One More Reason that Character Builder is Awesome

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 17, 2009

A few weeks ago my regular gaming group began a short-term, four week campaign. Our characters started at level 7 and at the end of each week we level up. This gave us a great chance to jump right into some of the new classes and give them a try.

By keeping just below the Paragon tier we’re at the heroic “sweet spot.” We’ve got a few powers and items to choose from on our turn, but we’re not bogged down with so many choices that it slows play. It’s been a fantastic ride (with one more week to go). I highly recommend trying this approach to gaming. But that’s an article for a different day. Today I want to again express my admiration for the character builder.

For the mini-adventure described above I choose to play a Barbarian. And since I had my brand new copy of Primal Power I thought it would be a good idea to try out one of the new builds. The character I made was a kick-ass, dual-weapon wielding, Razorclaw Shifter, Whirling Slayer Barbarian. The problem was that most of the powers I wanted were from the new book, and until today they weren’t available in Character Builder. So I improvised.

I started by using character builder to make my PC as best I could. I created custom elements for my Feral Might class feature and almost all of my powers. I was somewhat disappointed to see that the power cards character builder produced for custom powers all printed on the utility card template. I mean, I entered it in the encounter power slot so why not print it up on the red cards? Getting over that, I then copied the relevant details of the powers and I was ready to play. For the past three weeks I used a combination of materials already in character builder and material I had to write out by hand.

And then today, character builder was updated and Primal Power was one of the sources now included.

So after I finished installing my updated version of character builder I decided to load my level 9 Barbarian before leveling him to 10. I was also planning to remove the custom elements and replace them with the actual legal powers, complete with correct colour-coding and all the math done for me. When I loaded my Barbarian I was blown away.

Just when I thought character builder couldn’t make my life any easier, I made a fantastic discovery. All of those custom elements I created had automatically converted to their now-present, powers of the same name. I didn’t have to do anything to fix the character. He was already completely up to speed. Yesterday he was a level 9 “house ruled” character full of custom powers and today, after I installed the update, he was 100% legal.

I don’t know if character builder has always had this capability or if this is something that’s only come about with a recent update, but it’s friggin’ awesome. Wizards of the Coast, I salute you on a job well done. If it turns out that this is something that’s been around a while and I’m just catching up then I have one question for all my friends who also use character builder: Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?

What other great secrets does character builder hold? If you’ve discovered something about character builder that you’ve found particularly useful or interesting, please share it with us.

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1 xerosided November 17, 2009 at 11:19 pm

That’s a pretty sweet discovery, and something I wouldn’t have come to expect from my experience with the Character Builder. I’m pleasantly surprised.

2 Hrm November 17, 2009 at 11:50 pm

This is kind of troubling. What if I don’t want Wizards to overwrite my painstakingly created custom power with something that happened to have the same name published at a later date? It should have at least asked you, first.

3 Kyre November 18, 2009 at 1:09 am

I know that that ability has been there at least since Divine Power came out–I had put in custom powers for those abilities, and when it updated, it instantly converted them, much to my great pleasure. I don’t know if it was around before that.

4 Scott November 18, 2009 at 3:06 am

Hrm: You have a couple of options.

First, you can make a copy of all your custom information and store it somewhere else, which is probably a good idea anyway.

Second, you can add a prefix or suffix to each of your custom rules elements’ names that would prevent them from matching the names of any future official rules elements, so that they would never be replaced.

Really, though, this is one of those nifty features that does a lot more good than harm.

5 Vinicius Zóio November 18, 2009 at 3:35 am

It’s been there for some time. The same happened to one of my PCs when he took Vampiric Heritage :). He took it the day the feat was released. One day, custom character, another day, complete and legal! ^^

6 Pangalin November 18, 2009 at 3:39 am

Seriously, Hrm? What’s the likelihood that he would have created a custom power of the same name for the same class WITHOUT intending it to mimic the official power?

If anyone’s seriously worried about that “problem” they can just put words in the names of their custom powers that WotC would never use in an official power name. Or hell, just stick an asterisk on there, that’d probably do it.

7 Ameron November 18, 2009 at 10:26 pm

I was presently surprised too.

I was happy to make this discovery, but you’re right, a prompting or notice would have been nice. But now that I know I can keep it in mind moving forward.

I’m just stoked that it’s there at all. I suspect it was a fairly recent addition since I hadn’t heard of it before now. You’d think others would mention discovering this functionality if it’s been around since day 1. I’m actually surprised that Wizards hasn’t promoted this functionality.

Your suggested work-arounds are excellent ideas. I agree that the benefits certainly outweigh the possible negatives.

@Vinicius Zóio
Sounds like you were as happy to make this discovery as I was.

Good point. The likelihood of someone creating a unique power with the exact same name, class, and power level as one that Wizards releases are pretty slim. Your work-around is another great idea. Thanks for the comment.

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