Two big pieces of Dungeons and Dragons news released this week.
First was the announcement of D&D Beyond, a digital toolset for use with D&D 5e. They are partnering with Curse to offer an online rules compendium, character builder, and digital character sheet populated with official D&D content.
This is good news for D&D fans who have long lamented that official D&D 5e content has come slowly to popular digital RPG tools like Roll20 and Hero Lab. But little other information has been released and although you can sign up for the beta, even that isn’t into the wild.
The second piece of D&D news this week is the discovery of several ISBN numbers that are populated on Amazon but don’t yet have names or product descriptions.
All we have for now are release dates and a suggested MSRP. There are four such products that have been discovered:
- RPG Accessory #1: Release date of October 17, 2017 with a price of $24.95
- RPG Accessory #2: Release date of September 19, 2017 with a price of $19.95
- RPG Accessory #3: Release date of July 18, 2017 with a price of $14.95
- RPG Accessory #4: Release date of June 20, 2017 with a price of $9.95
Hard core D&D fans will remember that the last time an ISBN was discovered on Amazon, it was codenamed “Labyrinth” and turned out to be the Tales from the Yawning Portal product.
D&D Beyond Digital Toolset and Upcoming D&D Products
The above are the facts that we have at this moment. But this is the internet, so it’s almost irresponsible to not speculate on what they may mean.
There is reason for skepticism on the digital products. I got immediately excited when I watched the trailer for D&D Beyond, as I’d love to have an easy to use character creator on my iPad. (I currently use Hero Lab, which is robust but has a clunky design.)
But Wizards of the Coast has a rocky track record when it comes to digital tools. Their last success was during D&D 4e, which was before our current digital landscape that carries an assumption of seamless cross-platform switching between phones, tablets, and laptops.
But the new WotC CEO is an old Microsoft guy who sounds committed to digital.
Why partner with Curse and not use your newly formed in-house studio? The obvious answer is this has been in the works for a while and the WotC studio was only announced in January. The cynical answer is that the WotC studio will work only with Magic the Gathering because there is more money in that.
But the last D&D digital partnership ended badly and left D&D fans frustrated and disappointed. One would hope they chose a partner much more carefully this time, as it will need an impressive launch to rebuild goodwill.
Still, lots to be excited here, even if we need to take a “believe it when we see it” approach.
And what of the physical products? The price points are clear that these are not books. D&D adventures and source books have a typical MSRP of $49.95 or close to it. Items priced between $9.95 and $24.95 indicate something else entirely.
D&D head Mike Mearls took a poll several months back. It asked D&D players about the types of products they would be interested in. Among the accessory options were cardboard pawns and various map products.
We don’t know how the official poll turned out, but we do know that Mearls and Co. are taking a very data driven approach to D&D products. And the price points would certainly be indicative of something like a flip map.
Paizo already creates a full line of RPG accessories for their Pathfinder RPG and WotC partners with Gale Force 9 for a few items like spell cards. It only makes sense that WotC would create some accessory products in house if they thought there was money to be made on them. I know I’ll probably buy them.
Regardless, a week were both digital and new D&D physical products are announced is a good week. We don’t know much yet, other than we want both.
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