For those of us who keep tabs on this sort of thing we’ve known for quite some time that the launch of the newest edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the 5th edition of the game, will soon be upon us. It’s a thrilling time for us fans of the system, and while I’ve spent the last few years trying my hand at a myriad of other Tabletop RPG systems D&D was where I cut my teeth on Tabletop RPGs so it’s always been exciting for me to see a new iteration.
One of the hot topics surrounding the new release is a companion set of digital tools currently being developed by Trapdoor Technologies, under the title of Codename: Morningstar. If you visit the site dedicated to it we are given a one page rundown of some of the features these digital tools intend to cover. There are some expected items like bookmarking and a simple rules search function, or character creation tools. Some of the more interesting items noted are Adventure Management and Online\Offline play. This brings to mind an engine similar to Roll20 might be included in these tools. This would give players the ability to see some grid based combat on a tablet or other smart device.
With the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons we there was the ability to, for a cost, access some useful tools online. The most useful of these tools being the encounter\monster building program and the Player Character generator. I found the character generator very useful for helping newer players create a character to play while allowing them to take a more active role in choosing aspects of their hero than simply handing them a pre-generated character sheet or spending hours explaining the character creation rules in the book. For seasoned players the character creator could be something of a crutch used to help remind them of all the possibilities spread far and wide amongst the many supplement books and Dragon Magazine options. The encounter\monster builder was just plain awesome. One of the benefits of 4th edition was an extreme focus on balance. This made crafting encounters a lot easier on paper, of course in game things could always go awry thanks to the randomness of dice rolls but that’s part of the fun. Monster abilities could be tacked onto customized monsters and easily adjusted to raise or lower difficulty. I honestly don’t have much ill to say about those tools.
So thus I’m excited to see what this new set of tools can bring to the table, literally. The only concern I could have would be the price point. Even the simpler tools of 4th edition cost us some cash on a monthly basis, as those two builders were never offered up as single purchase (would have had my money immediately). I fully expect this to be a subscription situation with a monthly payment involved, much like the digital tools and access to Dragon Magazine was for 4th edition. Therein lies my expected issue with Codename: Morningstar, it’s almost assuredly going to be a subscription thing.
I loved the tools from 4th edition. I just never needed them all that much, certainly not enough to keep up a monthly subscription. Basically whenever I needed the tools I paid the monthly subscription fee and used them for what I needed. Once done I would cancel my subscription and return perhaps a few months later when I needed it again. Granted they made some money off me but it was pretty annoying for me. I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much though, they offered the service and it was up to me whether I wanted to buy in. I just wish I could get my hands on a version of the Character Creator and Monster Builder for use right now, without a subscription. Hell, you still need to subscribe to this day in order to use those things and 4th is on its way out!
Obviously we don’t have too much on how Codename: Morningstar (after typing this name a few times it sounds really annoying in my head, why couldn’t they just call it “Morningstar”?) will be handled but with a function like “all the latest D&D adventures and content will be available to download as they are released, simultaneously with the physical versions.” the subscription concept seems inevitable. There is the slight chance they mean “available for download, for its cost” I suppose, and Codename: Morningstar will just be a means to do so, but I somehow doubt it. I just need to see what kind of cost the subscription would be I suppose.
It’s easy to see this blog post is just a bunch of analyzing a thing that doesn’t yet exist and therefore not much more than conjecture on my part, but at least I got the chance to talk about some of my likes\dislikes about how 4th handled its digital offering. So… there’s that I guess. I DO know that the folks over at Trapdoor Technologies has put out the request for folks to let them know what we think about the upcoming digital companion and even attempt to sign up for the Beta (I’ll have to see how I can get in on that). They even want our suggestions, ho boy, for what we’d like to see. I for one can’t wait to tell them all about my idea for an “Animal Part to Gold Coin” bartering system. I’m sure they’ll love it!
What about you? Excited for Codename: Morningstar? Did you like\dislike the digital tools in 4th Edition? What would you like to see in a Digital Tools Companion (although don’t just tell me, tell the Trapdoor tech folks too)?