A word of caution though – pretty, it ain’t. Rather, this is a tool that’s designed to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible with the minimum foss or bother. In essence, it’s a single long web page and all you do is work from the top to the bottom following the Red Arrow as it points your way. While there’s a whole shedload of options on the page, only a comparative handful of them will apply to your character and it’s easy to scroll through the “noise”.
This is very much the case if you’ve creating a 1st level character – the generator lists all of the available Powers for levels 1-30 so there’s 29 whole levels of stuff for you to skip through. It’s only a quick spin of the mouse wheel to bypass them though, and it’s much better that they’re there.
The generator gives you all of the Core Races from the PHB plus the playable Monster Manual and preview Forgotten Realms Races (Bugbear, Doppelganger, Drow, Genasi, Githyanki, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Hobgoblin, Kobold, Minotaur, Orc, Shadar-Kai, Shifter, Shifter and Warforged. Phew!) plus there’s a rather friendly space for you to enter your own race and mould it to your liking. Love it!
In a similar vein we have all of the Core Classes plus the Swordmage with a similar slot for a new Class. There’s blank boxes all the way through the generator where you can add in your own Feats, Powers, etc; it’s a nice touch and it means you can lift content straight from the virtual pages of Dragon and drop it into the generator without needing a re-write of the code every time a new issue is released.
The page starts, predictably enough, with the stats. It’s a rather intimidating layout with six rows listing each stat in turn, but it really is simple enough to use; just select your preferred allocation method (I just leave it at Standard Array) then allocate one stat in turn to each number working down. For example, if I’m generating a barbarian-style Fighter using the Standard Array I’ll pick STR for the first row, then CON, DEX, CHA, WIS and finally INT. Hit Accept these scores and we’re onto the next section.
Next we have Race, Sex, Alignment and Level. It’s great to see the option to choose a 4e-ified variant of the classic D&D alignment axis here too so I can pick “Good (Chaotic)” for my barbarian.
Then we’re onto Class selection. If you want to multi-class that’s shown here too, and this’ll be reflected further down the page as a Feat selection. If you’re generating a higher level dude your Paragon and Epic choices are here too.
After this we’ve given the options from your Race and Class. The Red Arrow (of Doom?) will show if there’s an applicable selection. Here’s where you Humans choose your free ability increase and Half-Elf Dilettantes do their thing. If you’re using a non-standard Race there’s boxes to apply ability or skill bonuses, set vision type, etc.
Moving on we’re selecting Trained Skills. If any are pre-selected for your Class they’re already filled, as are any skills due to multi-classing. Further down in the Feats section you can also burn a Feat to gain extra Training or Skill Focus. The Feats listing also includes all of the available Weapon and Armour Proficiencies, Weapon Focues and Channel Divinity Feats. Available Feats and Skills for your character are marked with a red asterisk.
Now we’re onto the meat of the page – the Powers listing. Available ones are marked with a colour-coded blog so you can see which stat affects which Power. Nice touch! Unless you’re generating a 30h level demigod much of this will pass you by (and it screams out for a little Web2.0 Ajax folding magic) but it’s all good, and very complete. Follow down the page and select your at-will, encounter and daily Powers and move down.
We’re almost done.
In the equipment section weapons and armour for which you have proficiency are marked with a red asterisk. It’s disappointing that shortswords aren’t available as a pair (I like my dual shortsword wielding Halflings!), but all of the other bases are covered; all characters being their careers with your Standard Adventurer’s Kit so their not completely naked and ill equipped.
All of the Rituals (what few there are) from the PHB are given (I’d love to see the ones from Dragon added!), then we’re onto the final details about your character such as skin, hair and eye colour.
Give them a name, hit Generate your character and you’re presented with a pop-up window containing your character sheet. Simple, really.
Seriously, it’s taken longer for me to describe this than it does to generate a character. The resulting output with straight unadorned html, and it’s very comprehensive; all of the available character actions are listed meaning it also serves double duty as a player in-game crib sheet. Nice.
As I said, this generator ain’t pretty, but it’s fully functional unlike the generator from Wizards’ which…. uhhhhh…. isn’t here still! Seriously, I’d take working but not pretty over not working and not here any day of the week!
Oh, and if you save the entire web page it works offline too which is handy for those times you’re netless and feel the urge to generate another Eldarin Rogue/Ranger.
Could this generator be improved? Sure, but only in the looks department. Make it look nicer, Ajaxify the interace to hide unneeded elements and output a beautiful PDF and it could easily be THE 4e character generator folks flock to when Wizards’ start to charge for things we expect for free.
Heck, it’s that good I reckon it’ll be the one we flock to anyhow. It’s that good, quick and simple to use. Who needs pretty, anyhow? :D
UPDATE: I’ve heard from Ed (the creator of the generator and all round nice guy) and he’s adding in the Rituals from Dragon magazine! Yay!