July 28, 2008

Where's all the 4E Community Software?

Using google to find software, even webware, for 4E produces few useful results. Most of the hits for the searches I did were for reviews for 4E itself or for the upcoming D&D Insider. This worries me somewhat, because it seems like there used to be dozens of software projects on the net for 3rd edition at any given time. Sure, many of them failed - but out of these projects came some very usefull and long lived icons of the community. To name a few: PCGen, Jamis Buck's Generators, Crystal Ball, and many more (too many to list). I even got into the fray myself, and developed an NPC Equipment Generator (first in Perl/TK, then later in Java).

But now, 4E has been out for almost 2months and I am not hearing or reading anything about new, groundbreaking software tools for the game. It seems like everyone has taken the same old bait from Wizards of the Coast again, and is waiting for D&D Insider (which is likely to be vaporware) to be released. Even if it does get released, do we really think it will have all the functionality and flexibility of a mature product like PCGen? I'm no doubt playing the skeptic here, but I'm just surprised that there hasn't been a noteworthy effort by the players community to develop a set of online tools to make playing easier on the table-top. Fer fucks sake: even a Tablesmith style encounter generator would be good.

[POST PUBLISH EDIT] : I did find Asmor.com to have some decent tools for 4E DM'ing. But, other than that it seems pretty sparse.


  1. Bad news is that following the GSL license, no third developer authorized to create software for the 4E.

    Fans will do it anyway, but I think that we'll not see so much as we have for the 3.x

  2. @gomez : Welcome! and thanks for the comment. I had not thought about that factor. While I can see that the new GSL will no doubt cripple 'official' profit oriented endeavors, I hope you are right about 'the fans' developing their own tools. In the meantime, we shall wait and see.

  3. Indeed, Gomez already pointed it out - problem is even with fan created software they have to wait according to the GSL before they release anything to public. Else they might face some serious problems with some nice lawyers of Hasbro...
    A pity the new GSL....
    And I honestly never understood or saw the point of it!

  4. In fact, the GSl already prohibits fans to develop software.

    They want you to subscribe the DnD Insider stuff and a free market of software products is against this.

    (Thanks for the welcome)

  5. So, recently Kenzer & Company released their latest campaign setting without any GSL, citing the "nominal use" clause of Trademark law, or something. There's a post about it over on Living Dice. Makes me wonder if a similar approach could be taken with the software. But I'm not a lawyer...

  6. Problem with software published without the GSL license is that cannot include any WotC material (es. Power names or description).

    Kenzer can develop something compatible with D&D4E, but cannot refer directly to anything in the WotC sourcebooks.


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