D&D General Dungeons of Drakkenheim & Lairs of Etharis: WotC Adds Third Party Products To D&D Beyond

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WotC has just announced that it is adding products from Ghostfire Gaming and Dungeon Dudes to the D&D Beyond platform. The products in question are Ghostfire's Grim Hollow: Lairs of Etharis and Dungeon Dudes' Dungeons of Drakkenheim (produced in conjunction with Ghostfire Gaming) which made over $1M on Kickstarter in 2021.

Ghostfire is often seen on the TTRPG Kickstarter charts and has been involved with multiple 5E million-dollar campaigns.

While material from Critical Role has appeared on DDB, this is the first time that something from a publisher without a visibly established prior relationship has been seen there.


Today Wizards of the Coast announced a partnership with publisher Ghostfire Gaming to bring two exciting new products to its digital toolset on D&D Beyond. Grim Hollow: Lairs of Etharis showcases twenty horror-fantasy adventures with more than 75 new monsters while Dungeons of Drakkenheim presents a full campaign set in a ruined city for players to explore created by the popular Dungeon Dudes YouTube channel. Maps, monsters, and more in these offerings will be available for Dungeon Masters to use across D&D Beyond, including full integration in the Maps feature available to subscribers. With these two additions and more on the horizon, Dungeons & Dragons continues to invest in its talented partners and the inspiring creative community and surrounding the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game.

“It's incredibly important to us to showcase the ingenuity of the D&D community, and we’re excited to share the love of fantasy roleplaying with more fans by bringing the Dungeon Dudes and Ghostfire Gaming to D&D Beyond,” said Marjory Laymon, Vice President of D&D Beyond Product and Tech at Wizards of the Coast. “This is just the first step as we’ve got even more surprises planned for next year as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of D&D.”

Grim Hollow and Drakkenheim really are passion projects for Ghostfire and the Dungeon Dudes, respectively, with rich worlds meant to be explored and have stories woven within,” said Ben Byrne, Creative Content Director at Ghostfire Gaming. “That so many new D&D fans will be introduced to them through D&D Beyond is incredibly humbling.”

The locations, maps, and monsters within these offerings will be available to all fans who purchase them to use in their campaigns on D&D Beyond. Players can add feats, spells, and magic items to their character sheets, choose a new background for their character, or indulge in crafting items from parts harvested from adventuring. Dungeon Masters can quickly reference more than a hundred new monsters, faction NPCs, and more in the D&D Beyond compendium.

Dungeons of Drakkenheim began like every other D&D campaign; as a labor of love shared amongst a few friends at the game table (and a small audience of passionate viewers!) We started this project as a way to express our love of the game and showcase a world filled with all the aspects of fantasy role-playing games that we enjoy most: a blend of gripping action and cosmic horror where the player’s choices matter,” said Montgomery Martin and Kelly Mclaughlin, the Dungeon Dudes. “The original Drakkenheim characters were built and played on D&D Beyond, and so sharing the adventure we created on the platform is a dream come true. We can’t wait to hear the stories of other players’ adventures through the ruined city.”
 
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darjr

I crit!
Darrington Press is Critical Role's publishing arm (or the one they used for that book, at least).
Yup.

My question is does the book note it at DnDBeyond? Is there a link back to Darrington Press?
 

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I wouldn't mind if they released the old books again like they did in the between times (between 4e and 5e). I wasn't able to purchase those at the time and remember thinking they looked nice.
 

smerwin29

Reluctant Time Traveler
On behalf of Ghostfire, thanks for those who’ve been supportive of this news. I started working there in January of 2021, and so much hard work and sacrifice by so many have gone into our products. With the help and support of our audience and fans, we’ve been able to keep the company afloat, and this is a huge step for us in reaching a new and larger audience, who I hope will enjoy our content.

I’m sure you’ll hear more from other of my Ghostfire teammates going forward, and this is a first step in what I hope are a series of big announcements from us over the next year.

Happy gaming!

Shawn
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
My point, though, is that WotC is in a no-win situation. One faction wants one thing, other group hates that thing. No matter what they do, WotC is going to be blasted.
Well, given their success they seem to have found the right middle path. You can't please everyone. You do your market research and try to find what will attract the largest number of potential customers. Its not the minority of very loud fans that drive (or should drive) the ship. Large numbers of fans can cause a change, like with the OGL controversy. But, ultimately, it is how many people vote with their wallets.

I wonder if the 3.5% rule (3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change) has an analog with consumer fan bases. Losing that small a percentage of consumers would likely not mean much to the bottom line, but it might be enough to change the narrative and reputation of a product to risk leading to a watershed moment.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I have controversial thoughts on this.

Adding other 5e publishers' material to D&D Beyond increases WOTC's dominance in the overall TTRPG hobby and they've proven they cannot be trusted to act in the overall hobby's best interests.

During the last (only?) D&D Community Summit I heard community members lobbying for WOTC to include third party publishers into D&D Beyond as though it was good for the 5e TTRPG community. I don't think it is.

It's good for those publishers blessed by WOTC to be accepted into D&D Beyond. They get access to a WOTC's large D&D Beyond customer set (that they bought for $145 million) with an excellent non-exclusive license deal.

It's good for WOTC who gets a taste of products they didn't have to write. They also get to look like good guys: "Hey, we're supporting scrappy independent publishers like Darrington Press and Ghostfire Gaming".

Maybe it's good for GMs who prefer to have all their stuff under D&D Beyond and don't mind letting WOTC vet which 5e published material they can buy there.

But it certainly increases WOTCs dominance in the 5e TTRPG hobby, and we know they can't be trusted to always act in the best interests of the hobby overall.

And what about those benefits for other 5e publishers publishing on Beyond? WOTC is both the owner of the platform and a direct competitor publishing on the same platform. Consider WOTC's advantages:

  • Other 5e publishers have to pay a fee to WOTC. WOTC's own products don't have to pay that fee.
  • WOTC gets to see all the data for sales for all products. Publishers only likely get to see their own.
  • I doubt publishers get access to direct customer data like the opportunity to subscribe them to the publisher's newsletter.
  • WOTC gets to decide who to allow to publish and who not to. They probably get to choose which products are published.
  • WOTC gets to advertise their own stuff for free. If they advertise products from other publishers, they're either being extraordinarily nice or charging them.

Publishing other 5e publishers' products on D&D Beyond makes D&D Beyond an even stronger gravity well for the 5e hobby overall. It hurts other publishers like EN World and Kobold Press whose variants of 5e almost certainly won't be available on D&D Beyond. The more dominant D&D Beyond becomes in the overall 5e hobby, the more we must trust one company to do what's right for the hobby. That's a dangerous place to be.

All of the control WOTC hoped to achieve by deauthorizing the OGL, they seem to be gaining with D&D Beyond.

Maybe for 5e supplements, but thats not the whole industry. As a consumer, I can say that when I run 5e, I'd be MUCH more likely to purchase a product if were available on DnD Beyond. I've spent a lot of money on Kobold Press, MCDM, and Frog God Game 5e content over the years. But I have to run almost all of my games by VTT, usually overseas, and I just can't be lugging books around. I'm also at the point that I'm tired of fancy illustrated PDFs that are just digital paper and not very friendly for running games digitally. I'm finding that a lot of content I've purchased is going unused because I don't want to put in the prep time.

So, yes, on the one hand, as a consumer, I would happily contribute to the consolidation of 5e content on the DDB platform.

Then again, my next campaign will be Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay using the excellent system and modules for the Foundry VTT that Cubicle 7 sells. Not a cent of my gaming dollars for this campaign is going to WotC. Not out of any political stance. I'm just buying what I like and what works best for me.

I think the big challenge to smaller publisher is much less from big, "bad" WotC and much more the trend towards online gaming. Its more expensive to put out good digital content than selling PDFs and hard copies. It might be more affordable if they JUST publish digitally, but with VTTs you have to place your bet on which VTT as it may not be profitable to even develop for the top three. But, that's just business. There is going to be winners and losers.

Sorry to ramble on, but Goodman Games DCC system is a great example of this in my case. I was originally planning on running DCC Dying Earth after my 5e campaign. But there isn't VTT support for it (and I would have changed to any VTT that offered solid support for DCC Dying Earth system and setting). Running it pen and paper with a VTT just for maps, wasn't practical or fun for me, and doing all the work to get it somewhat working in a VTT was more hassle than I wanted to deal with. So looked around at systems that had solid support in Foundry and that's how I got into Warhammer Fantasy.

After my Warhammer Campaign is done in a year or so, I'll see where the WotC VTT is at and where the Foundry Crucible system is at an move to whichever makes it easier and fun for me to prep and run and my players to play in. Where things are at now, I'm not even considering other systems, mostly because of online/digital support.

And I'm 50 years old and started playing in the late 70s. There is a whole generation of new gamers who came to TTRPGs with 5e, many who mostly or maybe only play online. VTTs and online platforms are likely to be the TTRPG marketplaces of the future. Publishers who can't adapt to that will be relegated to small niches in the TTRPG market. Publishers like Goodman Games, Kobold Press, and Frog God Games need to up their game and provide decent digital tools to compete with WotC, Paizo, and Cubicle 7.
 

Azzy

ᚳᚣᚾᛖᚹᚢᛚᚠ
Sorry to ramble on, but Goodman Games DCC system is a great example of this in my case. I was originally planning on running DCC Dying Earth after my 5e campaign. But there isn't VTT support for it (and I would have changed to any VTT that offered solid support for DCC Dying Earth system and setting).
Is the system in Dying Earth significantly different from the base DCC system? I as because there is a DCC system module for Foundry.
 


MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Is the system in Dying Earth significantly different from the base DCC system? I as because there is a DCC system module for Foundry.

DCC is robustly supported on Fantasy Grounds too.

I'm aware that there is a DCC system for Foundry, which I bought and tested. It would be great for bog standard DCC. But it doesn't support the new mechanics and classes in Dying Earth. I would also have to data enter all the spells and monsters and create the roll tables myself. That's on top of prepping the adventure material in Foundry. I was prepared to prep the maps of the adventures in Foundry and run the adventures from PDF, but all the system, NPC, and monster data entry was more work than I wanted to deal with.

With Warhammer, Cubicle 7 sells one of the best systems in Foundry I've seen. Only Pathfinder 2e has as good (maybe better) Foundry support. Also, they sell a good deal of their adventure material for foundry, all prepped. It was a no brainer. The only prep I have to do is read the modules and perhaps create a few battlemaps for combats that don't have battlemaps in the adventures or for ad hoc combats, where I want a more tactical rather than TotM experience.

The system is not perfect, somethings still have to be done manually (such as adding a subtracting fate) but it is a very well designed and thoughful VTT system. The best experience I've had with a game system in Foundry.

I haven't played WFRP since 1989, and while the VTT support attracted me to look, I'm really also liking the rules and lore. The adventures are bit railroading but their is plenty of setting material, and GORGEOUS and detailed maps, all prepped with pins linked to journal artcles with adventure hooks, that I have the tools to improve when the players inevitably go off the rails.

As much as I love the DCC Dying Earth setting and am looking to run it someday when I can run an in-person game, I'm falling back in love with Warhammer Fantasy and I'm glad Cubicle 7 developed great Foundry support to bait me into giving it a look.
 

caudor

Adventurer
I already picked up Lairs of Etharis and it looks great. Can anyone confirm whether or not Dungeons of Drakkenheim includes maps for DnDBeyond's map tool?
 

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