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I have only played Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 but was looking to upgrade to Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and was wondering if there is any free or cheap (that is, a lot less than $50) software tools or websites that can help manage the game for a DM. I would like recommendations for both 3.0 and 3.5, but I kind of need it to be idiot-proof or at least have an instruction manual.

Ideally, what I'm looking for helps the DM create fully-statted monsters and NPCs and includes enough information so that the DM doesn't have to flip through a stack of books constantly during play.

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I used to use e-Tools for 3.0 and 3.5: Great for monsters/NPCs, and it had good support for home-brewed races, classes, feats etc (although you had to be something of a technician to build a new class, new races - playable or for monsters - were easy). But sadly this cannot be an answer because the publishers lost the ongoing contract with WoTC –  Neil Slater Apr 25 at 7:49

5 Answers 5

I haven't used it for straight 3.x in quite some time, but PCGen is quite a fully-featured d20 system character builder. I use it mostly for Pathfinder these days, but I also used it for 3.x during my Living Greyhawk career. It is a free product, for both the good and the bad that comes with it - datafiles are built by volunteers, so are free, but may not be available for every option you want. You could build your own if you needed to, but it is complex.

Herolab is a commercial option that supports multiple game systems (rather than just d20 systems). It will cost you $30 for the software, including one free set of core datafile. Further datafiles, either for expansions or for new game systems, can be bought for a variety of prices. I've never actually used Herolab myself, but I did use Army Builder for quite some time from the same development company.

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I use Hero Lab, it is the perfect solution to the problem, but it gets expensive the more data files you buy. –  mxyzplk Apr 17 at 17:39

HeroForge and SpellForge are excel based character editors. I strongly recommend them. They can be found at http://nzcomputers.net/heroforge/default35.asp

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One option, and this is a bit of a simple NPC generator is http://donjon.bin.sh/ There are all sorts of easy to use tools in there. I would say give it a look. :)

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Try my website: http://www.dinglesgames.com/tools/MonsterGenerator/dnd35/ This is free up to 5th level and $40 for a lifetime membership. Yearly, 6 month, monthly and weekly options are also available. You can create an NPC/monster with class levels and a template in a couple on minutes. If you fancy trying pathfinder try:
http://www.dinglesgames.com/tools/NPCGenerator/pathfinder/

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YogoZuno mentioned PCGen. I have been using it for a few months for my game. It is great for creating PCs and NPCs, but the GMGen (DM tools) module is a little buggy. I found that the encounter tool (for tracking initiatives, HPs, etc) would work for one combat, then crash when I tried to start the next. I ended up creating my own Excel spreadsheet with macros, because I couldn't find a tool that did what I wanted.

PCGen includes datasets for 3.5 SRD (along with other systems like Pathfinder), but there are "homebrew" datasets that cover pretty much all the 3.5 sourcebooks.

As for saving you from flipping through rulebooks, perhaps a DM's screen would help?

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