One of the greatest tools for playing Dungeons & Dragon just got even easier with the new web-based Character Builder.
When the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons launched its Character Builder in 2009, I was amazed at how much it streamlined the experience of making a character. Instead of poring through various books which may or may not have orange Cheetos stains or pages soaked in soda, all of the options were presented to you in a clear and concise way. I spent more time making cool character decisions instead of worrying if I added all the numbers correctly. Despite how awesome it was to use, the Character Builder did have a few problems: It was a downloaded application that only worked on Windows machines, it had to be updated with new content every month, and if I saved my character on my home PC, there was no way to access it in a pinch on my laptop. Now, all those problems have been fixed with Wizards of the Coast launching the new web-based Character Builder today.
While it's great that Mac users can now use the Builder too, I'm more interested in saving all of my characters on Wizards' servers. Not only will this make accessing and printing my character easier, I'm sure it will be revealing for Wizards to track what kind of characters gamers are making and make sure that they are producing content for those characters.
Wizards has also redesigned the user interface for the Builder, allowing you to spend as little or as much time as you want to make a character. I'm not super-excited that the tool now hammers the MMO-like character roles down your throat from the onset, but I appreciate that you can now quickly cobble a character together if you are pressed for time.
Any character that you made with the old Builder can be easily imported into the new web-based one. I just checked that process with a character from my lunchtime campaign and it works flawlessly. I could print out the character in just a few minutes, and I noticed that the new character sheet presents the information in a much cleaner and more attractive manner.
The only downside is that there's no free preview like the old version offered, you must have an active D&D Insider account (around $10/month) to open the application, but Wizards says they'll be implementing a preview soon. And if you were attached to the old Builder, Wizards says that it will still work, but it will no longer update with new content.
Chris Youngs over at Wizards spent some time recording a video tour of the new Character Builder if you want to take a look.
Also, as of today, the Character Builder is up to date with all of the Essentials materials that have been released over the last few months, including the Red Box and Heroes of the Fallen Lands, as well as the Dark Sun campaign materials.
The announcement was enough for me to plunk down my CC and grab that D&D Insider account that I've been considering. After testing out the Character Builder, it's totally worth it.
Now, to make Kaft-Ka, my Thri-Kreen Druid/Shaman hybrid...