How To Use D&D Beyond
There are many ways to play D&D digitally, and D&D Beyond is a comprehensive toolkit that will help you online and IRL. Here’s how to use it.
More people are playing tabletop RPGs online than ever before. Online play was already a growing trend before a global pandemic sent everyone into lockdown. Now, there’s no shortage of digital toolsets and virtual tabletops to help players and DMs keep track of their games.
D&D Beyond, which was released a little more than four years ago now, is one of the more robust toolsets. It has a lot to offer. For one, it includes every official WotC release integrated into its app.
Plus, there’s a tracking feature for homebrew creations. You’ll even find Matt Mercer’s homebrews on there from time to time.
But where do you begin with it? What happens when you click open that webpage you heard about on Critical Role?
It’s pretty simple. If you’re one of the many people getting into D&D and looking for a little help getting started, we’re here to help.
Start by making an account. You can sign in with all the usual platforms. But signing in with Twitch gives you access to some extra integration for streaming. In general though, D&D Beyond is a central hub.
If you’re a player, it’s great for keeping track of your character. Beyond has a ton of features that make it easy to level up your character, and keep track of hit points, modifiers, conditions, etc. during play, and it’s also a handy rules compendium if you need to look up something quickly.
If you’re a DM, D&D Beyond helps you create a central hub for players in your game. You can keep a whole Campaign on D&D Beyond. With these tools, you can write up player-facing notes and keep track of growing details. Depending on the tier of play you have, you can even share content.
And everyone can use D&D Beyond to roll virtual dice, download digital adventures, and search through the entirety of spells/monsters/magic items featured in any D&D book put out in association with Wizards of the Coast, so you can get access to everything in the game. It all starts with character creation though.
Create a Character
To create a character, all you have to do is click on the Create a Character button on the main screen. Click the second “Create a Character” button, pictured above.
Free accounts can create up to six characters simultaneously. If you pay for a subscription, you unlock more slots.
When creating a character, you can decide whether you want to build a quick character, a fully customizable character, or generate a random one. And the rest is pretty straightforward.
The important things to note here are that the Character Creation system is very flexible. You can include or exclude all manner of source material.
You can even decide whether you get average hit points or roll for hit points. Customize your origin or just use one of the standard race options, whichever you prefer.
Then, all you have to do is actually build your character. If you don’t know anything about D&D, there are some handy newbie tutorials you can enable. Character creation is pretty simple and straightforward. Just pick a race, pick a class, decide on your level, and so on.
New to D&D? Check out our How To Play guides!
To access the rules from any book, you have to have purchased it on D&D Beyond– or be in a campaign with content sharing enabled by someone who has. But you can also purchase certain rules individually.
Say you were hankering to make an Aberrant Mind Sorcerer, but you didn’t want to take anything else from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Good news: you can purchase those piecemeal.
Tracking Campaigns with D&D Beyond
Creating a Campaign on D&D Beyond is a handy way for a DM to keep track of whatever is happening in their campaign. If you need a central hub where you can quickly reference your player’s character sheets or build encounters or whatever else, this is how to do it.
To make one of these, you’ll want to go to your profile and click on my campaigns, or follow this link. There are two main benefits to running a campaign on D&D Beyond. The first? It’s so easy to check up on stats when you’re running combat.
No more wondering what anyone’s hit points are at (assuming everyone uses the app). No more worrying about their AC–you can see it at a glance. It requires a little bit of buy-in, but it makes the game so much smoother.
You offload the cognitive burden of juggling all of the characters and your NPCs/monsters to the app. As a DM, an app like this is a good friend to have on hand. You can get back to the business of running an exciting combat without having to keep everything in mind. I’ve personally been able to remember so many bonus features because I wasn’t been trying to keep a running tab of hit points and turns.
The other big thing that the Campaigns feature can do? Let you share content. If you have a subscription to D&D Beyond and you purchase the sourcebooks, you can make them available to anyone who joins your campaign.