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DIGITAL DRAGONS

The most famous roleplaying game of all time is swapping pen and paper for pixels with its official companion app. Project lead Adam Bradford reveals how D&D is gearing up for the 21st century

For four decades, hand-drawn maps, hastily-scribbled character sheets and leafing through hundreds of pages in a hefty rulebook have been as key to the classic roleplaying experience as swords and sorcery, dice and grid squares, and, yes, Dungeons & Dragons.

The thing is, as traditional and tangible as cramming miniscule notes into a margin or hastily scanning through pages in desperate search of a specific dificulty class are, sometimes it’s just a bit, well, awkward.

That’s not to say that the increasing number of digital alternatives to a good ol’ hardback tome have often been much better. Between crashing apps, awkwardly pinching to zoom on tiny tablet text or scrolling through unresponsive PDFs, trying to find a happy balance between the reliance of penand- paper and convenience of technology continues to be the holy grail of modern tabletop gaming.

Curse’s Adam Bradford believes the studio, which cut its teeth with online utilities for video games, has found the solution with D&D Beyond. Developed with the help of the RPG’s publisher Wizards of the Coast, Beyond is pitched as a comprehensive toolset for fifth edition, including fully digitised versions of everything from character and monster creation sheets to the game’s core rulebooks.

It’s an ambitious service that aims to combine the practicality of popular thirdparty software with the game-spanning access and information of an oficial app. Although he’s keen to extol the virtues of the virtual companion, Bradford is just as quick to reassure players less enthused by the idea of swapping their printouts and books for a laptop or iPad.

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