Is D&D Insider worth up to 8$ per month?

Recently WotC’s Randy Buehler has revealed the plans for the future of DDI. In the near future we’ll no longer get Dungeon and Dragon for free, but we’ll have to pay to be able to access Dungeon, Dragon and the Bonus tools. A one-month-subscription will set you back around 8$ but the monthly price will be reduced to around 5$ if you subscribe for a whole year.
If we were talking about the printed Dragon and Dungeon from earlier (better?) times, I would subscribe at once, no questions asked. But since we are talking about digital magazines, I am more than skeptical. I don’t have any hope that Wizards is going to surprise us with a completely revamped and better website for DDI. And the current D&D website is not only looking outdated but it’s usability is subpar also. A digital magazine isn’t a bad thing in itself, but when you take Wizards’ history of failures in the digital domain into account, the future of Dungeon and Dragon looks grim indeed.
The other features you’ll get for your subscription is the D&D Compendium  and the so-called Bonus tools. The latter are minor tools that they should have given us for free. They are nothing I would want to pay money for. The D&D Compendium could be interesting, especially if you plan your adventures on the PC. But like the rest of the D&D website, the Compendium is badly designed and lacks usability. By the way, while I was writing these lines, the Compendium didn’t work but I got the following message:

Server Application Unavailable

The web application you are attempting to access on this web server is currently unavailable. Please hit the “Refresh” button in your web browser to retry your request.

When DDI was first announced I was thrilled, but after the delay of the Character Visualizer, Character- and Dungeon Builder and the D&D Gaming Table and the utter failure of Gleemax, I fear that DDI was a good idea on paper only. Although Randy Buehler is teasing us with Dragon and Dungeon exclusives I am sure that I can resist the temptation. And so will a lot of D&D fans all over the world. To answer my own question: No, DDI is not worth up to 8 bucks per month as long as Wizards doesn’t show us that they can really pull this off.

Elementary, dear Watson!

I love RPG and I love murder mysteries. When I am not blogging, gaming or drinking coffee, I am probably listening to a Sherlock Holmes audiobook or watch the latest CSI episode.
I always wanted to have a great murder mystery adventure perhaps as part of another campaign or as a whole campaign. I still remember the good old times, when I was still in high school, when I discovered the roleplaying game “Private Eye” on a friends’ bookshelf. As far as I can remember we never actually played it, but I found the idea to play a private investigator in a roleplaying game written for murder mysteries and the like intriguing.
When I run or play Call of Cthulhu we normally have a lot of opportunities for criminalistic activities. We hunt for clues, talk to suspects, do research in libraries, so it’s the closest thing I have experienced to a detective roleplaying game.
When d20 Modern came out a few years ago I made some plans for a campaign with psychic investigators like in the Agents of PSI minisetting that never came out of the planning stage. My main problem always was, how do I create a compelling murder mystery without working everything out to the miniscule details and without resorting to a lot of Search and Research tests? And how do you handle psychic abilities in a murder mystery? I haven’t found an answer to these questions yet, so I ask my readers to share their thoughts.

Drinking from the firehose

The RPG Bloggers Network is awesome. It helped new or virtually unknown blogs like mine to get an instant readership almost over night and usually you get a lot of helpful comments. The first few days in the network were a great experience. But great success comes at a cost and I think we are starting to see the effect.
Currently trying to follow everything that is written on the network is like drinking from the proverbial firehose. The community churns out vast amounts of quality content at such a high speed, that you just cant keep up.
And there’s another interesting effect. I am pretty sure that most of the traffic for most blogs comes from the RPG Bloggers Network site. With sometimes dozens of new articles coming out between the site’s update cycle it happens that your article never appears on the front page and is forever lost in oblivion. That can be frustrating.
So what can we do to remedy that situation? I have to admit, I have no instant solution available. If one of your articles gets featured on the main site, you probably get a lot of traffic for a short period of time but it’s uncertain if the readers come back. And because of the recent changes on the main site, featured posts are not as prominent as before.
One possibility is to advertise the use of RSS feeds. I use Google Reader to subscribe to the blogs that interest me and so I almost never miss a post. You can of course use any RSS feed reader you like.
Aside from that I have no idea.
Don’t get me wrong! I still think that the RPG Bloggers Network is awesome but I get the feeling that the success may not come without some injuries.

A Roleplaying Games blog

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