With appearances by Scott Nicholson! Bob Carty! And more! It’s actually a really good segment on Eurogaming, from Sunday Morning on CBS. (Let it preload or it may stop and start.)
When Wizards of the Coast began gearing up for publication of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition in 2008, they rolled out a series of videos that seemed to show the future of table-top role-playing. In this tantalizing glimpse, computer and conventional gaming converged, with the laptop taking the role of the DM Screen and doing all the heavy-lifting for character creation, number generation, and adventure building. The most impressive part of the system was the D&D Game Table, which allowed people to link up online for conventional, pen-and-paper-style games using a 3D map and set of chat tools as a virtual gaming arena.
D&D Insider does a good job of supplementing the D&D experience in ways both small and large. The core features are a Character Builder, Monster Builder, Compendium, and online editions of Dungeon and Dragon magazines.
The Character Builder draws on this data as it walks players through every part of character generation, from choosing a race to re-training skills. It even offers gamers things they may not have seen before by integrating races and classes not just from the Players Guide, but from the Compendium, drawing upon all 4th edition materials. This means you can create a character from of the more exotic races or classes that have thus far only appeared in the pages of Dragon Magazine, such as a Shadar-kai Swordmage. When you’re done, you can print out a standard character sheet and a set of cards with the details for every power and item associated with the character.
Making characters on the computer is much more flexible and fun than the old way. By placing all the information right on the screen, the Character Builder makes it easier to find the proper balance among all the different elements without a lot of flipping pages and consulting multiple reference sources. It even includes a shop where your character can buy any item that has appeared in any 4th edition source, which is nice, because otherwise I’d never be able to pine for a Rod of Flaying +6, which only appeared in issue #367 of Dragon magazine.
And speaking of Dragon, you also get a full subscription to both it and Dungeon magazines, plus access to the archives. Dungeon is a magazine specifically for complete adventures, and publishes several new playable modules each month. Dragon is a more general interest magazine, offering columns, articles, and supplements. Together, they add up to about 150 pages of new content per month. Right now, one of the more intriguing Dragon projects is a complete “Adventure Path,” which takes players on a single campaign from level 1 all the way up to level 30. About a dozen of the individual modules have been published so far, and each can be viewed and downloaded at the site. All of this content is viewable in PDF format and can be printed.