Dungeons & Dragons finally has an official virtual tabletop in the works, which will allow players to run online RPG sessions in a digital game space.
One D&D, the evolution of 5th Edition, will see new versions of the game’s core books released in 2024 to mark both the 10th anniversary of 5th Edition and the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. One D&D has released an official trailer.
The virtual table is called D&D Digital and it was announced on August 18, 2022 as part of the Wizards Presents stream.
The software provides handy tools to help you play, including software-integrated dice rolls, health bars, and moving characters using a ruler to measure distance. There’s also a tilt effect on the software’s built-in camera to make everything look suitably like a model world you’re tinkering with.
“We deconstructed the rules of the game, examined them in light of the test feedback we received on D&D over the last decade, and looked for ways to improve the fun by bringing new options and new content elements that the game has never had before,” said D&D game design architect Jeremy Crawford. “We’re rebuilding it with all of those elements in place, making sure it still feels like the game that we’ve been loving and playing since 2014, but he also feels ready for the next ten years.”
The D&D digital gaming experience is being developed in Unreal Engine 5. Among other reasons, this was chosen as the engine to help “make it look dope”, according to designer Kale Stutzman in a video on One D&D, which Wizards calls. “the next generation of Dungeons & Dragons.”
Virtual play spaces are meant to look like miniature sets, not natural spaces. The currently untitled platform called “D&D digital gaming experience” appears to be a rival for Roll20 and others virtual tables which aim to translate the feeling of playing in person to an online application.
“The tilt-shift camera was really chosen to make people understand that this isn’t a video game, it’s a digital experience,” Wizards said.
This isn’t the first time Wizards of the Coast has tried an online service, subscription, and digital toolset for D&D. The ill-fated D&D Insider, tools that used Microsoft Silverlight and D&D Virtual Table were developed around the time of 4th Edition, but after four years of teasers, Virtual Table was canceled before its public release. This was partly due to low subscription numbers, but the number of active D&D players has increased by orders of magnitude in the 5th edition era and shows no signs of stopping.
Players will be able to create and customize minifigures by changing their features and “robust tools” to build custom levels are also planned. Wizards itself will release pre-made environments and campaigns as playsets, from which players can disassemble and reuse items such as terrain and NPCs in their creations. These tools will be designed to be easy to pick up and use, Wizards said, with the intention of “taking care of the lazy DM.”
The first playtest is now available. Nothing in the playtest will be considered final, and Wizards will use polls to solicit player feedback on changes. Dicemakers did an in-depth video on this, outlining just about everything you need to know.