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How good is the D&D Character Builder software?

Written by Expy - Published on November 20, 2008

How good is the D&D Character Builder?

When I tried the D&D character builder at GenCon I was impressed.  The first major software release by WOTC is now available for beta testing.

Note that you have to subscribe to D&D Insder to download the software.  Dungeon magazine and Dragon magazine are worth the subscription price so the extra tools and software coming up are big bonuses.  That’s how I see it anyway.

Beta version limitations

You can only level up to lvl 3 on the beta character builder.  I had some printing issues as well while testing the software and I’d be curious to know if it’s my printer or the software – probably the printer.  Anyone had printing issues?

Many books, one character builder

There are many great features on the character builder.  All the powers from all the published books and online articles are available in one place.

Houserules rule

You can also change pretty much anything and everything on your character.  Rules tweaks will only mark your character as houseruled.

Power cards

The software lets you print your character sheet complete with power cards – which is very neat.

Horizontal character sheets

The character builder gives you a few options for your character sheet layout.  I like horizontal/landscape layout for character because they take a little less room on the gaming table.

The best review is at Critical-Hits.com

I’m an entertainer, but the guys at Critical Hits are journalists and they came up with the best D&D character builder review.

What do you think?

Do you think you’ll be using the character builder?  What do you think of the beta product?

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How good is the D&D Character Builder software?, 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings » Leave a comment



20 Responses to “How good is the D&D Character Builder software?”
  1. Guy Runkle says:

    The one thing I found frustrating with the beta is that it came out just after my characters hit level 4 and 5. A few months ago, it would have been a godsend. (Here’s hoping the full monte comes out soon!)

  2. Nathan says:

    The thing I’m most frustrated about is that they built it for Windows only, I’ve got a DDI subscription, but a Mac for my home computer. From screengrabs and reviews, it sounds neat though, I just wish they would have chosen to design in open source, multi-platform code.

  3. Steve-o says:

    I have enjoyed playing around with the Beta tester and haven’t really found any issues that weren’t already discussed and fixed on the discussion board. Our group just hit 2nd level, so it still works out for us. I like using it to make interesting NPCs for the group to meet-up. It’s great that everything you need is there and you don’t need to flip through all the books to find what you want. Now i just need to find better images for the characters. The samples are a bit too limiting, but understandably so. I haven’t printed out anything from this builder, yet. I’ll have to try today at lunch.

  4. mike says:

    i like how you can modify the character sheets, and only show what you realy need, want, and use. the product has a lot of potential, and is looking good with how it updates based on the articles that come out.

    with the work wizards is putting into this, it makes 4e almost a mmo, as bad as that sounds, i got to say i kind of like it

  5. Dave T. Game says:

    Thanks for the props, Yax.

    I found weird printer issues when trying to print to PDF (both having to confirm the print for each page and margin stuff) but haven’t had any issues using other printers… which leads me to believe it’s a combo of the program and what printer it is.

  6. Yax says:


    I got Vista and Parallels for my mac and it’s great. I missed Windows.

  7. Yax says:

    @Dave: You’re welcome.

  8. Nathan says:

    @Yax: I’ve considered getting parallels and xp, mostly in the interest of setting up autocad for my girlfriend but the cost is a bit prohibitive, especially with the uncertainty in this economy.
    I haven’t had a windows machine for about 6 years now, but this is one instance where I wish I did.

  9. @ Dave – I had a similar problem when trying to print to PDF.

    I really like the program because I’m one of those people that always forgets SOMETHING when leveling up. It’s good to have the program to do the hard work and math for you. I also love the ability to move the blocks on the character sheet to whatever arrangement you like. That’s really handy. Oooh, and power cards. I’ve always been too lazy to find/make power cards. Woot for pre-done ones!

  10. rekres says:

    “The first major software release by WOTC is now available for beta testing.”

    Not! Does anyone remember the Character Creator CD that was included in the 3.0 PHB?

    Not to mention Magic Online from who? WotC?

    It’d be more accurate to say the first major software release by WotC for D&D 4E.

    But then again, that’s not exactly the greatest track record…. (have you seen the abomination that is MTGO v3?)

  11. Vinius says:

    e-tools was definitely very useful to me for 3.0-3.5. I used it extensively. I definitely like the character builder. The simple fact that the power cards automatically calculate your attacks and damage give them a leg-up over the ‘3rd party’ power cards out there.

  12. Geo says:

    This program should maybe require a one time payment and updates after than should be free, its nice but not nice enough to pay a subscription.

  13. al says:

    It’s ridiculous that Wizards requires a subscription to access and update the character builder for the game we’ve already purchased. I could see including it as a “free bonus” to subscribers, but for those of us that don’t care about any of the other stuff that comes with the insider subscription, there should be another option.

    For example: Steve Jackson Games sells their GURPS Character Builder software for a one-time fee, and you can update it freely whenever patches or new material is added (just like most any other software you’ve paid money for.)

    It’s almost like Wizards is trying to get in on the MMO cash-cow without actually making an MMO.

    Heroforge (a free D&D 4e character creator) goes into open beta in May: http://www.heroforgesoftware.com. If Wizards keep charging a monthly fee for their character builder after Heroforge is released, they’ve got balls of depleted uranium.

  14. Blue Eladrin says:

    I agree with “al” it’s frustating that you must pay “subscription” for this program…
    Other things I noticed are:
    – lots of bugs when you enter a Houserule
    – lots of bugs with using imported images to char apperance window
    – some times it prints many repeated cards for itens… at least in pdf printing
    But the most boring thing is the payment…
    They should make this: send a code within each book you bought… when you use the code in the site, it become “attached” to your account. each code could give a 3, 4 or 6 month subscription… If they found the code in the internet (piracy) they could block the user or take back the months for that code… it’s simple and easy… but I think that they’re becoming a group of merchantilists dorks…

  15. Laures says:

    You do realise that every update of the CB results in new CONTENT. That the stuff you normaly only find in a book.

    So if you pay for a subscription you are not only getting the dungeon/dragon stuff and the compendium. you also get the content of the books, which would normaly be more than double the subscription. It gets even better if you only subscripe for a month every 2-3 months.

  16. Dragonborn Cleric says:

    i don’t think ddi is gonna have much trouble from Heroforge. It’s a lot easier in ddi, and it prints the power cards, which might be enough to win out in the first place.

  17. Chris Cain says:

    I agree on the frustration with requiring a subscription for this great tool. My son is new and very interested in D&D, but is not able to subscribe continuously (coming to end of 3 mo. subscription). I think it would be good to at least have a basic version available that handles MORE than just level 1-3 level characters for a base price (not monthyly fee). I would agree that paying for updates should be an additional option.

    If the kids just want to use the basics, they can do that and maybe do an update once every 6 months or a year. This would be a great option for encouraging younger kids to get into the game. He is disappointed that he will no longer be able to use the character builder after his subscription ends… I will look at Heroforge as more economical option for my 13 year old…

  18. Abeon says:

    The character creator is awesome…. Shame 4e is terrible -_-

  19. Ian says:

    @Abeon, 4e is terrible to terrible DM’s. I keep hearing the complaint that 4e is bad because it makes it harder to roleplay, yet it does no such thing. The only thing 4e did was make it more balanced between casters and non casters. Face it, pre-4e if you wheren’t playing a caster of some sort your options where “I use my weapon, I use my weapon, I use my weapon, I use my weapon, I use my weapon”, combat just felt extremely dull compaired to playing a wizard, druid, sorcerer or other such class that had a list of abilities.

    Anyways as for the character creator agree’d it’s very cool. Alas yes a subscription is a bit silly. I understand (because they don’t want you getting the content of all the books for free) but it is none the less a bit annoying if you also have the books. A simple solution should have been “when you buy book x it comes with a card that has a code in it. Put the code in online and the content of that book unlocks on your character creator”.
    As it stands though my DM and the rest of us players have all chipped in making it very cheap for even a remotely small group.

  20. Brandon says:

    Heres the deal… Im new to programming and would love to help people. FOR FREE. The catch… I dont have an understanding of the game or character creation concept. This project would be done in my free time. I work and go to school full time. If you, as a gaming community, would like to help me learn as I go I’ll try and make some software. Bottom line is I’m not promising anything, but I would be willing to try as it would help me grow as a future developer.

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