Dungeons and Dragons Character Builder Beta is Out–A Solution Looking for a Problem

Dungeons and Dragons Character Builder Beta
Dungeons and Dragons Character Builder Beta

The Dungeons and Dragons Digital Insider Character Builder Beta released today.  I downloaded the package and created a character with it. Here is my first impressions.

It installed after about 20 minutes (mostly the .net install) and I was able to easily create a human fighter in about 5 minutes.  It works as advertised and produced a nice character sheet, but the interface seemed a little clumsy to me. Too much clicking to confirm your selections.

Functionality aside, I just do not think the software is really necessary or even a “nice to have” item.  “Wizards of the Coast” worked very hard making 4th Edition characters simple. So simple that having software to create a character is like building a robot to tie your shoes. Sure you could do it, but why?

I suggest you check it out for yourself and draw your own conclusions. The 3.5 OGL rule set’s incredible complexity demanded this level of automation(Herolab), but I do not see the value under 4th Edition rules.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an avowed 4th Edition skeptic  when it comes to the Wizards subscription pricing model. So take everything I say with a grain of salt on this issue.

Trask, The Last Tyromancer



Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.

10 thoughts on “Dungeons and Dragons Character Builder Beta is Out–A Solution Looking for a Problem

  • November 11, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Perhaps its a solution before things could become a problem?

    How many resources are there for character creation today?
    Dragon articles (5 months worth)

    How many will there be in a year?
    Martial Power
    Arcane Power
    Divine Power
    Eberon Player’s Guide
    Dragon articles (17 months worth)
    perhaps Monster Manual II
    perhaps Primal Power
    Open Grave is supposed to have Rituals at least

    So before the problem of having to look through 10 books to make your character even exists, they have released a program which will streamline that process.

  • November 11, 2008 at 12:43 am

    Let me put this another way. A decent index and a little time will serve me just as well without forking out money every month for a service I will only use occasionally at most. How often do I need a new character? Even level gains are trivially easy in 4th Edition.

  • November 11, 2008 at 1:47 am

    Our group is considering going in on the subscription. We figured if we all chipped in, then the DM has full access to the tool sets as they are released, and it makes it much easier to swallow the price for the vapor ware that it truly is at this time 🙂

  • November 11, 2008 at 3:00 am

    I’m digging it so far actually. I’d use it for the same reason that I like using the D&D Compendium. All the info is in one place. Digital is the way to go when keeping track of all the info, no more lost char sheets, making power cards and char sheets are faster because printing cuts out a significant amount of time, keeping a data backup is as simple as finding a free online storage space.

    There are still advantages that an actual paper book has over the computer though. It’s still easier to read a book on the couch, toilet, outside, in the car, on the bus, etc….

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  • November 13, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I concur with Kaeosdad. Digital is the way to go. And this tools power comes with it able to access all of the information at your fingertips. And having all of the Dragon content populated in their as well. As the years go on, that will be a HUGE boon to finding that long lost feat that you saw years back. Kudo’s to Wizards. My subscription will remain as long at their price isn’t to crazy.

  • November 13, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    The value is in the automatic computation of all the various bonuses and modifiers, and keeping track of which ones stack and which ones don’t. It’s not a big deal at 1st level, but it can be tricky at 15th level.

  • February 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    I totally agree with the comments from Rick, and Milambus.
    Plus isn’t a subscription cheaper than buying a new book every month? This way you can just buy the books you really want, but still have all the character build options.

    And, I agree that building a lvl 1 character isn’t that hard, but the program is so much faster. Especially for new players, I think this is a fantastic program.

  • March 20, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Looks good but I haven’t really played pnp since woc came out with phb 3 Ad&D 2nd ed and the Dragon Magazine was all we needed.
    I could be just bitter but this now more complicated than it needs to be. I would rather print off content that I “needed” from the website rather than have a subscription.

  • April 23, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    When I was first making the transition mentally from 3.5 to 4th ed, this program really helped. It was easy to find how the new powers/races/skills all worked with each other, without having to dig through countless books (with more coming every day). And as Milambus says, with all the new info books coming out a single, simple, digital place to access all those updates will be a blessing. Props to Wizards.

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