Will AI be the Future of Dungeons and Dragons?

By RJ on 19 January 2024.

Artificial intelligence is all the buzz as of late.

In every community, from the sprawling and ever-growing tabletop roleplaying game community to the business world, more and more people are wielding AI in new, interesting, and potentially problematic ways.

Yes, I'm using the word. It's true. It's problematic.


Well, it depends, I suppose. It's all a matter of perspective. Obviously, this is the future. With no laws inhibiting its growth, all AI is going to do is spread and grow, surmounting other methods and tools used in countless communities across the globe. Of concern in this article is the TTRPG industry and our own personal game tables.

Let's tackle each idea briefly.

AI in the TTRPG Industry

Will TTRPG designers use AI to create new versions of the games we love? Will they replace human-written rules with AI ones? How about art? Will that succumb to the wave of too-pristine AI generated "art"?

Yes. It's already happening, even in the biggest companies around.

Wizards of the Coast has already been enveloped in a few AI scandals already. And while there's an argument to be made that this can only harm them as their primary function and profit comes from a monopoly on artistry in TTRPGs, I'm cynical and think their current stance of all this AI use being a mistake is temporary.

Doom is coming. Yeah, I'm a doomsayer.

It's only a matter of time before their books are populated with AI-assisted and optimized art of giants slaying dragons, human adventurers downing the walking dead with seven-fingered hands, and dwarves celebrating a grand victory in their halls of stone.

After a stretch of AI-assisted art, it will replace art in these books entirely. Already plenty of art made by AI looks unique and indistinguishable from art crafted by a talented human artist. In two years, three, years, or even a year...it's going to be more advanced. And again, with arbitrary rules in place set by a corporation, completely put in place on a "trust me bro" basis and not a set-in-stone law, those rules will disintegrate as soon as it becomes viable to use AI art in mass.

Then there are the rules, the writing, the stories we see in new books. I'm sure it's not being fully generated by AI yet, but you can be sure at leas the executives are running all the ideas within past AI.

"ChatGPT, should we use a d20 in the next version of D&D?"

"My friend Bard, is the bard a class even worth including in the Player's Handbook?"

"DNDGPT, should we release 7th edition D&D in 2026 or 2027?"

Soon after, it will begin to trickle down to the designers, too. They will be lightly encouraged and then eventually forced to utilize these tools, probably alongside a reduction in workforce that will be possible with the use of these AI systems. Proofreading will take less time, the AI can design much the game, and the designers are their to simply ensure its quality and please their bosses.

Yes, the cynicism grows.

I would be perfectly fine with people using AI as a bouncing table. Does this idea work? Has it been done before? Does it make sense? Proof this for grammar and so on and so forth. That's useful, a far more useful search engine, essentially.

But that's not what I predict will happen. We'll see soon enough, now won't we?

AI at the Game Table

While I predict AI will soon dominate the design of the games we love, at least the ones made by enormous companies, what will happen to our tables and AI? Well, I'm a bit more positive on this front...for now.

Already, I'm seeing plenty of Dungeon Masters and Players use AI to help sculpt their worlds and their characters. Like I said before, these large language models and glorified search engines that are way easier to use. This is big for world builders. You're easily able to bounce ideas off an AI for town names, region names, brief histories of both, interesting villains, and much more.

As the saying goes for storytelling and worldbuilding, there's no original idea out there. Everything is derivative, you just need to put a unique spin on it. AI helps you create a starting point, that's it. Afterward, it's up to you to make it your own.

However, there is a problematic part presently: the ease of AI generated art. Or, rather, the fact that much of this AI generated art is not properly credited. Many people have talked about how AI learned to "create" art, using the art of others without their permission to train for an amount of time equivalent to millions of years.

When people go around parading this art as their own or just crediting the AI, is that...okay? Is it acceptable?

I've used AI art for my personal D&D games, but I've never walked around and claimed to be the artist or to entirely credit the AI. It's a super tricky area and as these tools become more powerful and more widely available, it's only going to become a larger issue.


We have a...confusing time ahead of us.

Check out my completely human written works on DriveThruRPG or my growing YouTube channel for more content.

Anyways, that's all for this article. Thanks for reading, fellow adventurer.

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