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 takes a look at this year's Free RPG Day offerings.

Although it certainly doesn’t get the press or attention of Free Comic Book Day, June 17 marks the relatively unheralded 11th Anniversary of Free RPG Day, an event started by Aldo Ghiozzi of Impressions Advertising and Marketing to promote the tabletop role playing game hobby.  Unlike Free Comic Book Day, during which stores can order specific quantities of the books given away, participating stores, of which there are not that many (I counted 18 within 200 miles of our store and only 12 within 200 miles of the much larger metropolitan region of St. Louis), order the promotional items for the day in bundles of from 1 to 15 items from a specific publisher, with no opportunity to vary the mix.  So this year, retailers opting to buy one bundle will receive 15 copies of the new Pathfinder offering but only one copy of the new Familiars of Terra offering from Angry Hamster Games.  Here is a partial list of items retailers will have available to give away to consumers this Saturday:

Starfinder (15 copies) — This is the first offering from Paizo for its new space-themed Pathfinder RPG variant, which seems somewhat similar to TSR’s old Spelljammer AD&D setting.

Syrinscape (15 copies) — Downloadable MP3s for gaming background music.  This year’s offering is a soundset for the Cthulhu Mythos titled Steam Train to Salem.

Runequest (10 copies) — Chaosium’s relaunch of its classic RPG with quickstart rules and adventure.

Dungeon Crawl Classics (10 copies) — Goodman Games’ quickstart rules and adventure for the Dungeon Crawl Classics role playing game.

Conan (10 copies) — Yet another RPG featuring Robert E. Howard’s barbarian hero, this one from Modiphius Entertainment.

Numenera (10 copies) — The Spire of the Hunting Sound adventure from Monte Cook Games.

V. A. M (5 copies) — This year’s offering for Lamentations of the Flame Princess is easily the highest quality offering in the kit and also the most controversial, as a card is even provided for stores to put out instead of the supplement itself, directing those interested in V.A.M. to ask at the counter for their copy.

TimeWatch/13th Age (5 Copies) — Double book from Pelgrane Press with an adventure for their 13th Age RPG and new TimeWatch RPG.

TORG Eternity (5 copies) — Ulisses Spiele is (hopefully) relaunching West End Games’ multigenre RPG.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Pack (3 copies) — In case you missed Pathfinder’s goblins, here they are in this pack of cards for the Pathfinder deckbuilding game.

Borderhounds (3 copies) — From Troll Lord Games, this quickstart booklet looks like a version of Shadowrun.

Through the Breach (3 Copies) — Miniatures and adventure for Wyrd Miniatures’ RPG based on its Malifaux miniatures rules set.

Familiars of Terra (1 copy) — You will probably have to be on good terms with the store to get a copy of this introductory rules set from Angry Hamster Games as it is listed as a sample with only one copy per order.

Ninja Crusade (1 copy) — Similarly to Familiars of Terra, this rules set from Third Eye Games is limited to 1 copy per box ordered, so stores may use it as part of a giveaway or raffle.

Additionally, each kit contains dice from Q-Workshop and Chessex, a dice cup from Blue Panther Games’ gaming paper from, well Gaming Paper, and a t-shirt from Off World Designs (customers probably won’t be able to get this either as most stores give them to employees).

By participating in Free RPG Day, stores agree to give away one item, while quantities last, to any customer who asks for one.  Of course the store can determine which item you get, as well as set stipulations for customers getting additional items.  So, this Saturday, as the Free RPG Day slogan says "Get a Little Game."

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