This year, the classic tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons has enjoyed a well-deserved renaissance that has attracted more attention and ushered in excited new players. We’ve see the new Dungeons & Dragons movie receive both plaudits and decent box office, and Amazon Studios inked a major deal in January to bring more adventures from Twitch stars Critical Role, such as Legend of Vox Machina, to Prime Video.
Critical Role, along with similar tabletop RPG shows like Dimension 20, have introduced more people to the game, and online video chat apps have made it easier to pull a D&D group together. There are plenty of D&D tools that allow you to play the game online, but it can be a chore to go through each one and understand what it offers, what it doesn’t and how easy it is to use.
If you’re new to the game and mainly interested in trying out a tabletop RPG, D&D Beyond makes it easy to get a character sheet and campaign up and running. If you want everything you need in one place with relatively little fuss, check out Roll20. And for D&D power gamers, Fantasy Grounds allows you amazing levels of automation and control once you invest the time to learn it.
How we tested online D&D tools
We looked at three of the most popular online D&D services — D&D Beyond, Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds — testing each one on a variety of basics:
- How easy was it to build a character sheet?
- How well did the service guide new players through the process?
- How effective and easy to use was the map function, if it had one?
- What does the service add to the D&D experience, and what does it limit?
Each service has different strengths and drawbacks, and we looked at them through the eyes of both experienced and inexperienced players to see how they compared.
Perhaps your play group has scattered to different cities, or maybe it’s just easier for everyone to jump on a Zoom call once a week (or month). No matter your situation, here are our picks for the best D&D tools to use online.