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?

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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

Mr Ali K

Villager
Right now it definitely seems like a context and memory issue. I tried several of the current AI models and as others have said, it starts off promising. If you create a cohesive prompt for a world you want to play in, then ask for several encounters with increasing difficulty the results have generally been passable. Occasionally you get an intro adventure dragon fight recommendation and when you point it out the responses have been "oh of course you're right, you wouldnt fight a dragon at level 1". Then the farther you get into things like mimicking a battle with initiative and rounds it tends to fragment and the AI loses awareness of details you've already gone over or rules you've told it to remember. I think we will get a lot farther once we can do things like create a character sheet and have it held in memory, but also be updateable. Same thing for rules systems. If we could say "I want to play using 5e rules, in a low-magic world, with lots of political intrigue, walk me through creating 4 pc's and start us off in a tavern..." and actually have it work, that would be amazing.
Hi WindyWoodPecker.

You've hit the nail on the head with this - Context and Memory.

We've been developing an AI based Games Masters Assistant to combat this exact issue. I've been playing D&D for over 30 years, and started playing around with AI tools about 18 moths ago when my old term Gamin buddy put together a proto-type and I was blown away at how it helped me prep for my sessions (We've both worked in Web and dev for years so tinkering with things is what we do).

Nearly 2 years later, we have a small Indie self-funded dev team building www.Lorekeeper.com. Based on what you've said, I think you may like it , and your feedback could really help the dev. There's links to our discord on the link, so DM me if you have any questions.
 

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Mr Ali K

Villager
My wife, who has a learning disability I think would get a lot of help from AI that can write location descriptions and help populate her adventures (she can do it by hand, but it can take hours).

As for me, there are times I want to do some solo adventuring and short of booting up BG3, this might be a tool I can use for something such as that - I've invested in several randomizer books for solo play, but something that can automate that sort of thing so I don't have to have a half-dozen tabs to flip between things would be appreciated.

Likewise, I've experimented with ChatGPT to get me past some writer's block in adventure design I've been doing for building my Secret City campaign. It isn't great at the moment for the likes of taking a summary and expanding on it, but it at least gets the ideas flowing and a fair editor to help me reword my run-on sentences and bad grammar. And point out any confusing blocks of text in my own writing.
I think this is spot on.

Personally, I've found using AI as a catalyst for creation, or a spark to get my creative juices flowing can real help. I found that it can use it can really help me speed up my prep-sessions, and get all those scrappy notes containing story ideas collated into something resembling order.

I've also found that the ttprg community is an open and welcoming place for people with a wide range of neurodiversity. Since getting involved with developing an AI tool for GM's we've found that it is often very well received by people with learning difficulties or neurodiverity issues. It's been a very positive experience
 

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