After playing with the Character Builder for a couple of minutes, I realized that it’s like Vornheim but for people rather than cities.
I like generic tools. This was my philosophy when I was playing GURPS. The more generic the supplement the more likely I would buy it. And that’s the top reason I really like this little utility. So what is the Character Builder? Here is what it is not. It is not a character generator. You don’t get a pile of numbers or a stat block for whatever rules system you happen to be playing. What Character Builder gives you is a system neutral outline of a character. This is perfect for an on the fly NPC or if you want to create a list of local bar patrons just in case you might need them. It gives the outline of the character’s opinions, beliefs, passions and background enough to role play an interesting encounter or act as a seed for an adventure.
Here’s a couple of example characters:
Krana Eratroc is a seer. She is a sucker for cute and fuzzy things, summer and dudes/damsels in distress. A tablet recently played a role in her life. She hates challenges and large cities.
She is tall and muscular with golden-brown skin and large ears. She has unruly, waist length stable hair and clouded almost black eyes. She has a small scar on her right leg. She favors elegant voluminous garments in shades of pale orange, yellow-green and grey-brown.
Overall, she is motivated by mild duty and overpowering bloodlust. The first motive is the most relevant.
In an important recent incident she was motivated by frustration, perverse piety and humility. She is not being honest with herself about her primary motive.
Her brother is an admired poet and her cousin is a beloved bandit. She has a strained relationship with her brother.
Peyl Hugebow is an evil witch. A flower is significant to him. One of his hobbies is playing an instrument.
He is short and husky with caramel-colored skin. He has straight, close-cropped red-brown hair and small sea green eyes. He has a closely trimmed beard.
Overall, he is motivated by confused paranoia and temporary jealousy.
A recent action was motivated by laziness, insanity and competitiveness.
In an important recent incident he was motivated by ambition, kindness and idealism. He assumes all others have the same motives.
His grandfather is an adept crafter and his cousin is a very unpopular advocate. He has deliberately lost touch with his nephew.
Now, yeah. I know there may the occasional grammar or style error. But you’re smart, you can figure it out.
You can also quickly generate just the things you need like names, family history, opinions and motives. Once again, handy system neutral tools. There is also really neat one. The Tattoo Generator. This little option was a complete surprise to me when I opened the program. What a cool idea. You hit the “Generate” button and you get an image of the tattoo and its location. I don’t know how many images there in the database but there seems to be plenty. You’re also not necessarily stuck by just doing fantasy stuff. There’s options to generate modern or sci-fi characters. Nice.
More than likely, you’ll probably be using this for fantasy games and the Character Builder doesn’t have type of option for the standard fantasy races. This isn’t a deal breaker but it would be a really nice option for a future release.
Overall, the Character Builder is a very handy tool for any GM out there. In seconds, you could whip up interesting tavern patrons, shop keepers or whatever type of NPC you might need.
Technical Specs: The Character Builder runs using the Microsoft .NET framework. Since I’m a cheapskate, my old laptop is running Linux and the Character Builder should work via WINE (but I haven’t tested and tweaked yet.) If you go analog at the game table, no problem. You can copy and paste the results into whatever word processor you use and print out your big book of NPC’s.
The Character Builder plus some more handy tools from Chaotic Shiny Productions are available from Drivethrurpg or the Chaotic Shiny site. Plus there are plenty of other handy generators free to use at the site.
On a final note: Hannah (AKA Swordgleam) of Chaotic Shiny Productions did provide me with a review copy of this product.