PCGen is a character generator for d20 role playing games. While there have been computerized character generators available since the existence of role playing games, this program has a few distinctions:

  • Written in Java, allowing many different platforms to use the software.
  • Open source. If this had been a for-profit enterprise, I'm afraid that I think that it would have ceased to be a long time ago.
  • Extensible. None of the game data is hard coded, and so many people who can't code can write data modules. This fact has worked in PCGen's advantage, and it now has dozens of game modules.
  • Actively developed. PCGen has long been one of the top ten in the highest development list on sourceforge. There are still quite a few bugs and limitations, but they are likely to be fixed soon.

Previously, I rarely used these programs, since they usually were too limited to fully model the complexities in my favourite role playing game. While PCGen doesn't have all the campaigns that I would like, it does have an extensive library, and it allows me to add whatever remains.

One of the most impressive feats of PCGen is convincing Wizards of the Coast and other d20 content suppliers to allow PCGen to copy the vital statistics. While PCGen disallows the copying of the actual content (for example, the description of a fireball spell) it does provide the main statistics required for use. I suspect that the new riches provided by the d20 open gaming license is what convinced the said companies to be more liberal then traditional