If you’ve done a bit of searching or you’ve watched the second campaign of Critical Role, then you’ve probably heard of DnD Beyond (DDB), a site dedicated to DnD 5E content. It contains many features and handy bits such as the following: character sheets, rulebooks/expansions, homebrew support (not full), full list of official spells, core classes, encounter builder, full list of monsters, twitch extension, Avrae bot compatibility, and more. At $2.99 to $5.99 a month is DnD Beyond worth it?
What does the free DnD Beyond plan get you?
If you’re like a lot of people who don’t like spending a lot of money on DnD, especially if you’re just getting started, then this is an important question to ask. And the answer is a lot.
When you sign up for a free account, you get:
Access to the character creator which contains a dice roller, a section for resistances, immunities, vulnerabilities, and conditions, an extras section for any familiars, summons, companions and pets you have, as well as sorting for your character’s info, plus the ability to export your character sheets to a PDF. Also can’t forget Fantasy Name Generators integration for your characters
The Basic Rules compendium which adds all the classes excluding Artificer with a couple of subclasses to start you off
The ability to create and publish your own homebrew content though you can’t use published homebrew even though you can look at it
The ability to see a list of all spells for a certain class or of a certain school, without buying the books, though you will need the books to actually see what they do or add them to characters you make
Access to an encounter creature which allows you to use ANY monster, even if you don’t own them though once again, you don’t get to see what said monsters do without buying the books
You can make a campaign with your friends to share your homebrew, organize your notes, and more.
The ability to post on the Forums, and even see stuff posted by others there.
Subscribing to DnD Beyond and getting more
Of course, for the price of free, this is quite the handful! But it gets better: If you purchase a subscription, you can create unlimited characters and campaigns, exclusive monthly rewards, use homebrew content within DDB and get early access to new tools for a Hero subscription, or pay a little more to get the Master subscription share all your unlocked official content to players in campaigns with no more than 12 players each! Plus, you can purchase all the official sourcebooks!
Generate an unlimited number of characters
Design countless encounters for your campaigns
Integrate community-created homebrew content into your games
Enjoy early access to the latest features and tools
Access exclusive rewards every month as a subscriber
Share your unlocked official content with other players in your campaigns
Problems with DnD Beyond
Now I love DDB as it really makes things a breeze and is slowly improving! But I have a few problems with it, which are as follows:
No VTT, so you need to use it for in-person games, ToM games, or find another VTT like Roll20 (alleviated by Beyond20 for free on most browser extension stores)
You can’t Homebrew Classes (Goodbye Blade Soul).
You gotta get creative about adding extra features such as a boon that adds a special bonus.
If you bought the physical books, you can’t use the content in them until you buy them on DDB.
Some of these are perfectly fine, though they can be absolute deal-breakers if – like me – you want to play online without needing to have map scrolls for everything. You want to give your players the option to play something that isn’t a standard option (or Critical Role), such as a Variant Class to change how rules work, or if you want to play a campaign inspired by some media you and your friends all enjoy (such as Harry Potter), or even re-work specific rules.
Is DnD Beyond worth it?
Ultimately, whether or not DnD Beyond is worth it depends on your individual needs and preferences. Many players find that the platform is a valuable tool for running and playing DnD games, while others may prefer physical copies of the books or other digital tools. It is worth considering your own playstyle, budget, and goals when deciding whether or not to use D&D Beyond.
DDB isn’t perfect. It’s excellent at what it does and tries to empower players and DMs alike, with mostly flexible tools and ways to help you stay organized.
If you enjoy playing regular games in person or with Theatre of Mind (or with Beyond20 for VTT integration), don’t mind the problems listed above, want more characters, and don’t mind spending $5.99 each month (or less with an annual subscription, and even less with a Hero subscription instead of a Master one), DDB can be worth every penny.
If the above problems are deal breakers for you, or you can make do with the base features, then perhaps the extras of DDB might not be worth paying for. Even though I have to use a bit of programming to make things better, roll20 has the essentials and freedom I need, even if I would like to automate and simplify things (Like rests) the way DDB does.
It all depends on what you need, your situation, and how you like to play. So use your better judgment, keep looking, and perhaps you’ll find what you’re looking for. And if not, you can always make it yourself! So I hope you find what you’re looking for, and enjoy!
Is DnD Beyond expensive?
This is a common concern for many players. While there is a free version of DnD Beyond, which provides access to basic features like character creation and the Compendium, the more advanced features and content require a subscription. Some players may find the cost of a subscription to be prohibitive, especially if they already own physical copies of the books.
Can I use homebrew content on DnD Beyond?
Yes, you can use homebrew content on DnD Beyond. The platform has a robust system for creating and sharing homebrew material, and many players enjoy the ability to create their own custom content. However, some players may prefer physical copies of the books for homebrew, as they offer more flexibility in terms of creating custom content.
Is DnD Beyond easy to use?
For many players, DnD Beyond is a user-friendly and intuitive platform. However, some players may find it challenging to navigate, especially if they are new to the game or not familiar with digital tools. There is a learning curve when it comes to using the platform, but many players find that it is worth the effort.
Can I share my DnD Beyond content with others?
Yes, you can share your DnD Beyond content with others, but the level of sharing depends on your subscription level. You will need a master subscription to share unlocked content with your friends.