It’s been a fast four months, when Curse’s D&D Beyond opened its three phase beta test. So fast, in fact, that it skipped over one of its phases and released the last two phases at once. Now, in less than two weeks of the time of writing this, the full site will be released to the public. Here’s what we will get.
There will be three tiers of access to DDB:
Basic User Tier
The free basic user tier will have all of the content beta users have now, the free System Reference Document (SRD) content that is free to download from the official site but has been made searchable and cross referenced, as well as the character builder.
Basic users can only make a limited number of characters, and those characters can only use the basic rules options, such as only being able to pick The Fiend as your Warlock patron, and only have access to some of the magic items from the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
That said, basic users can create and publish their own home brewed materials that will be added to a public library on the site. Lastly, there is to be ads on the site that basic users will have to contend with.
The next tier is dubbed Heroic, which will be available at a rate of $2.99 USD a month, $14.99 for six months, and $25.99 for a year, and opens things up a bit. Firstly, and most importantly for some, you get an ad-free experience on the site proper, and you get to make an unlimited numbers of characters.
Additionally, you’ll be allowed to use the homebrew content published publically of others on your characters as well.
Finally, there’s the Master tier, which is $5.99 USD a month, $29.99 for six months, and $54.99 a year, and is as above, but also you get access to an campaign builder, as well as a encounter builder and monster progression tool, but neither of those two features will be available at launch. Lastly, you get to share content you purchase with up to 12 other users of any tier, so that they do not also have to purchase content you use as well.
Which brings me to one of the downsides of the site, the paid content. To gain access to anything beyond the homebrewed content or the SRD materials, one would have to purchase it. Your purchase does not give you a PDF of the materials, but just makes them accessible in the same interface that the SRD materials uses.
From a look at several community forums, people are loathe to pay for it again, even though they are at a much lower cost than elsewhere.
Sourcebooks, such as Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide or Monster Manual, will be priced at $29.99, and adventure modules, like Storm King’s Thunder at $24.99.
If you do want all of the books, you could go for the Legendary Bundle for $279.99, which is 15% off the price of the five source books and eight adventures and locks you in for a 15% percent discount for all other books you buy in the future.
If you wait, however, it will be more, as with every new book, the price will jump to be the total of all the included books minus 15%.
There is some relief though, as for the first week of the launch, an event called founder’s week, the core books Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide are on sale for $19.99 a piece.
Furthermore, if you only wanted a certain part of a book or adventure, like if you only play Sorcerers or all you wanted from Tales of the Yawning Portal was Dead in Thay, you could buy those files piecemeal. As of the time of writing this, we don’t know how much the parts of adventures will be, but the other individual elements are priced as follows: races are $2.99 each, classes $3.99 each, spells, magic items, monsters, backgrounds, feats, subraces, subclasses are each $1.99.
There are also bundles, like all the magic items from the Dungeon Master’s Guide for $12.99, and if you just want the content of the books without unlocking features for the character builder or any other feature of the site, you can buy the compendium bundle of a source book at $19.99 each.
Curse has built their Master tier so that you can have one person buy everything and share it with the group, and thus split the cost between the whole of the group. For a typical four person party and the DM, assuming the core books are bought during the launch week and only the DM gets a Master subscription, that’s $26.99 each person for the year, before you count in the pizza, beer, and Mountain Dew. That isn’t that much, but it’s still hurts.
With all of that said, the site as a whole is really cool, and easy to use. Abilities and spells are linked and if you hover over them, you get the explanation. You have a digital character sheet, including toggles for your once per short/long rest abilities and a button that will make whatever you regain on either rest available again.
Having monster stat blocks in an easily searchable way without having to switch books or pdf files made my encounter building so more effortless. I myself am intending to join at Master level and try to convince my play group to help front the cost.
There is even talk of bringing in other third party content, such as Kobold Press’ Tome of Beasts into DDB as well, which would be amazing. Eventually, there will be more features to the site, like a mobile app, and encounter builder for Master tier subscribers.
Though it has problems, I think all in all D&D Beyond is a great service. It cuts down on the problem of having to lug around all of your hardcover books, and really streamlines the process. If you were looking for a higher tech way to get together around the table and play the world’s most popular role playing game, this is it.
Do you agree with me? Will you be subscribing on Tuesday, August 15th? If so, at which level, and if not, why? Let me know in the comments below.