I am afraid that I could not leave this one alone and yesterday, while participating in Giant Dragon’s Gamer Chat run by the good Jonathan Henry I made the decision to buy the Core Player Pack and the Monsters Pack for 5E Dungeons and Dragons. They were all talking about it in the chat because it is big news. Huge news in fact. Wizards of the Coast have now decided, after cancelling their own digital tools program to go into partnership with Doug Davison and the mighty fine people at Smiteworks for their Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop. They are now essentially the only official digital provider of D&D 5E!
I am so excited about this development (which is funny because the game did not blow my socks off) that I am going to be running a game of this on my Monday at 8 AM just so I can play with the new shiny! There is a cost though. And that would be the cost! I went on to the site wondering how much I would have to drop and the two core packs are not cheap. $50 USD each (or a tiny bit under) which in Australian Dollars comes to $138, give or take. Crikeys! I got all three of the core books for less than that figure, it is like paying it all over again. Mind you, there has to be a payoff and I have spent probably three times that amount on Hero Lab Pathfinder files in my time. I do not begrudge paying it but I bought the Ultimate License for Fantasy Grounds a couple of years ago and now these files ups it to around $280 Australian Dollars and in reality I have only played 4 games with it so far (though I am pressuring my Pathfinder players to swap to it!). That is like $70 a game! I have to qualify this though. I chose the Ultimate License (prior to there being a subscription) because I do not believe in making players play to game with me, so do not think I am bitter about the money spent. It is a fantastic product.
So I slip into the main screen and I am working on creating a game on Monday. I will start at 1st Level and have chosen one of Monkeyblood’s maps to be the basis of the first game. My first job is to make some pre-generated characters for the players to select from. I am going to make one of every class and I wonder how easy this going to be. I start by slipping in and opening up the two rule sets for Dungeons and Dragons and I am off. The first character to be made is a human ranger and I have to say that I got all tied up in knots and did everything the hard way with this one. It is good to do this because I suddenly learn the easy ways to do things. Dragging things from the many, many charts things just fall into place. I make the three next characters in less time than it took me to do the first!
Then I get a little bored of making characters and so I change tack and work on putting the map into the system. I remember from a previous Fantasy Grounds Convention that this used to be a little on the painful side and you had to insert things directly into the folder before using the map. Well, things have been made easier now. In the little user interface box for the maps and images all I need do is click a button and the folder pops open, no searching required! The map appears immediately and I set to going through the Monster Manual to populate things into set encounters.
I am seriously impressed by this addition. It is not only the rule set information, but the artwork! Oh wow! You get a bunch of tokens and portraits and all the pictures from the Monster Manual. All of these things are worth their weight in Electrum! There are three themes available for the main desktop, one based on the Players Handbook cover, one on the Monster Manual cover and a generic 5th edition (which is what I am using) Dungeons and Dragons symbol. There is some stuff that is not yet operable like the challenge rating calculations on encounters and I would love to see an automatic system where you put the experience in and it tells you what level the character is and what points are required for next level. But if you watch the videos of the tutorials in this material (you can get to them by scrolling down here) you will realize that this is not a case of here are the final static products, they are still going to be developed. More and more will be added to make things even easier than they are at the moment! Awesome sauce!
So, do I think it is worth the outlay? Yes, even for me. I do not play Dungeons and Dragons solidly but I will be playing it every now and again. If you play it a lot it is almost an essential buy! Make sure that you check out my other reviews of Fantasy Grounds if you are more interested in what the tool can do for you generally (which is a lot). You can find a list of most of those reviews here. If you are keen to join in the game on Monday/Sunday keep your eye out on Google Plus for an event notification in the near future. Keep rolling!