Is The DDI Now A Must Have?

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on June 2, 2009

It seems that the Dungeons & Dragons Insider (DDI) is living up to my wildest expectations. In his recent Apersand column (subscription required), Bill Slavicsek provided a lot more detail regarding the new content that Wizards of the Coast will make available during the next year through the DDI.

For those of you who haven’t shelled out for a DDI subscription yet, I’m going to summarize the high points of what’s on the horizon. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this you’ll want to become a DDI subscriber.

DDI subscribers will be rewarded with a new class option not available anywhere else. Coming in September (just in time for my birthday) is the Assassin. Thanks WotC! Along with the new class is a new race option, the Reverant which has an undead template. Imagine the role-playing opportunities opened up with the addition of just these two new options.

I’m excited to see how the new class and race match up with what we already have. There are two Assassin-based paragon paths already available to the Rogue, so it will be interesting to see how a class dedicated to the Assassin will work. Did I mention that the assassin has a new power source? Could this be the introduction to the shadow power source? We’ll find out together in September.

The article also outlines Wizard’s plan for releasing PHB3 content.

“This isn’t playtest material. It isn’t half-finished, partially formed, sneak peeks. Nope. It’s just like what appears in every physical product we produce.”

This is exactly what I asked for in the article Changes Are Coming to the DDI that we ran last week. I must tip my hat to the fine folks at WotC for coming through on this. It’s really starting to look like the DDI is a must have for anyone playing 4e D&D, in my opinion. I look forward to seeing the new PHB3 content beginning in July.

As great as all of this is on its own, it doesn’t end there. There will be more exclusive content made available to DDI subscribers in 2010. The article doesn’t specify which sourcebook it will be from, but my money’s on Martial Power 2. Or perhaps we’ll get an advance look at the 2010 campaign setting which will be announced at Gen Con in August. And speaking of GenCon, the article finished off by listing the highlights we can expect to see during the Wizards of the Coast seminars taking place in Indianapolis this summer.

Are you as excited about what’s to come as I am? Let us know what you think in light of this new information. If you’re not a DDI subscriber are you more inclined to sign up after hearing about all of these great things coming over the next year?

1 Anthony Roberson June 2, 2009 at 9:14 am

So DDI will be filled basically with material from upcoming books? I get to pay for DDI and then the books when they come out? What a deal!

2 Shinobicow June 2, 2009 at 9:22 am

I’m really excited about this. I’ve been very satisfied with what i’m paying for D&Di; now with this stuff, who couldn’t be happy?? It really brings back the value of subscribing to the magazine, the value that was lost by not having said magazines in print and the ability to cut out photos or photocopy them at will to show to your players. I can’t wait to get my hands on the assassin. I’m sure i’ll be thinking of how to powergame that mfer as soon as i get my hands on it.

The one thing i wonder about though is how playing a class that is exclusive to D&Di will work out for players in RPGA and other games. What kind of proof will you need to show, if any, in order to put an assassin into play in one of those games; since it is official material, they won’t be able to just cut that class out of those systems and now i wonder if they will make some form of electronic verification a necessity when it comes to playing in the living Eberron and living Greyhawk games. Just my thoughts.

Shinobicow’s last blog post..XDMC #10 – The Power of Magnetism

3 newbiedm June 2, 2009 at 9:37 am

I am liking what I’m seeing so far with DDI.

The character builder, the magazines, it’s all worth it if everyone in your party coughs up 10 bucks a year for the $70 subscription .

After all, the entire party benefits from the material I get from DDI. Why shouldn’t they pay and share the cost?

newbiedm’s last blog post..Fire tokens

4 Wimwick June 2, 2009 at 10:20 am

@Anthony Roberson
I’ve heard a few people complain about paying for the DDI and then the books. It’s a fair arguement, why pay for content twice or just the priviledge of having it early. For myself, I didn’t buy the PHB2 and won’t be buying books that have 80% or more of their content in the Character Builder. I will be buying sourcebooks like the Eberron campaign settings. Of course there is also the advantage of having exclusive content of which the revenant and assassin are just the tip of the iceberg.

@ Shinobicow
You raise a good point about proving whether you’re a subscriber and whether you have the right to use the class. One of the down sides (or upsides depending on your perspective) is that you could subscribe to the DDI for 1 month and get all content to that point through the Character Builder. I’m not sure what, if anything, WotC will do to correct this. I think that by offering new content on a monthly basis they will largely avoid this issue.

As for the assassin, I’m eagerly waiting for it. I currently play a rogue in our main game who is walking the path of the assassin. So I’m interested in seeing what feats are also released alongside the character class.

@ NewbieDM
You raise some good points about a group sharing a DDI subscription. The character builder allows 5 updates a month so that is certainly an option. Every member of my group has a subscription and thoroughly enjoys it. I know Ameron was using the character builder last night to research various characters that he hopes to use at Gen Con.

5 The Last Rogue June 2, 2009 at 10:45 am

I am digging DDI. But in response to A. Roberson, to be honest DDI has prevented me from going out and purchasing the books. I wonder if, to some small degree, if this is their intent.

Basically, DDI offers the books minus the fluff and artwork (though the galleries are often posted; I wonder then if they had a large enough subscribing base if they would stop publishing books (an expensive endeavor) and rely solely on internet output.

As I write, this I tend to think the idea may be a bit far-fetched, but if they wanted to the groundwork is certainly there.

The Last Rogue’s last blog post..Session 5.3 – Punchdrunk Wizard

6 Anarkeith June 2, 2009 at 10:57 am

being able to really make unique characters (via the material in DDI) is a bonus for those who are in to DnD to subscribe. That works for me (I’ve always chosen what books to buy beyond the core stuff.) a DM doesn’t have to allow it in her game, but since much of the content is modular I think it’ll be pretty easy to decide.

I appreciate the effort being made to find ways to add value to DDI considering the components that haven’t appeared.

7 Saragon June 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

@Anthony Robinson & The Last Rogue: I haven’t bought a single 4E book since preordering the core rulebook set. Why? I don’t play the Forgotten Realms setting, and all of the crunchy parts of the other books they’ve released I get from my DDI subscription. Hardback RPG rulebooks run $30-40 US; I can either pay $70/year for two books – which I’ll only use for the rules, not the generic fluff that has no bearing on my campaign – or I can pay $70/year for the crunch from all the books, plus Dungeon and Dragon “magazine” material.

I do plan to buy the Eberron setting books when they’re released this summer, but that’s because I want the non-crunchy parts of those books: The artwork, the campaign ideas, the descriptions, etc.

8 TMan June 2, 2009 at 11:33 am

@ Shinobicow
The proof will be a fully printed character using the character builder. As only subscribers have that material, then if you have a character builder printed Monk or Assassin, you’re good. Is that an easy thing to fake? Well, I suppose you could, but I remember WotC saying they aren’t really interested in being subscription police. I think they are out in front of the herd by offering us lots of good reasons to subscribe and stay current.

9 Wimwick June 2, 2009 at 11:49 am

@ The Last Rogue
I wonder the same thing. Is the DDI the beginning of a solely digital offering from WotC? I don’t think so, or at least no time soon. However, I do think that as the various tools that WotC has offered are released we will see more unique DDI only content made available.

@ Anarkeith
The character builder is fantastic for trying out different builds really quickly. It’s very easy to change stats, powers, feats, and even the race to see how the character will end up.

@ Saragon
I’m with you!

@ TMan
I think you’re correct that WotC aren’t going to worry about enforcing current DDI subscriptions. They’ll keep people subscribed by offering solid content on a consistent basis.

10 Chase Dagger June 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I agree with Anthony Roberson in the sense that I wish DDI and the books they release would not overlap. I’ve already posted a comment about this, sorry to repeat.

But I would like to mention that I have since signed up for DDI. Although I stand by my statement above, I needed to get in there and see what all the buzz was about.

I’m still not sure if I’m satisfied with the amount of exclusive content in the DDI. But I’m definitly sure that I’m not pleased with any overlapping content…..but that could change, I’m not that excited for the ph3 anyway.
My fingers are crossed for 2010 and whatever exclusive content they have at that time.

I’m more curious to see what will be in the DM2 frankly.

11 Tom June 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm

A subscription is definitely not a must-have. At most, I’ll pay the $8 monthly fee here and there to grab the things I wasnt – CB update, assasin pdf, Mags etc.

No interest in preview material. Frankly, I fear that they will be finalizing books sections prematurely in order to get them in DDi. Playtest!!

12 Icosahedrophilia June 2, 2009 at 9:20 pm

@ Anthony Roberson
DDI will add material from upcoming books to the standard lineup of DDI material, not populating DDI entirely with preview material. But yes, part of what you pay for in a DDI subscription is getting access up to a year early to material slated for printed books. Access to preview content has been part of the DDI subscription pitch from the very beginning. The addition of serialized PH3 material just extends that benefit.

@ Shinobicow
DMs running RPGA mods should know their stuff. They might or might not actually subscribe, but they should certainly be aware that the material is out there. I bet that those DM’s don’t have all the powers in the Compendium memorized right now (frex, those from Dragon magazine, or any Source Power book they don’t own); working with the assassin class or revenant shouldn’t be any different.

@ The Last Rogue
I doubt that WotC seriously wants to do away with print versions of their products. At least, I hope not. Those displays in Borders or Barnes & Noble undoubtedly attract some new players that wouldn’t otherwise ever be drawn into the game. I do wish they’d reinstate PDF sales, though.

Back in the days of Paizo Dungeon and Dragon magazines, I would pay more each year at my FLGS and/or Barnes & Noble for printed copies of those mags than I’m paying now for the DDI versions. In that light, my DDI subscription is saving me money just on the magazines alone. Plus I’m getting a lot of other cool stuff. I’m happy with it for now.

Icosahedrophilia’s last blog post..Icosahedrophilia Podcast, Episode 18: The Book of L’aif, Part 5

13 mike June 3, 2009 at 10:59 pm

I think the hole thing they are doing with DDI, & the dungeons and dragons game is to just build hype.

My group started playing 4e almost a year ago now. as each new book came out we were excited about the release and the items, days after the book came out we hungered for the update in DDI, and days after the DDI update, we could care less and wanted more from the next book.

id say the % we use from each book outside the PHB1 is pretty low.

im worried that 4e will be the edition where everything is awesome but no ones happy. Were we get flooded with all this new great stuff that eventually we complain and feel we deserve things when they don’t work for us.

or i could just be putting to much thought into it.

mike’s last blog post..The Two Dollar Game Session

14 Ashran June 4, 2009 at 1:11 am

I like the DDI and the character builder, but am I alone to find it disaponting to see WOTC focusing on what is basically articles for magazines? I subscribed initialy at the very beggining to be able to use tools like the dungeon mapping software, or the virtual playing table, and those are not even talked about anymore…

I would really like to see an update for those, even to say, nope we won’t do them.

15 Wimwick June 4, 2009 at 10:23 am

@ Chase Dagger
I think we will see the amount of exclusive content grow over time. As for overlap, that’s unavoidable. If the Character Builder doesn’t update, then what purpose does it serve? For me a DDI subscription gets me 80% of my D&D content per year for $70. I don’t buy the books anymore, with the exception of campaign sourcebooks which contain information that won’t be made avialable through the DDI.

@ Tom
There is always the risk that we may get very rough material. My hope is that WotC will maintain high standards when they release the content to us early.

@ Mike
I think 4e will be the edition that has so many classes it might leave people wondering where to start. However, it also opens up a lot of choices. With the Dungeon Delve & LFR modules there is the ability to play a different character at every session and that does make the game more interesting.

@ Ashran
WotC recently announced their plans for the DDI and the tools that would be released. I tried, in vain, to find the link for you. But rest assured they have updated us. While I’m dissappointed that the virtual tabletop has been put on hold for the time being, I am excited to see what other tools they develop and release.

16 Chase Dagger June 7, 2009 at 11:38 am

Yes I totally agree about the character builder. That is one of if not the best parts of the DDI. I forgot about this when I was mentioning the overlapping content and did not mean to include it. On the other hand my PCs already built their character shortly before the PHB2. They are happy and unless they die they won’t be building new ones any time soon. If they did I’d be concerned about what you mentioned in your post: ‘I think 4e will be the edition that has so many classes it might leave people wondering where to start.’

I never use a book word for word, but I rely heavily on the books for examples. I find the DMG lacks in clarity because it lacks in examples. I always start with a book (or an article from DDI now) and I shape it into my own quest (I’m sure lots of people do.) I don’t know exactly what I want in this category but I just want to constantly become better at creating my own adventures. This is why I crave for exclusive content the most, to get the examples.

I too would be very interested in dungeon mapping software, however I’ve never heard about it before (but I’m new to the game in 2009). For me; the key is to utilize the current Dungeon Tile sets that I have. I want to build elaborate dungeons and I have lots of tiles now, but it’s a pain to un-pack them, scatter them about and build a dungeon in a reasonable about of time. I want software that allows me to create the whole dungeon on a mini-map and then just sort out the pieces before the game day.
So I searched Google and found this link
It’s a pop-up so turn off your pop-up blockers, and it takes forever to load so be patient. This little tool is a great idea packaged in something almost unusable. It has 4 sets of tiles (I only own 1 of these sets and I was lucky to find that in a little old bookstore.) If wizards would do a better job of this feature and make that part of the DDI sub, I’d be more than happy with just the Character builder, the Compendium, and the Dungeon Tile Mapper (providing it becomes refined like the character builder).

17 kij September 1, 2009 at 11:36 pm

I don’t think DDI is required, but it sure would be handy. As part of a high school club, it’s illegal for me to use the other member’s money, and I’m broke. But in general, we get along just fine without it. I’ve found power cards, character generators, and a lot of (Legal!) PDFs for free on the internet. I’ve found a lot of stuff to help me on this site too.

But at the end of the day, all we really need is a table, the core set, and a sheaf of lined paper. We’ve made do with just the PH and lined paper before.

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