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Dungeons & Dragons finally going digital

Character sheets and bits of the rule books look like they're coming to the Web

By Simon Sharwood, 15 Mar 2017

Seminal role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons looks to be going digital.

The game's publisher, Wizards of the Coast, calls its new effort “D&D Beyond”, describes it as “a digital toolset for use with the Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition rules” and has given the service the tagline “Play with advantage”.

Wizards' canned statement says the service will “take D&D players beyond pen and paper, providing a rules compendium, character builder, digital character sheets, and more—all populated with official D&D content.” We're also told the service “aims to make game management easier for both players and Dungeon Masters by providing high-quality tools available on any device.”

Details of just what's on offer are thin, but the beta signup site for the service says subscribers will get the following features:

  • A “D&D Compendium with Official Content”
  • The ability to “Create, Browse, & Use Homebrew Content”
  • The ability to “Manage Characters - Build, Progress, & Play”
  • D&D News, Articles, Forums, & More
  • Anywhere, anytime, access on any device

That repetition of the “any device” point suggests this will be a web-based effort, rather than an app.

The promo video below offers a limited look at the service, suggesting it will digitise character sheets and offer some content from the game's famously-detailed rule books.

Youtube Video

The service will debut in “summer”, presumably northern hemisphere summer so that [in-no-way-emotionally-or-socially-stunted – Ed] folks who play D&D will spend up big on their breaks from school or university [Or maybe reality - Ed].

At a guess, D&D Beyond will let players store information about their characters in a cloud, replacing character sheets with a subscription service. Throwing in content from the game's famously-detailed rule books would also entice many, with in-service purchases of book content a way to wean players off the printed page and encourage them to commit to digitised content.

We'll know in a few months just what Wizards has up its sleeves, and if the results are a +5 Web of Wonder or a -5 Cursed App of Lock-In.

Previous digital D&D efforts included a free basic rulebook distributed as a PDF, and sale of full rule books as PDFs that was quickly ended after they hit pirate sites. ®

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