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 talks about the products unveiled at the Dungeons & Dragons Direct event this past week, and congratulates the new GAMA board officers.

I had planned to talk more about comics this week, since I received a couple of emails discussing things publishers could do to make comic sales easier for retailers, but then Wizards of the Coast decided to release a whole lot of information about upcoming releases, so comics get to take a back seat this week. Let us see, where to start. Oh, how about Spelljammer (see "Wizards of the Coast Announces Spelljammer:  Adventures in Space")?

Several of my local D&D players had gotten mildly peeved when, as an April Fool’s prank, WotC said that it would bring back Spelljammer. So, they were quite happy when WotC announced this week that the company’s April Fool’s joke has actually been a teaser for the return of the setting to 5E. TSR released Spelljammer as a boxed set back in 1989 and while the supplement had a strong fan base, it was also an esoteric expansion that WotC opted not to bring back in either the 3E or 4E formats. However, the setting lived on, especially in the form of Baldur Gates’ miniature giant space hamster, Boo, so it was only a matter of time before WotC decided to bring the setting back.

The format the company chose to revive this product in is a bit strange, though.  It releases in a three-volume slipcase for $69.99, with all three books in hardcover and the total page count about equal to that of one of the company’s standard hardbacks. For $20 more, the buyer gets the same amount of material from what normally would be one rulebook, plus with a DM screen, slip case and poster, spread amongst three books. It seems that it would have been more customer-friendly, and more efficient, just to put out a single book. However, as a retailer, I will not turn down the extra $20 on the sale. Now, if we can just get a giant space hamster miniature, or even better, a miniature giant space hamster figure.

Also, WotC teased the return of the Dragonlance campaign setting late this year, likely Q4 in time for Christmas, as a follow up to the August release of the first Dragonlance novel in years (see "Wizards of the Coast Teases ‘D&D Dragonlance’s Return"). Although I've had a surprising number of people, at least to me, preorder the Spelljammer set, I expect to sell cases of the Dragonlance book, though I hope it is a campaign setting rather than a campaign. I've found that the setting books and rule supplements, over time, outsell the adventure modules.

One concern I have is the amount of material coming out for D&D. We have Monsters of the Multiverse in May, Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel in June and Spelljammer:  Adventures in Space in August along with ancillary products like the miniatures lines and the D&D Tarot Deck (see "Predict Players Fortunes with the ‘Dungeons & Dragons Tarot Deck’"). Given the controversy over D&D back in the 80s and 90s, that last is an item I never thought would see the light of day. That is an awful lot of D&D products for the market to absorb.

On another note, congratulations to Kylie Primus of Games Unlimited and Jennifer Ward of Crazy Squirrel Games and Toys on their election as GAMA officers (see New GAMA President is a Retailer). After the years retail members spent pushing for a seat at the GAMA table, it is rather amusing to see both retailer board members elected to officer positions.

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