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Sell me on D&D Beyond

Burnside

Explorer
I was quite skeptical and resistant. I'm now totally converted and an enthusiastic fan. Please note that I'm speaking mostly as a DM here.

It's very cost-effective, circumstantially, if you go all-in. I have the high-end subscription, which has content sharing. I DM for three groups. Most of my players do not own the books (some are students and really can't afford them). With content sharing turned on for all three campaigns, 16 people have legal, complete, free access to literally every 5E book.

I also have the "total package" for content (or whatever it's called) which not only gives you a huge discount when you initially purchase it, but also a 15% discount on all future products as they become available - a discount which stacks with other codes (such as the ones announced on Critical Role). As a result, I basically got 4 or 5 of the books completely free.

Yes, I bought digital copies of some books which I already owned in hardcover. Just as I don't expect to be issued a copy of Star Wars in every possible medium simply because I bought in on VHS in the early 90s, I also don't expect to be given a free digital copy in 2018 of the Player's Handbook I bought in hardcopy three years before this platform existed. But I own MKT and WDH only on DNDBeyond and will likely never buy them in hardcopy (same with Ravnica and UoMM). DNDBeyond is the cheapest way to legally buy the content, and you get access to it on launch day (same day as FLGS).

Ease-of-use. I DM three campaigns and play in a fourth. None are at my apartment. i now no longer have to haul half a dozen hardcover books to all of these games; just my laptop. Also, cross-referencing rules and stats is just a matter of mousing over a hotlink instead of flipping through multiple sections of multiple books. In a complicated adventure this is a huge benefit as a DM. Also, I live in an apartment in NY and it's just generally space-saving not to have to have all the books.

The character sheet. DNDBeyond's exportable printable PDF character sheet was terrible initially, but it's now much improved. It STILL doesn't have some of the virtues of the 3rd party free products it DMCA'd (MPMB's spell sheet is still much better than the DNDBeyond version, for example) but they're getting there and I find the current version quite usable at the table.

What they should do:
- Keep improving the character sheet.
- Partner with DMsGuild to sell DMsGuild adventures & other content formatted for DND Beyond
- Add a sub-based VTT component (currently, if you run games on VTT, there is really no reason to go with DNDBeyond. Just use Roll20)
- Offline support for character sheets
- Much, much better mobile app is needed
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
First thing would be for FG to have a mobile version so I could access my books away from my desktop. Next those books would have to be indexed and searchable in a way that actually returns the intended results. Finally, my entire library would have to be globally indexed and searchable.

I like FG as a VTT and for 5E I generally prefer it over Roll20, but a digital library and database it ain't.

I haven't looked at FG recently, but this is how a remember it. I think it is a better VTT than Roll20, but now that Roll20 has the books in a readable format, I think it is a viable alternative to both FG, DDB, and the physical books. It isn't the best the VTT and it isn't the best digital-books, but have a decent VTT and e-reader in one platform may make it the more economical and convenient choice for many.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
[MENTION=6910340]Burnside[/MENTION] - wish I could multi-click XP for your post. You've summed up my experiences better than I did above.

What they should do:
- Keep improving the character sheet.
Yes. For the PDF export, I wish they would get away from the official format and come up with something more readable and usable. Hero Labs does a great job presenting info with checkboxes for consumables and daily / per-rest powers. They also need AL support. The fact that I create my characters in BOTH DDB and HeroLab so I can print in HL's format does not make for a good endorsement of DDB. BUT I *MUCH* prefer the new *digital* character sheet on DDB, so much so that I prefer using it during play over pen and paper, which is a huge departure from long-held preferences and prejudices regarding using electronic devices at the table.

I would also be nice if there was some panel view for the DM of all of the characters in the campaign AND if that would sync effects and hitpoints. Basically a networked combat tracker.

- Partner with DMsGuild to sell DMsGuild adventures & other content formatted for DND Beyond
[/QUOTE

Yes. And with EN5sider and with Kobold Press, Frog God Games, Critical Role, and other content creators.

- Add a sub-based VTT component (currently, if you run games on VTT, there is really no reason to go with DNDBeyond. Just use Roll20)
I might start using a VTT and I already have the material in DDB. So I don't want to buy it again with Roll20. I don't see DDB coming out with their own VTT soon. But it does look like they are working on ways to integrate it with Twitch for streaming. I would think that they would then need to partner with some VTT provider or at least have some basic VTT functionality. Streamers are going to want to display battle-maps and have some of the basic conveniences of VTT. I would hope that Curse would just buy Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds and focus development on integrating it with their content and with Twitch.

- Offline support for character sheets
Yes, at least we know that this is a priority.

- Much, much better mobile app is needed
This is the only point that I disagree with. I think that the mobile app is excellent for reading, browsing, and searching the books. Better than the Web site. But it doesn't support the character sheets yet. So from that perspective, I guess I would agree. It would be nice if the mobile app mirrored all the functionality of the Web site.
 

lkj

Explorer
I think whether it is a good investment depends on your intended use.

I recently joined a game at work. I turned to D&D Beyond to see if I might like to use it for character management.

It is a PHB-only game. I have a hill dwarf cleric, War domain. Simple stuff, really. And I find... I have to pay $30 bucks for the PHB content when all I really need is the War domain? No, thanks. Not worth it. I have working pencils and a PHB.

In general, that's my problem with it. I've got dead tree versions of the stuff I want. I am not on board with rebuying it in a different format unless I'm going to use the heck out of that format.
Couple of things here:

1) As someone else pointed out, you can just buy the war domain for a couple bucks. And that cost will be deducted against the total price of the book for you if you ever decide you want to buy the whole thing. (In other words, you'll never pay more than the full price of the book to get all the book's content, even if you've bought things piecemeal to start with)

2) This doesn't take into account the content sharing if you buy a subscription. For a few bucks a month, everyone in the campaign has access to everything that has been bought by anyone in the campaign. So, only one person has to buy the PH to make it available to everyone. Etc.

Note: Not knocking your decision. Whether it's worth it really depends on your particular situation and preferences. Just thought it was worth pointing out that the pricing is more flexible than everyone having to 're-buy' all their books digitally. There's a nice thread on their forum which breaks it down.

My two cents-- The rules reference capability (looking things up during the games) is awesome. I use it all the time. It's fast. I can use it on my phone, desktop, or tablet and it's much more capable than a physical book or pdf. Since the character sheet revamp, the character sheets are very useful. When we tried them out with my group, everyone became an enthusiastic convert.

AD
 

lkj

Explorer
Global Search Lacks Filtering: the Global Search is TOO Global. The inability to search ONLY WITHIN, say, the Curse of Strahd book really decreases the utility of the DDB version of the APs during play. Even looking up a rule can be annoying. If I look up, say falling, it will pull up every instance of the word "falling" appearing in any book AND ALSO in the DDB FORUMS. Usually, I want to limit my rule search to the PHP and DMG. DDB really needs the ability to limit a search to a specific book. And I really hate having forum hits cluttering my search results.
.
Actually, once you do a global search, you can filter the results by category by clicking on the big buttons (monster, character, compendium, etc.). It's not a fine tuned filter but it's pretty good for getting where you want.

AD
 

DM Dave1

Explorer
My core problem with D&D Beyond is that both the DM and players are online and browsing a website. It is distracting, and players (and the DM too) will browse and click and scroll all the time. And it's a pretty small step to open up a Facebook or Whatsapp, or quickly check the news. No matter how good the contents of D&D Beyond, it's on a screen, which draws attention. I prefer paper character sheets, and the printed books (which are beautiful, btw) when I am sitting around the table with my friends.

Playing an online game is entirely different, and I guess that D&D Beyond is great then, but I have only done that once.
Very much this. While I would consider D&D Beyond for campaign planning and character generation, I'm a pencil and paper DM. Two players use laptops at our table right now and it is almost like they have their own DM screens which take up table real estate and then they're getting dragged into who knows what when not their turn. Next campaign, session 0 will include a rule that players need to bring paper character sheets. One player at our table does use D&D Beyond, but so far he has been bringing printouts of the character sheet so it is not used real-time at the table.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
Used it to make up a druid for a game. Not really needing it for much other than a PC generator. You can't just buy all the stuff for an individual class outside of digging though and selecting all the individual elements or am I missing something? I've got the books and PDF copies for my tablet but this looks like a good PC tool. We will see how it works.
 

Mistwell

Adventurer
Very much this. While I would consider D&D Beyond for campaign planning and character generation, I'm a pencil and paper DM. Two players use laptops at our table right now and it is almost like they have their own DM screens which take up table real estate and then they're getting dragged into who knows what when not their turn. Next campaign, session 0 will include a rule that players need to bring paper character sheets. One player at our table does use D&D Beyond, but so far he has been bringing printouts of the character sheet so it is not used real-time at the table.
yeah I use D&D Beyond but I print my character sheet and prepared spells out in advance and bring just the print outs.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Actually, once you do a global search, you can filter the results by category by clicking on the big buttons (monster, character, compendium, etc.). It's not a fine tuned filter but it's pretty good for getting where you want.

AD
Doh!

Is this newer or have I just been abtuse? Looking at it now it is freaking obvious. Actually, this is fine for me. Better to search and tap a circle than have to select a source from a search form or something clunky list that.

Now the only thing I would like is the ability to limit a search to the book that I am currently looking at, though now I worry you'll tell me I can already do that.

I would also like a better way to access the table of contents of a book in the Web site. I find it easier to browse a book in the app because I can bring up the TOC and jump to a section in two taps, instead of clicking "go to top" and then clicking on the books top level link in the breadcrumb trail, and then clicking on the section in the TOC I want to go to.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Ever since I downloaded the Class specific character sheets from DMsguild I find my use for a character builder is greatly diminished.

I'm sure it's still very helpful, and I guess it could track encumbrance for me, but at this point I prefer to save the money.

As far as PDFs go they are nice but not nearly as nice as a cross-correlated library with good search functionality.

If I can search Uthgardt and get information from SCAG and SKT than D&D Beyond is already superior to PDFs.
 

lkj

Explorer
Doh!

Is this newer or have I just been abtuse? Looking at it now it is freaking obvious. Actually, this is fine for me. Better to search and tap a circle than have to select a source from a search form or something clunky list that.

Now the only thing I would like is the ability to limit a search to the book that I am currently looking at, though now I worry you'll tell me I can already do that.

I would also like a better way to access the table of contents of a book in the Web site. I find it easier to browse a book in the app because I can bring up the TOC and jump to a section in two taps, instead of clicking "go to top" and then clicking on the books top level link in the breadcrumb trail, and then clicking on the section in the TOC I want to go to.
I honestly don't know when it was implemented. I just noticed it one day and thought 'hey that's useful'. For both our sakes, let's just say it was recently implemented.

I don't think there's a way to search within the book you are looking at on the website. You can filter by source when searching for spells or monsters on the spell and monster page (not through the global search). Does it work like that for the app? Haven't done much searching there. Anyway, it's possible that sort of functionality will come with the source management they keep mentioning.

That table of contents feature on the website would be good. I agree.

Have you thrown this stuff as suggestions on their feedback forum? They do a really good job of keeping track of suggestions.

AD
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I honestly don't know when it was implemented. I just noticed it one day and thought 'hey that's useful'. For both our sakes, let's just say it was recently implemented.

I don't think there's a way to search within the book you are looking at on the website. You can filter by source when searching for spells or monsters on the spell and monster page (not through the global search). Does it work like that for the app? Haven't done much searching there. Anyway, it's possible that sort of functionality will come with the source management they keep mentioning.

That table of contents feature on the website would be good. I agree.

Have you thrown this stuff as suggestions on their feedback forum? They do a really good job of keeping track of suggestions.

AD
Other people generally already have and I upvote them.

One problem with the filter is if I chose "compendium" it includes Adventure material, even those I don't own. For example, try to search for "scroll" to find the rules for scrolls in the DMG. I wish they would break up the compendium search filter into "Rules" and "Adventures". At least they generally prioritize the results by rules before adventures, so the rules are usually sorted to the top.
 

akr71

Explorer
I have hard copy and dndbeyond copies, but I don’t use FG. I can say that the online search capability, along with the ongoing development around campaign/encounter management in addition to the homebrew creation/sharing functionality makes DNDB a good investment for me.

I play in-person games almost exclusively, so my situation may not match yours.
This matches my thoughts exactly. I have to date only purchased the core 3 books and only recently went the subscription route. I like having my phone or laptop at the table so that I can quickly reference a spell or monster stat block. The books still have their place, but being able to quickly search when I need to is worth the investment.

You do not need the subscription tier. I'm trying it out for a few months to see what I think. We are wrapping up a campaign and as we start a new one, we'll see if the subscription has any benefit to us. My wife has started managing her character on DND Beyond and quite enjoys it.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
While there are various pros and cons, options to weigh, YMMV, etc., the decision to purchase content on D&D Beyond basically boils down to:

  • Buy it because you would feel guilty about torrenting a PDF of the core rule books.
  • OR, don't buy it because you don't feel guilty about torrenting a PDF of the core rule books.
This would only seem true with a shallow understanding of what DDB provides. Having the PHB on DDB is strictly more valuable than having a PDF of the PHB. By far.

Like, I can't even fathom how one could equate them.
[MENTION=467]Reynard[/MENTION] DDB is better than other digital versions of the books because of a few factors.

1, Indexed searching with in depth filters

2, hyperlinks

3, multiple ways to find information. You can either open the PHB via the Compendium tab, or go to Characters>Classes>Official>Wizard, and look there, or just type in Spellbook, and scroll down.

4, easy access to what is being playtested in unearthed arcana

5, great way to tinker with homebrew, and maintain a searchable collection of it, and then use it in conjuction with official material.

6, mobile app. it's still in beta, but it already has offline viewing of the books, and will eventually have the full functionality of the service. So, even if DDB goes away, you still have whatever books you downloaded to your devices from the app.

Also, if you get the Legendary Bundle, it's all 15% down from normal amazon prices, including anything you ever buy on the service going forward. Also, if you just by the core books right now, and decided to buy the bundle later, they discount the bundle by the cost of the books you already purchased.

OH, and if you watch Critical Role, there is probably a discount code for DDB, or if not there will be one again soon. Last time I saw one it was 25% off. That includes getting the Legendary Bundle, which in case you didn't know, is everything punblished by wotc for 5e so far, including stuff like the Tortle Package, and the Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron.

I can't really tell you if the subscriptions are worth it, though. We're considering it, because we share our account with the whole group right now, and 6 character slots isn't enough, but honestly its not that hard to make due without. the service is fully functional and incredibly useful without a sub.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
I would also like a better way to access the table of contents of a book in the Web site. I find it easier to browse a book in the app because I can bring up the TOC and jump to a section in two taps, instead of clicking "go to top" and then clicking on the books top level link in the breadcrumb trail, and then clicking on the section in the TOC I want to go to.
This, and the format of the exported character sheet, are the two things I still don't like about DDB.

Which sucks, because I don't like having to open my phone in order to check my character sheet. I refuse to print double sided, as it is, because I find stuff faster if it's printed single side, so opening my phone and then clicking to find something is...not ideal.
 

guachi

Villager
The major benefit I've found to online stuff at the table (I have tons from dndclassics/DMsGuild as well as homemade documents) is for the documents I'm likely to rarely use and don't want to have a stack of books/papers on the off chance I need it.

I have no real need for digital versions of stuff I'll use all the time at the gaming table. Now, if I gamed in my living room and I had my computer hooked to my 55 inch TV I'm sure I could find tons of uses for digital stuff at the table. But I don't so I don't.
 

guachi

Villager
A second thing I'll add. When I buy a physical movie disc of a new release movie (and most current catalog titles) I also get a digital code. But as of last year, it's even better. Now your digital code propagates among a number of digital content providers - Vudu, Movies Anywhere, iTunes - when you redeem the code.

That's what I want with my D&D. I don't know how, exactly, it can be done. But that's what I want.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
A second thing I'll add. When I buy a physical movie disc of a new release movie (and most current catalog titles) I also get a digital code. But as of last year, it's even better. Now your digital code propagates among a number of digital content providers - Vudu, Movies Anywhere, iTunes - when you redeem the code.

That's what I want with my D&D. I don't know how, exactly, it can be done. But that's what I want.
If this model works with music and video, it should work here. As the competition increases, I expect we'll eventually see something similar. Already, it there is friction for me making a VTT decision. I've already invested in the books and in DDB that, while it would be nice to have all the rules integrated into a VTT, I have payment fatigue. I would rather spend that money on a new video game or board game or minis, etc. But if there were some digital code I could use to that would give me a significant discount, I would be far more likely to consider a subscription with Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.

If there was a dependable way to prove you bought a rulebook, then I could see someone like Fantasy Ground giving you access to that content on their platform with a subscription, if they can make enough money on the subscriptions to cover the licensing costs.

To some extent, Paizo is already doing this. Already Paizo has a payment system that VTT and other third-party providers of their content tie into. If you buy a book from Paizo's website, you get discounts on the PDFs already, and third-parties can give discounts for their versions of the content. Now, this isn't the same as full portability, but a discount across formats and across services is certainly welcome.

But, full portability is only going to work with subscription models. So this may drive up monthly subscription rates or require longer subscription lockins. Digital gaming material just doesn't have the volume of content or number of users to cover licensing costs under current subscription rates.
 

fjw70

Explorer
I love DDB. Since it have had it I barely touch my physical books. It is great having my entire library with me at all times. If I have some downtime during lunch, at the doctor’s office, or wherever then I can read or look stuff up on DDB.

I still tend to use paper and pencil at the table when I DM so I don’t have to jump from window to window on my ipad (but as a player I am fine with a digital character sheet). I will probably continue to but the 5e adventures to use at the table (some day I will get around to actually running those).
 

schnee

Villager
I own the physical books, and I don't touch them any more.

I use an iPad at the table when I play, and a laptop web browser with a bunch of tabs open when I DM, and it's made things easier and faster to find for me - I just create 'saved tabs' for any adventure or character and I have it all at my disposal.

It definitely has flaws, but I can live with them.
 

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