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 the history of the Dungeons & Dragons organized play programs, and recent changes.

I did get some feedback from last week’s column regarding my predictions for 2017.  Not so much on the predictions per se but more on my references to the status of the D&D Adventurers League and its relationship to the Herald’s Guild.  Ergo, I reached out to Frank Foulis, the past Regional Coordinator for the Adventurers League in the Great Lakes region and David Christ, the principal behind the Herald’s League, the Ambassador Program and BaldMan Games for more details on the relationship between the organizations.

According to Foulis, Wizards of the Coast started recruiting Regional Coordinators for the Adventurers League program during the summer of 2014.  The Regional Coordinators were tasked by WOTC with helping "…DM’s, players, and store/convention organizers participate in the D&D Adventurer’s League on a local level.’  The description continued, "RCs help promote D&D Adventurers League play by facilitating the organization of public events and by representing the D&D Adventurers League with an enthusiastic, positive presence in a respectful and approachable manner.  These individuals will help out the community manager by maintaining event groups on Facebook and Google+ that participants can interact with for information and discussion on events within certain defined regions."

The Regional Coordinators were expected to spend at least two hours a week promoting Adventurers League play and events through social media (primarily Facebook and Google+); help stores and convention organizers obtain and sanction Adventurers League events; provide a point of contact for and feedback to Adventurers League Administrators (who were employees of WOTC); and assist in organizing playtest groups for Adventurers League content.  The Adventurers League program was designed, in general, to promote the D&D Encounters program in stores and convention D&D play (see "’D&D’ Adventurers League Launches with New Edition").

The Coordinators, both Regional and Local, were all volunteers.  In return for their service, the Regional Coordinators would receive the opportunity to help determine the future of the Adventurers League, (possibly) receive Dungeons & Dragons product when attending a convention with a Wizards’ presence and receive Adventurers League "swag."

In the fall of 2015, after the release of Out of the Abyss and Season 3 of the D&D Encounters program, WOTC "pulled the plug," so to speak, on the Encounters program, pulling the name from the DCI Reporter and opening Adventurers League play to in-home as well as convention and store play (see "Adventurers League No Longer Confined to Stores and Cons"), but leaving the Cordinator program active.  At the end of November 2016, WOTC notified the Coordinators that it would take retailer contact in-house, assigning that function to customer service reps and WPN staff."

Meanwhile, the Herald’s Guild also dates back to Summer 2014 as a support organization to grow the Dungeon Master ranks for the game of Dungeons & Dragons.  According to Christ, BaldMan Games, which pre-dated the Herald’s Guild, "runs large D&D events all over the country, sometimes contracted by WOTC, sometime with the shows themselves independently."

The Herald’s Guild started as a training and tracking organization for DMs used in BaldMan Games events but soon expanded to DMs working at non-BaldMan events.  BaldMan Games (and the Herald’s Guild) has a working relationship with WOTC but operates independently of the company.

The Ambassadors Program is another program that was under development by BaldMan Games prior to the shuttering of the RC/LC program, with tentative plans to replicate the structure of the RC/LC program.  As such, when Christ learned of the planned termination of the RC/LC program he contacted WOTC, asking if the announcement would include a link to his programs, giving the Coordinators from the AL another program to join if they wished to continue helping promote the D&D game in a similar fashion.  BaldMan Games is still developing the Ambassadors program and hopes to launch it during the summer of 2017.

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