The November Live Development Update and Q&A from D&D Beyond went up recently, and product lead Adam Bradford once again delivered a robust discussion covering a wide range of topics encompassing the fantastic digital toolset. The latest updates highlights new homebrew background and feat creation, showcasing the Honorable Hood and Dagger Master content to illustrate how creators can use these tools. There’s also refined monster listing descriptions that adds compendium info, official errata updates and an overview of how the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything preview videos as well as new videos might be integrated further into the content on the site.
The most intriguing part of Bradford’s & Beyond monthly live segments is the peek behind the curtain at usage data collected from D&D Beyond. For November & Beyond, we learned more about what people are using the site for and how much time they’re spending with those areas. By far, classes are the most viewed content on D&D Beyond – roughly double the amount of views of the next highest area – spells. My guess is this has a lot to do with the release of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, which was available from D&D Beyond on Nov. 10. There’s a whole lot of awesome to unpack from the widely anticipated book. Everyone who plays D&D couldn’t wait to discover more about the new subclasses and magic introduced to the game.
D&D Beyond usage
In terms of time spent on any specific content, it looks like Appendix B: Gods of the Multiverse garnered the most, edging out Combat and Appendix A: Conditions by a slight margin. That’s interesting, especially since Appendix B is mostly tables listing the various pantheons of deities. Coupled with the relatively low views, perhaps a handful of users with an interest in the divine left the tab open on their browser too long?
Combat and Conditions makes sense to me. Those are areas of particular importance for Dungeon Masters, who need to adjudicate rules during play and those situations arise often in the life of adventurers. The data here is encouraging because I suspect there’s a lot of DMs out there using DDB, which extrapolates to a lot of DMs in general. D&D will always have more players than DMs, but I’d like to think there’s growth in the amount of people taking a turn on the other side of the screen. Being a DM is incredibly rewarding and not the Herculean task it may appear to be. If you’re having a great time playing D&D, go ahead and give running a game a shot!
DDB interaction improves experience
Going into the top search terms portion of the video, the takeaway here is the DDB team’s responsiveness. Several times, Bradford mentions how they can use this sort of data to improve the overall experience. For example, the No. 1 search term is feats, and he explains how this illustrates perhaps a need to make that information easier to find. The broader picture here is how usage and interaction with DDB ultimately improves the site for everyone. I read a lot of forums, Facebook posts and the like and often see criticisms of DDB based on lack of knowledge.
In my own experience, more often than not the functionality I’m hoping for already exists or is on the team’s to-do list. What this tells me is going to the site, using and interacting with it results in improvements. Don’t get me wrong – I cherish my D&D book collection and having physical books at the table is a big part of my gaming experience. But more and more, I’m discovering ways to supplement and enhance those experiences with DDB tools and resources.
Tools for players on both sides of the screen
For players – especially new players – character creation with DDB is superior. With content unlocked, players can see all of their options at every step of the way in a clear, concise format. There’s no need to flip back and forth through the Player’s Handbook and other sources for character information or options like all the races, classes, subclasses and spells available. My home group welcomed a new player recently and she had no trouble whatsoever creating a character for the first time.
For DMs, I can’t say enough good things about the campaign tools. Do I hope for more developed options to work with? Certainly. But even as they exist right now, keeping private notes and the ability to create tooltips plus public notes to organize player information is incredibly useful. Nerdarchy created a campaign in support of #PlayForWyatt too, inviting D&D players to add their interpretations of Wyatt Ferris using DDB’s character creation tools. We’re encouraging gamers to help this movement grow and we can’t wait to see what sorts of characters you come up with to contribute.
Cyber Monday – perfect time to unlock content on D&D Beyond
— D&D Beyond (@DnDBeyond) November 27, 2017
I love playing around with campaigns and coming up with new ways to use these tools. For the Curse of Strahd game I’m running, my private notes have links to playlists of creepy mood music, a pregame Tarokka card reading and reminders for myself during play like the random encounters. The sandbox Spelljammer game I run has a huge database of info for the players like the notable NPCs they’ve encountered and key information they’ve discovered about the long narrative arc. And my pie-in-the-sky megadungeon is a great place to consolidate info like all monsters living within (with tooltips!) including the homebrew Metroid creature I made using DDB. Playtesting these critters in the Spelljammer game has been a blast.
Future roadmap for D&D Beyond
Looking ahead, Bradford shared more information about one of the most hotly anticipated features of DDB – a mobile app version. The site itself is very useful on mobile devices already, with great functionality, but a dedicated app will certainly enhance the experience. Even better, the compendium and other content will be available offline! This is a godsend for players like me especially; my group meets at various places to play and when the wifi signal is weak or nonexistent it can be a real drag. Not just because of losing access to DDB though. I had an awesome playlist queued up on YouTube for the Curse of Strahd game but couldn’t play it for our session of Death House. Bummer.
I've been using it for a bit now and I'm excited to let everyone get hands on the @DnDBeyond mobile app soon. Nice to have all the books with me everywhere and looks great on the iPad or phone! pic.twitter.com/aJhjDWCbCq
— Adam Bradford💥 (@BadEyeAdam) November 26, 2017
DDB and community interaction
The rest of November & Beyond allowed Bradford to answer a ton of questions from the forums and, as he did in previous & Beyond streams and several other places besides, he gave away Legendary Bundles to live viewers. When Bradford joined Nerdarchist Dave for a live chat a couple of months ago, he generously handed out the awesome package of ultimate unlocked content to Nerdarchy fans.
Nerdarchy fans can join Nerdarchist Dave and Adam Bradford for another live chat on Monday, Nov. 27 at noon eastern on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel. Bradford joins the Second Timer’s Club with another appearance to talk about D&D Beyond, answer questions and – I can’t confirm this 100 percent – I would not be surprised if a Legendary Bundle goes out to someone watching live.
Come hangout live and learn more about D&D Beyond, ask DDB product lead Adam Bradford questions and, of course, stay nerdy!
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Nerditor-in-Chief Doug Vehovec is a proud native of Cleveland, Ohio, with D&D in his blood since the early 80s. Fast forward to today and he’s still rolling those polyhedral dice. When he’s not DMing, world building, or working on endeavors for Nerdarchy or his own blog The Long Shot, he’s a newspaper designer, copy editor and journalist. He loves advocating the RPG hobby and connecting with other nerds and gamers on social media and his site thelongshotist.com.