13
\$\begingroup\$

I know that Dungeon and Dragon magazines will be publishing with the same regularity they were for 4e and feature much of the same types of content, but has there been any statements from Mike Mearls or from WOTC regarding what types of digital tools there will be to support D&D 5e?

I know a lot of players from 4e appreciated and loved the online tools and the support they gave.

\$\endgroup\$
3

4 Answers 4

8
+50
\$\begingroup\$

The D&D Insider service went unsupported and devoid of new content around 2014 and eventually shut down on the end of 2019

As Quadratic Wizard elaborated in their very well researched answer to my question about when the site existed, the service ran from June 6, 2008 till the night of December 31, 2019 to January 1st, 2020.

However, the website started to wind down about 5 years before finally being terminated:

  • The last issue of Dungeon/Dungeon magazine was issued in December 2013.
  • Technical support for the tools ended in August 2014, as Glen Nelson remembers. At that time it was also announced, that the magazine would no longer be updated.
  • In 2015 the Insider moved to a different URL, as Glen Nelson and V2Blast told us.
  • By 2017, only very few browsers actually supported much of the Microsoft Silverlight framework that supported the site and it took outdated browsers to access the service (see below).

Result for D&D 5e

Due to the shutdown of content updates in 2014 and the many problems with 5e technical content described by Tobold and Wax Eagle, it is highly unlikely that any 5e content was released via D&D Insider.

With the mounting problems to access the site with an up-to-date browser starting in 2014 and topping in 2017 due to the framework no longer being supported by modern browsers, there was likely no incentive to work on the site at all - including any 5e content.

Fate of TDT's 5E tool / dnddungeonscape.com

Wax Eagle told us about Trap Door Technologies, and GMNoob told us about the (then running) product beta on dnddungeonscape.com. The Beta page saw the internet before July 10th 2014 and was live since the week before September 29th, which is the date of the Week 1 Recap. But that was shortlived. The last working capture of the Beta-Site was October 27th.

On October 30th 2014 the project was announced to have failed, and the site was shut down on the night of 31st October to 1st November:

Today, we have news that is both sobering and hopeful. Wizards of the Coast and Trapdoor Technologies will no longer be working together to develop DungeonScape for Fifth Edition D&D, and we will not be releasing the product in its current form. The beta program on all platforms will be shutting down at noon (MST) on Friday, October 31.

On or before December 14th, dnddungeonscape.com became redirected to the Morningstar project on the Trapdoortechnologies page. In early 2015, the Kickstarter Campaign codenamed Morningstar had failed too. Starting March 2015 the company offered a product called StoryBook. The Domain lapsed around November 2017 and was soon to be bought by a crypto-site.

DND Insider only got an official successor in 2022

The death of those projects and sites didn't deter others to step into the breach. D&D Beyond started Beta in March 2017 as a project by Curse (then a Twitch subsidiary) and went live on August 15. In 2018, the site was bought up by Fandom Inc., best known as a wiki provider. Finally, this one site was acquired by Hasbro and given to Wizards of the Coast, making it the official tool since May 18, 2022.

In its way, DNDbeyond has become the successor to Insider, and in many parts achieved functionality and usability that Insider never had.

Technical background on Silverlight's death

The shutdown is arguably very related to the announced end of Microsoft Silverlight, on which a lot of the page's architecture was dependent. The first version of the framework was made in 2007 and in total it was comparatively short-lived, starting to be replaced by alternatives around 2011. Silverlight's active development was stopped in or around 2012 but Microsoft kept up maintenance and support. In 2015, the upcoming death bell for the framework was announced to come in 2021, giving ample forewarning. As a result, major browsers removed their plugins from at earliest 2014 1 until about 2017. The last plugin for a very outdated Windows Browser was finally made unavailable on October 12, 2021.

In some way, the death of Insider matches to the death of many Flash-game sites from the early internet: Both Insider relying on Silverlight and Flash-executibles lingered far beyond their framework was actively developed and carried on their duty.

Flash eventually died the death of having the plug pulled, very akin to Silverlight, though the latter had faded into obscurity far before then. Adobe finally put down Flash Player between January 1 and 12, 2021. It was in some way an act of mercy, as Flash Player had become a festering hulk of security flaws and shoddy programming over 26 years of maintenance - and was related to at least two windows updates breaking. As a result of the shutdown, a large chunk of Internet history have become hard to execute and research everywhere but China, but the death was announced long enough to allow the preservation of some parts.


Footnotes

1 - it is system-dependent when MS pulled Silverlight from Internet Explorer 7-8. The first systems that most likely could not support it properly in the first place lost access in 2014.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • \$\begingroup\$ Impressively well researched answer by the way! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 13, 2022 at 17:54
14
+50
\$\begingroup\$

The tools for 4th edition will stay online as long as people continue to pay for them. D&D insider will continue to be a subscription service for 4th edition content (compendium, character builder, Dungeon and Dragon mags) only.

The digital tools for 5th edition were being developed separately by a company called Trap Door Technologies (TDT). The website for those tools can be found here (note, this now redirects to a page that discusses how they no longer have a relationship with WOTC).

The tool was called Dungeon Scape and was briefly available as a beta that included only character construction, with DM content, and a homebrew tool set releasing later.

The TDT team had been updating their blog regularly and had announced that the pay model will be a free app (on web, iOS and Android), with content coming via a la cart or bundled purchases (prices not announced).

WOTC has not announced their next move on what the future of digital tools will be for 5e, but have indicated that they do intend to develop something...eventually.

Lastly, as we've already seen, they are trying really hard to make it so BD&D is all you need to play their published adventures (or your own game). We have the BD&D players book, and the BD&D DM's book. As well as supplements for each of their adventures that includes the monsters from the Monster Manual that aren't in BD&D. This provides a searchable rules set as a subset of the full game. (The Basic rules are basically all of the PHB rules content with a subset of the classes and spells).

\$\endgroup\$
3
  • \$\begingroup\$ A related Q&A: When did the Dungeons and Dragons Insider service exist? – Per the answer there, it stopped receiving new content in August 2014. As my comment there mentions, DDI moved to a new URL in December 2015 – but was shut down on January 1, 2020 due to the end of support for Microsoft Silverlight (active subscribers were informed in December 2019). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 2:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also, an update about digital tools for D&D 5th edition: Originally, there were no official digital tools owned by WotC. D&D Beyond launched in 2017, and was previously owned by a third party (first Curse, then Twitch, then Fandom), but they had an agreement with WotC to sell the official D&D 5th edition books (much like other digital toolsets Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds, which work with a number of different tabletop RPGs). However, in early 2022, it was announced that DDB had been acquired by Wizards of the Coast. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 2:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Slight correction: Curse was (while it owned D&D Beyond) a Twitch subsidiary, Twitch never owned D&D Beyond directly. Beyond was first acquired by Hasbro, WotC's owner, and then transferred to WotC from the main company. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 11, 2022 at 17:45
5
\$\begingroup\$

What Mike Mearls said over a year ago on Reddit was:

"I can't say any specific about digital tools, but we're 100% committed to making them happen. I think the easiest way to make D&D fade would be to mistake the core thing about D&D with the way it's delivered.

D&D has survived and thrived over the years because it engages the imagination and brings people together in a really unique way. It would be foolish to lose that by equating those things with physical books.

Of course, people do like physical products and there's no reason to stop those, but the reverse is also true - we aren't making book lovers happy by pissing off people who want the game delivered digitally, with a robust set of tools."

But officially digital tools for 5th edition, as well as the legacy support for digital tools for 4th edition is still "unsettled". Right now the only thing we know is that about 15% of the 5E Player's Handbook will be available as free pdf online.

P.S.: I asked Mike Mearls about legacy support for 4E online tools on Twitter and got an answer: "online tools will remain functional as long as we have enough people subbed"

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ See my comments on the top answer by wax eagle – DDI shut down on January 1, 2020, and there are now a number of different digital toolsets for D&D 5th edition – including D&D Beyond, which was acquired by Wizards of the Coast earlier this year. You may want to update your answer accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 2:52
4
\$\begingroup\$

The latest information we have is that D&D Insider will remain for 4e as long as there are enough people to support it.

For 5e, for now, digital tools will exist in the form of www.dungeonscape.com

\$\endgroup\$
2
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer has now become a bit of history. I signed up for dungeonscape beta, and had an account which I used several times, but I never found the site to be functional (there was a promising-looking page, but nothing on it could be interacted with). The site was closed officially on 31st October. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 9:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ See my comments on the top answer by wax eagle – DDI shut down on January 1, 2020, and there are now a number of different digital toolsets for D&D 5th edition – including D&D Beyond, which was acquired by Wizards of the Coast earlier this year. You may want to update your answer accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 2:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .