Finest On-line Instruments for Dungeons & Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons has been round for many years, however we’re in the course of a D&D renaissance that is respiration new life and new gamers into the world’s best-known tabletop RPG. There is a new film popping out in April, and Amazon studios simply inked a main deal in January to convey extra Vital Function adventures, similar to Legend of Vox Machina, to Prime Video. 

Vital Function, together with related tabletop RPG exhibits like Dimension 20, have launched extra folks to the sport, and on-line video chat apps have made it simpler to drag a D&D group collectively. There are many D&D instruments that permit you to play the sport on-line, however it may be a chore to undergo each and perceive what it provides, what it does not and the way simple it’s to make use of.

We checked out three of the most well-liked on-line D&D providers — D&D Past, Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds — testing each on quite a lot of fundamentals: 

  • How simple was it to construct a personality sheet? 
  • How effectively did the service information new gamers by means of the method? 
  • How efficient and simple to make use of was the map operate, if it had one? 
  • What does the service add to the D&D expertise, and what does it restrict?

Every service has totally different strengths and disadvantages, and we checked out them by means of the eyes of each skilled and inexperienced gamers to see how they in contrast.

Learn extra: D&D Dragonlance Reboot Is Extra Than Nostalgia, Much less Than It May Be

Should you’re new to the sport and primarily enthusiastic about attempting out a tabletop RPG, D&D Past makes it simple to get a personality sheet and marketing campaign up and working. If you need all the things you want in a single place with comparatively little fuss, take a look at Roll20. And for D&D energy players, Fantasy Grounds permits you superb ranges of automation and management when you make investments the time to be taught it.

So whether or not your play group has scattered to totally different cities, or possibly it is simply simpler for everybody to leap on a Zoom name as soon as per week (or month), listed below are our picks for one of the best D&D instruments to make use of on-line.

Finest on-line D&D instruments



  • Extraordinarily simple to select up and get began
  • Design is straightforward and simple to navigate
  • Spectacular options totally free accounts


  • No interactive map function
  • Restricted to Dungeons & Dragons

D&D Past was already a well-liked service lengthy earlier than it was purchased by Hasbro, which additionally owns D&D writer Wizards of the Coast. It is a easy device that makes creating characters enjoyable by simplifying a lot of the course of. For people who find themselves new to the sport, there is no simpler technique to get began. 

D&D Past’s on-line character creator is free, permitting you to strive totally different character builds with out having to spend a dime. Free accounts solely have entry to the fundamental guidelines (together with races and lessons), and are restricted to 6 characters, however that ought to be lots for many new gamers.

If you wish to put money into your D&D video games, you should buy digital variations of official D&D books in a couple of totally different flavors. D&D Past provides sourcebooks, like Tasha’s Cauldron of All the pieces and Explorer’s Information to Wildemount, which provide you with new settings and character choices. It additionally provides journey books, like Curse of Strahd and Candlekeep Mysteries, which DMs can use to run campaigns. Each varieties of books are usually $30 apiece, although some smaller packages value much less. 

You can even purchase a subscription at both the Hero tier ($3 per thirty days) or the Grasp tier ($6 per thirty days) to unlock additional options. The Hero tier permits you to make as many character sheets as you need and in addition opens up entry to check new D&D Past instruments. The Grasp tier provides the choice to share content material from any of your bought books with the remainder of the gamers in your marketing campaign.

A Hero tier subscription is not nice worth until you play in plenty of D&D teams (greater than six). The actual worth of a subscription is sharing content material with the Grasp Tier — that $6 per thirty days permits you to share options from sourcebooks and journey books together with your complete group, somewhat than requiring everybody to purchase their very own copy. A DM with a Grasp-tier subscription can spend $6 per thirty days and share bought content material with the remainder of the group even when they’ve free accounts. 

The first disadvantage of D&D Past is that it focuses on character sheets, not different parts of a D&D desk. Most notably, it lacks significant map options to assist your group visualize fight and exploration. In case your gaming periods deal with these parts, you may have to complement with your personal maps or the map instruments of our different high picks. Each Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds supply helpful map options.

However of the instruments we examined, D&D Past was far and away the best to get began with. It walks you thru every step of the method — selecting a race and sophistication on your character, establishing your construct as you stage your character, and navigating the remainder of the beginning choices. For choices and techniques which are a bit of complicated, you may have the power to learn by means of extra detailed explanations in popups. Should you’re attempting D&D for the primary time otherwise you simply need a straightforward technique to handle your character sheet, D&D Past ought to be your first cease.



  • Character sheets, maps and cube in a single device
  • Interactive maps which are simple to be taught
  • Consists of video chat


  • Total design is a bit of messy
  • DMs have to provide different gamers character sheets to fill out

Should you’re searching for a one-stop store for all of your D&D gaming, we advocate Roll20 for its versatility. Roll20 provides virtually all the things you may ask for in a digital D&D device: You’ll make characters and play out epic battles on an interactive map, all with out even needing an exterior service for video or voice chat. The tradeoff is a bit more time spent determining how options work. 

All the pieces in Roll20 is run by means of its Video games function, and your DM might want to create a recreation for everybody to get began. The DM can then invite gamers to affix by means of emailed invites or easy copy-and-paste hyperlinks. As soon as everybody’s in, the DM can create clean character sheets and assign these characters out to gamers for them to customise. 

Gamers can create their characters utilizing Roll20’s Charactermancer device, which walks them step-by-step by means of the character creation course of, just like D&D Past. You will see snippets from the core guidelines to assist clarify any new or complicated options. On the finish of the method, your character sheet can be arrange and able to go. You even have the choice of pulling up a clean character sheet and filling it out immediately, which can be interesting for extra skilled gamers, however the Charactermancer is usually the easier possibility. 

The Roll20 character sheets do not feel fairly as fashionable or simple to navigate as D&D Past’s, however Roll20 makes up for it with quite a lot of different options you will not discover on D&D Past. The most important one is interactive maps. DMs can create maps for his or her campaigns, permitting your group to traverse dungeons and have interaction in battles extra tactically. DMs can use fog of warfare to restrict map imaginative and prescient to what gamers can really see, and gamers can transfer tokens representing their characters across the map, similar to you’ll at a bodily desk.

Like the opposite on-line D&D instruments we reviewed, Roll20 has a market the place you should buy digital variations of sourcebooks and journey books, which unlock new options on your character sheets and maps. The prices will usually match what you see in D&D Past and Fantasy Grounds, so don’t be concerned an excessive amount of about discount looking. The most important distinction is that Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds additionally supply books from different tabletop RPGs like Pathfinder and Name of Cthulhu, whereas D&D Past is strictly based mostly on Dungeons & Dragons.

Roll20 provides free accounts and two subscription choices that unlock extra options. Like D&D Past, you possibly can pay $6 per thirty days (discounted to $50 yearly if you happen to pay upfront) to share bought content material with different gamers of their recreation. That subscription additionally unlocks options like dynamic lighting and the power to switch characters between video games. For $10 per thirty days ($100 yearly if you happen to pay upfront), you may also copy different supplies between video games, unlock extra customization choices and get a month-to-month reward.

Roll20 is an effective center floor between the opposite instruments we examined. It is not fairly as slick as D&D Past, however it provides extra options like interactive maps, and it really works with different recreation techniques. It is not fairly as sturdy as Fantasy Grounds, however it’s usually simpler to select up and use. If you need a device that permits you to run an entire tabletop RPG just about, and also you’re much less enthusiastic about studying the way to customise or automate your gameplay, strive Roll20.



  • Takes care of guidelines so you possibly can deal with play
  • Permits homebrew content material
  • One-time buy possibility


  • Steep studying curve simply to get began
  • Much less beginner-friendly than different providers

Fantasy Grounds is a robust however complicated device that requires plenty of work upfront to have the ability to get probably the most out of the service. It permits probably the most customization of the instruments we reviewed, however it additionally took the longest to get began. If you need a device that is simple to select up and get began with, you are higher off with D&D Past or Roll20, however if you’d like final management over your session and wish one thing that can deal with a lot of the guidelines for you, Fantasy Grounds is probably the most full possibility we examined.

Earlier than we get into the great components of Fantasy Grounds, it is necessary to grasp the barrier to entry. Fantasy Grounds will not be intuitive or beginner-friendly. It does supply video guides that will help you get began, however you may have to spend about an hour simply watching these to get a deal with on the barest fundamentals. Even after watching the tutorial, it was typically a battle to function the system’s mechanics. It additionally appears designed for a desktop setup — we had a tough time navigating the very small menu choices on a laptop computer trackpad, which wasn’t an issue with the opposite providers. Even with guides, Fantasy Grounds was typically irritating to learn to use.

The flip facet of that coin is that Fantasy Grounds is astoundingly sturdy. It is aware of that some D&D gamers need to management each element of their periods. Similar to the opposite instruments we reviewed, Fantasy Grounds permits you to construct a digital character sheet. And like Roll20, it permits you to use digital maps for fight and exploration. However Fantasy Grounds offers you the instruments to customise your complete marketing campaign in additional methods than the opposite instruments we examined. 

Maybe extra importantly, Fantasy Grounds understands the principles of a system and can routinely apply them. If a participant clicks an enemy on the map and chooses the weapon they need to assault with, Fantasy Grounds will roll a d20, add the suitable assault roll modifier, then evaluate that to the enemy’s armor class and inform you whether or not the assault hits or misses. Different on-line D&D instruments will do particular person items of that (like including the suitable modifier to your assault roll), however will not evaluate that to the enemy’s AC and translate it right into a hit and miss. When you’re up and working, Fantasy Grounds permits your play group to spend much less time doing math or trying up guidelines and extra time simply enjoying the sport.

Fantasy Grounds makes use of related subscription pricing to the opposite providers. Gamers can create free accounts with restricted performance. Or you possibly can pay $4 per thirty days for the standard subscription that permits you to play with different individuals who have a Fantasy Grounds subscription. You even have the choice of an final subscription for $10 per thirty days, which lets you host a marketing campaign for gamers on free accounts and share content material with them. That makes it a bit of dearer than different providers for DMs who need to share content material with gamers on free accounts. Uniquely, Fantasy Grounds additionally provides one-time fee choices: $39 for the standard license and $149 for an final license. Gamers on customary or final subscriptions or licenses will have the ability to buy sourcebooks for his or her campaigns, and similar to Roll20, Fantasy Grounds permits you to play a number of tabletop RPG techniques along with D&D. 

Fantasy Grounds is finest fitted to detail-oriented dungeon masters who need to have the ability to fine-tune each facet of their marketing campaign and their gamers’ expertise. Should you wish to create your personal marketing campaign (aka “homebrew”) or let your gamers run personalized lessons, you may have a neater time doing that in Fantasy Grounds than Roll20. D&D Past can also be fairly succesful with homebrew content material, however once more, it does not supply a maps function. 

On-line D&D FAQs

What do I have to play D&D on-line?

You’ll be able to play Dungeons & Dragons on-line with out investing in instruments or recreation providers. All you really want are a gaggle of individuals to play with, an web connection and a replica of the fundamental guidelines, which can be found totally free from Wizards of the Coast. These three issues are sufficient so that you can run a fundamental session. The enchantment of on-line D&D instruments is the best way they enable you arrange and automate the sport. For instance, D&D Past’s character sheets will routinely tally your proficiency bonus, your skill modifiers and your objects’ stats and can calculate all the things for you each time it’s essential to roll for one thing. With out these instruments, it’s important to manually maintain observe of bonuses and add them to the suitable rolls. D&D Past permits you to join a free account and begin making character sheets if you wish to check out the sport with out investing cash into it. Roll20 and Fantasy grounds additionally supply free accounts, however it’s not as simple to begin making characters with these accounts.

What are one of the best D&D map makers?

There are dozens of on-line instruments that will help you construct a map on your Dungeons & Dragons marketing campaign. Nonetheless, of the providers we examined, solely Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds function interactive maps. Each permit you to use maps from official Dungeons & Dragons adventures or make your personal customized maps. You’ll place participant characters and enemies throughout the map to let your gamers visualize exploration and fight. Roll20’s map system was simpler to make use of, however Fantasy Grounds had extra options.

Which D&D service is finest?

We examined three Dungeons & Dragons instruments and located that every one had its personal explicit strengths and disadvantages. Roll20 could be the best choice if you’d like a single resolution for all of your on-line RPG adventures. D&D Past has wonderful digital character sheets and sources for newcomers. Fantasy Grounds is probably the most highly effective device general, however requires considerably extra time to be taught and arrange than the opposite two. You can even combine and match — making character sheets in D&D Past, however utilizing Roll20 for any fight encounters, for instance. We advocate creating free accounts with totally different providers to search out out what you want or dislike and select what works finest for you.

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