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 shares a second round of observations from Alliance Open House.

After a week back from the Alliance Open House (with no case of COVID thank goodness although I heard a few people came down with cases of it after the show), I took time to reflect on several more things that caught my attention (see "Alliance Open House 2023:  Almost Like I Was Never Away").

RPGs Are Back.  And in quite a big way.  Paizo, Evil Genius Games, Free League Publishing, 9th Level Games, Palladium Press, Kobold Press, Renegade Game Studios, Modiphius, Chaosium and Wizards of the Coast, as well as a couple I am probably missing, all had a strong presence at the show.  Well, except for WotC, which only displayed a pair of Magic: The Gathering promotional posters and an open copy of their Yawning Portal boardgame, with a lot of empty space left over.  Still, given the last GAMA Trade Show I attended, where I was hard-pressed to find any RPG publishers, the number attending was a welcome sight.

Dice, Dice Baby.  For several years, the store has received lots of emails offering us new sets of dice from a plethora of suppliers, most of which, save Chessex Manufacturing, appear to source them from factories in China.  At the show, I saw dice from Sirius, which I mentioned last week, Fanroll and Gatekeeper, all of which were interesting in their own way.  I did notice both Sirius and Fanroll offering blind bags of dice, which our store has gotten from Foam Brain for several years.  Fanroll’s started off as sets of misfit dice, while Sirius played off their Dungeons & Dragons license and offered Acererak's Treasure Packs, which come in a display box allowing customers to grab a blind bagged pack of dice out of the mouth of Acererak, which I thought a very nice design touch.

Show Specials.  By my count, at least a dozen of the publishers had show specials listed in the program book.  However, one would not have known it from walking by their tables as none of them had anything out indicating they offered any sort of incentive to buy from them, aside from the coolness factor of their products.  Heck, none of them even mentioned their show special when I spoke with them at the table, much less had a flier printed out calling my attention to them.

Notable Absences.  There were a few publishers missing that I rather expected to appear. Notably, Green Ronin, Goodman Games, Ravensburger and Konami failed to show.  I did see a few Goodman Games books in the Flat River booth, but they were not prominently displayed.  I can rather understand why Ravensburger would be a no show, given that they would likely just get an endless litany of complaints about the way the company handled the Disney Lorcana launch, but Konami rather surprised me, since other TCG companies had a strong showing.

Show Compliments.  Oh no, not from me, although Alliance staff ran the show very well. Nope this was from some of the staff of the Grand Wayne Convention Center, where the show was held.  I was chatting with them Saturday afternoon and they mentioned the Alliance staff was very easy to work with and the attendees were "lovely."  Certainly a nice way to end the show.

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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