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One of the reasons that I don't play online video games anymore is the issue of digital rights. The character that you spend hundreds of hours on is not in any way owned by the player. The name isn't yours, the look of the character isn't yours, any organizations the character forms are not yours, even catch phrases you may spout in battle... not yours.
I can only hope that the character generator and online gaming table do not have a similar clause. With an online database, WOTC would have access to, and possible ownership of, everyone's characters. While this may be useful for statistical reasons, knowing what levels/classes/races/weapons people are/have may help decide what kind of module at what level with what loot may sell well, it also gives WOTC access to thousands of original ideas.
I don't know if this has been discussed yet for these products, but I can imagine digital rights becoming a sticky issue for many players and DMs of a game founded on individual creativity.
I would appreciate more information and discussion regarding this subject.
That would make it tricky to make a great character and then make a story around him, and then sell the novel.
One of the reasons that I don't play online video games anymore is the issue of digital rights. The character that you spend hundreds of hours on is not in any way owned by the player. The name isn't yours, the look of the character isn't yours, any organizations the character forms are not yours, even catch phrases you may spout in battle... not yours.
I can only hope that the character generator and online gaming table do not have a similar clause. With an online database, WOTC would have access to, and possible ownership of, everyone's characters. While this may be useful for statistical reasons, knowing what levels/classes/races/weapons people are/have may help decide what kind of module at what level with what loot may sell well, it also gives WOTC access to thousands of original ideas.
I don't know if this has been discussed yet for these products, but I can imagine digital rights becoming a sticky issue for many players and DMs of a game founded on individual creativity.
I would appreciate more information and discussion regarding this subject.

Disclaimer: The following is based exclusively on assumptions and deductions, and may have no foundation in reality.

I think what WotC would be keeping on their servers is the program itself, the data we generate using those programs should, I presume, be ours; in a vague sense kinda like Yahoo Mail or something. The character belongs to you, and can be saved to your hard drive for your leisurely perusal and general use, but to make the character using THAT program requires you to log on to D&D.com (or whatever). I dunno, maybe you can store extra characters online for remote access or sharing with others.

I base all this on the simple question: Why generate a character online you can't use offline? The web tools are (probably) lovely and delightful, but I doubt they will supplant the "around the tabletop" experience that created the game in the first place. Share time with, sure, but not replace.
I believe they have said that after completing the character, including the imager, you can print it out to take anywhere. It is a tool to help, not hinder after all.
My big concern is how adaptable will the rule set be for editing. For instance, I give nearly all classes 2 extra skill points. Will this be something I can implement with relative ease? Or will I have to go into the functions and procedures and change it on a programmable level?

The ability and ease to personalize the ruleset will be the biggest selling point for me. Online content and a mapping tool... great. But if all of this does not mess with being able to work with a character / campaign manager that allows for easy adaptability then I will stick to the resources and tools that I currently use.
It would be easy if they built the Character Creator in such a way that you can print out just a blank character Sheet and The Portrait. That way the Numbers, the Rules are all yours.
I don't think there's any reason to assume they won't include a blank sheet in the back of the book like they always have before. The online tool, I gather, is optional, just a quick fun way to generate the characters, but not the only way. I dare say they're just capitalizing on the success of 3rd party generators... Heck, from their perspective it'd be dumb not to.
Here is some new info for you guys.

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=908201
Im excited about how there going to make races stick out more because in my groups were constently asking each others races
I too am hoping the character creator will be available on a Mac. If it only runs on Windows I won't be getting it, even though it looks fantastic.

Also, being able to buy the minis you generated doesn't seem that far fetched to me. 3d printing does exist, and it really just depends on how the digital minis are set up and whether they can be exported as CAD type files or not.
Here is some new info for you guys.

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=908201

I like everything I'm hearing except the windows only stuff. The rest is exactly what I'm gonna want from a digital character generator.
So, when is it being sold in stores and how much will it cost?
Terms you should know...
Show
Kit Build - A class build that is self sustaining and has mechanical differences than the normal scale. Started in Essentials. Most are call their own terms, though the Base Class should be said in front of their own terms (Like Assassin/Executioner) Power Points - A mechanic that was wedged into the PHB3 classes (with the exception of the Monk) from the previous editions. This time, they are used to augment At Wills to be Encounters, thus eliminating the need to choose powers past 4th level. Mage Builds - Kit builds that are schools of magic for the Wizard. A call back to the previous editions powering up of the wizard. (Wizard/Necromancer, for example) Unlike the previous kit builds, Wizards simply lose their Scribe Rituals feature and most likely still can choose powers from any build, unlike the Kit Builds. Parcel System - A treasure distribution method that keeps adventurers poor while forcing/advising the DM to get wish lists from players. The version 2.0 rolls for treasure instead of making a list, and is incomplete because of the lack of clarity about magic item rarity.
ha ha
56902498 wrote:
They will Essentialize the Essentials classes, otherwise known as Essentials2. The new sub-sub-classes will be: * Magician. A subsubclass of Mage, the magician has two implements, wand and hat, one familiar (rabbit) and series of basic tricks. * Crook. A subsubclass of Thief, the Crook can only use a shiv, which allows him to use his only power... Shank. * Angry Vicar, a subsubclass of warpriest, the angry vicar has two attacks -- Shame and Lecture. * Hitter. A subsubclass of Slayer, the Hitter hits things. * Gatherer. A subsubclass of Hunter, it doesn't actually do anything, but pick up the stuff other players might leave behind. Future Essentials2 classes include the Security Guard (Sentinel2), the Hexknife (Hexblade2), the Webelos (Scout2), the Gallant (Cavalier2) and the Goofus (Knight2). These will all be detailed in the box set called Heroes of the Futile Marketing. (Though what they should really release tomorrow is the Essentialized version of the Witchalok!)
So, when is it being sold in stores and how much will it cost?

10 bucks a month probably starting in may from the wizards website.
For lack of finding a Visualizer thread (feel free to point it out to me, I just can't see it) I have a question echoing something that was asked before:

When working out a new character's appearance, will there be a range of body types? Can we have pudgy humans, "Hero of the Beach" elves, milksop dwarves, et cetera? The big complaint I've seen (and had myself) about a lot of character generators is a lacking in this area; both in body types and in the clothes available.

Also, how much control will we have over *ahem* specific anatomy? Not every man has shoulders four feet across and not every woman has ... um.... "huge tracts of land". Some adventurers are quite ordinary looking, even the high level ones.
10 bucks a month probably starting in may from the wizards website.

I am talking about a stand alone program sold in the retail store, not the web portal character generator that will be slaved to the D&DI

If there is no stand alone, then I can't use it. I do not pay monthly for a video game, I will not pay for a table top game.

Next we will see Monopoly Online!
Terms you should know...
Show
Kit Build - A class build that is self sustaining and has mechanical differences than the normal scale. Started in Essentials. Most are call their own terms, though the Base Class should be said in front of their own terms (Like Assassin/Executioner) Power Points - A mechanic that was wedged into the PHB3 classes (with the exception of the Monk) from the previous editions. This time, they are used to augment At Wills to be Encounters, thus eliminating the need to choose powers past 4th level. Mage Builds - Kit builds that are schools of magic for the Wizard. A call back to the previous editions powering up of the wizard. (Wizard/Necromancer, for example) Unlike the previous kit builds, Wizards simply lose their Scribe Rituals feature and most likely still can choose powers from any build, unlike the Kit Builds. Parcel System - A treasure distribution method that keeps adventurers poor while forcing/advising the DM to get wish lists from players. The version 2.0 rolls for treasure instead of making a list, and is incomplete because of the lack of clarity about magic item rarity.
ha ha
56902498 wrote:
They will Essentialize the Essentials classes, otherwise known as Essentials2. The new sub-sub-classes will be: * Magician. A subsubclass of Mage, the magician has two implements, wand and hat, one familiar (rabbit) and series of basic tricks. * Crook. A subsubclass of Thief, the Crook can only use a shiv, which allows him to use his only power... Shank. * Angry Vicar, a subsubclass of warpriest, the angry vicar has two attacks -- Shame and Lecture. * Hitter. A subsubclass of Slayer, the Hitter hits things. * Gatherer. A subsubclass of Hunter, it doesn't actually do anything, but pick up the stuff other players might leave behind. Future Essentials2 classes include the Security Guard (Sentinel2), the Hexknife (Hexblade2), the Webelos (Scout2), the Gallant (Cavalier2) and the Goofus (Knight2). These will all be detailed in the box set called Heroes of the Futile Marketing. (Though what they should really release tomorrow is the Essentialized version of the Witchalok!)
I am talking about a stand alone program sold in the retail store, not the web portal character generator that will be slaved to the D&DI

If there is no stand alone, then I can't use it. I do not pay monthly for a video game, I will not pay for a table top game.

Next we will see Monopoly Online!

What you want will not be provided, as far as I understand it. At least until someone writes a 3rd party app. Of course you could look at it as the character creator/dm tools are provided as a part of your subscription to DDI.
Well, Monopoly DOES have a computer games and now a MOVIE in the works (we'll see if it ACTUALLY gets made though). From what I could tell from the releases thus far is that there will be no individual releases of these products for sale. Sad, but probably true.
Disclaimer: The following is based exclusively on assumptions and deductions, and may have no foundation in reality.

I think what WotC would be keeping on their servers is the program itself, the data we generate using those programs should, I presume, be ours; in a vague sense kinda like Yahoo Mail or something. The character belongs to you, and can be saved to your hard drive for your leisurely perusal and general use, but to make the character using THAT program requires you to log on to D&D.com (or whatever). I dunno, maybe you can store extra characters online for remote access or sharing with others.

I base all this on the simple question: Why generate a character online you can't use offline? The web tools are (probably) lovely and delightful, but I doubt they will supplant the "around the tabletop" experience that created the game in the first place. Share time with, sure, but not replace.

If a character vault is needed, then the saves will more than likely not be on your own computer. I can't believe that wizards would shoehorn their customers in this way, but the yanking of E-Tools off the market and the slap to CMP in not letting them produce or sell the data sets for anything (E-Tools, RPG Forge or PC Gen) makes it seem that they are holding the Character Generator for ransom and the need to pay monthly for it is a stab in the heart.

I can't believe that Wizards would be so greedy.
Terms you should know...
Show
Kit Build - A class build that is self sustaining and has mechanical differences than the normal scale. Started in Essentials. Most are call their own terms, though the Base Class should be said in front of their own terms (Like Assassin/Executioner) Power Points - A mechanic that was wedged into the PHB3 classes (with the exception of the Monk) from the previous editions. This time, they are used to augment At Wills to be Encounters, thus eliminating the need to choose powers past 4th level. Mage Builds - Kit builds that are schools of magic for the Wizard. A call back to the previous editions powering up of the wizard. (Wizard/Necromancer, for example) Unlike the previous kit builds, Wizards simply lose their Scribe Rituals feature and most likely still can choose powers from any build, unlike the Kit Builds. Parcel System - A treasure distribution method that keeps adventurers poor while forcing/advising the DM to get wish lists from players. The version 2.0 rolls for treasure instead of making a list, and is incomplete because of the lack of clarity about magic item rarity.
ha ha
56902498 wrote:
They will Essentialize the Essentials classes, otherwise known as Essentials2. The new sub-sub-classes will be: * Magician. A subsubclass of Mage, the magician has two implements, wand and hat, one familiar (rabbit) and series of basic tricks. * Crook. A subsubclass of Thief, the Crook can only use a shiv, which allows him to use his only power... Shank. * Angry Vicar, a subsubclass of warpriest, the angry vicar has two attacks -- Shame and Lecture. * Hitter. A subsubclass of Slayer, the Hitter hits things. * Gatherer. A subsubclass of Hunter, it doesn't actually do anything, but pick up the stuff other players might leave behind. Future Essentials2 classes include the Security Guard (Sentinel2), the Hexknife (Hexblade2), the Webelos (Scout2), the Gallant (Cavalier2) and the Goofus (Knight2). These will all be detailed in the box set called Heroes of the Futile Marketing. (Though what they should really release tomorrow is the Essentialized version of the Witchalok!)
I for one am really excited by this development. Ever since I first saw Hero Machine, I was hoping Wizards would try their hands at this, and from the video, I'm really excited. I'd like to echo the point made earlier about detail control when it comes to anatomy size and the, "huge tracts of land", but really other than that, I'm just excited.
Also, what about the second-hand market? If person A buys the book, registers the code online, then after a few months decides to sell it to Half-Priced Books, wherein person B purchases it. What will happen when person B tries to register it? Does it block him because person A already registered it?

Oooo diden't think of that, yuk!!
Third, the D&DI client applications will be developed for the PC platform. Two of the D&DI applications use a 3D game engine based on DirectX (The game table and the character builder, both demoed in their prototype version at Gencon). The other applications will be designed for windows, but will not rely on this 3D game engine so that they can be used on lower end platforms (possibly including intel based macs with dual boot). Our recommended specs for the PC platform includes Windows XP SP2, 512MB RAM, AMD XP 2400 + or Intel P4 2.6Ghz, and a graphic card with 128 MB RAM and support of shader 2.0.
We have not yet established our minimum specifications at that time.

That's from Didier Monin's Staff Blog. Very unfortunate news. Instead of using the more Linux/Mac OS compatible OpenGL, they chose DirectX, for some reason I can't fathom. The computer gaming world is becoming much more accepting of Macs and Linux computers, as evidenced by EA Games releasing Mac versions of games almost simultaneously (or within a few months) as the PC ones (see Command & Conquer 3, Madden 2008, et al).

I do not own a PC, and do not wish to purchase Windows to use this program (or ever, for any reason). In my group, 3 of the 7 people use Macs, and if one of the people in the group can't run it, no one will. Period. This isn't like MMOs, where you pick the system and then go find the group to play once you're within the game. I already have the group, we pick the system to fit the group, and if it's a dealkiller for one member, it's a dealkiller for the whole group.

I'm still yelling about Atari screwing over Mac users with NWN2. If a product is released that can't be fully utilized without me owning a Windows machine, I would rather use a different product (i.e. non-D20), or find a different hobby entirely.

I'm not asking for a Mac version from Day 1 (Mac users have gotten used to waiting for ports) but some kind of OpenGL version from a 3rd party Mac Software company (and knowing that you're doing it that way so we can tolerate the wait) is the minimum for what I'm asking for. If you need some help with justification, I'm sure that someone over at Blizzard can bat you about the ears and tell you why this is necessary.

EDIT: I'm not sure what he means either by lumping in Macs with "lower end platforms". I'm sure my quad-core Mac Pro would run circles around the high end computers they're aiming it at.
Yes, I am a defender apologist. A Rock and a Hard Place: A Warden Handbook
I seriously doubt that they will support the second-hand market at all. You buy it second-hand then you are out of luck. Sort of like a first come first serve system.
I seriously doubt that they will support the second-hand market at all. You buy it second-hand then you are out of luck. Sort of like a first come first serve system.

Kinda reminds me of a Tick episode.

I want to use the rules from this book.
You don't own that book.
*physically picks up the book* But it is right here!!
Someone else owns that book.
*looks around the room, then back at the screen*
It is here, in my hand. I bought the book at Discount Books and Tobacco. It is right here.


ah, great memories.
Terms you should know...
Show
Kit Build - A class build that is self sustaining and has mechanical differences than the normal scale. Started in Essentials. Most are call their own terms, though the Base Class should be said in front of their own terms (Like Assassin/Executioner) Power Points - A mechanic that was wedged into the PHB3 classes (with the exception of the Monk) from the previous editions. This time, they are used to augment At Wills to be Encounters, thus eliminating the need to choose powers past 4th level. Mage Builds - Kit builds that are schools of magic for the Wizard. A call back to the previous editions powering up of the wizard. (Wizard/Necromancer, for example) Unlike the previous kit builds, Wizards simply lose their Scribe Rituals feature and most likely still can choose powers from any build, unlike the Kit Builds. Parcel System - A treasure distribution method that keeps adventurers poor while forcing/advising the DM to get wish lists from players. The version 2.0 rolls for treasure instead of making a list, and is incomplete because of the lack of clarity about magic item rarity.
ha ha
56902498 wrote:
They will Essentialize the Essentials classes, otherwise known as Essentials2. The new sub-sub-classes will be: * Magician. A subsubclass of Mage, the magician has two implements, wand and hat, one familiar (rabbit) and series of basic tricks. * Crook. A subsubclass of Thief, the Crook can only use a shiv, which allows him to use his only power... Shank. * Angry Vicar, a subsubclass of warpriest, the angry vicar has two attacks -- Shame and Lecture. * Hitter. A subsubclass of Slayer, the Hitter hits things. * Gatherer. A subsubclass of Hunter, it doesn't actually do anything, but pick up the stuff other players might leave behind. Future Essentials2 classes include the Security Guard (Sentinel2), the Hexknife (Hexblade2), the Webelos (Scout2), the Gallant (Cavalier2) and the Goofus (Knight2). These will all be detailed in the box set called Heroes of the Futile Marketing. (Though what they should really release tomorrow is the Essentialized version of the Witchalok!)
First, let me say thank you. I wrote my own program for version 2 and 3 (I'm a computer geek) and I don't think my wife would be too happy if I spend the time to write one for 4e.

My wish list
  • An export function for a character's info (i.e. XML) so that I can customize my own character sheet. Let the mod community do some work for you to create custom sheets. Or give us the ability to upload customizations - and share them with friends.

  • Allow filters of feats/spells/abilities by campaign. Especially for RPGA supported campaigns.

  • I agree with another post - give me the ability to print out details for feats/spells/etc. Even if I can't export this data for copyright reasons it would be great to print out my spellbook.

  • I'd like the ability to print out monster pictures - in context would be fantastic - along with my adventure material. It's nice to say "you see this" and show people a picture rather than saying "you see a gnoll".

  • Some offline capability would be very nice, especially for DM tools. I often write up plot lines, character descriptions while I don't have connectivity.

  • The capability to share adventures, characters, location writeups would be awesome. A library maintained by the community would be just the thing when I need to DM a session and I'm running short of time. For example, if I spent the time creating a "generic" small community populated with NPCs that I could upload. I don't know if this last one is realistic or not - but this is a wish list after all!



Allen
Only windows support makes me sad. Come on, Wizards, know your roots! Your target audience is, for lack of more accurate words, geeks and nerds. We're the same people that use Firefox more than Explorer. I know it's a little harder to code cross-platform, but Blizzard and many other companies have managed it.

Then again, with the way virtualization is coming along, it might not be as big of a deal anyway.
Well the credit card thing isnt hard to handle. Mastercard and other credit companies offer refillable credit cards. Because you have to put money on them (like a gift card) in order to use it getting them isnt hard.

Anyway, for a monthly fee I better be able to do some really really nifty stuff, because if it cant for 10 bucks a month i can play a MMO.
I'm hoping they offer a flexible pricing plan. Say $9.95 for a month by month basis, or $100 if you commit to a full year. Magazines (especially news magazines) and various websites follow similar models.
I have discovered (in reference to the credit card issue) that most banks' debit cards (that's a card that access money you already have, as opposed to borrowing it from a third party) will work through the VISA system and most people who accept plastic don't notice a difference, aside from how the receipts are handled/printed.

My wife and I have two debit cards: One is a primary account that actually holds the money, and the other is a special "Internet Account", wherein we keep only the minimum balance and we slip in just as much as the next purchase's amount... Thus we keep VERY tight control on who taking money out of our account. If anyone hacks our account, they'll only get maybe twenty bucks or so-- hardly worth the effort.

Of course, you have to have the money to put in there in the first place, but, y'know, hey....
Our plan is that when you buy a book it will have a unique code and with a very nominal fee you can unlock the e-book version. This will also auto-populate the data bases in the character creator so the system knows what books you own/play with.

Will your data bases recognize community property laws? In the great state of Texas my spouse and I own things jointly. What about our minor children? Or will only one of us be able to use the e-book version?
Here's my question.

What if we want to update the character creator database with information from the books we purchase but have absolutely ZERO interest in having an E-book copy of the book itself? Will we still have to pay the same nominal fee even though we'll only be using a small fraction of what the fee is charging for? You see, if I buy the hard copy of the book I intend to use and reference the hard copy of the book. I don't have a laptop that I can bring to the gaming table with me and the hard copy will already be sitting at home not 5 feet from my home computer. Now, I like the idea of the character creator so long as the characters are printable. I want to be able to use all of the options from the books I purchase with the tool. I don't want to pay a $1-5 fee for an E-book I'm never going to use just to update the creation tool, however. Is it possible there will be different fee scales for the level of online integration you want with your hard copy books? Will some of the features provided by the code printed in 4E books just be free? This is a serious issue which I am seeing expressed to some extent or other by more than half the people I have read commenting on 4E so far. Any chance we can get some clarification on this and all the pricing issues surrounding it?
First of all, I like most of what I'm hearing. Looks like Wizards is really thinking things through.

However, I have also done a good bit of thinking, and I have 4 concerns I wish to voice. I really hope these get considered and responded to:

1) Why on earth are the character creator and online game table Windows-only? Your core audience is geeks! We use Linux! We use Macs! At the very least you could use OpenGL instead of DirectX to make porting easier.

2) Why not release the tools as open source? If you're truly interested in creating awesome applications, you're going to get there a lot faster if you can harness the huge resources offered by the computer geeks in your audience. Heck, 4th edition made the main page on Slashdot! Open-source-loving computer geeks also love D&D, and there is some major synergy here that you're going to miss out on if you keep your apps proprietary. There's no reason you can't do this and still charge a monthly fee for access to your servers and content.

3) Will I own all rights to my character and any other content I create using your tools? If you follow in the footsteps of MMORPGS where the company owns everything the users do, then I want no part of it.

4) If I buy a book second-hand, will I still be able to unlock online content?
I hope the generator is also going to be available for offline use.
1) Why on earth are the character creator and online game table Windows-only? Your core audience is geeks! We use Linux! We use Macs! At the very least you could use OpenGL instead of DirectX to make porting easier.

If you don't already have 2 or 3 contingency plans for when something you really wants comes in a for windows only format your not much of a geek.

Theres Wine the classic Linux Windows Emulator that was common back when I myself struted with a number 2 philips screwdriver. Their's dual booting macs, and last but not least there's actually having a PC set up on a second workspace for when the world adamantly refuses to be cross compatable.
1) Why on earth are the character creator and online game table Windows-only? Your core audience is geeks! We use Linux! We use Macs!

Not necessarily true. I do not hide the fact that I am a nerd/geek. However I use Windows because it suits my needs. Why would I use another operating system (Mac or Linux) over another the fulfills more of my needs (Windows)? To use an OS simply because its not mainstream is not being Geeky, its being Punky.
2) Why not release the tools as open source?

I was not under the impression that the program would be proprietary. Do you have a source stating it as such? Also note: Open Source does not mean Free. Its simply means once you acquire a copy you can do with it what you will.
If you don't already have 2 or 3 contingency plans for when something you really wants comes in a for windows only format your not much of a geek.

Theres Wine the classic Linux Windows Emulator that was common back when I myself struted with a number 2 philips screwdriver.

Not everything works well under Wine. The Linux-using D&D community may be able to get the new tools working, but we shouldn't have to. There is nothing about the programs I've seen so far that would prevent them from being written in a cross-platform manner.

Their's dual booting macs, and last but not least there's actually having a PC set up on a second workspace for when the world adamantly refuses to be cross compatable.

I don't want to have to jump through extra hoops that Windows users don't have to bother with. I'm asking Wizards to make their tools easy to use on all platforms. What's wrong with that?
Not necessarily true. I do not hide the fact that I am a nerd/geek. However I use Windows because it suits my needs. Why would I use another operating system (Mac or Linux) over another the fulfills more of my needs (Windows)? To use an OS simply because its not mainstream is not being Geeky, its being Punky.

I apologize if I characterized the entire D&D community as non-Windows-using renegades. The point I was trying to make is that if there's a demographic of people who are likely to be computer savvy and use alternate operating systems, it's people who play D&D.

I was not under the impression that the program would be proprietary. Do you have a source stating it as such? Also note: Open Source does not mean Free. Its simply means once you acquire a copy you can do with it what you will.

I have not seen anything indicating one way or another that the programs will or won't be proprietary. The chances are very high that they will be, however, based on their target platform (Windows/DirectX). I would be pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.

Yes, I'm aware that Open Source does not equal free of charge. Wizards can charge for their programs and also harness the power of the Open Source community. There are many ways that they can still make a profit.
1) From what I understand you will be able to save 10 PC's to the system. If I've used up all 10 "slots" can I delete one and create a new one?

I don't believe there are slot limitations

2) Are the e-books going to be pdf's? If so can I save them to my computer?

Our goals is that you will be able to use them offline



3) Will I only have access to the e-books as a member of DDI?

Our goal is that you don't need to be a subscriber but you will need to give us your info to activate
WotC_ScottR said you could "turn off the rules". So maybe you have to pay the small fee to have it automate it for you, or you could just manually do it in "rules off mode"?

It will be part of the functionality with "Rules legal" and "home rules" options
WotC_ScottR, a lot of gaming groups have one person buy a book, and then many players using the book. I understand that only one account (attached to the person who buys the book) will have access the online digital version of the book, but will there be a way for players to populate the database attached to their online accounts with rules from a book that they did not personally buy?

If not, are you saying the only way for a group of 5 people to use the options of one book with the DI database is for all 5 people to buy the hardcopy of the book?

yes.
Will all of the DI work on my Mac?

Maybe, depends on the Mac. See this blog entry here

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=908201