For some time, now, D&D Beyond has been providing easy access to Dungeons & Dragons content, and has been running the most effective character creation tool for 5e. Combined with forums, new players’ guides, and the player-focused campaign manager, a group’s players have had the best experience using D&D Beyond. Now, though, D&D Beyond is turning their eyes to providing powerful new tools for DMs. Enter the Encounter Builder, now in beta.
What Does It Do?
The Encounter Builder is a tool which allows DMs to prepare for their encounters in advance, complete with all of the monsters’ stat blocks just a click away. DMs can save each encounter for future use, and can search their created encounters, even sorting by date created, name, or difficulty.
How Is It Unique?
The main thing that draws me to the Encounter Builder is the difficulty calculator. This built-in tool helps you set the difficulty class for an encounter, with your players’ levels in mind. For example, if I want to make an encounter of medium difficulty for a party of 5 level 1 characters, I select those numbers in the “Manage Characters” area, and that programs the tool to consider the correct numbers of players. The difficulties are zero pips (not a challenge), easy, medium, hard, and deadly (four pips). A deadly encounter is difficult enough to expect one or more character deaths during the encounter.
In this case, I set up an encounter with three Acolytes, and D&D Beyond tells me that this is a medium difficulty, with each of the characters earning 30 xp. If I used multiple kinds of monsters, I can toggle through them, on the left, and see the relevant stat blocks for each monster.
You can also add comprehensive descriptions to your encounter. You can include everything from notes to yourself, loot, descriptions of the monsters, or just flavor text to read out when the encounter begins. Of course, you can type up and print out all of these things, but it saves a lot of paper and ink to use the digital tool, which makes the Encounter Builder the eco-friendly option.
What Does It Replace?
The Encounter Builder replaces your stack of monster books. This includes the Monster Manual, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, or even the adventure book you’re running, like Tyranny of Dragons. You can own these books on your D&D Beyond account, allowing you to sort through all of your content with a click of the mouse. Using D&D Beyond this way means you’ll always have a quick reference to any relevant stat blocks, hovertext, and even full monster descriptions, all within your device (I use my iPad). No pile of books, no countless bookmarks, no delay when a question comes up. Just the iPad and me.
What’s the drawback?
The only downside to the Encounter Builder is that you cannot yet export the encounters you build. If your wifi goes out, you’re out of luck. But how many times have we forgotten books or lost a bookmark? It’s not more complicated than that, and once the wifi is back on, it’ll be like nothing ever happened.
The D&D Beyond Encounter Builder is a versatile tool which allows you to build, store, and edit encounters. You have access to all of the monsters in the Basic Rules as well as any books you own (via D&D Beyond), and of course you have access to your homebrew monsters as well. The tool is free and built right into the interface, making it easy to use on any device. Keep an eye out for updates to the tool, as it’s likely to change before it becomes an official tool.
Disclaimers: This article uses affiliate links which can support the author. D&D Beyond provides access to its content for review purposes.