4E Character Builder

Today, Wizards released its 4E Character Builder Beta to those of us who subscribe to D&DI. I thought I would post my review for those who don’t have access to it yet and hopefully this will make you want to subscribe. 😉

Note: The 4E Character Builder only allows you create characters for levels one through 3. Of course, the full version will allow you to build them up to level 30.

Installation of the program was relatively straightforward. I downloaded the setup file and ran it. It then downloaded the install file and ran the installation program. Why you can’t just download the installation program directly is weird to me, but there ya go.

  • You need Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP 1

This is a must. The program simply will not work without it. If you don’t have it installed, the first part of the Character Builder install program will download it and install it and then install the Character Builder itself.

Once installed, you can run the Character Builder. The first screen gives you the option of loading an existing character, creating a new one, or creating a quick character which will auto-build it based upon things like race, class, etc. Great option for building some quick NPCs. Also, on the main screen, are links to the latest news on D&DI and the Character Builder.

I chose to create a new character and it brought me to a screen that allowed me to choose a Race. However, at the top of the screen are tabs to move between different sections. So, for example, if I choose Elf for a Race and moved on to the next step, I don’t have to start over if I want to change it. Instead, I simply click on the Race tab and make my change.

There are many races available, not just the races from the PHB. Those are all there, of course, but it also includes races from the Monster Manual, Forgotten Realms, and Dragon Magazines. When you click on a race, the right side of the screen will give you all of the related to that race. There will also be a picture of the male and female versions of the races from the PHB at the bottom of the screen. There are no pictures for other races but there is information on the right side of the screen.

I chose a race (Human), clicked on a button labeled “Choose Human,” and then chose a language. The languages were all from the PHB. I clicked on a language (Draconic), clicked a button labeled “Choose Draconic,” and clicked on “Next Step” to move to my class selection. You can change your choice without having to start over. You simply need to go to that section and click on the arrow next to the heading of the column to see the complete list again. Then choose another race and click the “Choose ….” button at the bottom to make the switch.

The class list gives you all the classes from the PHB plus one from Forgotten Realms and one from Dragon Magazine. I chose the Fighter, keeping it simple, chose a Build (Great Weapon Fighter), and chose my Talent (One-Handed). I then moved on to the next step.

Next I am able to pick an optional Background for my character. This really only applies if you are using the backgrounds in Forgotten Realms or ones presented in Dragon Magazine. I didn’t choose a background and moved to the next step.

I moved to Ability Scores next. Here I have a few options. I can allow it to Auto Pick for me, I can Roll Dice, or I can Use an Array. Regardless of the option I choose, it keeps track of how many points I’ve spent. This is great if I’m using a point buy method of ability generation. I can click the Reset Points button at any time to reset my abilities. I also, at this point, choose where to place my racial ability modifiers. I picked an Array to use and put my racial mod in Strength. Time for the next step!

Skills are next. As a human fighter, I see four “Train a skill” options at the bottom of the screen. I click on a bold skill name (these are the skills available to my class) and click the “Train …” button to train in that particular skill. I noticed that when I clicked on a skill, it gave me the complete PHB entry on the right side of the screen. Very convenient. I did this four times and then move to the next step.

Up came Feats. Lots and lots of options. I really liked the Search feature which allowed me to search for specific text in feat names or descriptions. I typed in “proficiency” and it went to the first Weapon Proficiency feat. I hit Enter and it went to the next one and so on. Very nice. At the bottom of the screen, just like with skills, it listed two “Choose a Feat” options; one for being a Human and another for Fighter. I clicked a Feat, clicked “Choose…” and did it again before I moved on to the next step.

Powers were next and the process was essentially the same as before. I have options at the bottom to choose a specific type of power (at-will, encounter, or daily). I click on one and see the powers to choose from. I click on a Power, click “Choose Power,” and it adds it. I also have the Search option on this screen as well.

Equipment is next and the list is huge! I’m glad there’s a Search option here. It automatically gave me 100gp to spend. I also have the option of “Shopping Mode” which allows me to buy stuff at 100% and sell at 20%, just as you would in-game. Nice little option for tracking your equipment through here. You can also click Auto Pick. When I did that, it purchased armor for me, a weapon, and the Adventurer’s Kit.

The next, and final, step is where you enter your character’s details. Name, gender, alignment, deity, height, weight, etc. You can also enter your name and your RPGA number. You also Level Up from here, Retrain, enter a Character Portrait, create Journal Entries, and other things like that on this tab.

I filled out the info and then clicked the Save button in the bottom left-hand corner to save it in a format usable in the Character Builder. I then clicked the Character Sheet button to view it and print it. Here’s a shot of the first page and the last page.


All in all, this is a very, very nice product and it definitely makes my subscription worthwhile. It is very easy to use and beats the tar out of the 3E Character Generator. I highly recommend you get this when it becomes a stable product or you can get it now if you want to create characters level one to three. :)

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6 Responses to “4E Character Builder”

Wyatt November 10th, 2008 at 7:41 PM

That sounds very nice! I’m curious how savvy the auto-pick options are. I’m glad it’s very solid, and it can only get better with time.

Wyatt´s last blog post..Religion In Eden (RPG Blog Carnival)

reveal November 10th, 2008 at 7:59 PM

@Wyatt – For ability scores, it automatically puts an 18 in your most important stat (Strength for Fighters, Wisdom for Clerics, etc.) and goes from there. For equipment, it will purchase the best armor and weapon it can afford that you can use as well as the Adventurer’s Kit. It seems pretty intuitive amazingly enough.

Sean Brady November 11th, 2008 at 7:48 AM

Thanks for the review. I was waiting for this to come out before taking the plunge, and it does look like it will be worthwhile. I especially like the power cards print out, looks to be nicely done.

Thanks for the review.

Sean Brady´s last blog post..Congratulations President Obama

Talina November 12th, 2008 at 3:44 PM

Well that is fun, I never did get in to D&DI but it always looks so fun!

Talina´s last blog post..Watch Freebirthing on Discovery Health next week!

reveal November 12th, 2008 at 4:10 PM

@Talina – Thanks for commenting! D&D is always a great outlet for those of us looking to express themselves creatively. 😀

A-to-Z Semi-Monthly RPG Blog/Discussion List Issue 3 » Inkwell Ideas November 12th, 2008 at 10:38 PM

[…] B can stand for BUILDER and BETA… as in the Dungeons and Dragons Digital Insider Character Builder Beta (say that five times fast!) has been released. “Living Dice” offers a tepid initial review. “Critical Hits” also has a review as well as “RPG Centric.” […]

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