck Building Game.  A great selection for one of our best sales days of the year.

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