I’ve mentioned before that I prefer to have my character sheet be as compact as possible; one page if I can get it. This is one of my biggest annoyances with the online Character Builder compared to the old downloadable version; I can’t make a one-page template (with power cards handled separately, of course). I also can’t suppress the printing of power cards that I don’t need.
Thus, I was delighted to discover a new free tool from an EN World poster who goes by the name divide0 that will create a compact character sheet using .dnd4e files exported from the online Character Builder. divide0 put up a post about this program last week, and I first saw it on Friday. Exciting times for me!
Now, there are some caveats. The main one is that, so far, I’ve only been able to get it to work properly in Firefox version 10. divide0 explains that he built it for Firefox, but I wasn’t able to make it work quite right in version Firefox version 3.6.26 (I’m generally a Chrome user, so I hadn’t updated my Firefox in a while). In 3.6.26, most things look good but the trained skills are blacked out by diamonds, making the numbers unreadable. In Chrome, everything looks good until you get to the print preview, where the tables seem to break down.
If you want to use this program, here are the steps I suggest following.
- If you don’t already have it, download and install Firefox version 10 (or later, I imagine).
- Within Firefox, go the Firefox menu button in the top left corner, hover over Print, and select Page Setup. Check the box next to “Print Background”. You’ll probably also want to go to the Margins & Header/Footer tab of this box and set your margins to zero and all of the headers and footers to be blank.
- Export your character file from the Character Builder. If you’ve never done this before, you can click the Load button from the Builder’s main menu, then click on the character you want to export, then click the Export button. Save the .dnd4e file wherever you like.
- Go to divide0’s character sheet app page.
- Click the Browse button and choose your .dnd4e file.
- Click Upload and watch the magic happen!
What’s so great about this character sheet app, you may ask? A few things.
- It puts the information that spreads over three pages in the normal Character Builder sheet onto one page (racial features, class features, feats)
- It gives you the full text of the class features, racial features and feats
- You can click on any power card to deselect it so that it won’t be printed
- It handles magic items in a clever way; one power card to summarize all of your magic items and their properties, and then separate power cards for every magic item power (which, again, you can choose to suppress if you don’t want them printed).
- Cool icons for standard / move / minor / immediate / free / no action powers, plus the usual icons for melee / ranged / close / area powers
- Icons for damage types that you can read at a glance
- If you print to PDF, the file size is about a tenth of what you get from the Character Builder
- Did I mention the awesome one-page layout?
The images above show the interface in action, and this PDF is the result of printing the sheet above using CutePDF. Pretty slick. (This is my wife’s dragonborn swordmage from my Madness at Gardmore Abbey campaign, in case you were wondering.)
All that said, I certainly have a wish list of things that would be cool to see in future versions of this tool if divide0 does more with it:
- Not a complaint, but it’s worth noting that actual ability scores are not displayed, just the modifiers. You should also be aware that this program uses the character summary card for defenses, hit points, initiative modifier, skills, etc. instead of putting those on the main sheet itself.
- If you get enough class features and feats, I could see this spilling onto multiple pages. Cutting the descriptions of the languages and changing them to just a list could help.
- It would be very cool if you could re-arrange the order of the power cards.
- If this could be made to work properly with Chrome too, that would be awesome.
That’s a pretty short wish list. I really think this is a cool tool, and it’s especially nice for me when my players for my online game send me their .dnd4e files. Now I can read them without having to load them into the Character Builder, which requires that I delete other characters due to the 20 character limit.
This is the kind of development that I hope WotC will encourage in the future. The D&D community is full of smart, talented, energetic folks who want to create things to make the game better for everyone. Wizards of the Coast, give divide0 a cookie!
-Michael the OnlineDM
I suspect this tool of possible awesomeness, but the description of psionic augmentation on my battlemind breaks it. Basically, the thing is so long that to fit it in one column shrinks the text down to about 2 or 3 points and is nigh unreadable, while leaving large amounts of white space around the other class features. 🙁
Also, on the power cards, the cost of augmentations for augmentable powers is not shown.
(And having looked at the char builder XML myself, yes I know augmentable powers are kind of annoyingly goofy.)
Though it may be obvious, I thought I’d mention that this tool requires a DDI subscription in order to put the power and class ability description text onto the character sheet and power cards. So if you’re like me and have some .dnd4e files sitting around from back when you were a subscriber and were hoping to get a new, shiny rendition of those character, you’re out of luck.
Ah, that’s a very good point. I had suspected as much but hadn’t logged out of DDI to check it. Well, it’s probably for the best; if this program somehow let you get DDI content without a subscription, I imagine WotC would get it shut down quickly.
As I understand it (and I’m not an XML guy at all), the .dnd4e files are XML and contain identifiers for things like race, class, powers, etc., and then the Character Builder pulls the data for those things from its underlying database. I gather that divide0’s program does the same thing, pulling from the Compendium or something.
It’s similar to the way Power2ool is set up (another program that I love).
It doesn’t require a DDI subscription. All the data it uses is present in the .dnd4e files.
What you are seeing with the older .dnd4e files is happening because in the past, WotC didn’t put much info in the files (just identifiers), but they started putting more into the files within the last year. So if you re-export your older characters from the current version of the character builder, you will get all the data in the file.
Thanks for the clarification from the source himself!
And of course it relies on power cards. Power cards may be great if you have a deck of physical cards, but they absolutely suck if you are using pages (either physical or PDF). You get nine powers to a page no matter how simple they are. It takes a lot of time shuffling through pages for mid-level characters or higher. In one of our smaller groups we play two characters each.
Another option, for those looking online is http://iplay4e.appspot.com/ It’s a mice one-page online sheet.
I excel and I can fit everything onto one computer screen (okay, a little scrolling for epic characters). Each power has the basics there and a full description in a comment.
Down with power cards!
I agree that it would be lovely if a program like this would allow you to print the powers in a more-compact format that’s useful for having at the table without cards. That said, I often use the power cards on a sheet of paper without cutting them into cards. It’s not ideal, but it works all right.
I too am a fan of iPlay4e. Very convenient if you have a tablet or good-sized smartphone at the table. Yay for saving trees!