The Next Evolution of D&D

We thought it was pretty cool when D&D went from being pen and paper only to being represented in video games.  It was even cooler when we saw D&D being played on a Microsoft Surface, but the details of how accessible to the public those inevitably expensive table-like-devices will be is still unknown.  What about tech and implementation more accessible, more affordable, and already available to the general public — what about a very similar idea to Skylanders?

What if you could have a figure of your character that fits in your pocket and contains all of the information pertaining to your D&D campaign?

  • Store your entire character sheet in your character figure.
  • Place your figure on the surface and it comes to life on the board/surface/tv/whatever tech is being used.
  • The D&D campaign could be streamed to any available device: iPad, iPhone, TV, Computer, Microsoft Surface, Consoles (especially the Wii), etc.

Dungeon Masters could program monsters and the campaigns ahead of time.  When a monster is encountered, the Dungeon Master pulls out the monster figure and places it on the board/portal device.  All calculations, abilities, loot, and every D&D detail is already accounted for because it is transferred to the game by the figure.  Battles can play out graphically on the streaming device and results of all actions are then transferred to the figure; details including up-to-the-minute health, spell usage, listen checks, modifiers, and etc.

New content, new areas, and anything the dungeon master wants to add to the campaign need only be set on the portal/surface and it is then available on the screen.  Players are given only what the dungeon master wants them to see and control is still in the hands of the players. Need to use a potion? Set the potion item on the portal, it scans in and heals you.  There are so many possibilities.

Watch the video below and just imagine it being D&D.

If this already exists, we implore you to link us so we can promptly go out and buy it.


  • If only.

    Since D&D 4th Edition appeared Wizards have been offering a subscription service to their digital content DDI “Dungeons and Dragons Interactive”. I recall it was about the same price as an MMO Sub which was pretty ridiculous really so cancelled mine not long after.

    DDI promised all but only ever partially delivered. Here we are years later and the Digital Table is only just in Beta now. I suspect part of the problem is that the game itself grew and changed at quite a pace, let alone they found programming it harder than they thought.

    It seems almost certain they have just started work on 5th Edition so I hope they are going to build digital elements into that from the ground up. I’ve got an old iPhone on the way and an HP TouchPad (Android due on that soon) so hopefully I will be ready to run Apps at the table one way or another.

    How does this marry to Skylanders? Maybe in a few hardware generations when we have affordable “Surfaces” or roll-out screens onto which we can place “Smart Figures”. For now I’d be happy to just see the Digital Table running on a Tablet PC.

  • If I recall correctly, a DDI sub is only like 6 bucks a month. No more than 10 at the most. Our DM subscribes and we all kick him a few bucks every once in a while for it. Under those circumstances, it’s entirely affordable and a great deal. You essentially get access to everything they have published through the character builder and other apps, if not directly.

    I like some of your ideas here Keen. I am not sure about having to carry around equipment items like potions and what not though in addition to character models or figurines.

    I think there are lots of other possibilities in this realm of melding RPGs with technology in non-traditional ways as well and I am surprised I have not heard much about WotC or other publishers developing them.

  • This could be the start of some really cool stuff. I’m looking forward to see where this is going.

  • DDI was put forth to be the ultimate interactive D&D online to P&P interface but fell flat on it’s face. I do like the idea of something like this coming along. Actually I could see it along with other stuff like Warhammer and such. I seem to recall that there was someone working on a similar app at least for iOS but don’t remember the name.

    The integration between a Pen & Paper game, Miniatures and augmented online realities sounds very yummy though if done right. We already see MMOish augmented reality games that combine apps and GPS. I am sure that there is something in the works already for this.

  • I’m imaging a game room, with a tap and a Hamm’s clock. Replace the pool table with an 8’x6′ interactive flat panal. On the wall, the high def 3-D projector giving the first person view. The DM is in the lazy boy with his laptop orchestrating the pyrotechnics.

    And after all that, we’d spend the most time deciding who painted their figure the best 🙂

  • @Neuronomad: Yeah, Warhammer integration could be really cool. All the figures on the table would be scanned in.

    @Jim: It would be glorious! 😉

  • @Balthazar The DDI CB was OK until they moved it entirely online and now it’s very slow and annoying on a lot of PCs. The only person I know still subbing can barely run it on his relic PC so he’s annoyed they made such a dramatic change.

    The Compendium was good but again they seem to have recently broken it: on Chrome and Firefox the Filters won’t work and on IE it kept hanging. As of last week anyway when I last checked.

    Digital Table might make it worth it, if they ever release it: it was meant to have lots of free tiles and monsters and “premium” ones you bought digitally. I don’t know anyone in the beta so no idea how it’s going.

    I have high hopes and it’s the primary reason I wanted a Tablet PC.

  • I can’t see it wouldn’t be possible in the near future as isn’t that what Win 8 was supposed to be about (the whole table concept) or even Andriod 4 which hits next month I believe and it’s ability to patch in with various andriod based devices(I’m sure Apple has similar features with their software).

    Have the game table going and the DM sitting back controlling all the features through the use of a Tablet…

    Now if there were only gamers in the area instead of a bunch of hillbilies.