Last week I wrote about getting behind the screen with Pathfinder. The article served as an introduction to getting started running Pathfinder games for someone new to RPGs or just the Pathfinder system. This week I am going to take a look at some of the tools to help run or play in a Pathfinder game. Several of these have a more GM’s point of view focus, but several will be quite useful for players as well.
In this era, everyone always likes an electronic character generator. Character generators make generating a character much faster and often lead to more accurate characters in the end. I know they help keep me from overlooking small things during the process that I seem to have a habit of forgetting.
The first one we will look at is the Venture Captain Online Character Generator. This generator is web based and free. It is still in beta and unfortunately only supports basic character generation at the moment. Advanced Player’s Guide content has not been added yet. At the moment the developer is working to make it easier to manage on the backend to facilitate easier adding of materials to web application. It can be quite handy in a pinch though and well worth keeping an eye on as development continues.
The next generator receives mention on the Paizo forums often enough to warrant mentioning here. It is a pay for (demo mode available) Excel based generator called The Only Sheet. It has a one-time pay option or a subscription option which includes updates for one year at a time. It only runs on Windows systems according to their site. They are continually adding content based on their website. For people that prefer an Excel based format, this sheet might hold some promise.
Next up is PC Gen. Popular during the 3.x days and with excellent computer system support and an even better price tag PC Gen also supports some Pathfinder content. They are continuing work on getting the Advanced Player’s Guide data sets updated. PC Gen is community based, but pretty flexible, for those that want to support community based software.
And the final character generator we look at is Hero Lab. This is my favorite of the character generators and also the one officially endorsed by Paizo. Hero Lab is written by the Lone Wolf Development guys and a paid for option. You can purchase the core tool with one included system for $29.99. Additional data packs are available for subsequent released rulebooks by Paizo. They are current though with Bestiary 3 available and both Ultimate books from Paizo. They do have a free version available for the Beginner Box rules. Hero Lab runs on Windows and they recently released a Mac beta version as well.
The Hero Lab interface is very intuitive and easy to use. It does a very good job of highlighting errors along the way as you build your character. Custom datasets are possible, though it does take some knowledge to tweak them or add data to them to your liking.
Hero Lab also allows you to advance your monsters from the Bestiaries, add class levels to them and manage them. Coupled with the included combat tracker it is quite useful. The combat tracker allows you to apply conditions to characters or NPCs during the course of battle and have their attack bonuses and associated items changes as necessary at the click of a box.
This next tool sort of falls into its own niche, but a very useful niche. Combat Manager serves several roles acting as an initiative tracker, combat manager, treasure generator and a monster advancer. I find myself using it most frequently as a monster advancer, though many swear by it for its combat manager abilities as well. Currently it only runs on Windows, an iPad version is supposedly in progress, and is free for download. It is a very powerful tool and easily allows you to apply templates to monsters and group them together for combat. I use it to quickly apply templates or advance monsters and to gauge an encounter’s CR rating quickly. I am sure there is a large amount of untouched usefulness I have not found yet.
With increasing presence of iPads at the gaming table, it warrants its own section. Paizo has dipped their toe into this water by releasing their Critical Hits deck and Critical Fumble decks for the iPad. They are an excellent idea and hopefully a precursor to more apps coming from Paizo for the iPad. It has been a bit since I have seen any new apps for the iPad from Paizo. I think the Harrow Deck could make for a very interesting app on the iPad.
Another powerful Pathfinder specific app is the Summoner app by Lanza Giuseppe. This app should be required by any summoners at the table. The application allows you to choose which summon level spell you want and then choose your critter and apply a template if desired. It will then determine how many appear and the stats are right there. Very cool application and will be my go to for the next time I play a summoner.
Finally, another third-party app for the iPad is the PFR app from ufisk. This is essentially the PFSRD in an application. This is a pay for application and does require in application purchases to gain access to supplement rule books. The application is worth mentioning though in case you game with an iPad and do not have an Internet connection (or a reliable Internet connection) when you do game.
That’s a Wrap
There are many more tools out there for helping manage your game electronically. I tried to focus on Pathfinder specific tools that can really help you become a little more efficient as GM or even as a player. While the tools for Pathfinder are not all under one umbrella, they are out there!