Proposal: Allow Simplier Character Creation

KarinsDad

Visitor
After yesterday's slightly heated discussion in the LEB Discussion Thread, elecgraystone mentioned that he wouldn't debate this topic until we had a proposal. So, I'm making a proposal.


The proposal is to allow simplier character creation and maintenance systems into LEB.

The methods that we should allow for new character creation are:

1) A .PDF (or any file format globally available for reading) output of the Character Builder character sheet.

This is for those people who use Character Builder. The mechanics portion of the sheet just prints out. To accomplish this, one could use any of the freeware or non-freeware products to print. For example:

CutePDF

Instead of printing to a printer, one prints to a PDF file.


2) An easier to use system such as:

ScorpiusRisk's Character Sheet


3) The wiki html system that we use today.


For maintenance of currently created PCs, we should allow the player to use whichever of the 3 methods above that person wants to use. It will be easy for many people to maintain their PC in the wiki format, but I could also see players such as myself who would want to switch over to method #1.


The purpose here is not to get 3 systems and to confuse anyone. The purpose here is to make it easier for new players (and current players) to create new and maintain current PCs, and to make it easier for the judges to review a PC. I believe that the adoption of this proposal will make LEB easier and more accessible for more people. I do personally know that when I saw the wiki for the first time, I was so overwhelmed that I almost didn't join here.


As a rider to this proposal, I also think that those people who do use Character Builder, regardless of which method they use above, should be asked to send their DDI Character Builder file to the judges to make it easier for the judges. A judge can then take that file and load it up into Character Builder and compare it to the online character sheet and double check it much easier and faster than if the judge had to create the PC by hand in Character Builder which I know some of the judges do. Let's make any new system easier on the judges as well, especially since we sometimes have a backlog of approved new PCs.


The advantages of method #1 for people who use Character Builder are:

1) The player only has to create the PC once in Character Builder. He does not then have to migrate the mechanics over to method #2 or method #3. This saves the player a lot of time and effort.

2) Unlike method #2 and method #3, Character Builder disallows illegal rules combinations such as not having a prerequisite for a feat but taking the feat anyway. This minimizes errors that the judges would then need to find.

3) It is faster for the judges to check correctness, especially if the players Emails his DDI Character Builder files to the judges. Note: there could be issues here of versions, so if an old version file works, great. If not, at least the player tried to help out the judges.


The advantages of method #2 for people who use Character Builder are:

1) Err, they do not have to download Adobe Reader and freeware .PDF software???

2) It is much easier and less prone to error than method #3.


The advantages of method #2 for people who do not use Character Builder are:

1) It is much easier and less prone to error than method #3.


The advantages of method #3 are:

1) Some people are used to it and like it.

2) It is easy to maintain a current PC with.


As a second rider to this system, any player who does use Character Builder should send their DDI Character Builder file to the DM if the DM requests the file. It is possible that the Character Builder character sheet might not have some minor details on it that a DM would want to know. The easiest way for him to find out is to bring up that character in Character Builder. We should not force a player to use method #2 or #3 though.


Now, a given DM might not have Character Builder. That's fine as well. If necessary, that DM should be able to request that the player add to his normal character web page file any details which are lacking for the method above that the player chose. It doesn't really matter which method the player uses, there could be lacking details.


If a given DM does not have Adobe Reader and the player uses method #1 above, I think that player should just either find a different adventure, or if he is willing to put in the effort, he should migrate his PC over to method #2 or method #3.


Regardless of which system a person uses for the mechanics portion of their PC, they will still need to have a character web page for the background/fluff portion of their PC. Methods #1 and #2 above could have a much simpler PC web page.


Method #1 will also have to have a section in any new web page for Character Builder corrections. Character Builder is not perfect, but it should be fairly rare.


I do think that forcing a player to enter his mechanics in twice for those who use Character Builder, once into Character Builder and once into either method #2 or #3 above is cumbersome and unnecessary. We shouldn't force unnecessary data entry on the players or the judges.

Let's make it easier for everyone.
 

ScorpiusRisk

Visitor
Please note, the character spreadsheet listed above has not been tested much yet, and I do not believe it to be ready for use. That being said, I think it will work as good or better than the wiki in short time, and would simple to make a version for LEB.

I'll comment on the rest of the proposal when I have more time.
 
After yesterday's slightly heated discussion in the LEB Discussion Thread, elecgraystone mentioned that he wouldn't debate this topic until we had a proposal. So, I'm making a proposal.
Yep I did. The general idea is that we don't fill up the generic discussion thread with a debate that will just get rehashed again in a proposal. It also makes it easier for people asking a general question to see a reply. It can get tough when replies get as long as we had. ;)

3) The wiki html system that we use today.
Well, wiki here is going away some time in the future. That'd mean we'd have to find another wiki. IMO I'd rather give wiki a quick merciful death and never look back. (I loathe the wiki sheets)

1) A .PDF (or any file format globally available for reading) output of the Character Builder character sheet.
Well two issues. Not everyone has CB so it's not a universal solution. Better to have a sheet that works for everyone. Second, reviewers/gm's have stated that they want a way to track edits/changes.

This gets my vote. everyone can use it, it tracks changes and it's easy to use.

As a rider to this proposal, I also think that those people who do use Character Builder, regardless of which method they use above, should be asked to send their DDI Character Builder file to the judges to make it easier for the judges.
Sounds good. If it helps the reviewers and you have CB, why not?

2) Unlike method #2 and method #3, Character Builder disallows illegal rules combinations such as not having a prerequisite for a feat but taking the feat anyway. This minimizes errors that the judges would then need to find.
Well yes and no. CB has errors and doesn't allow you to do things you should be able to do. You might get the right feat but find it doesn't show it working. So error avoided but it gets you another error.

To be honest, CB isn't the compendium. It tries to do it's best applying the rules to a character but it isn't perfect. Maybe it's just me but I do the math after CB finishes to make sure it's worked. You'd be surprised how often it doesn't, missing a feature, item, feat or property that it can't figure out.

1) Err, they do not have to download Adobe Reader and freeware .PDF software???

2) It is much easier and less prone to error than method #3.
#1 the issue is there is no record of changes. #2 a plain text sheet you make on your own fits the bill too.

The advantages of method #2 for people who do not use Character Builder are:

1) It is much easier and less prone to error than method #3.
IMO it had the benefit of being a method that everyone uses. That way there is only one set of instructions needed for everyone. Having one way of doing things just makes things easier over all than having 2.

The advantages of method #3 are:
it's the status quo. other than that, I see no advantage and plenty of minuses.

I do think that forcing a player to enter his mechanics in twice for those who use Character Builder, once into Character Builder and once into either method #2 or #3 above is cumbersome and unnecessary. We shouldn't force unnecessary data entry on the players or the judges.
For reviewers, sure add your CB file. I fail to see the cumbersome and unnecessary. Maybe it's the 20 years of filling out paper sheets but I find less errors in those than CB sheets. Copying info over gives you a chance to actually LOOK at the math and see when things aren't working right.

Example: You add together your AC and see that your mage's parrying dagger isn't added in. Something easy to overlook with a copy/paste, both for you AND the person checking using a CB file. Taking a few minutes filling in the auto math sections seems the way to go to get an acuate sheet (or at least as acuate as you can).
 

evilbob

Visitor
2 thoughts:

- More available options for character sheets = greater ease of use for players but greater difficulty for judges/DMs to check sheets (standardization reverses both of those).

- Emailing a file around - especially one with potentially different versions - is much more complicated than simply having a single web-based file to reference.

Ultimately I think every voice I've seen so far agrees that something needs to be done to replace the wikis, and there are many folks who continue to strongly disagree with standardizing on something that requires DDI. Right now, I think we're all betting on Scorp's Excel-fu to come thru and save us, as it seems to have the best combination of everything. In my opinion, the best way to help move this issue along is to go to that thread, download the file, test it, and then let him know your results.
 

ryryguy

Visitor
I have to say, I don't really buy the "standardization makes it easier to check sheets" argument. If we were talking about a half-dozen methods, then maybe. But what we're actually talking about is two or at most three methods, and the DDI summary/Excel spreadsheet method is easier than templates for both players and judges. Extra methods that are easy don't make things harder. :) We only have to keep the templates alive to cover folks without DDI - and maybe not at all, if the Excel method comes up to speed.

I also don't think bugs in Character Builder are enough of an issue to prevent its use. How many characters are actually affected by these bugs in practice? Five percent? For those few that are affected, we just put a note about the bug after the summary. I don't think that will be hard at all for a checker to deal with.

Finally, while I agree that simply emailing CB files around probably has problems, let's not forget that CB summaries can live perfectly well on a wiki page. We should not get rid of wiki pages for character sheets (though we will have to find a different wiki eventually). The page is perfectly good for tracking, background and other stuff. The CB summary is plain text; putting them on a wiki page will automatically track differences in the summary. If someone tries shenanigans like retraining more powers than they should, this will show up in the page diffs.

(In fact, that is a potential problem with the Excel sheet - even if we attach an .xls file to the page, it's a binary format, so we won't be able to track differences in that file. We might be able to get around that by exporting it as a CSV and putting that on the page... or, would diffing the generated summaries be enough? Perhaps.)
 

ryryguy

Visitor
Addendum: Forgot to mention that in my case, at least 50% of the errors on my character sheets have been errors in the templates. (The rest are cut and paste goofs.) I forget to bump the level bonus on one of my powers, or forget to change a defense in a template after retraining a power.

So in my case, as someone who uses CB to build my characters, the templates have never helped me catch an error. They have only been the source of errors.
 

Otakkun

Explorer
I think we can compromise on a mixed method. IMO we should have two options:

a) For those without the CB. Hopefully an eaiser version of the template for those without access to DDI.

b) For those that use the CB. We should send the cb files to the judge or to "a" judge with DDI access so that he posts it into iplay4e, where he can control the changes when needed (how fast do we level up in here? Once every 2 months?, shouldn't be too much of a problem). There's a new feature in iplay4e that let's you group characters in campaigns so it would be extra easy. We should also send the pdf from the CB to the judges.

I think this would be a big help to the community, as it would bring a lot of new people into these forums. I know I also almost didn't join because of the template, and its still the reason why I haven't made a character for L4W or my second one here.
 
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evilbob

Visitor
I have to say, I don't really buy the "standardization makes it easier to check sheets" argument.
I still disagree. But, fair enough. I still think 1 method only would be best.

With the CB, I still say emailing files is a bad idea - judges can disappear too, you know. Putting the printout online is better, but then you're back to the wiki. And even if you use iplay4e, my opinion remains that 1 method is best and some folks will never have the CB.
 

renau1g

Visitor
Well one thing with posting PDF CS's to an external site, that violates WoTC policy so that option's out. With Iplay4e the only downside to that site is that its an external site, if it gets shut down we'd be fubar'd right, although I guess we'd still have the back-up.

Re: Judges disappearing, yes it happens, but the odds of all the judges disappearing is pretty low and if they all did...well LEB would be in more trouble than just having access to the CS's ;)

Personally, I don't mind if there are 2 options for people making their PC's as as long as there's only 2. 1 for with DDI & one without.

Now the CB isn't perfect, but neither is the template, nor are the judges/reviewers so any option we go with will likely have errors or omissions.
 
How many characters are actually affected by these bugs in practice? Five percent? For those few that are affected, we just put a note about the bug after the summary. I don't think that will be hard at all for a checker to deal with.
Well, it's more what percentage of builds are effected. Any build that uses 2 things in their hand other than shield + weapon have a good chance of being affected. Also any item that has an effect that changed how the base item works (acts as an implement too, gains heavy thrown, grants prof) fail to work. Since I like those builds and/or items I find things not working most of the time. It'll be up to the checkers if they want to deal with it.

ryrguy said:
Forgot to mention that in my case, at least 50% of the errors on my character sheets have been errors in the templates
I'd say mine is a LOT higher than 50%. Most of my mistakes are template related mistakes.

evilbob said:
I still disagree. But, fair enough. I still think 1 method only would be best
I agree, but if the reviewers are fine with two I'll not argure the point as long as one of the two isn't wiki.
 

Otakkun

Explorer
Can't we just have 2 options for posting character sheets?

One for those with the CB, another for those who don't.

It would make this place much more friendlier for everyone out there (and for most of us IN here who'd like to run a second character but find the template too much of a pain to use again :blush:)
 

renau1g

Visitor
Well, as I said, I'm on record with being fine with two options, but need the other judges to weigh in.
 
Can't we just have 2 options for posting character sheets? One for those with the CB, another for those who don't.

It would make this place much more friendlier for everyone out there (and for most of us IN here who'd like to run a second character but find the template too much of a pain to use again :blush:)
While I think having just one way to make characters would be the best, it's up to the reviewers. However I will say that if the two options where wiki and CB that it WOULDN'T 'make this place much more friendlier for everyone', just those people with CB.

We need to dig a hole, dump wiki in, fill in the hole and all agree never to talk about it again. I'll go out and dig one now... :p
 

Kalidrev

Visitor
While I happen to love the Wiki... it has been sentenced to execution by Morrus (so feel free to start digging that hole elec ;) ). I have absolutely no problems with having 2 systems for ease of use, and I am very much liking what I am seeing from Scorps googledocs excel file. I'm not sure if this has already been hashed out, but do the google docs provide any kind of revision history? If so, then I would have no problem with using this in place of the Wiki (even if it's not as pretty yet ;) ). For those who use CB, I would not have a problem with using the CB, but again, revision history is the issue here. How can we both use the CB (for those that have it) AND maintain some kind of proof against abusive character sheet manipulation?

Once I have an answer to these I think most of us would not have a problem with nixing the wiki all together (at least as far as the templates are concerned).
 

KarinsDad

Visitor
While I think having just one way to make characters would be the best, it's up to the reviewers. However I will say that if the two options where wiki and CB that it WOULDN'T 'make this place much more friendlier for everyone', just those people with CB.
Which around here is a significant portion of the people.

I'm totally fine with getting rid of wiki, but I don't think that the summary sheet is the answer.

I think the two options should be:

1) The CB character sheet, abet on a site like Iplay4e, as per renau1g's comment. I also think that in this case, we would not even need Iplay4e. The player could Email the .PDF and/or DDI CB file to the DM and all of the Judges. I don't think it is too much to ask that a DM have access to free Adobe.

2) An easier version like ScorpiusRisk's spreadsheet.

If a given player does not want to load CB or does not want to join Iplay4e or has other restrictions, then that player uses option #2. I don't think we should come up with a lot of different ways to do this. Just one super simple way and one less simple way.


I also think that the "one standardized way" argument is smoke and mirrors. The DMs and Judges probably aren't really going to care as long as it's easy for them. When 4E first came out, I had 3 different character sheets from 3 of my players and I didn't care.
 

renau1g

Visitor
I don't think we need iplay4e either, just a suggestion. One problem with the pdf thing is that the onus for storage falls to the judges right? As we have to keep the approved sheet's on our e-mail to ensure that nobody makes any changes to them after approval.
 

ryryguy

Visitor
While I happen to love the Wiki... it has been sentenced to execution by Morrus (so feel free to start digging that hole elec ;) ). I have absolutely no problems with having 2 systems for ease of use, and I am very much liking what I am seeing from Scorps googledocs excel file. I'm not sure if this has already been hashed out, but do the google docs provide any kind of revision history? If so, then I would have no problem with using this in place of the Wiki (even if it's not as pretty yet ;) ). For those who use CB, I would not have a problem with using the CB, but again, revision history is the issue here. How can we both use the CB (for those that have it) AND maintain some kind of proof against abusive character sheet manipulation?

Once I have an answer to these I think most of us would not have a problem with nixing the wiki all together (at least as far as the templates are concerned).
A CB summary on a wiki page would provide a history. Having a wiki (though not Morris' wiki) still seems like a good idea for setting details and so forth. So why not have pages for each PC on the wiki as well, where CB summary or links to the spreadsheet can live?

Remember, "wiki" does not equal "confusing templates".

I'm still not sure though how we'd do a summary version of the sheet if the player is using CB. We can't post the character sheet PDF unfortunately. iplay4e requires the viewer to have a DDI subscription to see power details. I guess you could just make a summary version on the wiki page by hand. Have any other solutions to that issue been considered?
 

evilbob

Visitor
Does iplay4e track changes? If it did, there's your CB-owning solution right there.

If not, if Scorp's google-excel file can track changes, maybe he can put a cell at the bottom for CB data? That way we'd still have basically 1 solution, with a "DDI option" for those who have it.
 

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