FAQ and Help

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This is just some tips to help along. It'll be a repository of Frequently Asked Questions and Help Tips that we've encountered a lot.

What is PCGen?

PCGen is a JAVA Program that uses custom 'text' files (*.pcc and *.lst) to emulate books from table-top role-playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, to help create and maintain system rules-legal characters for that game system. It allows you to print out character sheets, or export them into various formats for later use - such as a basic text sheet, xml for various forum play and software systems, htm for web browser enabled devices and pdf. PCGen is built to support the most popular d20 systems and has plans for future expansion into non-d20 based systems.

What systems does PCGen support today?

Today PCGen (version 6.2) supports Dungeons and Dragons by Wizard of the Coast - the specific versions supported directly are: 3rd edition (Known as SRD), 3.5 edition (RSRD), d20 Modern (MSRD). Due to license issues, the program can support 4th edition and the upcoming 5th edition (known as D&D Next) but we cannot supply any pre-made books. Those will require custom sets that you can make yourself.

Our list of supported d20 systems with pre-made books:

  • D&D 5.0 edition (Listed as SRD5)
  • D&D 3.0 edition (Listed as SRD - System Resource Documents)
  • D&D 3.5 edition (Listed as RSRD - Revised System Resource Documents)
  • D&D Modern Edition (Listed as MSRD - Modern System Resource Documents)
  • Deadlands by Pinnacle Entertainment
  • Fantasy Craft by Crafty Games (Crafty Games is hosting the full core rule book, we only have a level 4 demo set)
  • Gaslight 1st edition by Battlefield Press
  • Legends of Excalibur
  • Pathfinder by Paizo Publishing
  • Sidewinder
  • Spycraft
  • Xcrawl

Non-d20 Systems we're building support for:

  • Killshot by Broken Ruler Games (This is ready to play but needs a Character Sheet to display)
  • Cyberpunk
  • Shadowrun

Using Pathfinder in PCGen

  • Unchained Classes - Q&A:
    • QUESTION: How can I created an Unchained x class?
    • ANSWER: First, you need to make sure you are loading the correct book(s). You will need to load Pathfinder Unchained to have access to the first four Unchained variant classes - Barbarian, Monk, Rogue, and Summoner. Select the base class, Rogue for Unchained Rogue as an example. Once you add the first level, go to the Feats & Abilities tab, under Class Features, there should be a CLASS SELECTION group. Select the Unchained Version from there. Congratulations, you now have an Unchained version of the Class.
    • LIMITATIONS: Warning - Due to how PCGen processes SPELL LISTS, an Unchained Summoner will require you to SAVE and RELOAD to have the correct spells populate your spell list.
    • QUESTION: I'm very curious (from both a user's viewpoint and that of a designer) as to why you made the Unchained classes as options within the class (when the source is selected) instead of a separate class in their own right. I actually found that very confusing when making an unchained class as I couldn't select it from the class list as one would usually do when making a character. It was only when I went back to the summary screen after selecting the class that I realized I could make the Unchained version. That's a design decision that needs to be deliberated upon and possibly altered because as it stands, it is highly confusing and may lead a lot of people to believe that you can't make an Unchained class at all in PCGen.
    • ANSWER: Since that was my decision, I'll be happy to explain the reasoning and how I arrived at that conclusion. If you do a comparison between the normal classes and the unchained versions, you will see (in most cases) the only differences was the class features - Monk had a HD boost, Summoner has a Spell List change, Barbarian only changes features, and Rogue added some new features. It seemed more economical to re-use the base framework which 90% of the classes were built upon. Reduce duplication in code (Each class loaded requires some memory, whereas the method I opted did not increase memory, merely which features to use). Unchained classes comes across as more a variant. Plus, you cannot have an unchained version and regular version of the class. Programming in "Cannot take this" does increase cpu cycles and additional code lines. Add in the fact they were treated just as the regular version in terms of meeting prerequisites for prestige classes, feats, and archetypes, etc. Looking at it big picture, it made more sense to simply use the base class and treat the unchained variant as a super archetype - swap out abilities. They were more the base class then not. The chance of breaking support was higher if they were coded separately - anything using the code classlevel("Summoner") would fail for an "Unchained Summoner" as an example, SERVESAS only does prexxx support. Reviewing everything related to the class - favored classes, archetype support, feats and the data hacks was a bit more time consuming. Plus, it gave me the excuse to test out a function of the program to try and support a prestige class that grants class features from other classes, which we could not support in the past. To combat the confusion, I did include the Summary TO DO to prompt the user to choose which version they want to use; most users use the summary screen to add classes to the character, which would mean they see the prompt right off. Under the hood, it defaults to the base version in case they never make that selection. An important fact for the Summoner - so it still gains spells. If it helps to know, I went back and forth several times, actually coding them up initially as classes. But the lack of time on my part limited what I was willing to undertake, so choosing the path that had the least chance to break any particular build was what I ended up doing. As I progressed, I learned a new tidbit that swung the pendulum toward the other method. I might have chosen differently knowing what I know today. Right or wrong, it is a bit late to change the decision (6.06.00 is now released). With our focus for the 6.08 dev cycle to rip out the JEP reliance tags - anything that starts with BONUS:x, anything that is touched by BONUS, such as LEGS, FACE, REACH, WEAPONPROF, etc. Implementing new support for global and local variable numbers, Booleans, strings and orderedpairs. Rip out every text output tag and replace it with INFO/INFOVARS. Redesign the output sheets to (1) use the freemarker template code properly, and (2) switch to grabbing the new output via fact, info and value. The end goal is a more lean and efficient code base and data processing. Hope that helps clear up the decision making process that led to variant vs. class. If you have any other questions, comments or otherwise, feel free to reach out to me. --Andrew Maitland (Content Silverback - PCGen Board of Director's)
    • Reply back: Thanks for the explanation. Now I understand the process behind the decision a lot more. Might be something to add to the FAQs because other people may also get confused and I admittedly found the Unchained version by accident.
  • Pathfinder vs Pathfinder Society:
    • QUESTION: What is the difference between these and why should I care?
    • ANSWER: Pathfinder Society is an actual real world international organization which publishes official rules of play for gamemasters and players alike. The games are run using official modules with completion items given out, special sheets to track rewards and of course a very different XP progression, which is capped well before 20th level. As mentioned before they publish rules each year to tell their members what is legal to use in their games. In essence Pathfinder Society (abbreviated PFS) is a structured event setting which determines what is legal in their games, allowing players from all over the world to have the same experiences and options. Many feats, spells, equipment and class options are restricted in the Pathfinder Society games. PCGen supports the various seasons of play as best we can. Many false bugs are raised due to people mistakenly thinking their favorite options are not working. Rule of thumb, unless you play in this actual society, do not use their rules.

How Customizable is PCGen?

PCGen is designed with user customizations in mind. For the Books Side, we are looking to re-include an In-built LST Editor in the program for version 6.4.0. LST files are the main text files for holding the information that PCGen (JAVA Program) can read and execute. LST Files are plain text programing using a customized Language that is designed towards simple premise of Human-Readable and easily used.

PCGen has several methods to impart how to create your own custom files. First, we supply a sample folder including a full set of pcc and lst files for you to get started. We have extensive documentation in the program, and maintained on our website. Andrew Maitland has made several youtube videos explaining how to craft the files, and the common mistakes to avoid. Finally, we offer online support via our Yahoo Groups and direct help from our Support Desk Monkey - Help@PCGen.Org.

Is there support for issues and recommendations?

Yes, PCGen is a volunteer project run by monkeys and humans. We all know monkeys are a laugh, and humans are fallible. Thus, we have a Ticket Support system that is monitored by the various projects that go towards supporting PCGen. Our ticket support system is called 'JIRA' and anyone can log into the system after creating an account, and report a problem "Bug" or make recommendations for improvements (Feature Requests). The system is located at http://jira.pcgen.org.

Wait, what do all those projects visible mean? I'm totally confused?!!?!

  • Data - This is the Books. Chances are if it's incorrect the logical issue would be this project. Bug is something broken; Feature is new things to be added.
  • Code - This is the heart of PCGen and encompasses the JAVA involved. They also handle the User Interface (UI for short).
  • Docs - This is the Documentation that comes with PCGen. Bugs are typographical errors, or formatting problems. Features would be adding new "classes" or "how-to" to explain using PCGen in new ways.
  • OS - This is the output sheets or the final product you see. This encompasses the Summary bottom Pane, the Preview Sheets found on "Character" tab of the program, and all of the export methods.
  • Admin - This is non-pcgen issues, like the Website has mistakes.
  • Support - This is the catch-all "Help, I'm lost and need guidance". When the program is causing issues, or you cannot figure out something, this is a good place to start.

What if I mess up and place it in the wrong area?

  • Fear not, our Jira is monitored by experienced project volunteers, and can easily move your issue to the correct location at any time.
How should I submit an issue? 
  • Details are the key point. In order to address any issue we need facts. Please include the following in all reports:
    • Summary of the issue (Single sentence to briefly give an idea of the issue)
    • Version of PCGen (In most cases this is a requirement)
    • Data You are loading (You can submit a character file (*.pcg) to the Ticket and that will help speed things along
    • Description - What is wrong in your own words, and what is the correct result. Cite a source book if available. Since a person needs to verify the issue before making corrections.
    • Environment - Your operating system, Java version and anything else you think will help us.

Trouble Shooting Problems

Java 7 for version 5.17.11 or lower

PCGen versions prior to 5.17.11 (including the current production version, 5.16.4) are not compatible with Java 7. This is now the default version Java installed for most system types. Open JDK 6 on Linux exhibits the same problems and the same fix applies.


When you start PCGen, all character tabs other than the summary tab are blank (i.e. the table outline is there but there is no table displayed and thus no races, classes, equipment etc. can be seen). The advanced sources tab is also empty.


There are two options to fix this:

  1. Install Java 6 and ensure PCGen uses that (may require downgrading

Java or using a batch file to start PCGen with Java 6)

  1. Use PCGen 5.17.11 or later. At the time of writing the current alpha version was 5.17.14. See PCGen Alpha Downloads

Windows Installations

  • Vista & Win7 (32 & 64 versions) Install and Running
    • If you are running 64-bit versions of Vista or Win7, the bat file may not find JAVA. You may have to hard-code the path to java.exe. To edit those either Right Click on my Computer -> Properties -> Advanced System Settings -> Environment Variables OR Control Panel -> System -> Advanced Syystem Settings -> Environment Variables.
    • You can modify the PATH by adding your JAVA path to it.
    • Example of a Direct Reference to Java:
    • "C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre6\bin\java" -Dswing.aatext=true -Xms1024m -Xmx1024m -jar pcgen.jar
    • Put that in your PCGen Bat File.
    • If you're using the BAT, feel free to up the memory usage. I have mine set to 512 and 1028 (Just edit the bat file in a text editor). Set the memory to what your system can handle.
    • Install in a NON-default directory (not c:\program files) Vista and Win7 seem to have directory permission issues at times. (Especially Win7) The UAC in both can cause problems in some cases.
    • Setting the Permission of the FOLDER to the highest level can help
    • 5.17.0 onward have an exe file that solves the JAVA issue.
    • Make sure you have a current version of JAVA installed (Not normally an issue for Windows Users)

  • 1) Create a pcgen.cmd file with the following in it:
    • "C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre6\bin\java.exe" -Dswing.aatext=true -Xms256m -Xmx1024m -jar "C:\Program Files (x86)\PCGen\PCGen5161\pcgen.jar"
    • 2) Put the pcgen.cmd file in your C:\program files (x86)\pcgen\pcgen5161\ directory.
    • 3) Change your shortcut link to the pcgen.cmd file.

Mac Installation Issues

ISSUE: I have downloaded PCGen for the Mac and I cannot get it to run. If I try to open the application from within the disk image, I get this error message: " “PCGen 6.04.01” is damaged and can’t be opened. You should eject the disk image." If I move the application into the Applications folder on my hard drive, I get this error message: "You can’t open the application “PCGen 6.04.01” because it is not supported on this type of Mac."

SOLUTION: To prevent this error, go to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy. At the bottom of the window there is a section titled: "Allow apps downloaded from:" Then select "Anywhere". That will allow you to open PCGen.

ISSUE: Gatekeeper will not allow PCGen to run

SOLUTION: Disable Gatekeeper, run PCGen, re-enable Gatekeeper. Once PCGen has run once successfully, it's ignored by Gatekeeper.


  •   Hold down "control" button
  •   Click on the app that is triggering the message about the security preferences
  •   Select "open" to override and install/open the application

This allows you to avoid changing the security setting to "anywhere."

Homebrew OS Sheet for working 5.17.16 and forward

As part of an improvement to Display all the Allowable Range Increments properly for Thrown and Ranged Weapons, some changes were made to the BASE.XML file and the reliant XSLT files. Sadly, this change will break home-brew OS sheets going forward.

You have two options going forward.

Option 1: You'll need to make the following change to the section listed in your XSLT files that contains this:

Replace that entire Section with this new code.

PCGen Pastebin Link to Updated Ranges Template

Option 2:

Replace the BASE.XML file shipped by us and using an older one (But this will mean you lose the newer functionality)

Changing a Character's Sources

Sometimes you may need to change the sources a character is associated with, you could be adding a new source book you have started using or removing a book that is unused. Here's how to do it:

  1. Turn off the "Load Sources with PC" option in Preferences > Sources
  2. Load the desired sources
  3. Load your character
  4. Save your character again (I'd recommend saving to a new file)
  5. Reactivate "Load Sources with PC" in preferences.

The saved character will now be registered against the new sources which will be checked each time you load the character.

Another option is to use a pre-saved source selection. This can then be used by a number of characters and just updated when you want to add books. You can create a pre-saved source selection using these steps

  1. Open Sources > Select Sources and switch to the Advanced tab
  2. Select the game you are using in the first drop-down.
  3. Select the sources you would like to use (using Add Selected)
  4. Once happy click the Save Source Selection button and enter a name for your source set.
  5. Select the new set on the Basic tab and load it.

Then when you want to update the sources used for those characters just repeat the process using the same name. You should select the original saved selection first before switching to the Advanced tab and then the old books you selected will be already selected.