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With the ‘D&D Monster Manual,’ ‘Roll20’ Is Now a Menagerie of Horrific Beasts

Gaming Tabletop Games

Monster Manual Banner Roll20

Roll20 has just become even more awesome by putting the D&D 5e Monster Manual’s multitude of dangerous beasts on the Roll20 Marketplace. The release includes a compendium where users will be able to view Monster Manual entries comprised of the beautiful artwork, the monster lore, as well as their stats. The compendium will also allow the DM to drop fully-statted tokens right into their Roll20 game. The stats and monster information will be available to the DM right from the token on the map. Start buffing the party, because the monsters will be released to the public February 7, 2017!

Beholder from Monster Manual on Roll20
‘D&D’s’ iconic beholder token has been added to the map surface. Both the ‘Monster Manual’ entry and stat blocks are available in ‘Roll20.’ Image from ‘Roll20.’

Roll20 is an industry leading web and tablet based virtual-tabletop application allowing geographically disperse tabletop gamers to play together. The software is so feature-rich that I actually use it for my face-to-face tabletop gaming to display maps and other digital assets that I project-top down on our gaming table. The maps are projected so that the map is composed of real world 1-inch squares and I primarily use regular 28mm miniatures placed on the map. This allows me to use the professionally drawn maps, rather than my chicken-scratch dry-erase renderings.

Roll20 includes fog-of-war and dynamic lighting so I only reveal to the players what they see when the character sees it. By moving around a torch token that signifies their light source, and has been assigned a light radius, Roll20 depicts only what they would see from their current perspective and with the current light source. In a virtual game, each player would see only what they could see from where their specific character is standing and with the light they have available. This adds a whole new depth to the game as some players see encounters from entirely different perspectives, and areas of shadow become evident for use in concealment. Suddenly the rogue becomes much more interesting!

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The inclusion of all available creatures from the D&D Monster Manual is definitely a boon for quickly adding foes to the table, either in the fully virtual game, or in face-to-face style games, allowing some game pieces to be real world figures and some virtual tokens added directly on the map.

Since Roll20 signed a licensing deal with Wizards of the Coast in July 2016, they have included some great content, including Volo’s Guide to Monstersthe first time they introduced fully-statted monster icons, and  Storm King’s Thunder adventure module. Each of these marketplace items run $49.95. Not cheap, but each package contains the entire book or module, and if you intend to use Roll20 as your virtual tabletop, this is a small fee to save you from having to import all digital assets including maps with various layers such as dynamic lighting boundaries. This could save a DM hours of prep-work.

Roll20 is one of my must have digital tools for roleplaying. If you’re a D&D 5e dungeon master, their content could make your gaming prep a breeze!

Disclosure: ‘Roll20’ provided the ‘D&D 5e Monster Manual’ for review. I pay for a subscription to ‘Roll 20.’

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6 thoughts on “With the ‘D&D Monster Manual,’ ‘Roll20’ Is Now a Menagerie of Horrific Beasts

  1. $50 on top of already buying the physical book is a bit steep in my opinion. I’ve been using roll20 over something like Fantasy Grounds because of all the little extra purchases you have to make. If roll20 is going the same route, not sure if the membership price is worth it once you start adding in everything they make you pay for now.

    1. The cost of the Monster Manual, Volo’s Guide, Storm King’s Thunder and everything else is the Marketplace is still OPTIONAL! You can continue to migrate your information from physical media to digital media as you’ve done before these releases at no additional cost.

      Roll20 has not removed any features from any level of subscription (Free, Plus or Pro) and do not intend to.

      The purpose of the released content by Roll20 with Wizards of the Coast is to make the D&D content more accessible on a platform that has been recognized as a prominent player in the VTT segment.

      If any of the cost was forced upon the DM or player-base I would understand your comment, but right now it’s woefully uncalled for.

    2. The cost is a valid concern, but to be clear, It’s not “on top of” as you don’t have to buy the physical versions of anything, you COULD just buy the Roll20 version. And like Azlodin said there’s no need for you to spend anything else. If this is too much for you, just keep working away like you always have.

      But, if you’re playing ‘Storm King’s Thunder,’ $50 is cheap compared to the time necessary to move the content over (which I do for other adventures, I don’t want to even think about the time I’ve spent doing that.) Looking at cost of the Monster Manual for having the stats in there, that’s just weighing the convenience of having the monster stats and tokens embedded on Roll20 or not. Again, nothing you have to do as a Roll20, or a D&D player… just an option you have.

      $50 is certainly not cheap and will be outside the range of what many are willing to pay, but as Azlodin said, you don’t need to purchase any of it to use Roll20 or play D&D… it’s a luxury every person will have to weigh for themselves. I don’t expect them to give me this free (especially since a chunk must be going to WOTC), and since I saw the value in a Roll20 subscription before this content was there, I have no expectation that they’d add it for free? I hope they use my Roll20 Subscription money to add cool features and keep the system running smoothly, not give out free content some of which I’ll use, others I won’t. I’ll gladly pay for the content I want.

      This model is similar to other software as well. I love Hero Lab for character creation, but this means I buy the physical (or PDF) and then have to buy the HeroLab content as well. It’s worth the convenience HeroLab offers… to me… but certainly others wouldn’t see the same value I do.

      So, while I agree it’s not for everyone, for some this is well worth the cost, allowing your limited prep time to be spent on ideas, plot, etc, not cutting and pasting maps, adding dynamic lighting layers, adding monster tokens, etc.

  2. $50 <<<<<<<<<<< My time. It's the number one reason I'm buying this content. I spent weeks building Pathfinder content, in fact I wish Piazo would offer the same things Wizards is. My Rise of the Runelords campaign is so much more work than Storm King's Thunder.

    1. I think/hope Paizo content is coming. If you look at this post on Paizo’s site (http://paizo.com/paizo/blog/v5748dyo5ljen?Pathfinder-Comes-to-Virtual-Tabletop), about Paizo content being added to other VTT’s… down in the comments you can see someone ask, “why not Roll20”, and Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens, says, “Patience.” So, HOPEFULLY everything works out and we will be seeing all this content available on Roll20 as well. I too am running Rise of the Runelords and $50 is nothing compared to how much time I spend putting my maps in and adding dynamic lighting, and there’s so much more that I’ll have available in addition to the maps if we get the same treatment as Storm King’s Thunder does!

      Thanks for your comment!

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