Character Builder tip: PDFCreator

March 23, 2009 at 6:00 am
filed under Roleplaying

This came up for me when my girlfriend and I decided to play some D&D last weekend, to teach her about encounter building and because it’d be fun. With the Character Builder, I created four characters lickety-split, and then I hit a snag.

See, I didn’t want to print all those character sheets out. Having all four characters on a computer would save ink, paper, and time spent fiddling with papers. But I don’t have a Windows laptop. I have a MacBook, and I replaced Windows with Ubuntu Linux on my ~4 year old Toshiba because it ran like moleasses (no sense in wasting an otherwise viable machine).  The rub? The D&D Character Builder doesn’t offer PDF exporting!

I don’t know whether this was by design or not but fortunately there’s a workaround: if a program lets you print, chances are you can save to PDF. There are various paid tools out there— I believe this functionality comes with Acrobat Pro— but of course there’s are free alternatives. PDFCreator is what I used.

Brief HowTo

Download and install PDFCreator.

Open an existing character or create a character in the Character Builder. Click Character Sheet.

Go to File > Print, and select PDFCreator instead of your usual printer. It’ll prompt you to provide some metadata for your PDF, like author and so on. Change it if you want, or leave it alone.

Click Save, which will prompt you to save your file someplace.

To survey your handiwork, open the file you just created in your favorite PDF viewer. (I recommend FoxIt Reader due to its speed and non-bloatedness.)

Bonus tip

I don’t know whether it was something with my network configuration, but I had a heck of a time getting the .NET 3.5 runtime installed at one point. smallestdotnet didn’t help. The installer linked off of the Character Builder page would error out after spending about ~10 minutes trying to download the installation data. There was no bleeding way I was going to download the 235mb (!) .NET installer.

In the end, going through Windows Update to install .NET 3.5 worked, so try Windows Update if you’re  having trouble.I would add one caveat, which is that that while Windows has been my primary OS for a while (I’m trying to remedy this), I’m no guru.

%d bloggers like this: