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 Dungeons & Dragons 2024 core books and the D&D Beyond promotion announced for Vecna: Eve of Ruin.

As promised, here are some thoughts on the Dungeons & Dragons 2024 core books releasing this year and next (see "Hasbro Figures").  I hope Wizards of the Coast cuts off print runs of the core books now, as it worked out well for prior D&D core book releases.  The company did that for the release of D&D 3E, and while stores complained incessantly about the lack of stock to fulfill customer demand, the strategy wound up working out great, garnering huge demand for the books when they finally released.  I hope WotC does something like that with D&D 2024 core books, and not, unfortunately, what the company is doing with Vecna: Eve of Ruin (see "'Vecna: Eve of Ruin'").

D&D Beyond, which is owned by WotC (see "Purchase D&D Beyond from Fandom"), sent out an email last week soliciting preorders for Vecna: Eve of Ruin that included incentives for customers ordering  the book through them. Customers preordering the book from D&D Beyond would receive a hardcover copy of the book at the release date and early access to a digital copy of the book on May 7, 2024 (two weeks ahead of the release date).  Customers would also get Vecna: Nest of the Eldrich Eye, a digital adventure for the campaign, on April 16, 2024 (over a month before the release date).

While I realize sales of the physical D&D products were off a bit last year, is that any reason to make such a blatant push for customers’ wallets via DTC sales?  How about giving your retail partners, the ones that introduce most new players to D&D, an opportunity to offer the same incentives as well?  How hard would it be to print a code in each D&D book?

It's a simple process.  The customer would buy the book, scan the code, and get a digital copy of the book and adventure as well.  The Bits and Mortar program has already done this with hundreds of RPG books from different publishers for years now (and if you are a retailer who sells small press RPGs and are not signed up for the Bits and Mortar program, you should do so immediately).  Even Marvel Comics, which is not known for its retailer-friendly practices (ask any comic retailer about how Marvel abuses the FOC process) has been able to marry the physical and digital worlds by putting a code for a digital version of the comic in every physical issue of the comics it publishes (has done so for years).  This concept is readily doable and has been done on a large scale for years.

This said, will I still order Vecna: Eye of Ruin for my store?  Of course, I will.  Not bringing it in would be just cutting off my nose to spite my face.  The book will sell, but I will probably only preorder the alternative covers and stock them until they run out before shelving the standard cover.  D&D is an integral part of part of my product mix and will be for the foreseeable future. Promotions like this, though, inspire me cut initial orders more as well as invest less in shelf stock and hope the company does run another promotion like this for the Players Handbook 2024 and the other core books.

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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