Over the past few days I had the opportunity to participate in a closed alpha playtest of WotC’s new virtual tabletop, currently named “Dungeons and Dragons Digital.” There were some other creators also in the alpha whose names you will likely recognize, but it’s not my place to list them off.
The playtest lasted roughly a week, and all of the playtesters were invited to a Discord server to discuss, schedule games, and share feedback. We were given the option of scheduling a game to run a playtest scenario, and a developer would sit in to observe if scheduling allowed.
I had plans to explore the VTT with other members of the RPGBOT.Podcast team, but the scheduling didn’t line up, so I was only able to test the VTT solo. This involved a lot of clicking buttons and trying to see what I could do and how all of the options worked. Other participants may have more realistic impressions of how the VTT works in practice if they were able to actually run a session.
The playtest gave us access to a single pre-built area which was something like your stereotypical D&D tavern with a few surrounding out-buildings like a stable and a well. Encounters were scattered around the area, as were tokens intended for those various encounters.
My general impressions: It’s very pretty, but this is definitely an alpha.
The tokens, structures, and terrain looked good. The 3d environment is attractive, and clearly quite a bit of work was put into the models. Based on chatter in the discord, the VTT performed well on a variety of devices with varying tech specs.
There is a lot of functionality that still feels like early stages, and the user interface is frequently confusing. It’s not clear what various buttons do, how to accomplish a lot of simple tasks, or how to clean up mistakes after you click the wrong button. There is a lot of room for improvement here, but a lot of it could also be fixed by improving button text.
There appears to be support for playing on a 2d surface, but it’s not clear to me how well it will work in play. You can place a 2d map as an object on the map, then set the content by plugging in a web URL to populate it. Based on a conversation with the dev team, this is intended to support importing a 2d map image. I imagine that you could drop this on a blank area, scale the map, and drop tokens onto it, but it wasn’t obvious to me how to do any of that.
This would allow people to easily play with adventures that don’t already have pre-built maps in the VTT, which is good because there have been long-standing concerns that any non-official adventures would be frustrating to play, if not impossible.
Based on information we were given, the VTT is slated for release in 2025. A lot can change about software in a time window that big. I think it’s possible that WotC could have something really impressive by then. For now, I’m hoping for a beta some time in the future.