C&Ds for Online D&D 5E Character Generators

Ed Friedlander reports that WotC has asked him to remove his D&D character generators. Ed ran the generators at his site, Pathguy.com, including a D&D 5E character generator. His Pathfinder RPG character generator is still running. Thanks to Slayyne for the scoop (who also reports that at least one other site has also closed). [Update: while the actual request has not been shared, others have reported that these are very amicable requests].

Ed Friedlander reports that WotC has asked him to remove his D&D character generators. Ed ran the generators at his site, Pathguy.com, including a D&D 5E character generator. His Pathfinder RPG character generator is still running. Thanks to Slayyne for the scoop (who also reports that at least one other site has also closed). [Update: while the actual request has not been shared, others have reported that these are very amicable requests].

You can see his closing note here.

"After almost two decades, Wizards of the Coast has asked me to remove my online character generators. I appreciate the many people who have written and thanked me for my work, and I hope you will continue to enjoy the hobby.

As a physician and gamer, I've supported and defended the hobby, and helped concerned families understand its value.

The "Dungeons and Dragons" phenomenon has encouraged young people to study other cultures. It is a game in which people work together to accomplish a meaningful goal. Characters even define themselves in terms of their good morals and their ethics. On one level, it simulates the spiritual warfare described in the Christian scriptures and in the Arthurian legends on which the game is based. I am proud that I was able to make a contribution.

My generator for Pathfinder will of course remain online. Click here for more information about this role-playing game.

May your dice come up 20s.

Ed Friedlander MD
"

Back in November, the D&D Tools website suffered a similar fate, as have a couple of spellcard websites. While WotC appears to be largely easygoing as far as fan creations are concerned, they do take action when content from their products is copied or distributed.

Ed's character generator created characters by selecting a number of options, and output a character sheet similar to below. I'm not all that familiar with it, so I don't know what text, if any, it may have borrowed from the official rules.

As yet, there's no license (Open Gaming or otherwise) for D&D 5th Edition (although WotC does intend to do so), although a number of publishers have published books anyway using the older Open Gaming License for D&D 3E and 3.5.

What is interesting to hear is that some people who have received such requests describe them as very amicable. Toxic Rat says "Speaking from personal experience, I received a very nice email asking that I take down particular content owned by WotC. No threats, no warnings of legal action, just a request to honor their copyright." That's great to hear.

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Gecko85

Explorer
IIRC, it included info for non-basic rules classes (Bard, for example) and races (Half-Elf, for example), calculating class and race bonuses, etc...So, that would be my guess as to why they sent a C&D. I'd imagine if was strictly limited to what's in the freely available basic rules, it would be OK.
 

Greybird

Explorer
While WotC is well within their rights, they need to be careful. They're starting to get a FOX-like reputation going.
 

IIRC, it included info for non-basic rules classes (Bard, for example) and races (Half-Elf, for example), calculating class and race bonuses, etc...So, that would be my guess as to why they sent a C&D. I'd imagine if was strictly limited to what's in the freely available basic rules, it would be OK.
Maybe. Very possibly. But we don't know. Which is a problem.
 

Gecko85

Explorer
A good example would be the Fight Club 5 iOS apps. They have all the built-in info for the classes, races, spells, etc. that are in the free basic rules. Then, they give you the ability to add your own, so you can manually enter the info from the PHB. That way, they're not violating anything. Had they included info from the PHB, they'd be shut down.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
A good example would be the Fight Club 5 iOS apps. They have all the built-in info for the classes, races, spells, etc. that are in the free basic rules. Then, they give you the ability to add your own, so you can manually enter the info from the PHB. That way, they're not violating anything. Had they included info from the PHB, they'd be shut down.

Whether or not the source of the data is free or not has nothing to do with it. The price is irrelevant; it's the ownership of it that matters. I don't know why the Fight Club apps are still there; maybe we've just drawn attention to them - it may be that nobody at WotC has purchased it yet. Dunno. But the price of the original content has nothing to do with it.
 

Gecko85

Explorer
Whether or not the source of the data is free or not has nothing to do with it. The price is irrelevant; it's the ownership of it that matters. I don't know why the Fight Club apps are still there; maybe we've just drawn attention to them - it may be that nobody at WotC has purchased it yet. Dunno. But the price of the original content has nothing to do with it.
Well, they've had a 4e version for a long time, and it's been a very popular app, so I don't see how WotC wasn't aware. I could very well see them being OK with generators that only use the basic rules, because it would help promote the game and build the brand. Once you include anything from the PHB, though, is where they draw the line. That makes sense.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Once you include anything from the PHB, though, is where they draw the line. That makes sense.

That's just not true. They've sent C&Ds to things which use the Basic Rules before. The price of the source content has nothing to do with it.

The sticking point appears to be reproduction/distribution of content (which makes sense; that's pretty much what IP violation is). Thus the spell cards that someone was making. I'm not 100% clear where the issue with this particular site lies, as the creator hasn't shared the contents of the C&D. I imagine that would explain more. They also seem to have issues with automated stuff, but the processes in the background aren't IP, so I'm not sure what angle that's being approached from.

The C&D no doubt has more specific information. The closing-down post is pretty vague; it doesn't mention whether they referred to trademark infringement or copyright infringement, or what.

Generally speaking, you can make a thing compatible with someone else's thing, and you can say so (just look at all the third-party iPhone chargers and cases). So I'm guessing there's something else going on there.
 
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mcbobbo

Explorer
So I'm guessing there's something else going on there.

I can't see how it matters. D&D 5e just lost a valuable resource and nobody benefited, WotC included.

Imagine a farmer with a talented pig who can oink the alphabet. People come from miles around to appreciate said pig. Farmer kills and eats said pig.

Within the farmer's rights? Yeah.

Stupid, wreckless, and destructive beyond reason? Yep.
 

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