back to article Dungeons & Dragons finally going digital

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 …

  1. AlexS

    You have entered a very dark room.

    You see

    * An orange turd

    * A may bee

    * A bunch of anti Brexit MPs who have voted for Brexit

    * An angry Scottish leader who wants to go North

    * A Fromage

    * An idiot who called a referendum once.

    What shall I do?


    Sorry Brexit is Brexit.

    What shall I do?

    1. kempsy

      You chant "Exit means exit" and leave the room. You appear in a dark space without a source of light and are eaten by a grue.

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Or a Deodand. Meanwhile a gaunt, shadowy figure with a long nose chuckles with satisfaction at having lead you on a fool's pilgrimage.

        1. jake Silver badge

          I can smell the evil Wumpus nearby ...

    2. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Wow, is there any topic no matter how unrelated you can't turn to politics. You must be a total insomnia cure at parties.

    3. WibbleMe

      Bugger off to Australia or Canada

    4. macjules Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Wel. obviously,


      And re Farage:

      A little dwarf just walked around a corner, saw you, threw a little axe at you which missed, cursed, and ran away.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Going Underground...

        Rumour has it that the rules to "Mornington Crescent" are going online two weeks on Saturday.

        - Mrs Trellis of North Wales

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Going Underground...

          Followed shortly by The Complete Annotated Rules of Fizzbin, no doubt ...

          Charing Cross

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: Going Underground...

            Charing Cross? Are we playing the LBW rule? Ok... let me think

            Down Street

    5. Chemical Bob Bronze badge

      Re: You have entered a very dark room.

      "What shall I do?"

      You shall head straight for the Betty Ford Clinic because if you see *anything* in a very dark room, you are high on drugs!

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Finally? I'm surprised as I wrote a Basic program back in the '80s to generate characters. I would have thought the whole D&D thing would have been online by now.

    From memory... "You're standing a round room. The treasure is in the corner." Proper answer was always: "We got the treasure and are leaving."

    1. Big John Silver badge

      Off hand I'd guess there was good money selling those huge dead tree D&D tomes in the past, but with the passage of time the profit declined, to the point where they might as well try something different.

    2. mrjohn

      The point here is the digital tools are being launched for 5E. There were digital tools for 4E.

      The rules for 5E were a result of play testing by thousands of players, with the beta versions distributed online, and feedback given online, the participation and response rates were phenomenal.

      The game is enjoying a huge surge in popularity right now, globally. It's come a long way since the days of "door on the left, door on the right, door straight ahead"

      In D&D flame wars are green flame wars.

    3. Richard Rae

      It's a mimic!!!!

      There are no corners in a round room!

      Rooky error!

      Mine's the cape with the +10 potion and the strips of 7 leagues

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's a mimic!!!!

        "There are no corners in a round room!"

        Except where the walls meet the floor.

        I'll grab the treasure and leave...

        1. CustardGannet

          Re: It's a mimic!!!!

          Surely that depends whether it's a cylindrical 'round' room, or a spherical one...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It's a mimic!!!!

            A spherical room. Well, that would be a...

            (•_•) / ( •_•)>⌐■-■ / (⌐■_■)

            corner case.

      2. Captain DaFt

        Re: It's a mimic!!!!

        "There are no corners in a round room!"

        How did you get into the room?

        Look at the door, there's a corner on either side.

        (Defining corner as the intersection of two walls, passage wall, room wall)

    4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Yeah, we had a prog to create Runequest characters, and print off the sheet. We had another program that generated character names (think we got that from 'White Dwarf'), I ended up with a Dwarf called 'Kuzmastesob'.

  3. veti Silver badge

    What's new?

    ' A “D&D Compendium with Official Content”' - Rules have been available online for years. Check out for the most comprehensive set, but the "basic 5th edition" handbook is also available, and that's just the official resources. There's also half a ton of independently-run wikis.

    ' The ability to “Create, Browse, & Use Homebrew Content”' - Or, as those of us who've been on the web more than ten minutes call it, a wiki.

    ' The ability to “Manage Characters - Build, Progress, & Play”' - OK, this could be new. Well, really you could do that within a wiki, too. But it'd help to have a nice template, I guess.

    ' D&D News, Articles, Forums, & More' - You mean like WOTC has been maintaining for years?

    ' Anywhere, anytime, access on any device' - A website. That's nice. Why did nobody think of that before?

    1. JLV Silver badge

      Re: What's new?

      As I recall WoTC were pretty clever. They open licensed their D20 system itself (combat rules) @ v3. Given that it's clean, elegant and nowhere as clunky as Gigax's 2nd ed, it pretty much took over all the alternative rule systems that had evolved till then. No more faffin around for 60 sec rounds to shoot 1 arrow for example.

      But the ability, for example, to create a character with DnD v3+ classes/spells/etc.. (i.e. content, not rules) is still firmly under their copyright. That's why you couldn't create your own DnD site or mobile app and that's why this announcement is news.

      A common alternative, Pathfinder, IIRC runs on D20, but with its own classes and content. But generally, all the numerous alternative systems like Runemaster/Harn/Dragonquest have lapsed. And the numerous DnD books seem to be selling well, esp with their frequent version upgrades (3, 3.5, 4, 5).

      1. MrDamage

        Re: What's new?

        2nd Ed rounds were 6 seconds, not sixty.


        1. JLV Silver badge

          Re: What's new?

          Your terminology is correct. _Rounds_ were 6 seconds. But _turns_ were 10 rounds or 60 seconds. And you attacked once per turn/60s.

          1. sawatts

            Re: What's new?

            "you attacked once per turn/60s"

            AFAIR the attack-per-turn wasn't ment to represent one swing of a sword (etc) but the net result of one rounds worth of combat. Likewise "hit points" didn't just represent wounds but also endurance.

            Of course AD&D wasn't entirely consistent - how would "endurance" help you survive a fall (and Fighters with more than 120hp could survive a fall of any distance). But those cracks in the logic just made the game more fun - less sterile than you'd get from water tight logically consistent set of rules.

            Anyone remember that if your character succeeded in their *first* perception check they where deemed "keen eared" and had a perminant +1 thereafter? Love the throw-away rules buried in the reams of text in the DMG or PHB...

            1. JLV Silver badge

              Re: What's new?

              >but the net result of one rounds worth of combat


              Which is why I talked about arrows instead. You shot, and used "ammo" for, _2_ in 60 secs (1 was my bad).

              FFS how would you Rosbeef ever beat us noble French @ Crecy/Agincourt shooting 2/60s??? IIRC a trained longbowman was expected to launch 8 in that time.

              Don't get me wrong. I don't cheer for what WoTC did. I liked a lot of the alternative game systems. But I also recall that, within a certain mindset, many GMs would set about "correcting" DnD 2nd ed. Shorter rounds, more realistic rules. Game stores were overflowing with alternative RPGs in the 90s. French stores, on top of English-sourced, had Reves de Dragons and some others too.

              Not now, not anymore.

              1. sawatts

                Re: What's new?

                @JLV "Which is why I talked about arrows instead. You shot, and used "ammo" for, _2_ in 60 secs"

                Yep since arrows are countable this was one of those cracks in the logic.

                Like you say, my group(s) adapted AD&D (v1) rules to take advantage of the information in the rulebooks. Interestingly, we ended up with leather+rapier being a viable alternative to plate+greatsword for fighters, by factoring in weapon speeds and armour encumberance.

                Played AD&D (v1, modded) into the 2000s. Only played v2 briefly in the late 80s.

                BTW: In AD&D v1 I seem to recal "turns" where 10 minutes, "rounds" 1 minute, and "segments" 6 seconds. Easy to check when I get home.

        2. TFG

          Re: What's new?

          Nope. In 1st and 2nd editions, segments are 6 seconds (maps to 1 on an initiative roll), rounds are 1 minute and turns are 10 minutes.

          And they've been selling watermarked PDFs of all editions for years here:

      2. SundogUK

        Re: What's new?

        You have got almost everything here wrong.

        Gygax had nothing to do with 2nd edition. He had already been forced out by the Blumes and Lorraine Williams.

        You cannot copyright game systems - only the presentation of those systems.

        Pretty much all the alternatives, especially 'Labyrinth Lord,' 'Castles and Crusades' and 'OSRIC' etc, which all use the TSR rule sets, are all going strong.

        Versions 3/3.5 and 4 have not been updated in years.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: What's new?

          True. Gygax left TSR in 1985. AD&D2Ed came out in 1987. AND RUINED THE GAME!

          1. cray74 Silver badge

            Re: What's new?

            True. Gygax left TSR in 1985. AD&D2Ed came out in 1987. AND RUINED THE GAME!

            I'll take 3.5 or Pathfinder over 2E any day, but 2nd edition was a huge relief. It incorporated a lot of features that 1E and Basic had been missing, like skills, which turned too many of my gaming sessions into rules lawyer feuds.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's new?

      Thank you, you summed up my thoughts quite nicely.

      The D&D Wiki has been available for years & includes both Open Game content as well as homebrew. It's organized by edition, lets you discover all sorts of new & interesting ideas from fans BY fans, & do everything WOTC is claiming is "new".

      As for the character sheets being digitized, that has been available from fans for decades. From Excel spreadsheets to third party software from Lone Wolf Publishing's Hero Lab, we've been able to utilize our computers to build, manage, track, & even make some nifty character portraits using the Hero Machine.

      WOTC's late to the game & doesn't do anything new that we haven't already been able to do.

      *Sad shake of the head*

    3. ShelLuser


      "Why did nobody think of that before?"

      They did, but then concluded that you can't make enough money out of that.

  4. Deltics

    Point of Order

    I didn't see any repetition of an "Any Device" point. I saw a point that repeated the "any device" claim in the, separate, statement. Furthermore, I don't see how "any device" translates into "web app", whether any point is repeated or not.

    I can't access web apps on my FitBit Aria.

    For example.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Point of Order

      It might be a web app written in HTML.

      Or it might be an App, written in Java orC++

  5. FozzyBear Silver badge

    Sounds like it's a Portal of annihilation to me.

    I'm old school. Paper, pencil and splat book. Add a six pack of beer of choice, great mates and I'm set for the afternoon. We are have a house rule all mobile devices into a bowl, first to check or attempt to check the device buys the beers next time.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      >I'm old school. Paper, pencil and splat book.

      But can you sell a subscription to paper?

      A troll sits in the corner, smirking at you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @FozzyBear, re: devices.

      Our group just says the devices must go to vibrate/silent mode the moment you step in through the door. Anyone forgetting to do so gets something nasty happen by the DM; first person to check it during a non-potty-break may find their character suddenly getting eaten by the Grue.

      It was rather funny when the *DM* was the one to forget to do it & us players ganged up on him in character to totally Monty Python the session into a cocked hat.

      But I like your idea as well, I think I'll suggest it at our session tonight!


  6. Rattus Rattus

    "Famously detailed"?

    Sounds like somebody's never played Rolemaster.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: "Famously detailed"?

      Do you mean Rulemaster?

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    It ain't D&D without a tangible 20-sided die...

    Which ID's you as a nerd if you are seen playing with it in public :)

    (Mine is the Dragonscale Cape of Fire Resistance.)

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: It ain't D&D without a tangible 20-sided die...

      Nah, it's when your boss tells you to use your initiative, there's a rattle of dice, and a cry of 'natural 20 biatch!'. Strange how some frown on roleplaying, yet there's a multi-billion dollar industry doing it for grown ups in the form of management training and team building. Nerd spotting would involve a disembodied voice saying "role for initiative!" and seeing who goes for their dice..

      But for those people, it'll be interesting to see how the WoC version compares to existing stuff like Roll20, and how much it'll cost.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: It ain't D&D without a tangible 20-sided die...

        I'm pure old school AD&D, no bloody 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th editions. An initiative roll is on a D10 with a dexterity modifier for fighters and an intelligence modifier for magic users.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: It ain't D&D without a tangible 20-sided die...

          A 60 second round was divided into 10 segments of 6 seconds each and determined how soon into the round you had an opportunity to make a meaningful act.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It ain't D&D without a tangible 20-sided die...

            I hated AD&D 2nd ed but it was simple enough and anyone could learn it quickly. I hated everything from 3 to 4 more. But 5 is quite good.

            I much prefer either the super technical (anima, chrysomium games, etc) though more for theorycrafting than actually playing.

            in le middle Traveller, mechwarrior, heavy gear.

            Or the more light games FATE, Fiasco, Trails of Cthulhu/Gumshoe in the modern era.

            Stuff like roll20 has made gaming viable again for those with mates scattered around the lands.

            1. Rattus Rattus

              Re: Trails of Cthulhu

              There is only one true Call of Cthulhu RPG, and that is the old Chaosium rule set.

            2. TRT Silver badge

              Re: It ain't D&D without a tangible 20-sided die...

              Traveller. Now there was a game... I have a roll of +1 Gaffer Tape somewhere.

  8. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    Gawd that takes me back to my teens

    I am a 50 year old nerd.

  9. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    Please sir..

    They are not Rules, just guidelines....says so in my very very very old D&D (pre-AD&D) book

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Please sir..

      Box edition? Blue, red and black? Basic, Advance and Master?

      1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Please sir..

        Red, my box of special 'stuff'

      2. Rattus Rattus

        Re: Please sir..

        The red/blue/black boxes were post-AD&D. The old brown boxes were pre-.

        Unbalanced as it was (not that it really matters if you're there for roleplaying rather than merely simulating combat), I miss the old 1st edition AD&D.

  10. Kane Silver badge

    "We'll know in a few months just what Wizards has up its sleeves"

    Monetisation of its assets.


    Fluffy bunnies.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: "We'll know in a few months just what Wizards has up its sleeves"


      1. Rattus Rattus

        Re: "Ponys"

        Ponyfinder is a thing, you know. Though I hear Savage Worlds is actually a better ruleset for running Pony games.

  11. Roo Stercogburn and Lone Wolf's HeroLab successfully been doing this for years. WotC are late to the party with their own product :D

  12. Cobug

    Late to the Party

    This already exists, Roll20 offers this service for free already and has quite a large player base. On top of that they offer this for a huge array of games not just WOTC stuff.

    1. breakfast

      Re: Late to the Party

      Roll20 is pretty great for running a game online in my experience, but as a non D&D player the WOTC side of things isn't that important to me. Too much crunch for my liking, particularly if one is going to podcast the game.

  13. schlechtj

    Years ago

    WOC sold lots of content in the form of pdfs in the late 90s. But, decided it wasn't work their time digitizing skill the rulebooks for people to just put then on line for free.

  14. Stevie Silver badge


    Wizards of the coast just don't get how massively useful pdf versions of game materials are, nor how pricing them properly can avoid rampant piracy and boost sales of hard copy products.

    See Paizo's Pathfinder or PEG's Savage Worlds lines for the way to get it right. Core pdfs cost between 9 to 19 dollars, and everything you can get in print is available as a watermarked pdf. Most people I know want both. My latest purchass have reluctantly eshewed the hard copies because of shelf space limitations Chez Stevie.

    See Steve Jackson's GURPS for how to get it wrong. Every book costs upwards of 25 bux and there isn't a full range available. Result: Pie Rats.

    See Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu for how to get it desperately wrong. Overpriced unindexed pdfs, even on brand new products. Result: people staying away in droves.

    1. Sleeve98

      Re: Bah!

      i think GURPS was even a thing (and, as you say, "[got] it wrong") because of Howard Thompson's disappearance, which made the light and nimble Fantasy Trip a toxic substance to its own company. Couple this with Jackson's IP megalomania, and you get a contrived and failed "generic" system that just got worse with each genre it tried to encroach - and, yes, the pie-rats, who ultimately decided the same as paying customers that the thing wasn't worth the work that was needed for something that was supposed to be fun.

      And I don't think SJG learned anything from its GURPS fiasco (except to not provoke the FBI's ignorance) - it took Munchkin, and an OGRE resurrection (at $100 a pop - thanks, assholes! it was $2.95 in 1977 - still not learning, are we?) to bring it back from the brink.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        Notwithstanding the fact that the 100 bux Ogre is not the same game at all as the old ex-metagame version, and the fact that a better-made version of that pocket version was sold last year, I think GURPS died mostly because the RPG market is different to the one we had in the 1980s.

        I play and run a variety of games these days, but my unexpectedly hands-down favourite is the Savage Worlds based Deadlands:Reloaded.

        As a 30 something I'd have lapped up GURPS' complexity. 30 years later I want an easier learning curve.

  15. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Wearing my +2 Rose tinted spectacles of the Marshlands...

    All the automated stuff takes the pure fun out of rolling up your own character and maintaining your own customised character sheet throughout campaigns. In my mind, that was all part of the fun of D&D - alongside all of the books and very heated arguments as to which vague, tenuous and (knowingly misinterpreted) character specific modifiers we could get away with cheating our DM with to get a situational advantage.

    Great times and great memories. Almost 30 years ago now since I stopped playing :-(

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Wearing my +2 Rose tinted spectacles of the Marshlands...

      Played up until I left uni. That was 1990. Not played since.

      1. mrjohn

        Re: Wearing my +2 Rose tinted spectacles of the Marshlands...

        You should start again, I played in the 70s & early 80s and came back to it about 6 years ago.

        It is great way to relieve stress, because unlike real life, you can fail massively and laugh about it.

        WOTC & their players have developed a game which is well paced, well balanced & fun to play. Watch a few videos of Chris Perkins DMing live games on Youtube and you will get an idea of how much better 5E is.

        Disclaimer, this evening I will unleash flesh golems possessed by revenants on an unsuspecting party on a desert road.

  16. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

    Time to go be a Creep on the Borderlands.

  17. night-hunter

    GURPS digital content

    There is a lot, both created by SJGames, and by player creation. Check it out.

  18. night-hunter

    AD&D detailed rules?

    My group abandoned AD&D in 1984 due to it's inconsistency in detailed rules. Went with GURPS by Steve Jackson Games, and have been playing consistently with comprehensive DETAILED rules that -even with some problems- are hardly ever inconsistent between the various books and scenarios. Last Saturday, 11 March 2017, we again played in my campaign world -a YURTH variant based on the FREE starter adventure, Caravan to En Arris. And yes, we're still playing 3ed revised 33years later.

    1. Blane Bramble

      Re: AD&D detailed rules?

      See, that is where you went wrong.

      (A)D&D is not supposed to be a simulation of a universe that details the rules to cover every situation.

      It was intended to be a framework, with some standard rules that you could then use intelligently to cover other situations.

      Interactive storytelling.

      Not a computer simulation.

  19. ASH71

    Look up Tabletop Simulator on Steam. D&D has been digital for a while

    Will def check out the beta though

  20. RedCardinal

    they've missed the boat rather given that you can get all this stuff on Roll20...

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