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 release windows announced for Dungeons & Dragons and Disney Lorcana and bids farewell to Jim Ward.

The store received a couple of notices from publishers last week that should help sales. Wizards of the Coast announced the company will, starting with Vecna: Eve of Ruin, re-implement its Early Access program for most Dungeons & Dragons releases.  Vecna: Eve of Ruin will receive a wide release on May 21, 2024, but WPN member stores will have the book, both regular and alternate covers, for sale on May 7, 2024.  I recently commented on WotC allowing Early Access to Vecna: Eve of Ruin to purchasers of the book through D&D Beyond , so I'm glad to see Early Access expanding to all stores maintaining the standards required to stay in the WPN program (see "Dungeons and Dragons Core Books 2024").  WPN stores will also have access to the alternative cover for the books as well.  Now, if WotC could just provide stores the code so that they can give away the promotional Vecna: Eve of Ruin adventure to customers preordering the book, that would be great.

Not wanting to be late to the party, Ravensburger announced this week a two-week embargo on the online sales of the next Disney Lorcana set, Ursula’s Return.  Stores can promote and list the set on their website when it hits the shelves on May 17, 2024, but can only sell the product in-store through May 31, 2024.  From what I understand, stores may take preorders for the set and take payment through their website, but customers buying through the site must either pick up the product in store or wait for shipment on May 31, 2024.

Essentially, people wanting Ursula’s Return can pay for the product online, but will have to go into the store to pick up the product, at least until May 31, 2024.  The statement from Ravensburger did not say anything about selling single cards, just sealed product, which sounded as if single card sales are allowed under the policy.  Ravensburger says it will be monitoring compliance with the program closely, and stores found in violation can face repercussions ranging from loss of product allocation to removal from its Organized Play program.  While Ravensburger itself probably doesn't have the staff to monitor store compliance with this program, there are companies specializing in just this sort of monitoring.  The way I figure it, given the amount of revenue generated by Disney Lorcana in the industry, a store wouldn't really want to move product to risk violating the new policy. It would only take one or two stores getting caught in violation, and it being publicized, to stop other stores.

I was sorry to read of the passing of Jim Ward (see "RIP James M. (Jim) Ward"). I read, played, and sold a number of his works during the 1980s and 1990s, but did not actually meet him until the D20 boom of the early 00s, when he was a principal in Fast Forward Enterprises, which produced a very nice line of supplements for Dungeons & Dragons 3E.  Ward contributed or wrote a number of these including Enchanted Locations and several "Of Power"item books, as well as books for Troll Lord Games, most notably the 656-page Starship Warden campaign book.  If your character has ever followed a god in a fantasy setting or traversed the outer reaches of the stars, you can thank Jim Ward because he co-wrote the book that introduced deities into RPGs, Gods, Demigod and Heroes, as well as created the first sci-fi RPG Metamorphosis Alpha.  I imagine many dice were rolled and more than a few mugs were raised in his memory at this past weekend’s Gary Con.  Rest in Peace, Jim.

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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