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The offline Character Builder had some houseruling support, but it was somewhat limited and the new online Character Builder has even less. Even if you have a fully legal character, some powers, feats, and items aren't quite properly handled by the Character Builder anyway.

Still, the Character Builders themselves are very handy for quick and easy character generation and computation of stats and such. Plus, the DND4E files are accepted in several tools (iPlay4e the most notable among them) as methods for uploading/importing character data.

So, the question then arises as to how we can manually edit the DND4E files to properly apply houserules and fix official rules that are broken.

Has anyone written and posted a guide online for this already?

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@Pat Ludwig: You should make that an answer; as that's exactly what the answer is. The ever-changing undocumented file format is what knocks a lot of the support apps off the market, mine included. –  GWLlosa Jan 3 '11 at 15:50
    
Could you clarify the question text? Do you mean "How do I integrate/hack house-rules into DND4e Character Builder?" or "How do I get at the data in DND4e Character Builder files?". These have different answers. Or do you mean something else? I, for example, have a crude XSL template file that I use to roughly transform files into a wiki format for integration with my campaign wiki... –  F. Randall Farmer Jan 3 '11 at 18:59
    
@F. Randall Farmer - I thought I'd spelled it out pretty clearly in the question, that the intent is to add my own elements (or edit existing ones) in the DND4E files. –  Iszi Jan 4 '11 at 1:03
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@F. Randall Farmer - I believe the first of your two proposed examples accurately reflects the question I'm looking to have answered. However, I'm not sure why you're seeking a distinction between "hacking" and "editing" in this case. I'm not saying "to hack" = "to edit". I'm saying "to edit, in a way that existing tools will properly recognize" = "to hack"... –  Iszi Jan 4 '11 at 22:37
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...I could add lines with basic text describing my houseruled powers all day long. But, without knowing and understanding how to properly put that information into the right tags and with which parameters and what syntax, it will be useless to whatever tools I load it into. –  Iszi Jan 4 '11 at 22:39
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up vote 9 down vote accepted

I follow the iplay4e email distro. WoTC has a tendency to change the file format in little yet annoying ways with regularity which keeps the developer of iplay4e busy. If you are looking to roll your own, be prepared to have it break with every other release or so.

As far as I know, there is no published documentation of the format, nor has WoTC promised to publish/maintain one. With their recent change to allow characters to be exported, one would hope that they would settle on a consistent format.

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This is exactly correct. The ever-changing undocumented file format is what knocks a lot of the support apps off the market, mine included. –  GWLlosa Jan 3 '11 at 16:02
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