Dungeons and Dragons only continues to become more and more popular. The tabletop game’s fifth edition has seen record sales, helped along by shows like Stranger Things and Critical Role. The game certainly has some flaws but its open source nature has helped to make it many players first foray into the tabletop RPG genre. As more and more players continue to move their campaigns into the digital space, the lack of an official virtual tabletop becomes more and more noticeable. Dungeons and Dragons deserves its own, official, dedicated virtual tabletop.
There are already a few options for players who want to keep their campaigns running in a post-Covid world, and virtual tabletops had a big year last year as a result. Many players find the virtual space a more manageable way to play DnD and it allows for players across the world to join in adventures together in ways that were unprecedented in the genre. Because of this, the trend is likely to continue into the future and it seems more and more strange that Wizards of the Coast has yet to announce plans for an official DnD virtual tabletop.
For most of the history of virtual tabletops, or VTTs, players and DMs have been restricted to a few options. The biggest names in the space as it relates to DnD specifically are Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds. More options have cropped up in recent years like Foundry and Tabletop Simulator have given players some new choices for which VTT to choose. Unfortunately for the latter two, official endorsement by DnD can hamstring those platforms in regards to playing DnD. This is not to say that all of these platforms don’t have merits. The wide berth of RPG games and systems available across these VTTs is staggering and truly a testament to the dedication of their developers. But with its nearly uncontested place at the top of the TTRPG genre, DnD needs to create its own dedicated virtual space.
Wizards of the Coast has already gone a long way to supporting their players and DMs who choose to use VTTs. They have partnered with Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds to bring their official content to the platforms, and have done so with more and more immediacy. The newly announced Candlekeep Mysteries is an anthology of short adventures aimed at new DMs and players and will release day and date for Roll20 and their official online toolset DnD Beyond. This is good news for players who have already invested their money into Roll20 as their go-to platform for playing and creating their campaigns. DnD Beyond is in itself, however, a very useful tool.
DnD Beyond has been out since 2017 and has become one of the most useful tools for DnD players both in person and online. It is an official compendium of rulesets, sourcebooks, adventures, and other content that also boasts a robust system for DMs to create their own unique content. It can be very useful for players embarking on their first DnD campaign as well, as it is a succinct way to organize what would otherwise be pages full of information. DnD Beyond could serve as a good framework for creating the official DnD VTT.
One part of why its hard for players to decide whether to use Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, DnD Beyond, or some combination of them is simple, money. Investing into online resources can quickly become expensive and players who prefer physical copies of sourcebooks are still required to purchase the same content twice if they wish to use it online, even on the official DnD Beyond. As arguably the most popular TTRPG, an official VTT built off of the framework of DnD Beyond could help solidify players’ expenditures and allow for one platform to meet all of their needs. After all, purchasing every sourcebook required to have access to all of the subclasses available to players can easily cost up to $150 or more. Doubling down on their successes with an official DnD virtual tabletop could go along way to helping the franchise capitalize on the future.
Candlekeep Mysteries releases March 16, 2021 in both physical and digital formats.