So yesterday the big D&D announcement was D&D Beyond ” A new Digital Toolset” that works for 5th Edition D&D. Yay! were finally going to get the digital tools we all have wanted for so long for our favorite game! No, No, NOPE! Color me a skeptic. I refuse after 3+ Editions of D&D to be excited about the announcement set of digital tools for D&D. Let’s face the hard truth folks WOTC has been telling us ever since 3rd edition that they were going to release not one, not two, but three sets of digital tools for D&D.
So for today’s blog, I am going to go into some detail as to why I am not excited as many others about this announcement. So let us take a digital walk of shame, shall we? I hope you enjoy.
Who here remember all the promises when we discovered this little gem in the back of the 3.0 D&D players handbook? The disk that would set the tone for digital woes of WOTC for years to come! This demo CD was a masterpiece of bad. Giving gamers the pipedream that we would be dreaming of going on 20 years down the road. Also, it was a worthless program. Overall it was clunky, did not have much in the way of options and in short after a very limited run in the first printing of the 3.0 PHB. Was never seen again. Look at it with awe readers. Because there are many D&D gamers that have never seen one of these CDs in the wild. But don’t go wasting your time searching for it. There are far better existing tools online that you can find these days for free.
Later we were able to actually buy another CD called E-Tools this was a Character Generator & Monster Builder. Now in Fairness, this came out over a decade ago. Even so, this toolset was painful to use and went unsupported. I imagine it was not widely used. We would not see any more digital content until 4E D&D
With the Launch of 4E D&D insider, we were served up a new set of Digital tools that promised we were about to enter a new era in tabletop gaming all over again. This bad boy had a Character Creator. A Monster Creator, as well as a Digital Avatar creation, took. With this, you could make a token of your PC that would be equipped with the gear you have found and play it in provided virtual dungeons with dynamic lighting!
Way to go and Drop the ball WOTC. Basically, you created Roll20.net back in 2007 and then never went on to do anything with it, congratulations. In the end, only the Monster creation rules and the Character builder ever were implemented as far as my memory serves. Additionally, the worst part of 4E D&D Insider is was its cost. running at about 70 bucks a year not only were you paying for the content. But It never really felt like they were keeping up with the product. Worse yet by the time your players reached epic tiers of play. You all but needed this program to make encounters quickly and manage the paperwork side of your PC’s. Worse yet the searchable compendium of rules (one of the best features of the insider) spent more time broken than working properly in my experience. The only thing that made the monthly cost of D&D insider remotely worth it was the additional Dungeon and Dragon E-Mag.
Enter 5th Edition. A new era in D&D gaming. They literally took nearly 4 years of direct communication with their fans to put together an edition that would last. They pulled it off and they even announced yet another digital project. This time they were going to outsource the creation of the project. Enter Project Morning Star. I was excited about the potential here. We were finally deep into the mobile and tablet era of gaming. It felt to me like we might see it finally done right.Then out of seemingly nowhere, WoTC pulled the plug. I blog about it Ominous or Expected? here.
Myself I was happy that they had pulled the plug if they felt that they had not done it right. But I had expected them to follow up with another project. Yet until today, they had remained silent. Content to license out their books to Roll20 and fantasy grounds. All obviously good moves.
But what is it that beyond is going to offer me that I have not found in other sources at this point? Even more so, how much will WoTC want for it and will anyone pay for this product? I am honestly not sure but it is likely.
I think this is too little too late for WoTC. There are several awesome 3rd party and independent producers out there right now that many DMs have put a ton of time and effort into. It will be hard to pull them away from what they are using to migrate to a new toolset. Most of these existing tools are all either fee or at a reasonable one-time fee. So I think any subscription cost will leave D&D Beyond underused.
Myself I am a huge user of OneNote for much of my game content. I even use OneNote 5E D&D an Amazing resource if you have One Note. Additionally, I use Lion’s Den DM and Fight Club Character apps. You can find them on the IOS store and if you have not seen them here is a quick video. I can not recommend these three things enough for your gaming table needs.
GAME MASTERS 5E
5E Fight Club
I have singed up for the Beta but I am not holding my breath.