posted Monday, August 11th 2008 by
None of the Above
Wizards of the Coast last week announced the launch of D&D Insider a little later than planned. Fewer features will be available, but the price will be lower than planned. Is it worth it?
The online game table won’t be ready for some time, so the main draw for most will be the online Dragon and Dungeon PDF magazines. By my count you’re looking at around 132,000 words per month combined, written by WotC’s in-house staff. The former magazines published by Paizo gave us about 100,000 words, were written by Paizo’s in-house as well as some excellent freelance writers, and had the tangible benefit of being in print.
The next feature is the D&D Compendium, a searchable database of races, classes, powers and items. Unfortunately, it’s not indexed for browsing, making it useless unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. It doesn’t cover rules either, making it far less useful as a DM’s table resource. It’s also lumbered with a few outdated notions of web design like popup windows and an eye-strainingly tiny 8pt font.
The other tools available at launch are a simple points-buy calculator and an encounter XP calculator. Wizards also hopes to finish their monster building tool by launch; these are all simple algorithms you can find in the core rulebooks, but if it’s too much work for you these tools may save you some time.
Now for the price: A month will cost you $8, but if you pay a year in advance that drops to $5. By comparison, Dragon and Dungeon in print were $8/issue, or $8/month to subscribe to both for a year. Wizards aren’t telling if they plan on upping the price once the character generator and online gametable tools.
Right now you can hop on over to D&D Insider and take a look at the service for a free trial period. Try it out and see what you think.