Wizards of the Coast, the current guardians of the Dungeons and Dragons brand, has resisted “modernizing” the mechanics of the game for a long time. A phone app could make all the rules, mathematics and inventory organization easier to manage, but the only apps out there were unofficial creations by third parties.
Until today! Wizards has introduced their own D&D solution in Beyond, an official app developed by Curse. It’s based on the Fifth Edition of D&D and simplifies a lot of functions that originally took a lot of paper, pencils and several pounds of books.
Like most apps, Beyond gives the most basic elements away for free and makes its money selling the rest. You can look up basic rules, the sourcebook to help create new characters, and the Systems Reference Document for dungeon masters. Additional manuals and campaign books cost around $30 apiece — steep for an app, but keep in mind you are actually buying a digital version of the books, which retail for a similar price.
The physical books have a leg up here, because you can buy used copies for less (or if the library has them, they’re free). But Beyond does more than that. It also comes with a character builder, a digital character sheet, and the ability to create new content within the app itself. A subscription service will allow players to share this content with others, as well as download other such homebrewed content for their own campaigns. An unlimited supply of content is something no tome in this mortal realm is capable of yet.
Keep in mind, Beyond is not intended to replace the traditional D&D tabletop experience itself and cannot simulate an entire game. The tools within are supplemental, not interactive. You can decide for yourself if what the app does is necessary. D&D Beyond will launch August 15 for iOS, Android and PC.