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 massive wave of Magic: The Gathering product coming Q2 into Q3, and remembers RPG designer Scott Bennie.

Anyone else think we are getting hit with a lot of new Magic: The Gathering Releases within a short period of time (see "‘Magic: The Gathering’ Release Calendar")?

We have Streets of New Capenna releasing on April 29 (see "Wizards of the Coast Previews Streets of New Capenna"), followed by Commander Legends:  Battle for Baldur’s Gate on June 10 (see"Commander Legends:  Battle for Baldur’s Gate").  Then, Double Masters 2022 releases on July 8, giving stores and players a little over a month between Streets of New Capenna and Battle for Baldur’s Gate and a little less than a month between the release dates of Battle for Baldur’s Gate and Double Masters 2022; unless you are a WPN Premium store because those stores will get a preview event a week before the official release date.  That’s a whole lot of money going into Magic in a short period of time, but Wizards of the Coast says its research shows consistently strong sales across all recent Magic releases and indicates strong consumer desire for these products.  Since WotC’s track record on sales of recent sets is pretty good (Double Feature being the exception), I shall assume the company knows what it is doing.

In the wake of Marcus King’s passing (see "Rolling for Initiative:  Farewell Marcus King"), I've also received word of the passing of Scott Bennie from pneumonia at the comparatively young age of 61.  Bennie was probably best known for his work for Interplay during the 90s, with credits on games including The Lord of the Rings, Castles, Sim City, Descent, several Star Trek games, and Fallout, for which he is credited with creating The Vault Dweller’s canine companion Dogmeat.  After leaving Interplay, he worked for Sony on their Champions of Norath game.  He also had a very lengthy record of work in the tabletop RPG industry.  If you ever played or ran a session of Hero Games’ Champions RPG (the first tabletop RPG to emphasize building your own character and one of my favorite RPGs), you likely encountered some of his work as he entered the gaming industry through his work as an editor and writer on several early Champions supplements, including Villainy Unbound, Champions in 3D, Classic Enemies (one of my favorites), Day of the Destroyer, and Champions Universe.

He demonstrated his flexibility by contributing to releases from a wide variety of genres from several different publishers.  He contributed to or co-wrote TSR’s Mists of Krynn, Islands of Terror, Swords of the Iron Legion, several volumes of the Gamer’s Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and Castle Greyhawk as well as authored the publisher’s Wild Elves and Old Empires sourcebooks; all of which are sought out by both players and collectors today.

After his stint in the video game industry, Bennie returned to writing for tabletop RPGs, producing material for Green Ronin’s Mutants and Masterminds and Testament RPG games and White Wolf Publishing’s World of Warcraft RPG.  Material from his long running Champions’ based Gestalt campaign was published as a campaign setting by Blackwyrm Games in 2007.  Soon after the publication of Gestalt, work for Bennie dried up in the tabletop RPG industry and he turned to teaching, as far as I can tell (I don't see any more of his RPG material published past 2008).  Regardless, he had a huge influence on the RPG industry during its early years and the way you play today is influenced by his work back then.

Send your memories of him and your thoughts on the wave of Magic products soon crashing upon us to

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