Video: A Guide to the Character Builder

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Hey all. As you know the new web-based version of the D&D Character Builder goes live Nov. 16th, and I’ve been posting up screen shots and information for the past few days to keep you in the loop. Today we wanted to give you something a little different, so we thought you’d like an EARLY look at the demo video.


A quick note before you get into the video - Because this was intended to go up next week and you’re getting an early look, you’re going to see Chris Youngs tell you to go check out the new tool now. Of course, you can’t check it out because it’s not there and it won’t be until the 16th. Please just ignore those bits. Without further ado, here’s your video:









So now that you’ve seen the basics of what the web-based version of the Character Builder has to offer, I’d like to hear what features you would like me to focus on for the rest of the week when bringing screen shots and information?

Trevor Kidd Community Manager

Thank you
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Anyone see a Hybrid option?
Thanks for this Trevor, it's much appreciated.

Anyone see a Hybrid option?


No, but I don't see the lack of one either, as it were. There could easily be a class category "Special" or something. So far this looks reasonably good.

Interestingly, right at 3:10, it shows Mage (Wizard) and Wizard as separate choices on the list of classes.
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Was all the "Zooming" in the video intentional? I have to say it was rather annoying, every time i try to focus on a general view of the tool, the immage is reduced to a small fraction.
The presentation of the character sheets looks cunfusing, why are there no breaks between pages and no optical limitations that resemble a sheet of paper?
What about a demo version, nothing said, so is this a video addressed for insiders only?
My general first impression: "Big Buttons." Anyone suggested the customers are allmost blind or easily irritated by a more comprimated look?
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Thank you.

A few questions:

1) Where's the export button?  (sorry, but it's important)

2) Can I filter the custom creation to "Essentials" only?  If I am playing an "Essentials" campaign, how do I make sure that I'm not adding non-"Essentials" feats or powers?

3) There was a "Print" button for the character, but is there a "Save" to PDF option available (coming?)


I'm back to D&D after 18+ years, so it will be nice to be able to check my calculations, especially when I've leveled characters.
One thing I'd like to see: something on the ability to use our own images as the character portrait.
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Interestingly, right at 3:10, it shows Mage (Wizard) and Wizard as separate choices on the list of classes.



That is because they technically are different classes... Wizards are the normal wizards we know and love from 4e where as Mages are the essential ones...
Anyone see a Hybrid option?



hopefully under 'see all' in the middle when it shows roles? i am very anxious to use this and hopeful it has everything we are used to. i am a little worried as well. hopefully the designers have heard from enough players wanting character sheets that have all the numbers on them to make that something they do

The feat list doesn't seem to have short descriptions anymore. That's going to make feat choices really difficult.
I'm a bit confused...

It looks like the character sheet switches between portrait and landscape as the video scrolls through it (beginning at 1:35).

Does it really switch, or are we intended to print everything seen in the video in portrait, leaving pages half blank/unused?
Um, wow.  That was slow.

Around half second delays any time you did anything.  So that's a network trip or two for everything.  Ouch, ouch, ouch.

No organization of the characters.  Only 20 characters, so it's not needed yet.  But those need to go together.

Did I mention it was slow?  (This raises the "why silverlight again?" question.  If it's that network based, the client's a very thin client.  At which point ... it could have just been a browser.)  I think you'll really need to focus on speed.  0.2s is a better target.  Avoid round trips.

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hopefully under 'see all' in the middle when it shows roles? i am very anxious to use this and hopeful it has everything we are used to. i am a little worried as well



I know exactly what you mean. I sooo want to get my hands on this, (mainly because we've had an essentials game on hold for two months now) but if it doesn't have the same practical (if slightly buggy) functionality as the old one.....
Um, wow.  That was slow..



Weird... It seemed faster then the local CB ever did for me. :P
Thank you.

A few questions:

1) Where's the export button?  (sorry, but it's important)

2) Can I filter the custom creation to "Essentials" only?  If I am playing an "Essentials" campaign, how do I make sure that I'm not adding non-"Essentials" feats or powers?

3) There was a "Print" button for the character, but is there a "Save" to PDF option available (coming?)


I'm back to D&D after 18+ years, so it will be nice to be able to check my calculations, especially when I've leveled characters.

Hi, Oedin. Welcome back to the fold.

1) Export will not be available at launch, but it is on the high-priority list, and should be included in one of the first rounds of updates.

2) Yes.  When you first start creating a character, you have the option of an Essentials Character, or a 'Custom' character.

3) You can 'Save' to PDF by Printing to a PDF printer.  The one I use is BullZip, but there are many available.  A quick google search for 'PDF Printer' should yield results.
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Um, wow.  That was slow..



Weird... It seemed faster then the local CB ever did for me. :P



i agree with this, it looked waaaaaay faster
Um, wow.  That was slow..



Weird... It seemed faster then the local CB ever did for me. :P



I dunno. It's hard to say since perhaps the computer running it was "eh," but it seems a bit slower than the existing CB from selection-to-selection (like, for instance, changing alignment involved a grayout and a few beats before it registered, which doesn't seem like the kind of thing that should be slow at all). It doesn't seem slower to get started, though - the existing CB chugs like hell whenever I started it (easily 30 seconds before it is ready to use), so shorter startup time is a plus.
I was expecting to see a simple port of the existing CB to a web version, but I really liked the new design and the way it steps through the process in a very character-concept-friendly (and newbie-player-friendly) manner. Can't wait to get my hands on it!
 
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I was really surprised to see the field "RPGA Number" at around 2:06. It makes me happy, but I expect you should talk it over with Chris Tulach and at the very least make it "RPGA/DCI Number" since the name "RPGA" is being stripped out of nearly everything that WotC does. The field should be there, mind you, as it is important for players to track (they forget it all the time at Encounters sessions and sometimes at LFR).

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Thank you very much for the video!
It's very interesting. 
Is a staff inplement supposed to be a one handed weapon?
The Power and Feat selection process seemed like a huge step down. In Classic, you have your power options that you can choose as well as what powers you have already chosen on the same screen, but in this version they separate it so one screen is chosen powers and the other is what you want to choose. Same thing with the feats. Looked annoying to navigate.

I also noticed that when the quick essentials character was made, he could only choose a very limited amount of races. I wonder if that is intended. 
Seemed fast enough to me. That was an 8 minute video and 2 PCs created. I can live with that.

I also like the new interface and the process. Can't wait to play around with some Essentials stuff which I have in book form but have not used yet.

Keep this stuff coming Trevor, this is exactly the kind of communication I, for one at least, wanted.
My favorite part was when creating his human character he clicked on the bonus at-will in the race area, and told the character builder to pick it for him, then when he got to the actual power selection part he had to pick it himself anyway.  That was awesome.
More comments:


  • The screens are visually appealing and in general I like the way you use space in the tool.



  • I like the ability to see all options. For example, when looking at roles I really like that front and center there is an icon to just look at all of the classes. That is really important for experienced players, as we should not pay a high price to use the tool designed for new players. Arguably, it would be nice to be able to not even see the interim screen, turning it off via an Options screen.

  • When you choose the invoker's build, what is that doing? I didn't see any impacts of having made that choice. Edit: As noted above, same problem for the human bonus At-Will. Looks like a bug.

  • When the bonus At-Will was selected, it wasn't clear what was selected. The selection should be done on the interim screen, then you either approve it or change it. You should not have to go to the powers section to see what was chosen. Currently, you would easily forget to check, print, and realize you need to go back and change it.


Stuff of which I want to see more:

  • Feats seemed ok, but I am curious what the screen looks like for a high level PC that has a lot of options. The current CB seems to use less space per feat line and provides a snapshot of what it does, but is itself very big in terms of the list. I am curious how categories and searching help this.

  • I would like to see a complex PC's power cards. Something like a complex level 17 caster that has items that modify powers so I can see how that shows up. Powers like Dire Radiance and Rain of Frogs that have secondary attacks that gain implement and other bonuses that may be easy to forget, or better yet Decree of Khirad where the miss damage gains benefits that can be hard to figure out. Another example could be healing powers and items that grant bonuses when the target spends a surge. (Ideally, the power cards spell that out).

  • Here's an example of complexity that a good tool would help me resolve: Warlock's Curse damage (possibly enhanced by a Vicious Rod), Prime Shot bonus, Merciless Killer (Drow feat) bonus if tgt is bloodied, Gauntlets of Blood bonus to dmg if tgt is bloodied, combat advantage if I Shadow Walk due to Shadow Warlock Armor, Rod of Devilry bonus to damage if I use it on a bloodied target, Rod of First Blood damage bonus if target was at full HPs, Protective Hex giving foes I hit a -2 penalty to attacks, my warlock's curse damage sliding a foe 1 square due to Hexer paragon path's lev 16 benefit. This is my most complex PC (glad to send it to you via PM) and I realize not everything will be added - but devs should consider this type of complexity and where the CB should help with these factors. 


Oh, and my thanks to the team. This looks good. (Outside of the core issue that I already had most of this functionality and really just want a working Monster Builder.)

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I'd like to know if there will be a text summary option like in the current CB. It's handy as a DM for a quick-reference on what the PCs have without printing out a full character sheet.
My favorite part was when creating his human character he clicked on the bonus at-will in the race area, and told the character builder to pick it for him, then when he got to the actual power selection part he had to pick it himself anyway.  That was awesome.

I thought this was to choose whether to take a bonus at-will or that new human power I've heard was introduced (or maybe is going to be?) in Essentials.

You can tell I haven't picked up any essentials stuff yet...

Main Screen: twitpic.com/35yk1d/full
Notice the option to select an Essentials Character only.  This looks like how you will be able to filter for only Essentials material.

Final Details: twitpic.com/35ykku/full

Manage your Character: twitpic.com/35ykqv/full
RPGA Number can be entered here.  Hopefully, it will show up on the Char Sheet sometime soon.
I think some of these should go under the Character Details (See Name Your Hero below)

Character Creation Setup: twitpic.com/35ylbm/full
Looks like this is where you select your campaign settings.  No Living Forgotten Realms option. Thats dissapointing.

Choose Play Style: twitpic.com/35ylgt/full
I am intrigued by the 'All Styles' button.  Does that lead to Hybrids?
I also like that it looks like you can immediately jump to class, or abilities, if you want to start somehwere other than Class.

Choose Class: twitpic.com/35ylll/full
Even though we selected the 'Controller' role, the Role Filter up above is not set.

Name Your Hero: twitpic.com/35ylqc/full
Some of the Manage Your Character information could fit here as well.  I wonder how they came to the decision of what goes where.

Choose Racial Bonus: twitpic.com/35ylug/full
I'm glad that they kept the 'Choose for Me' option for abilities here.  That was one of the really nice things that I liked about CB Classic.  I also like the check-box for racial bonus, instead of the drop-down menu.

Trained Skills: twitpic.com/35ym05/full

Power: twitpic.com/35ymci/full
The 'Show Additional Options' checkbox mystifies me.  Is that how we show illegal elements? Does it show skill powers for utilities?

Feat: twitpic.com/35ymg4/full

Buy a Weapon: twitpic.com/35ymj0/full
I wonder what made them choose a tab-based system of filtering instead of the drop-boxes like they were doing everywhere else.

Gear: twitpic.com/35ymwi/full
I saw the 'Rarity' filter, and that made me a little happy here. I would've liked to see some rare item purchases in the demo.

Equip a Weapon: twitpic.com/35yn16/full
Not sure why this switched from Buy to Equip, but it looks mostly the same.

Load a Character: twitpic.com/35yn7v/full
I am curious what details will be available in the 'View as List' option.
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My favorite part was when creating his human character he clicked on the bonus at-will in the race area, and told the character builder to pick it for him, then when he got to the actual power selection part he had to pick it himself anyway.  That was awesome.



That was user error.  The button he clicked on that screen to "choose for me" made the choice between having a third at-will or that new human racial power feat and the CB chose to have a third at-will.  
I like the look of things and really look forward to trying it out next week!
Thank you very much for the video!
It's very interesting. 
Is a staff inplement supposed to be a one handed weapon?

YesNo, but a staff impliment can double as a versatile one-handed two-handed weapon.
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My favorite part was when creating his human character he clicked on the bonus at-will in the race area, and told the character builder to pick it for him, then when he got to the actual power selection part he had to pick it himself anyway.  That was awesome.

That is because the par that was auto-selected was whether he would get a bonus At-Will, or if he would get Heroic Effort.  The auto-select picked a bonus at-will.
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Important for me and my group: is there an LFR campaign setting, straight out of the box?  If not, fail, huge.  I saw a Forgotten Realms one, but not an obviously LFR-specific one - and some details definitely differ.

The rest looks... fine.  Quite a bit clunkier than the original CB in places though - selecting powers, feats etc by bringing up a popup rather than just grabbing from a visible list will annoy me, I fear, it's several extra clicks and mouse moves per selection, and that sort of thing always niggles at me.

Also, that default (presumably) human male portrait is pretty ugly IMO, and quite a distraction from the usually realistic and beautifully-painted artwork.  In all the D&D art you have access to, you couldn't have come up with a better one?

Overall, aside from that, I'm going to wait and see.  Previews are brilliant, and some communication is nice, but I prefer to try things myself before judging too much.
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When you choose the invoker's build, what is that doing? I didn't see any impacts of having made that choice. Edit: As noted above, same problem for the human bonus At-Will. Looks like a bug.

The Build is used primarily when asking the Char builder to make choices for you.  It doesn't actually change anything mechanically, if you make all of the other choices yourself. This is no different than the CB Classic.
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When you choose the invoker's build, what is that doing? I didn't see any impacts of having made that choice. Edit: As noted above, same problem for the human bonus At-Will. Looks like a bug.

The Build is used primarily when asking the Char builder to make choices for you.  It doesn't actually change anything mechanically, if you make all of the other choices yourself. This is no different than the CB Classic.

This situation was the same in the offline CB. You could select a build but unless you had the builder auto-select stuff for you it didn't really do anything.

I haven't watched the whole video (I'm still at work) but when he created a thief at the beginning the new CB only let him choose between Elf, Eladrin, Halfling, and Human.  Why is that?  I didn't see in the essentials books where class/race combinations are limited now.  I know that Wizards is trying to make essentials more like the older editions but that seems like a huge step backwards.


Notice the option to select an Essentials Character only.  This looks like how you will be able to filter for only Essentials material.



That's all well and good, but what about a non-Essentials option?  Essesntials is not welcome at my table.  Will I have the option to create a campiagn as in the classic CB that restricts options as I see fit?  I don't need a dragonmarked, Tymora-worshipping, spellscarred Thri-Keen running around the Nentir Vale...

I love D&D more than I could ever love a human child.


Notice the option to select an Essentials Character only.  This looks like how you will be able to filter for only Essentials material.



That's all well and good, but what about a non-Essentials option?  Essesntials is not welcome at my table.  Will I have the option to create a campiagn as in the classic CB that restricts options as I see fit?  I don't need a dragonmarked, Tymora-worshipping, spellscarred Thri-Keen running around the Nentir Vale...

...I totally want to play that character now.

But I also didn't notice anywhere to mark a character as Spellscarred, like there was in the CB Classic.  I also didn't notice anywhere to select Inherent Bonuses.

As far as your question, I don't have an answer for you.  You should probably just tell your players to avoid selections from the sources you've labeled as off-limits until that functionality gets transitioned to the web CB.
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One thing I really hope for in power selection and feats is to retain the ability to right click to select a specific one, rather than having to go down and up and down and up between the big 'select' button and the list.
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Considering that mime was the 3rd post in this thread asking a simple question that could easily be answered in 1 of 2 ways with either a "Yes, that ability is there" or "No, not at launch but "soon"" and that was 3 hours ago with no official reply. Color me worried.