Showing posts with label software. Show all posts
Showing posts with label software. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: ePic Character Generator

I like to think I have some solid talents. I am at an age where I know what I can do well and what I still need to learn how to do better.  And what I am terrible at.

I am a terrible artist.  I don't even try anymore.  That's fine really. I know plenty of great artists and the things I am good at have allowed me a lifestyle where I can buy the art I want.  But I still love to create.   And that is where character generation software comes in.
I was a HUGE fan of the Brazilian Factory of Heroes (Fábrica de Herois), the City of Heroes character builder, the Skyrim one, and the character builder with the added benefit of 3D-Printed minis, Hero Forge.

A few weeks ago I was in the market for a new character builder, potentially one for a project I have coming up.  Well in one of those rare instances of serendipity while I was doing my Google searches I was approached by András Bondor of Overhead Games.
András offered to send me a copy of the ePic Character Generator to try out. I figured it would be fun.  Well it is. I'll get into the details in a bit.

The character builder is free. You can download it and start right away.  There are even ways to gain free "packs" of design elements.  Their model, and I think it is a good one, is to charge for various design packs.  You see something you want, say the "Sorcerer" pack or the "Drow Spellcaster" pack then you can purchase them and add them to your suite.  You get four packs for free to start, "Female", "Male", "Large Male" (think demons and centaurs), and "Season #1" which combines a lot of smaller releases.
Prices range from $5 to $150.  So there is a pack for every budget.  There is a special perk I am going to talk about later, but it helps offset those costs for me.



For this review, I built a bunch of characters over the last month or so, but for today I'll walk through the building of my new favorite character, Maryah, a Ranger for Old-School Essentials.

Your opening screen has the four basic packs I mentioned above.  If you are going with just the free version for now then the Female pack has the most options.  Click on your pack and hit "Start".
Now at this point you might want to click on the tutorial first.  But I'll leave that to you.


Clicking start gives you the Female demo pack.  In my screens, you see the other packs I have installed.  Hey, you know me, if I can't make a witch first thing then I lose interest pretty fast. ;)


You can choose a pack and start with that. OR you can choose Load Fantasy, Load Modern, or Load All.   Typically I like to load all.   The advantage is you can mix and match all your elements in one design.  The disadvantage is you have lots of screens you might have to click through.


Once you do that you are given a workspace and your new character.  You can try clicking on "Random" to see what you get or click through the various options.
"Skin" also includes species options. So if you want a drow, an elf, a catgirl, or even a zombie this where you start.



There are options for scars, tattoos, and even dirt.  These options are a little limited.  For example, you can't design your own tattoo nor move the presets around.



Some options also exist as "Presets."  So in the "Hair Preset" it is a style and a color.  But what if you want a style, but a different color.  Or a different color anything for that matter?  There is a color palate wheel at the middle bottom of your screen that will allow you to change the color of your current selection.   You move your cursor to the desired color and get a standard RGB notation for it as well as a palette of recently used colors.  The ability to type on the RGB numbers is a great plus.  I might not be able to move my mouse where I want it exactly, but I can type in the numbers.


The ability to do this helps when matching clothes later on.  After the body mods you can then choose how your character appears.  Different packs give you different options.  since I am working on a ranger here, I am going to choose light armor/clothing and favor greens.


You can choose all sorts of items like weapons, back items. and even magic effects.
You can also add tails, horns wings and other elements depending on your packs.



Lastly there are backgrounds and other effects. In this section there are a lot of backgrounds, or you can choose to make the background clear.  You can add companions as well.  I rather like the choices of the animal companions, but the people companions look a touch "off" to me.  No fault of the software or the design team, I think it is a bit of an "uncanny valley" situation.



You can also move any element to the foreground or background.
In this section there are also auras, magical effects, and other items.

Let's move Threnody to the front.

The BEST part of this section is the ability to take your character and make Tokens or Cards. I have not tried to save these and import them into software like Roll20, but I can't see that it would be difficult.




If you have the paid version you can also remove (or turn back on) the Logo.



NOW here is my least favorite part of this software.
Saving and Loading is not at all intuitive.
You click "Settings" then are given the option to "Save" or "Load".

Thankfully if you attempt to exit or go back without saving you will be warned about losing your characters. You can also export your files as a PNG (with optional transparent background) or as Photoshop PSD (if you purchase that option).  Every element in the software is saved as a layer in the PSD file.  Very convenient really.

Not sure why her hair lost it color, but that is not a big deal.
Other Packs give you the option of making character portraits or monsters.

Honestly even with just a couple of packs, including the free ones, you can have a nearly endless supply of choices.  Of course, the packs are very, very tempting and I have been very pleased with the ones I have grabbed.  Overhead Games is always making more.

I did try the software out on my Chromebook as well, installed via GooglePlay and it worked well enough.  Not enough to make me want to switch over from my Windows 10 machine, but it is an option.

Chrome vs. Windows 10
The big thing that caught my eye was their full Commercial License.  Yup, if I want to create some art here and add to one of my books I can do that!  It won't (nor is it intended to) replace an artist, but it will give me some spot art or filler art for characters.  Especially the portrait options.


Overhead Games has strong customer service and support.  In the short while I have been using it I received a customer questionnaire asking about features and prices.  They also have customer forums where others share tips, tricks, and creations.   All my interactions with the company have been great and they are eager to answer any questions.

Another perk are the updates.  The software is updated often.  In fact sometimes I went in to my software and was told: "because you purchased XXXX we are including YYYY now for free." Or something to that effect.

If you are already competent with any 3D art software like Daz3D then you won't need this.
BUT if you are like me and can't even draw a stick figure OR you just want something designed to do RPG-style art then this is a good buy.  It is at least worth the download.

I have played around with it for a while now and I have been able to create most characters I wanted.  I did try to create a passable "Batman" but it did not turn out the way I wanted, but that is much harder to do really, and I am sure Overhead Games wants to avoid people being able to create such a recognizable character.

I was able to get a couple great looking versions of Larina.


It was worth getting the Sorcerer pack for the broom and witches hat.  I know what my priorities are.

Plus some classic D&D characters I'll talk about more next week.  Aleena and Morgan Ironwolf!



I even made a card, exported and edited in Photoshop. Pretty much set up for an RPG as is.



So yes the ePic Character Generator is a ton of fun.  I also see a use for it in the future for some books, but I'll have to judge that according to the book since I most often prefer older looking art.

The pricing model is also great. 

My only complaint is the saving and loading features, but otherwise it is a fantastic bit of software. I can't to make some more characters and see what else this can do.

Get it here: https://overheadgames.com/epic-character-generator/

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Come Endless Darkness: Adventures in Coggle

The day is getting away from me. So my post for today will have to wait.   I am playing around with a new tool today at work.  Thought I might try it as a way to map out all my D&D 5 campaigns and games.



The tool is called Coggle and it used for multi-user mind-maps and flow charts.

You can click here to see the public version.

I'll add the characters then hyper-link everything to the proper resource (DriveThru, DMsGuild, D&D Beyond).  Build it up as I go.  It's a nice organizational tool and a way for me to keep track of various items, especially characters. Had a player lose his character sheet so we recreated what we knew but said he lost all of his equipment and magic items.

I can see a lot of uses for this.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Eclavdra, D&D Beyond test and stats

I have a big three-ring binder FULL of stuff for my upcoming D12-3/Q1 adventures.  I have been wanting to do this for years and I am very excited.

To that end, I have been prepping on various fronts.  Here are the fruits of some of that labor.

As you might remember I signed up for D&D Beyond.  I am in for the whole deal, the books the builder all of it.  So I have been trying out different sorts of characters to get a feel for what works.

So far I find it superior to the builders I used for 3e and 4e from WotC but not quite as flexible as Hero Lab.  But for D&D 5 with all the content at my finger tips is great.  The HUGE plus for me is the ability to do it all on my Chromebook, switch to my Windows PC or laptop, switch to my phone or tablet or even use my Ubuntu Linux Frankencomputer.   For me, that is the best selling point.  I use too many different technologies that are cross compatible now, I expect that in the tech I use for fun as well.  While working on characters for this post I moved seamlessly between my Chromebook and Android phone.  I have not tried it on an iPad yet.

So far I have only used the character builder and the ability to look up material.   There is a lot here and I have to admit I get a kick anytime a bit of art from 3e and 4e pops up.

Eclavdra
I figure what better to test out this tool and to prep for my "Against the Drow" adventures is to stat up a new version of the classic Drow High Priestess Eclavdra.
Note: This is not going to be a "Power Score" like retrospective like +Sean McG does.  He does a far better job at that than I can do.



We get very little about her in the pages of G3. She is a Drow High Priestess of Lolth. She has some fighter ability and she is also serving the Elder Elemental Eye/Elder Elemental God/Tharizdûn.  +Joseph Bloch would know more and has likely talked about it a lot on his blog.
I have seen 3rd and 4th edition stats for her and I know I have 2nd ed stats for her somewhere.
I was hoping that the recent Tales from the Yawning Portal would have something more "5e-ish" for her, but other than some neat art (above) and a mention, nothing.  Not even the basic stats we got in the original G3.

Last year I talked about Eclavdra when I was getting ready to run the Giants series. I noted then that she was listed as:

Eclavdra (10th level cleric/fighter; H.P.: 60, Wisdom 17, Dexterity 18, Constitution 10, Charisma 18; Armor Class -8 = +3 shield, +5 chainmail, and +4 dexterity bonus).

So I started with that and compared it to the 4e stats I had at hand.



 I know I wanted to change her around a bit, keep her levels of Cleric but instead of Fighter, I gave her 4 levels of a Blade Pact Warlock of Tharizdûn.  I used some feats to also round out her fighting ability and I am very pleased with what I came up with.


A couple of things.  AD&D had lower ability scores but more powerful magic items.  This Eclavdra has greater Charisma and Wisdom, but she is unlikely to have a magic +5 anything.  So her 5e Armor Class of 16 seems weak compared to her AD&D AC of -8.  I might make her elven chain a little more powerful.

I am limited to the items in the software; that is until I make some more myself to use.  Good candidates here are +3 Elven Chain and her Tentacle Rod (not in the software or her sheets just yet).
But all in all I am pleased.  Like I mentioned above the ability to go back and forth on the platforms I use all the time appeals to me.  The phone version is also not too bad. I created a complete character on my phone with no difficulty.



If you want to check her out for yourself here is the PDF output the builder gives you.

Eclavdra, D&D Beyond Sheet.

It might not be perfect, but it is pretty good.

Most of the nitpicks I have with it are rule interpretations that I thought I had known.  So before I call them "bugs" I want to recheck my rulebook.

Is it worth the price tag?  Yeah, for me it is, but we are playing a lot of D&D 5 in this house these days.

Monday, August 21, 2017

D&D Beyond

I signed up for D&D Beyond this morning.



I pretty much knew I was going to sign up anyway, but gaming over the weekend convinced me.

Currently, I am running two D&D 5 games, the Come Endless Darkness game and The Second Campaign.  Eventually, I am going to get my aborted 4e game converted over to 5e and I'll get that going too, tentatively called Into the Nentir Vale.

My son is also running games. A D&D 5 game with his friends,  the same adventures (with different characters) with my youngest son and his friends (average age 14) AND the occasional one we take turns running for his cousins (aged 13 to 22).



So six D&D 5 games with about 40 characters total.
To say we have lost some sheets here and there is an understatement.  To say we need to be able to access our materials in a bunch of different places is also pretty clear.

So I pulled the trigger this morning and got a DM's Subscription and picked up the three core books.

I know there has been a lot of complaining online about the price.
For me, the price compared to what I get was worth it. I was a fan of the 4e character builder and I used it quite a lot.   When Beyond was in Beta I also used it a lot.  So far I am pleased with my purchase so far.

Are there cheaper tools? Of course.
Are there better tools? Maybe.
Are there tools that do everything that Beyond does? None that I know of.

So I'll be sharing my thoughts on this tool over the next few days.  Need to load about 3 dozen characters into it now.

Anyone else using this?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

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