HEROLAB'S 5E Update Is Here!

D&D 5th Edition has changed overnight into a game that has a wide range of electronic support. I've mentioned Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, and a range of 5E mobile apps, all of which now support 5E. Lone Wolf Development told us a couple of weeks ago that 5E was coming to Hero Lab and Realmworks - and now it's here! Probably the most popular character creation software around, you can now build 5E characters in Hero Lab.


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The 5E update costs $20 for existing users, or $29.99 for new Hero Lab customers. You can get Hero Lab for PC, Mac, or iPad here. I've used it extensively on an iPad at the game table for Pathfinder and found it quickly became indispensable for managing a character, and toggling effects, conditions, abilities, and so on.

Here's what Lone Wolf says about it:

"The D&D 5th Edition SRD game system in Hero Lab includes everything in the official SRD, such as races and their traits, character classes and class features, spells, equipment, magic items, and other character creation necessities. It will also include all of the monsters and DM mechanics outlined in the SRD later this month.

For those of you not familiar with the SRD, it differs from the rules presented in the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon’s Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual. Specifically, the SRD omits certain options that appear in the full rulebooks (e.g. certain spells, feats, etc.), so those options aren’t included in Hero Lab. Fortunately, Hero Lab’s extensibility allows users to fill in the holes and readily go beyond the limits of the SRD.

As a commercial product, we take pride in everything we deliver to our users. We’ll be rolling out support for D&D 5th Edition SRD in stages, and we’ve spent the past few weeks ensuring that everything works as intended. This initial release features character creation support for the D&D 5th Edition SRD, and DM-specific tools will be incorporated throughout the month of February."




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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

The GUI is so unnecessarily ugly and unintuitive. Maybe not enough people have complained and they are satisfied. Maybe I'm a design snob who embraces the last few decades of interface design and expects excellence, especially for $30. How in this day and age is this level of design acceptable? I'm not being snarky... I really am startled. My initial gut reaction was surprise and laughter. Maybe the important parts, the actual guts of the system are excellent. Function over form? I honestly couldn't get past the first few screens. That's never happened to me before. Other than that, steep learning curve for newbies. I'll try to play with it a bit more but I honestly can't see myself wasting time on this. I think your point about the simplicity of 5E is very apt here. This level of software complexity is overkill. Look at Pathguy's character creation site. It's clunky but workable. It makes sense and is still usable, even if simple and stark (and perhaps ugly).

Out of interest (and I'm also not trying to be snarky), can you point me to what you consider to be an excellent GUI?

I honestly have no idea what is considered good or bad, so some perspective would help me.

I'm more of a function over form guy (and Hero Lab is still not a gold standard when it comes to function), but I didn't think Hero Lab was terrible in either regard. Like I said though, I don't have a great idea of what is good and what is terrible when it comes to GUI.
 

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As is, this is absolutely useless to me. I couldn't even remake my mountain dwarf fighter. I know that with the editor I could add in most (all maybe) of the missing content, but why would I pay $20 (I do use it a lot for savage worlds, shadowrun and M&M) for something that I can get excel sheets from this site that already have the updated info in it and is portable? Answer: I wouldn't/won't. If/when they ever get a full license to put in all the PHB info, I'll consider it, but until then, since I don't play with just SRD information, I'm not paying for an SRD character builder.
 

daplunk

First Post
It's a challenging piece of software to write so i think there is truth behind the function over form statement. I'm playing in the editor having a look through the significant amount of content that's available for 4e and the cogs in my head as struggling to comprehend the layers of complexity required to ensure everything works and that if a new feat is released... that can work to.
 

ehenning

Explorer
I bought Hero Lab back when I was playing Pathfinder, and it saved me a ton of work. For more complex games like Pathfinder, with a lot of options and crunch, it can be a big time-saver.

I probably won't buy the 5e extension, simply because character creation in 5e is much less work than in Pathfinder. The $20 price tag (for existing Hero Lab customers) isn't unreasonable, but 5e is too basic for it to be much of a timesaver for me. I'm glad they have put it out as an option, though.

The biggest barrier for me is the simplicity of 5e. I don't need a major tool to manage all the complexities of my character, so I can use any number of PDF or Excel-based solutions to create my characters.

If WotC publish more crunch books, or if the DM's Guild material starts to take off and become commonly used, then we may need a tool like this to customize and manage everything. Right now, I use Lion's Den Fight Club for digital, and MadBeard's PDF for pen-n-paper. Very happy.
 

manduck

Explorer
I use Hero Lab for Mutants and Masterminds and really like it for that game. Though I always found it lacking for D&D characters, even the 4e builder. Being limited to the SRD, which is pretty much what I expected to happen, means there just isn't enough content to justify the $20 or $30 price tag. For $27 you can get the physical PHB from Amazon with all the rules. If I have to spend all that time putting custom info in to the editor for Hero Lab, I may as well just make the character by hand with my book that I'll always have access to. It's not a bad idea but that SRD limitation kind of hurts the product for me.
 

In my opinion, Hero Labs was NEEDED for a Pathfinder game if you were using all the books that are out now. I'm enjoying the table being free of laptops and ipads with 5e which helps keep with the digital distractions. I don't need Hero Labs for 5e currently, even if they had a full license.
 

As is, this is absolutely useless to me. I couldn't even remake my mountain dwarf fighter.

I'm not a programmer but had a lot of practice with HL when we played Pathfinder.
So when you said you couldn't remake your Mountain Dwarf, I thought...is it that hard?

I just jumped on to HL and went and created the Mountain Dwarf, it took me 10 minutes only because I had to figure out where things were.

I copied the Hill Dwarf, removed Wis mod and added Strength mod. Removed Dwarven Resilience.
One Eval Script and two Tags in my Racial Special tab named "Dwarven Armor Training".

I then went to buy armor. Light and Medium are available with proficiency. I didn't add the Fighter Class as that gives me those proficiencies, I was testing just the Mountain Dwarf race I created. Boom, done.
 
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Making the mountain dwarf fighter from what they're selling is my point. I could've gone and entered everything myself to make him, but my point being that I don't feel like paying $20 for the program so that I can go and enter in all the missing races, class features, spells, feats, etc. myself. I would rather spend the time that it would take to enter all that doing other things like actually playing the game, playing with my dog, spending time with my kids and/or my girlfriend, etc. That all being said, I'm not too sure how hard it would be to do all that, my only HL data entry was with Shadowrun for Chrome Flesh, which I gave up on because I wasn't sure how to code stuff to make them work right, and HL put out the CF update so I didn't have to do it.
 

I get it, you not wanting to spend the money nor do all the work. I've spent over $20 going out to lunch with my co-workers in one day. I don't go out for lunch and now I have my $20 to buy something I will enjoy working with.

I don't want to have to add most of the data that we didn't get either but Lonewolf got us something, I'm sure they wanted the full license but that's outta their hands.

I spend time going to the movies, play the game, working out, dating, etc but this is my hobby.. when I have free time, I love doing stuff for my hobby.

I'm not really trying to convince anyone to spend their money if they don't think it's worth it to them. I saw you had mentioned an example of not being able to do the Mountain Dwarf and I did it in 10 minutes. Coding it, once I knew what I was doing, was like 2 minutes. I really do get it but my gaming buddies are cheap ass gaming bastards, I buy what I think is fair for me. :)
 
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The price is a little steep as a player, especially for what you get. But, really, making a character isn't so hard in 5e that I need some help with the math and picking through options.
But I think the benefit of the program is really to DMs. There are a lot of monsters in the SRD to manage and making balanced encounters can be a bit finicky. They just need to get those tools working.

While a full licence would be better, I expect that to be significantly more expensive. Fantasy Ground's pricing is likely set by WotC, so I'd expect $50 per book as well.
 

Agamon

Adventurer
I'm not really trying to convince anyone to spend their money if they don't think it's worth it to them. I saw you had mentioned a example of not being able to do the Mountain Dwarf and I did it in 10 minutes. Coding it once I knew what I was doing was like 2 minutes. I really do get it but my gaming buddies are cheap ass gaming bastards, I buy what I think is fair for me. :)

Yeah, there's a bit of a learning curve to the coding, but it's not tough to figure out, and once you do, it's pretty easy. But I get not wanting to have to do that. I personally hate making maps for games, but some people like doing that. Different strokes, and all.
 

The price is a little steep as a player, especially for what you get. But, really, making a character isn't so hard in 5e that I need some help with the math and picking through options.
But I think the benefit of the program is really to DMs. There are a lot of monsters in the SRD to manage and making balanced encounters can be a bit finicky. They just need to get those tools working.

While a full licence would be better, I expect that to be significantly more expensive. Fantasy Ground's pricing is likely set by WotC, so I'd expect $50 per book as well.

The beauty of 5e is that you don't need a program to do the math like Pathfinder requires. That is the only reason my table bought HL back in the day, Pathfinder was insane as we went up levels.

Since I'm not playing Pathfinder any more but own HL, buying the $20 5e SRD lets me still use HL and store the players characters and so on. Right now it's the best tool for DM's, adding monsters will be most of my time spent.
 

JohnnyZemo

Explorer
I'm okay with the price; I'd be happy to pay the price if it included all the options from the PHB. Only having the SRD content is a deal-breaker for me.

I've been creating 5E characters using editable PDFs, and it is sooooo easy. I'm going to stick with that method for now.
 

LWDLiz

First Post
The rest of the PHB backgrounds, class options, feats, and more are available for FREE in the D&D 5e Community "Packs"! These packages were created by volunteer members of the Hero Lab community and are available to anyone with the D&D 5th Edition SRD game system for Hero Lab. There's more information on the Lone Wolf forums.
 

The GUI is so unnecessarily ugly and unintuitive. Maybe not enough people have complained and they are satisfied. Maybe I'm a design snob who embraces the last few decades of interface design and expects excellence, especially for $30. How in this day and age is this level of design acceptable? I'm not being snarky... I really am startled. My initial gut reaction was surprise and laughter. Maybe the important parts, the actual guts of the system are excellent. Function over form? I honestly couldn't get past the first few screens. That's never happened to me before. Other than that, steep learning curve for newbies. I'll try to play with it a bit more but I honestly can't see myself wasting time on this. I think your point about the simplicity of 5E is very apt here. This level of software complexity is overkill. Look at Pathguy's character creation site. It's clunky but workable. It makes sense and is still usable, even if simple and stark (and perhaps ugly).

I haven't found Hero Lab to be very useful since I stopped playing Pathfinder, to be honest.

It looks like something that was designed in the late 80s or early 90s, for sure. It's really not that well done in terms of function, either. The only reason I own it is that it saved a lot of time creating Pathfinder characters, and was the most functional of the very limited software options at the time.

Being the best product out of a tiny handful doesn't mean it's a very good one, though. It looks and acts like something written by a person or group with no real professional experience. The whole customization option is a joke. You shouldn't have to be editing files to create your own stuff - that should be purely menu driven.

You see the same types of problems in many other small industries. You would be amazed at the really bad state of support software for public libraries, for example.
 

It's a challenging piece of software to write so i think there is truth behind the function over form statement. I'm playing in the editor having a look through the significant amount of content that's available for 4e and the cogs in my head as struggling to comprehend the layers of complexity required to ensure everything works and that if a new feat is released... that can work to.

It shouldn't be a challenging piece of software to write, and shouldn't be that complex to add new stuff to it. It's only challenging because it hasn't been designed in a professional way. It's like somebody's home coding project that got beefed up a bit and then put out for sale.

Back when I was doing professional coding full-time, I would have been in a lot of trouble if I had turned something like that in to a client.
 

The rest of the PHB backgrounds, class options, feats, and more are available for FREE in the D&D 5e Community "Packs"! These packages were created by volunteer members of the Hero Lab community and are available to anyone with the D&D 5th Edition SRD game system for Hero Lab. There's more information on the Lone Wolf forums.

Just downloaded it Liz.. PERFECT! Love the HL Community! Easy as pie to add on. Even less data for me to input for my stuff. You guys are awesome!
 

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