At this point, I’m certain most of you have heard at least something about D&D Beyond. For those of you who don’t know, Wizards of the Coast, has teamed up with Curse Inc to make an official D&D companion app. Yes yes, you no longer have to sift through dozens of bug-ridden, shoddily made, festering crap mounds that call themselves “buddies” to your adventures. (Note: I too program! I know the struggles, don’t rag on me. I couldn’t do any better) Although, there are a few diamonds in the rough; one I’d like to point out is Squire 5e on the Google Play Store. The creator, who will remain nameless because he’s not a personal friend, has done a great job on making a free and easy to use character manager. Sorry to all you Apple patrons though, because all my hunting there has lead to mostly dead ends. Back on topic; people have been using apps and such to help with gaming for a long time now. It’s taken a long time for WotC to respond to this too. Hopefully, with all this prep-time they have something to show for it.
(View the article they wrote and watch the promo here)
1) A Community
This is one of the things that was a little more obscure in not only the promo, but even the release. Forums and private messages are a thing, you can interact with other users. From my experience it’s really difficult to find a community for us table-top gamers. I mean there's Amino… but… Amino. If you’ve delved into Amino you know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, don’t. Roll 20 has something going for them, but it’s not really prominent. Actually now that I think about it, the way the community works is very similar to Roll 20’s, however, Beyond kind of advertises theirs more.
As per the usual, there’s all the variety you’d expect from all the gaming community in one place. You’ve got art, strategies, ideas and all other kinds of things that really punctuate the expansiveness of our beautiful band of nerds. There’s grognards and a few people who are a little green, as it were. After going through those forums, it was almost eye opening as to how expansive our community is.
Money! It's a crime, among other things. During my exploration of this topic, I noticed the word “cost” popping up more and more. Adam Bradford, the product lead for Curse, said a few things in a Reddit post (that I can’t link because I have the mental capacity of a cat (no offense to the Tabaxi)) that I’d like to quote here: “At launch, players will be able to access SRD content and build and view a small number of characters with a free D&D Beyond account. We don’t have exact pricing nailed down, but you will also be able to buy official digital D&D content… with flexible purchase options.” So translation: Get ready to pay for digital forms of the books and stuff you probably already have.
If that has deterred you, then you’re probably going to slam your head against a wall when I say that they also plan to have a monthly subscription. Whew! I heard that slam through both space and time, and boy, was it loud. I assume most the readers are in unanimous agreement that this is a bad idea. Bad is an understatement, it’s an abysmal idea. To my understanding this was the main reason the last app crashed and burned worse than my last date. *Warning rant ahead. Jarod’s nonexistent pay has yet again been reduced.*
Come on, WotC, does anyone there have even a lick of sense? This is already one of the most expensive hobbies to have and now you’re just tossing on costs to have access to basic content for an app that should’ve been made years ago. They’re breaking this up into “class specific” purchases. From the same Reddit post, “If you only play fighters for example, you’ll be able to just pick up the stuff you need to track swinging that giant two-handed sword.” Then he went on to say it wasn’t a microtransaction model. Really? Certainly feels like a microtransaction model. Certainly looks like a microtransaction model. I’m sure my wallet will agree once I have to punch in my debit or credit info as I willingly watch them rob me. Willingly. Watch. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s for easy and flexible content. Bradford even said it was for flexibility. However, we’ve been burned before, and this has the potential to not just burn us but to completely incinerate us. Why not just include some sort of product code in the book that you buy? That would make things easy. One purchase for both mediums. Don’t even get me started on that absurd subscription.
3) Character Sheets
To make things a little lighter, let’s talk about something they’ve made abundantly clear: Character sheets. They haven’t released phase 2 of the beta at the time of me writing this, but if I have the misfortune of having this posted on the day that’s released please A). Forgive me and B). Cast my corpse into the Abyss because that would drive me insane. Keeping track of characters is often not only a hassle but a danger. Many of my characters have died to a cool glass of coke as I am both clumsy and careless. Maybe that’s just me, but I know characters who have died to wind, cats, coffee, cigarettes and even in one case to a rather upset wife with a paper shredder. Obviously, computers, laptops, and other electronic devices aren’t fit to fit in a paper shredder. Even if they were, the cloud would come to the rescue.
All I can pray for is smooth, comfortable and stylish interface. I don’t really have to justify my bare minimum expectations for some aesthetics do I? Practicality would be nice too, but seeing their pricing model pretty much shows they didn’t have practicality in mind here. *sigh* I’ll reign in the anger. From looking at the teaser a bit closer, we can see that there will be several tabs for each respective character. Abilities,Skills, Attacks, Spells and one more that only said “Limited.” Perhaps for limited use items such as potions or scrolls. Maybe there will be limited edition content you have to freaking pay for. Deep breaths, in… and out...
4) Smooth, Sexy, Sleek, And Sweet DMing
If there’s one thing that Beyond nails, it’s what it was meant to nail; being an effective, quick tool for DMing. The quick access to and use of the SRD info is beautiful, swift and useful. Not to mention, it has that 5e feel that I’ve personally come to know and love. Really, everything on there is just instant, at the fingertips. Little to no paging through the books and forcing yourself to memorize page numbers. No more accidentally ripping your page in the $50 book and then wanting to join a cult to Orcus and start sacrificing the innocent to gather the necessary unholy power to make it good as new.
Honestly, D&D Beyond has so much potential it’s astonishing. The open beta is simple but elegant. However, this other knowledge taints that wonderful world where I don’t need to dump more money into this *Censored* hobby. But, I’m not going to yell at WotC anymore;I’m simply going to beg them to not repeat the same mistakes over and over again for all eternity.
Jarod Lalonde is a young role-player and writer whose passion for both lead him here. He’s often sarcastic and has a +5 to insult. Dungeons and Dragons is his favorite platform. Although he’s not quite sure if it’s Call of Cthulhu whispering to him in the small hours of the night, or just persistent flashbacks to the Far Realm.
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.