D&D 5E: Dungeonscape killed off by WotC!

D&D_MarkIt was announced today that Dungeonscape, the 5E D&D electronic tools, are getting shut down! They didn’t even get past a full month of open beta, but Wizards of the Coast has killed it off…

The announcement from Trapdoor Technologies came today, stating that they “will no longer be working together to develop DungeonScape for Fifth Edition D&D”!

October 30, 2014

Greetings friends,

Today, we have news that is both sobering and hopeful. Wizards of the Coast and Trapdoor Technologies will no longer be working together to develop DungeonScape for Fifth Edition D&D, and we will not be releasing the product in its current form. The beta program on all platforms will be shutting down at noon (MST) on Friday, October 31.

Although we can’t reveal all of the details regarding the future of DungeonScape, we are happy to say that there is indeed a future—so fear not!

This project, 100% internally funded, conceptualized, and built by our talented team at Trapdoor, has been a labor of love from the very beginning. We set out to change the way RPGs are played at the table—making our game night more about enjoying the adventure than searching for rules. We still hold true to that quest. We believe that our Story Machine is a powerful tool for converting information into something more useful and rich.

We’re working hard to solidify the details of what’s next for DungeonScape, and we’ll share that information with you when it’s appropriate.

Until then, please continue to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.  We’ll do our very best to answer any questions you have through social media or email.

Long live the adventure.


The Trapdoor Technologies Team

We reviewed the beta earlier this month, and even we struggled to say much nice about it. I had hope for the future, but many other users around the internet were a lot… angrier. There were definitely problems.

Whilst I was optimistic at the beginning, little had been changed in the last month, and there were deep usability problems that seemed unlikely to change. I can support a lot of their efforts, and their Customer Service team was great, but in all seriousness they need to fire their UX designer. Sure, they had bugs, performance issues, and other problems, but in my opinion the user interface and experience design was practically unforgivable. I was seriously losing hope, and apparently, so was WotC.

Presumably, WotC has pulled it because they’re behind schedule and, as mentioned, it was not looking good. The 4E tools were a disaster, with almost nothing of the planned tools and features actually delivered, and so they’re probably a little irritated.

So what now? Well, people in the community are hoping that WotC will open things up and allow widespread use (like 3.x srd), but considering their tight grip on copyright at the moment and how they got stung with the aftereffects of the srd with Pathfinder, it’s unlikely they’ll go down that path.

What I’d like to see would be cheap, non-exclusive licences, that any developer can sign up for. Maybe scale it with number of users: if a dev could licence D&D rules for, let’s say, $1 per user, we’d see a host of reasonably-priced apps flood the marketplace. Or do what Google Maps does and make it free for less than a certain number of users per day. In short, monetize it by opening it up , but with firm restrictions that prevent competitors building 5E Pathfinder.

So what of Dungeonscape? Well, the press release says the company (Trapdoor Technologies), is still going to work on it in some form, although presumably they’ve lost their D&D licence. Presumably they’ll aim to make it a general-purpose tool, like Obsidian Portal, and then maybe when it’s polished they might try and court WotC again for a renewed D&D licence. But realistically, at this point, it’s going to drop off everyone’s radar until they’ve got something to show.


About Duncan

Ellisthion's all about 5E D&D at the moment, but has at times has played every edition from 1E AD&D through to 5E, plus Star Wars: Saga Edition, Paranoia, and more. He DMs a lot, and tends to make overly-complicated campaigns and characters.
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