Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time Saver

One of my biggest gripes with D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder RPG is how terribly complicated they are. The pain is greatest when I'm generating NPCs for the characters to interact with, especially multi-class characters or pretty much anything that casts spells. Throw in skills and feats (which, I've found, NPCs must have in order to be on anything approaching an even playing field with the PCs), and you're talking about an hour-long exercise, half an hour at a bare minimum. This is ridiculous when you consider that in a classic "sandbox" adventure, the players may not even come into contact with the NPC. And what's the life expectancy of such an NPC if they do? Maybe they kill the NPC, and all that work was for one encounter lasting twenty minutes. Is it worth it? What if I need a dozen NPCs all at once? It's pretty much impossible for a guy like me to be a good parent, hold down a job, and prepare the kinds of adventures - complete with many NPCs - that make the game exciting.

No worries, it's Dingle's Games to the rescue! I just discovered this awesome tool online: the Dingle's Games Pathfinder NPC Generator (he's also got one for D&D 3.5). This thing is awesome. It only takes about 1 minute - 5 minutes if you want to really dive into the details - to create an NPC complete with abilities, skills, feats, weapons, armor class, hit points, attack details, special powers, etc. The tool spits out an NPC that has all the stats you need to run it in your game as-is.

About the only downside I can see so far is that it is not yet complete. Some of the prestige classes such as Dragon Disciple, for example, have not yet been incorporated into the tool, but the developer seems to be working on it and making pretty good progress. I suppose there's also a potential area of improvement with the feats. In both games, many feats have complex prerequisites, and the tool has a rules engine built-in to check the validity of your feat selections on the server side. Obviously it would be ideal to restrict a user's selections on the front end, but this is a minor quibble and one that impacts newbies more than people who have a long familiarity with feats. That it checks at all is a huge win.

This is going to be a massive time saver for me, because now I can focus on creating exciting adventures without getting bogged down by all the little details of people and monsters within them.

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