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RPG Evolution: The AI DM in Action

How might WOTC launch an AI-powered DM assistant?

How might WOTC launch an AI-powered DM assistant?


Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

We know Wizards of the Coast is tinkering with Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered tools for its multiple properties, including Dungeons & Dragons. But what might that look like in practice?

Interactive NPCs​

Large Language Model (LLM) AIs have been used extensively to create non-player characters of all stripes on Character.AI. It's not a stretch to imagine that Wizards might have official NPCs included as part of the digital purchase of an adventure, with the rough outline of the NPC acting as parameters for how it would interact. DMs might be able to create their own or modify existing NPCs so that the character drops hints or communicates in a certain way. Log outputs could then be available for DMs to use later.

There are several places today where you can create NPC bots powered by AI that are publicly available, although the DM might need to monitor the output in real time to record the conversation. Character.AI and Poe.com both provide the ability to create publicly available characters that players can interact with .

Random Generators​

There are already dozens of these in existence. What's particularly of note is that AI can go deep -- not just randomize what book is in a library, but provide snippets of text of what's in that book. Not just detail the name of a forgotten magic item, but provide stats for the item. For WOTC products, this could easily cover details that no print product can possibly encompass in detail, or with parameters (for example, only a library with books on necromancy).

AI RPG companion is a great example of this, but there are many more.

Tabletop Assistants​

Hasbro recently partnered with Xplored, with the goal of developing a "new tabletop platform that integrates digital and physical play." Of particular note is how Xplore's technology works: its system "intelligently resolves rules and character behaviors, and provides innovative gameplay, new scenarios and ever-changing storytelling events. The technology allows players to learn by playing with no rulebook needed, save games to resume later, enables remote gameplay, and offers features like immersive contextual sound and connected dice."

If that sounds like it could be used to enhance an in-person Dungeons & Dragons game, Xplored is already on that path with Teburu, a digital board game platform that uses "smart-sensing technology, AI, and dynamic multimedia." Xplored's AI platform could keep track of miniatures on a table, dice rolls, and even the status of your character sheet, all managed invisibly and remotely by an AI behind the scenes and communicating with the (human) DM.

Dungeon Master​

And then there's the most challenging aspect of play that WOTC struggles with to this day: having enough Dungeon Masters to support a group. Wizards could exclusively license these automated DMs, who would have all the materials necessary to run a game. Some adventures would be easier for an AI DM to run than others -- straightforward dungeon crawls necessarily limit player agency and ensure the AI can run it within parameters, while a social setting could easily confuse it.

Developers are already pushing this model with various levels of success. For an example, see AI Realm.

What's Next?​

If Hasbro's current CEO and former WOTC CEO Chris Cocks is serious about AI, this is just a hint at what's possible. If the past battles over virtual tabletops are any indication, WOTC will likely take a twofold approach: ensure it's AI is well-versed in how it engages with adventures, and defend its branded properties against rival AI platforms that do the same thing. As Cocks pointed out in a recent interview, WOTC's advantage isn't in the technology itself but in its licenses, and it will likely all have a home on D&D Beyond. Get ready!

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca

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So, you are comfortable throwing out something like that, but not willing to elaborate? Odd.

Well, thanks for the reply, I guess.
I am willing to elaborate, but it is against the rules of this website to take a thread in a completely different direction that the original post. And a lengthy philosophical discussion of AI, value, and meaning is definitely off topic.

Dire Bare

Fortunately, you don't need to!
True. None of us need to use art in our local, personal games.

But you commission art because you find that it enhances your games. You have the resources and willingness to do so, which is cool. You are not alone, we have plenty of artists offering commissions on this forum, and gamers searching for artists to commission, for artwork that will never be viewed outside of their local tabletop group.

Others pull art from the internet, books, and other sources for the same reason. Others use AI generative tools. Sometimes because they don't feel the same way about these resources you do, or they are excited about the new technology, or simply don't have the resources you do to commission art. Your hostility isn't going to win any of them over, that's for sure. But then again, you don't care about the average gamer, do you?

Personally, I won't support a professional product (like a new RPG book) that uses AI generated art. I don't have the time or interest to search for existing art online or to learn to use and experiment with AI tools for art for my personal games . . . so outside of art that comes with an adventure I'm running, I don't use much in my games. But I'm also not going to judge anyone who is unable or unwilling to commission professional art for their personal games . . . as long as their personal games are not semi-professional, like a live-streamed game. Heck, I won't even judge someone who uses AI art in a pro or semi-pro project . . . I just won't be giving that project my time, attention, or money. But then again, I do care about your average gamer. I am one!

Dire Bare

Frankly, I’m not cool with wasting that amount of money on a hobby, but that’s getting political.
Why not? What's political about that?

If you have the resources to patronize artists, what's wrong with that? Good art isn't cheap.

What about the amount of money some of us have spent on books, miniatures, terrain, and accessories? As long as we are taking care of our families first, saving for retirement, and all of that responsible stuff . . . why not?


Your hostility isn't going to win any of them over, that's for sure. But then again, you don't care about the average gamer, do you?
1.) No, not really, I don't because I believe most people are superficial consumers.
2.) The writing is on the wall vis-a-vis AI, so it would be futile to try and change anyone's mind. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle and I'm just going to watch the slide into mediocrity and hollow, vapid materialist/capitalist consumerism.

Thomas Shey

Legally speaking, yes, it is intrinsically different. I'll get to that in a second.

I wasn't talking in regard to the law. Laws can make dumb things or sensible thing that have nothing to do with the ethics of the situation. Current law isn't caught up with how to handle AI in all kinds of areas; the fact some people approve how it'll work in some places doesn't actually change that.

Sure. It isn't like human artists' work never infringe - the whole idea of infringement predates computers by centuries! The line between infringing product, and not, is a fuzzy one, and you have to start making weird "points of similarity" arguments to decide which side of the line a work is on.

However, we may not need this to make a case against current generative AI.

I'll listen to other ones, but that one gets waved around a rather lot.

You're looking at the wrong end of the animal. Don't look at the output. Look at the input.

The first (and possibly best) legal argument here has nothing to do with the details of the end product. And the music industry, in trying to kill Napster, did the heavy lifting for us already. And it is this: making an unauthorized digital copy of an artwork is considered copyright infringement.

And, long before the generative AI makes any product, even before it is trained, the folks trying to train it must make digital copies of the artworks to include them in the training set.

This is specifically why most of the early generative AIs were presented to the public "for academic use" - because academic use is usually covered by Fair Use doctrine, so that the training copy could be overlooked.

It is this act - scraping the internet and making digital copies of works as parts of the training set, that is a problem.

Again, just pay the darned artists, and this goes away.

I'd be willing to put a side bet that you could pay the non-public sources for a copy of each of their works per each training process, and there'd still be strong pushback, because you see all too much of the objections having only a little to do with the scraping.

Again, nobody asks how legal the copies of various music or art human artists use when teaching themselves to do their art, whether they end up selling their work or not.


Again, nobody asks how legal the copies of various music or art human artists use when teaching themselves to do their art, whether they end up selling their work or not.
This is a false equivalency that rests on the mistaken assumption that human brains work the same as AIs or LLM. You can refer to Dartmouth neuroscientist Peter Tse for an in-depth and academic explanation about why that that assumption is fallacious - although plenty of other neuroscientists and computer scientists have covered this shallow pop-understanding of the differences between brain and computer.
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