Foreword to PCGen
Foreword to PCGen
PCGen recognizes that companies work hard to put out quality products and they don't want anyone getting between them and potential customers. A character generator is nice -- but if it in any way makes purchasing books unnecessary, then it is rightly viewed as a threat. We've taken steps to make sure that PCGen cannot produce enough information to be useful without the books.
If all you have is PCGen, the most it can do is whet your appetite with names of Classes like "Red Wizard of Highbrook" (my own creation). PCGen does not attempt to describe it, in fact nowhere does it say anything about its history, any guild organizations, or even what kinds of characters typically take up this class. The most you can see are what requirements there are to become this class. If you take the class and it has any special abilties, you'll see those appear on your character sheet -- but you'll just see the names of the special abilities -- no description. For example, "Red Moon Magic" could be a special ability -- maybe it sounds cool, but you don't know anything else about it. If you like the idea of these classes, abilities, feats, etc. you'll need to go look at the book at your favorite hobby store.
If you want to use a character created using the material in PCGen you'll need to buy the book so you can look up what "Red Moon Magic" does. What happens is that users will look through the sources available in PCGen, play around with them, and if any interest them they can look into the book. Many users may not have even been aware of much of the material we support. The first exposure they'll have to many products is through PCGen. Getting your name out there is very important. Other than product unawareness, a major barrier between product and consumer is the learning curve involved with understanding the mechanics in the material. PCGen lets you create a character with that material very easily -- PCGen handles all the mechanics so you can focus on sculpting the character without worrying about how to apply the rules. This lessening of the learning curve lowers the intimidation effect some users have of picking up new material.
In this way PCGen makes more people aware of the products available -- and lowers the barriers between consumers and those products. This will lead to more consumers purchasing those products. We take protecting companies rights and material very seriously, and we're more than willing to negotiate what each company is comfortable with being displayed in PCGen. We feel very strongly that supporting a product as fully as possible is the best way for a user to get an accurate picture of what that product has to offer.
At worst PCGen will do no harm to a companies bottom line. With estimates of over 10,000 users (and growing!) who will all see the same list of products, at best PCGen can aid a companies products considerably. It's quite possible that 10,000 users (not to mention their gaming groups!) will see a product they may not have been aware of. That's free marketing to a lot of people that otherwise may not have been reached. We're gaming enthusiasts -- we want gamers to have an application that will help them create characters quickly and easily. We want that same application to help companies reach more consumers and encourage more quality products to enter the market. We think PCGen has found the right balance to fill both those roles.
Sincerely, Bryan McRoberts, author of PCGen