PCGen is a FREE Open Source RPG character generator and maintenance program (d20 Systems mainly) that works on most personal computers (it's Java-based so: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Unix are supported). All datafiles are ASCII so they can be modified by users. All of this work is performed under the watchful gaze of the PCGen Board Of Directors .
To be the world's most flexible d20 character generation and maintenance software.
The name implies that PCGen is just for generating PCs - which it does - but the fact that it lets you do that with just about any book published so far makes it useful for creating NPCs as well! We also have plugins built for PCGen such as the GMGen series, which help GMs run the game from their PC/Laptop.
Our goal is to support all RPG material produced and to make it easy for users to enter their own material. We also recognize that just about everyone has house rules and we've added support for many of these variations. For example, some GMs let their players purchase ranks in exclusive skills, but at a higher cost than cross-class skills. PCGen lets you set the cost for exclusive skills to accommodate this. We support a good number of options like this.
The goal to support every RPG book is very ambitious, and considering the amount of material out there you'd think we need an army to make it happen! The good news is that we do have an army of Monkeys - our general hang out area is our Yahoo Message board located at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen where we meet to discuss who is tackling what sources, what functionality needs to be done before a source is completely supportable, answer questions (newbie questions are welcomed!), discuss potential bugs and refine new functionality requests. We strive hard to make PCGen useful to gamers and have it do as much of the dirty work involved in creating a character as possible, while at the same time balancing that with the publisher's need for sales. Put simply, we want PCGen to be useful to gamers and at the same time not put anyone out of business. Obviously if we were to endanger any publisher's source of revenue they wouldn't be very happy with us. Fortunately we've found a good balance and the publishers are very satisfied.
How do we manage this? Basically we include in PCGen's data files only enough information to create a character but we curtail the descriptions to be just summaries. This means that you can see that there's a class called Kickyourbutt, and if you advance to 4th level in it you'll see that your base attack bonus is +12 and you can use a special ability called "Kick Anyone's Butt (x4)". What you won't see is a description of the class and any rituals involved in becoming a member of this class, or how that special ability works - if you want to know the details you'll need the book. Effectively this means that PCGen is meant for all the "crunchy bits" in a book, and all the flavor text remains in the book. If you have the book, Kick Anyone's Butt (x4) is enough for you to know what you can do - and if you don't have that book, seeing that as an option might make you want to go take a closer look at that book and buy it. There lies the magic of PCGen - it's not only extremely useful for generating characters using books you own, but you can create characters with books you don't own. This is akin to flipping through the book at the bookstore, except you brought your dice and a character sheet with you! This way the publishers get free marketing through PCGen - they can reach gamers who might not otherwise have heard of them or their book. So both gamers and game publishers win.
PCGen is open source and therefore free. We have a lot of developers who donate their time to work on this labor of love - these are the Code Monkeys listed in the About window within PCGen. Since PCGen is written in Java it works on any computer which can run Java - which is almost all of them! We also have a lot of List Monkeys who generously donate their time to work on the data files. We're always looking for new recruits, if you'd like to help complete the conversion of a certain book, or you'd like to see a book added that we haven't included yet, let us know at the aforementioned yahoo message board. Creating the data-files is fairly easy and we're always glad to help train new monkeys! We're endeavoring to make it so you can add and modify the data from within PCGen itself, but at the moment editing the data files is done with your favorite text editor (WordPad, Textpad, Edit and even VI!).
PCGen began in October of 2000 as my own personal project - both
to teach myself Java and as an aid to help convert my high-level
campaign from 1ed to 3e. Just for fun I put it on the net and was
amazed when others wanted to get involved. Things quickly picked up
and the pace has never slackened. It's been a lot of fun and very
rewarding to see how its progressed. The product you have before
you is the result of 7 years of continuous effort on the part of
many people. As the Benevolent Dictator of PCGen I am extremely
thrilled at how much time others have put into it!
Bryan McRoberts (aka Merton Monk)
PCGen has been a labour of love and a serious addiction for many
of us Monkeys, it still continues to be a fun and challenging place
to be! Over the last two years the project has continued to thrive
and we are now firmly in the semi professional Open Source space. I
am exceedingly proud of what this team has managed to build so far
and am extremely grateful for the massive community input. We have
a roadmap for at least another 2-3 years, so the future is looking
Martijn Verburg (aka Karianna)