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 discusses DC Comics' distribution choices and offers some insight on Free RPG Day.

Before getting into a discussion of next month’s Free RPG Day, I found DC’s announcement of new distributors for its products rather bemusing (see "DC Using Four Options for Distribution of DC Direct Products ").  Although, as I noted last week (see "Rolling for Initiative -- Asmodee/Alliance vs. DC/Diamond"), comics are not a huge part of our business, the current situation will still make more work for us.  By my count, for the next couple of weeks, DC will use six distributors to get its products to the local comic book shop: Penguin Random House, Lunar, UCS, EE, Sideshow, and Diamond (though Diamond stops distributing new product once the remaining FOC product ordered through the company arrives).  This means that DC has to use six distributors, five of them new, to get product to stores that one distributor could handle fine on its own only a month ago.  I just don’t get the feeling that DC put a lot of planning  into how the company would handle shipping out new product without access to Diamond’s distribution system.

In addition, stores should start receiving products from one of these new distributors, and have not heard yet, from either a distributor or DC, how processing of orders will take place.  Currently, stores using ComicSuite or MOBY to process orders can import orders with a few clicks on the computer screen and, with a few more clicks, almost automatically assign received books to subscribers.  Currently, stores have no idea how they will have to process the DC products from their selected distributor.  Will our new distributors make files usable by ComicSuite and MOBY?  Stores using MOBY to process orders should be able to accept whatever files DC’s distributors send, since it is an open system.  Comic Suite is proprietary and as far as I know, there have been no additional talks between Diamond and DC regarding giving the new distributors access to ComicSuite, meaning, at least for now, most stores currently plan to process their DC orders by hand.

On to Free RPG Day, which got pushed back this year (see "Free RPG Day Rescheduled for July"). Gaming Days LLC, the company that took over Free RPG Day last year recently released the list of items and quantities in each kit, which runs $119 or $300 depending on how many kits a store wants to purchase, and the cutoff date for purchase of the kits is June 29.  The kit contents were noted in a previous ICv2 article (see "Gaming Days, LLC Reveals the Contents of the Free RPG DAY Kit").

Based on past experience, the most popular items in the kits will be the Q Workshop and Gatekeeper Games dice (because you can never have too many dice) and the Pathfinder release, if it is another in the We Be Goblins series, as Pathfinder players in the past have really liked those adventures.

Gaming Days and Alliance are also offering discounts on a selection of related items and, barring Wizards of the Coast declaring bankruptcy or some other catastrophic event in the industry, I’ll take a look at those next week.

As always, your comments are welcome at

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