Edit: Tomorrow? It’s today! I’m not sure what I was thinkin’.

It’s official: tomorrow D&D Insider goes behind a pay wall. They’ll keep some select stuff free (including the barbarian playtest, which is cool), but it sounds like most of it will go behind a pay wall. Let’s talk about that, eh?

Conflicted is my middle name

I’ve gone back and forth on this. I enjoyed reading the articles that they did put out. For a while, I seriously considered paying, if only because I like having a steady streaming of D&D-related articles to read. That’s still tempting. Half the reason I have so many role-playing books is because I enjoy reading as much as I enjoy playing, and I don’t need to coordinate five peoples’ schedules in order to read Witch Finders.

My problem is that, in terms of practical use, I tend to put this stuff in the “someday” pile rather than the “I must use this now” pile. When I called it my problem, though, I meant it: I don’t think my reaction is necessarily a function of the magazine’s quality.

See, I’ve bought World of Darkness books with all kinds of pre-generated story hooks and adventures. I typically have the same reaction. That kind of material is fun to read and thought-provoking. Despite all that, I still haven’t run jack from the nWoD since my Mage game from— well, by this point, I think it’s been two years. Shit.

Anyway, in Dragon in particular, there were actually a few articles that I thought were pretty great. The article on Traps was cool, and some of the monster-related ones were neat. I liked the warlock article. Ultimately I think if I were more actively involved in a D&D game right now, I would certainly fork over the cash. As it is, it’s been some number of weeks since we last played, and I’d be surprised if we got to play even during this month.

Tools, Bonus

The Bonus Tools are also going subscriber-only, so let’s have a word on that.

I’ll confess it surprised me a little. These tools aren’t difficult to build from a software engineering perspective (the Encounter Builder obviously being a challenge unless you already have the monsters in a database). There are already fan-created alternatives out there, too.

I think leaving them free would’ve been a great show of good-will. In my opinion, everybody should have these kinds of tools, not just the types hardcore enough to pay. They’re basic enough that I don’t think they’re a deal-maker yet they’re convenient enough and simple enough that it seems a shame to lock ’em up.

Of course, what the hell do I know? How big of a casual vs. hardcore spread really exists among D&D fans?

In the future?

What would change my mind? I’d reconsider if my game started back up, or someone started running something. I’d reconsider if they released the beta Character Creator to subscribers. After having used it at PAX, it’s quite compelling, though perhaps not the most earth-shattering tool ever created.