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4E 4e DDI rules database vs D&D print books?

How will the DDI rules database effect your purchasing of D&D books?

  • It won't. I plan to buy the same number of books as before and still subscribe to DDI.

    Votes: 24 30.0%
  • I will just buy the books I really like and then use my subscription to DDI to look up other rules.

    Votes: 19 23.8%
  • If all the rules are there, then I am not going to buy books anymore, just suscribe to DDI.

    Votes: 2 2.5%
  • I am not going to subscribe to DDI, and I prefer to play at a tabletop with physical books.

    Votes: 17 21.3%
  • I am not going to buy 4e or subscribe to the DDI.

    Votes: 7 8.8%
  • I am still undecided and waiting to see what 4e or the DDI is like.

    Votes: 11 13.8%

  • Total voters


First Post
Originally Wizards of the Coast stated the DDI requried you to purchase a book to unlock iy on your DDI account rule database.

At D&D experience, Wizards announced a subscription to DDI includes access to the D&D rules database, which is updated with all game mechanics whenever a book is released. Basically, pay your monthly fee and get all of the rules for free.

Now, you do not get the book PDF. To own the art, fluff text, general advice and descriptive write ups, you have to purchase the books.

From my experience though, the rules are the most important part. By doing this Wizards could be discourage players using paper based books and supporting the traditional table top experience and game stores that support gamers coming together.

So, I am curious as the DDI rules database is looking to each of you and how you plan to use it.
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First Post
I chose the 'Buy the books I like best' option... which is all I ever did in 3ed anyway. My 3rd Edition collection is far from complete in terms of Wizards releases. I bought maybe 25% of their output over the years, based either on subjects that just inherently appealed to me or which I considered important to my campaign (Manual of the Planes et al), or on positive feedback from the internet on subjects in which I had a passing interest (e.g. Lords of Madness, which turned out to be brilliant).

Access to the rules database will be the perfect side-order to my main dish of occasional purchases, and is a move I heartily support from Wizards.

On the question of whether it will encourage people to avoid buying books, there's nothing really inherently interesting about a bunch of drop-down menues and feat names on a computer screen. They don't replace the thrill of collecting a lavish RPG sourcebook and putting it on your shelf... and at the end of the day, I think to many roleplayers the hoard mentality is at least as important as the game itself.

How many DM's sit around reading their sourcebooks between games? I'd wager, a lot (me included) and for those guys, a bunch of pixels and pretty fonts won't do the job. The fact that Wizards are making this move suggests they think so too.


First Post
One thing that concerns me is the divide between the book using games and the online games.

Groups using just online materials and the virtual tabletop are not going to go out and buy books, therefore they can only play with people through the DDI or on lap tops in a room.

Groups using the books only, can't go and explore the online games.

I would have liked to see WOTC do something like include a activation code with every book, and when you purchase a book you get your code. It unlocks that content within the rules database, gives you the PDF of the book and then gives you another 30 days credit for DDI.

That way, book buyers are encouraged to come look at the content. The DDI users need to buy the books for the rules they want (like expansions for a MMO). Players have incentives to stay up on the phsyical content (it gives them free online access) and piracy is discouraged.

Also, the code could unlock the material in the product for your account. So if you buy a module, that code gives you all of the material to run the module in the virtual tabletop.

I think WOTC is missing the boat on this one. I think the end result is going to be some people buying books as before, a whole bunch buying less books but subscribing online and then some buying no books at all. I think this is mostly a move by WOTC to push people to try the (until now) lack luster sounding DDI.


First Post
I don't think it'll matter. The people who buy the books will buy them anyway, the people who only get DDI wouldn't have bought the books in the first place, they'd just download the SRD or obtain them through nefarious means. In the end, WOTC gets a constant cash flow from cheap yearly subscriptions in a global market plus book and mini sales AND, to top it off, they just might win back some consumer loyalty that was lost with 3.5.

On top of all that, there's the slow push all media has been feeling to reduce paper useage. If books become more unpopular, which they want because printing is a headache, they're poised to take advantage of internet distribution.


First Post
When i play, i do not like to be slave to Internet or PC ... so i will always go for books ... good old reliable books .. and my eyes will be happy, too ...


First Post
Najo said:
I would have liked to see WOTC do something like include a activation code with every book, and when you purchase a book you get your code. It unlocks that content within the rules database, gives you the PDF of the book and then gives you another 30 days credit for DDI.
I'm guessing that one of the big flaws with this idea - which I did hear them bandying about at some point - is that it's impossible to keep the activation codes secure without shrinkwrapping the books, and I know a lot of people (including myself) who won't buy RPG books unless they can thumb through them first in the store.

It's not like it's computer software, after all. How many people buy books (apart from college textbooks) that they haven't had the chance to flip through? Not many.

Majoru Oakheart

Najo said:
I would have liked to see WOTC do something like include a activation code with every book, and when you purchase a book you get your code. It unlocks that content within the rules database, gives you the PDF of the book and then gives you another 30 days credit for DDI.
WOTC said at DDXP that the reason they are not going this route is a technical one. They want DDI subscribers to be able to post characters online and have everyone see them(presumably on the personal pages of Gleemax) and that their database kept trying to assess whether or not anonymous people on the internet had purchased the books in order to show them the full description of the feats on the character. Which it couldn't do because they weren't logged into DDI. Plus, when DDI subscribers were trying to view a character which was made using a feat from one book they didn't have, how would that work?

Plus, I got the impression that creating unique codes that could only be added to one account ever that stayed secret without shrink wrapping all the books was an issue as well.

So, they solved this simply by giving ALL users, even anonymous ones access to all the feat, power, and class lists in the Rules Database and all logged in, registered DDI users full access to everything.

Keep in mind, however, that from the way that the Rules Database was described it still doesn't negate the need for books. It sounds like it will allow you to search for, say, all feats from X books or all feats starting with S. It won't, however, give you the descriptive text at the beginning of X book explaining how Divine Feats or Reserve Feats work.

It might allow you to select Swordmage as a class, and it will fill in the class features on the character sheet. It likely will list class features like: "+1 to hit X monster" rather than "+1 to hit X monster, and it increases to +2 at 11th and +3 at 21st". It's likely to just fill in the numbers based on the level of your character.

You MIGHT be able to look up the stat block for a creature, but you probably won't get its descriptive text and the like.

I mean, it's possible it tells you everything, but it sounds more like a rules catalog than a full copy of the book.

Brown Jenkin

First Post
They have said it won't have the art or the fluff but it will have all the rules. To me that means the same amount of info as is currently in the SRD. If it does not have that level of info then it is worth a whole lot less. As for the art and fluff, I could care less about the art and I am actively disliking the new fluff so this is a good thing to me.

Walking Dad

First Post

Firevalkyrie said:
To me, analysis and example are just as important as the literal rules, so I will certainly be buying the books that interest me.

Where can I get those Wizard Books with analysis and example? ;)


I'll have to see what it all looks like -- books, pdfs, and database. I'm currently planning on grabbing a one-year DDI subscription up front. I spent about half that on PCGen datasets that never quite got the rules right and only served me for about a year. If I can get a 4e chargen, dungeon mapper, and quick-reference that serves me for a year, it'll be a fair upgrade. After that first year, I'll see what the competition looks like.

If the pdfs are cheaper than the books, I might consider going primarily digital for 4e. If there is a way to get pdfs at a steep discount once you've bought the dead tree, that's a sale for any book I do buy.

But, I'm also leaning towards going pretty light-weight for 4e, too. I'm one of the people who ended up with too many supplements for 3e, so I'm inclined to be picky in 4e. It's conceivable that I'll be a minimalist, but get the DDI. That way, if any of my players ends up getting "Complete Arcane, volume 36", I'll be able to reference (and, therefore, permit) the crunch on their characters without additional overhead. If I really need to know the fluff, context, or whatever is in the book, I can always borrow it. That way, I can spend my money on DM-oriented books.

That's all speculation, though. I honestly won't know what I'm purchasing until I see the quality and utility of my options.

Jan van Leyden

A rules database is next to useless as source of first-hand information. It might be a decent tool for referencing rules during play - which I don't do because I don't have a laptop and the computer is too far away from the gaming table.

A well done electronic version of the books would be much more useful due to the context of the rules, but I'm sure that those offerings will not be well done.

For me to invest a substantial amount of money into additional electronic versions, they'll have to be easily researchable, thoroughly hyperlinked and set in landscape format instead of portrait.

The other perks of DDI are not worth 10-15$ for me.

Virtual Game Table? I prefer playing at my living room table. If I'd want to try it out as a player, I'd rather buy the 24h-tickets.

Character Visualizer? See the first point. To build a character model for printing it out in a character sheet would be a tiny, additional perk.

Character Creator? E-tools II for rent instead of purchase, anyone? I really want to see a positive track record with this before I consider it an asset.

Dungeon & Dragon? 160 pages of PDFs hold no value for me. It would take more time to read it on-screen than I'm willing to spend. I'll rather buy the annual "Best ofs" of these magazines should they be published.

DM Tools? These could be cool^H^H^H^H very usefull, but as I'm running only 2-3 sessions per month, the cost is too high. Sell me this for 30$ instead!

So no, it looks like I'll keep playing a traditional game with no more computer assistance than today. Several months ago I was enthusiastic concerning this initiative, today I'm very pessimistic - and have sworn to better control my spending habits. :mad:

I'm looking very much forward to a public beta or a free test-run of DDI, nevertheless.


Jan van Leyden

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