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 It’s also lumbered with a few outdated notions of web design like popup windows and an eye-strainingly tiny 8pt font.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.
The magazines also get content from freelancers, not just WotC employees (Off the top of my head, Ari Marmell’s done the Last Breaths of Ashenport adventure and the Codex of Betrayal IIRC, and Keith Baker’s done a couple different Eberron-related articles.
DDI is a waste of money, IMHO. We will all be able to get better articles, source material and creative “juice” via the RPG blogosphere and organizing ourselves into a coherent community. Software tools? bah.. come on! for real! anyone who is going to use the DDI online game table is in a niche market. If you want to play D&D online, then go play D&D Online. If you are like me and want real tools - PC/NPC generators, treasure gens, map software, etc. then… they need to change the GSL so that these products can be community developed. PCGEN, for example, blew eTools outta the water, if you know what i mean.
Just my 2Â¢.
DRAGON is dead, long live DRAGON.
I am still astounded that WotC has the nerve to charge for what little content is up at the moment. Not only have they missed a great opportunity by not having DDi ready when 4e launched, but the content they have up is not as good as what Paizo did. At least not IMO.
So far, e-Dungeon and e-Dragon haven’t been up to par compared to Paizo’s efforts IMO; many of the 132,000 words are what used to be free content on the WotC site (like Realmslore column). Not to mention the fact that WotC was clearly not ready to take over the magazines when they took back the license. Definitely less filling!
Wait, people still think they can charge subscription fees for a website?
You have to hand it to them, bravely moving out of print and into the cutting edge world of Web 1.0. Maybe they’ll have animated .gif images and a big ol’ “UNDER CONSTRUCTION” sign for the online game table.
I know a stack of Dragon magazines could go for bank on eBay, but something tells me you won’t get quite the same resell value on a pdf. That is if WoTC will even let you transfer ownership of the “magazine” you buy from them — depends on the licensing agreement, I guess.
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