Too Many Books: Debating DDI

I'm starting to stat out characters for an epic-level Dark Sun 4e game. And I'm running into the same dislike I had of D&D 3.5: Too Many Places To Find Things. With the new PHB (and 2 and 3), it's all fairly self-contained as long as you have the magic Level-Up Chart from the PHB. But Dark Sun has templates on templates.

I started with a Mul gladiator. Overdone? Sure. Sue me. I get the racial traits, skills, and feats in 2 minutes tops. Then I'm making an Arena Fighter with Gladiator theme. And picking powers goes between the PHB (Fighter), the Arena Fighter build with the new powers there, then the Gladiator theme has extra powers to sprinkle about. And I'm trying to keep an eye on feats for later since the Arena feats give bonuses to powers. I didn't even bother with Martial Power, even though the Arena Fighter build recommends some of those powers for starting characters. Hm.

So I need all the power cards in one stack so I can get my head around them. Got it. But then, why shouldn't I get this all in one electronic place and end my dependence on dead trees? I can already make maps for free at BattleMap'r, which is just happy on so many levels. (Awesome job, guys! Keep it up!)

Should I invest in a DDI membership (that's DnD Insider for the uninitiated) for the Character Builder? I know there's a pile of chatter about the new web-based version and all the bugs. Let's assume it's 2011 and it's usable and up-to-date. Or do you already like it and either find it useful or can see the potential when the big bugs are slain?

If you subscribe to DDI, do you primarily shell out for the Character Builder, or for the other features (Dragon, Dungeon, Adventure Builder)? What's the best part of DDI for you?


  1. I currently do, and only for access to Character Builder, and only because I'm honest, as I have the hacked version as well. However I won't be re-subscribing due to the new web-only CB system unless the bugs get fixed and we see some actual advances, rather than many steps backward.

    -- Azaroth42

  2. I have DDI and absolutely love the search capabilities of the compendium. I bought it for the CB, but I find I use that a lot more often.

    The new CB is...lacking, in its current state, but I remain optimistic that their team is going to tackle these issues head on and really get things in shape quickly. If they don't, well, I'll re-evaluate when my sub expires.

  3. I subscribed to DDI for the CB & MB originally, but have ended up using the Compendium more than any other tool.

    I'm hopeful about the new CB (considering they built it in what, 3 months?) feature set catching up with & exceeding the stand-alone version. And if it doesn't? I can always vote with my dollars.

  4. When I was running 4E I found it very valuable. Cut & paste from the compendium, for monsters primarily but magic items worked as well, into docs I could print or put on a laptop during gameplay was great. It was also a good reference for picking magic items for loot. As a player, being able to print cards from character builder was key.

    I punted my subscription as soon as I stopped playing 4E though.