E-Tools is for fools

I am a player in a D&D 3.5 game that meets once every two weeks. Recently the DM asked the players to create 15th level characters for a ‘special event’ of some kind (I have no idea). Because I am lazy, I used a character creation software to create my 15th level character. If it matters, I created a pixie ranger. In D&D 3.5e, there are rules that allow you to create a character of any monster race (even the gelatinous cube has a strength, dexterity, wisdom, etc., scores). Each monster ‘race’ is given an ‘equivalency’ to a character — so if you want to create a 15th level human fighter, the human will be a 15th level fighter… but a bugbear fighter will be 12th or 11th level in fighter because he will have 3 or more levels of ‘bugbear.’ So I have a 9th or 10th level ranger who can fly, turn invisible, etc., and shoots arrows with great accuracy (for something like 1-3 points of damage) and he is considered ‘equal’ to a 15th level human ranger because he has a buttocks-load of special abilities.

With all of the feats and skills and other shit to keep track of, I actually need a computer program to create a character if I want to create such a character according to the rules and in less than an hour’s time — a circumstance which bugs me. Then there is the fact that E-tools is (at best) unreliable, slow and crash prone. My experience with other similar products (some of my fellow players use a java based program that does the same thing; I can’t remember its name) isn’t much better. Since Wizards pulled the plug on D&D 3.5e, e-Tools is no longer supported.

One of my ‘dis-enchantments’ with 3.5 edition stems from the fact that character creation is just so complicated. Even if I just stick with the “player’s handbook,” there are lots of feats, skills and special abilities to be chosen. And many of the feats are ‘nested’ in other feats and abilities. So if you want to have the ‘great cleave’ feat, you have to pick ‘cleave’ first. In order to get ‘cleave,’ you need ‘power attack.’ In order to get ‘power attack,’ you need to fulfill some other requirements. This results in a game where players need to plan out their characters well in advance (i.e.: in order to get a feat like “Great Cleave” in the future, I need to pick the right feats and fulfill the pre-requisites beforehand). It makes planning a character like a visit to your college course advisor. And some players seem to love this ‘ongoing character generation’ aspect of the game. I am not one of them.

I will never DM a game again where players need xcel spread sheets or computer program to keep track of what they can or cannot do in a game. If that info does not fit on one page (2 pages at most), then I don’t want to run it.

3 Comments on “E-Tools is for fools”

  1. sirlarkins says:

    I went through a phase where I was a big fan of multi-page character sheets due to their novelty. When they became a necessity with 3rd edition, I quickly lost the love.

    (Although I still have a weak spot for unusual novelty character sheets, like 11″x17″ landscape format sheets and the like.)

  2. ChicagoWiz says:

    The picture… it slays me! Bwahaha! That's just awesome!

  3. Aplus says:

    I have a player that is in LOVE with 3E/Pathfinder character generation. I'm pretty sure he enjoys it more than actually playing.

    So yeah, those people are out there.

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