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Old 10-07-2007, 03:44 PM   #1
ericbsmith
 
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Default GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

The purpose of this FAQ is to collect some of the most frequently asked questions about the GURPS Character Assistant (GCA) and answer them, so that those questions may be linked to and referenced as need be. This is a replacement for, and addendum to, the previously posted GCA FAQ.

The thread will be closed, so that only moderators may add to or change the contents. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for this FAQ please feel free to open another thread in this forum and post them.

A special thanks for of our Data File authors.


FAQ Table of Contents

Q: What are the system requirements for GCA4?

Q: Does GCA work on a Windows Tablet?

Q: My computer crashed, where can I get another copy of GCA?

Q: Where can I obtain updates for GCA?

Q: Which updates do I need to install to get the latest version of GCA?

Q: What can I do if I'm having trouble installing GCA on Windows Vista or Windows 7?

Q: GCA is crashing or appears to be not responding - how can I fix the program?

Q: Why is GCA giving me errors regarding missing printer drivers?

Q: Will GCA ever have an Export to PDF feature built in?

Q: Will Data Updates for future books be free?

Q: How come GCA doesn't have a trait or template creation wizard, or some other feature I like to see in the program?

Q: I just downloaded the update and all the spells from GURPS Magic (or all the templates from GURPS Fantasy, or...) were not included.

Q: In what order should I load the data files in a data set?

Q: I see that some alternate character sheets are available. How can I use them with my characters?

Q: I did not know that alternate character sheets are available. Where can I get them?

Q: I've e-mailed a data file, character file or character sheet file to someone and now it it either won't load in GCA or is giving me errors when I attempt to load it. What's going on here?

Q: So you say the files GCA uses are plain text. What does it take to edit the files? What issues should I be aware of?

Q: I've read the previous section. I think I'm ready to make my own data file. How do I start?

Q: Can I distribute the data files I create for GCA?

Q: When I print or print preview with GCA why do I sometimes get weird text formatting in the printout?

Q: Is there a way to sort Spells by College, or Skills by Category, or Advantages by Type?

Q: What about on the printout?

Q: Is there a way to get GCA to do Ritual Magic (Spells as Techniques) or Clerical Magic (Spells have no defaults) instead of the default magic system?

Q: How come Magery isn't adding to my spell skill levels when using these variants?

Q: Can I have a character that uses more than one of the Magic systems?

Q: How do I add the same trait (advantage, skill, equipment, etc.) more than once?

Q: What does the blue d, red P or Exclamation Mark ! in a Yellow Circle mean?

Q: Can I export my character to a format I can easily edit (for posting on forums, writing articles, etc.)?

Q: How can I create new traits (Advantages, Disadvantages, Skills, Equipment, etc.) and then save it from one character into another?

Q: How can I create new templates for GCA?

Q: How can I obtain data files for the latest books which aren't included int the current Data Update?

Q: When I add a Racial Template or Meta-Trait to a character the component traits are not listed. Is there a way to display the component traits of Racial Templates or Meta-Traits?

Q: When I add a Racial template or Meta-Trait how come I cannot modify the components of the template? Is there a way to change them anyway?

Q: When I start GCA, or when I try do do a specific task in GCA, the installer for another program launches. How can I fix this problem?

Q: Why does GCA use page abbreviations when no other GURPS 4th Edition products do?

Q: What are the page abbreviations used in GCA?

Q: How do I apply the DR of armor to my character?

Q: How do I select which skill will be used for my characters default Block or Parry?

Q: How do I make some equipment not count towards encumberance?

Q: Am I allowed to I Install GCA on multiple computers?

Q: When adding traits (especially spells) a selection window opens asking me to choose between possible prerequisite chains; some of the prerequisite chains start with a prefix such as ST: or SK: - What do those prefixes mean?

Q: What are the Magery attributes I see listed as prerequisites when adding spells? e.g. ST:Magery Air or ST:Magery Fire

Q: How do I create a new Power set within GCA?

Q: I've selected a portrait for my character, but when I print there is no portrait. How do I include the portrait on the printout?

Q: How do I add Enchantments to equipment?

Q: How do I change the cost of Enchantments for my campaign?

Q: How do you implement Alternate Form in GCA?

Q: Why does GCA crash with an Error 6: Overflow whenever I use _New Racial Template or _New Meta-Trait?
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Eric B. Smith GURPS Data File Coordinator
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Last edited by ericbsmith; 08-04-2017 at 06:49 AM. Reason: Added thread ToC
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:46 PM   #2
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the system requirements for GCA4?

A: A Pentium II processor, 64MB of RAM, and 25MB of harddrive space are the absolute minimum requirements for GCA4. GCA4 benefits greatly from having a faster processor and more RAM.

GCA4 should run under virtually all versions of Windows. We've tested GCA on:
Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
Windows Vista 32-bit/64-bit
Windows 7 32-bit/64-bit
Windows 8 32-bit/64-bit
Windows 10 32-bit/64-bit

Note that only Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 are officially supported. Windows XP or later is highly recommended, as the memory architecture improves GCA4's performance dramatically.

Additionally, it is possible (but not supported) to run GCA4 under Wine for Linux.

Q: Does GCA work on a Windows Tablet?

A: GCA works fine on a Windows 8.0, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 Tablet. However, GCA was not designed with a touch screen interface in mind, which means you really need a mouse or trackpad in order to use the program effectively. There is a really good screen to trackpad program called TouchMousePointer which I use anytime I need a "real" mouse on my tablet. There are a couple different versions of the software,
but I recommend the older (freeware) version: Direct Download Link.

Q: My computer crashed, where can I get another copy of GCA?

A: If you bought it on CD-ROM just reinstall it from the disc, then get the updates mentioned below. If you no longer have the disc then, like any other software, you will need to purchase another copy, either on disc or from e23.

If you bought GCA from e23 then you can log into your e23 account and download it from Your Library. If you didn't create an e23 account when you purchased GCA you will need to contact e23orders@sjgames.com with as many details from your order as you can provide (your name, order number, etc.).

Q: Where can I obtain updates for GCA?

A: From time to time we release a Program Patch (which patches the program itself) and/or a Data Update (which updates the character sheets, export filters, and data files). You can obtain both files from the GURPS Character Assistant Update Page.

Be sure to run both the patch and the update. We've had occasional reports that the Program Patch has not correctly updated GCA. If you have a problem with the patch not being applied properly try rebooting your computer and running the patch again. As usual with software installation, it's a good idea to shut down background applications, particularly anti-malware software (Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, etc.), as those are most likely to interfere with normal patching operations.

Q: Which updates do I need to install to get the latest version of GCA?

A: Running both the latest Program Patch and the Data Update will fully update any previous version of GCA to the most current version.

Q: Is GCA compatible with GURPS 3rd Edition?

A: Yes, with some caveats. The first caveat is that the data files for 3rd Edition have had a lot less support than the 4th Edition files, so they lack many of the upgraded features that have become available in GCA since it's release, and they are far more unpolished. The second caveat is that you cannot really mix-and-match data files for GURPS 3rd Edition with data files for GURPS 4th Edition. Many of the changes between editions of the game, as well as changes in the way that GCA handles things internally, make these files incompatible with one another without doing some work to correct various issues.

You can obtain the files, and read more about the issues, by reviewing this post.

Q: What can I do if I'm having trouble installing GCA on Windows Vista or Windows 7?

A: First, make sure to right click on the installer, Setup.exe, and select Run as Administrator - it's important that anytime you install any software that you do so as an Administrator. If that doesn't allow the installation to complete, right click on the installer and select Properties then the Compatibility tab. We've had some reports that running the installer in Windows 98/Windows ME compatibility allows it to work properly. If that doesn't work try Windows 95 or Windows XP compatibility as well.

Last edited by ericbsmith; 08-04-2017 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: GCA is crashing or appears to be not responding - how can I fix the program?

A: Make sure you've installed both the latest Program Patch and Data Updates (as previously noted). If you've already done so, please try re-applying the updates again. If you're running Windows XP/Vista/7, please make sure to log in with an Administrator Account before trying to install any software (if you don't know what an Administrator Account is, or whether or not your account is one, chances are you're already logged in as an Administrator).

Also, before reinstalling (or running GCA if you're still having problems after a reinstall) please make sure to reboot your computer and then shut down any background applications that may be running - particularly any Anti-Malware programs (e.g. Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware programs). You'd be surprised how many program errors go away if you simply reboot the computer, and Anti-Malware programs can often times interfere with the installation of software.

If that does not work for you, there is a file in the GCA install folder called gca.ini which saves all the Program Options you've set for GCA. If this file becomes corrupted, either as a result of running the Program Patch or due to random operating system errors, it can cause program crashes or lockups. Deleting this file will reset GCA to the default Options, but will often times solve seemingly random program problems. This file is *NOT* deleted when you uninstall GCA - you have to delete the file to actually remove it.
To automatically delete the file (along with sheetoptions.ini, which saves your Character Sheet preferences) you can run the GCAClearAppData.exe which is normally located in your GCA install folder:
C:\program files\GURPS Character Assistant 4\GCAClearAppData.exe
In 64-bit Windows (7 or Vista) it should be located here:
C:\program files (x86)\GURPS Character Assistant 4\GCAClearAppData.exe

Be aware that this will permanently remove the application data; you will lose all of your personal settings and have to reset them manually.

Alternatively you can manually delete gca.ini. The default folder where gca.ini is located used to be C:\Program Files\GURPS Character Assistant 4\

However, with the latest patches it has been moved:
In Windows XP the file gca.ini should be located in the location:
C:\Documents and Settings\[..USER..]\Application Data\Steve Jackson Games\GURPS Character Assistant 4\

In Windows Vista or Windows 7 the file gca.ini may be located in the location:
C:\Users\[..USER..]\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\GURPS Character Assistant 4\
C:\Users\[..USER..]\AppData\Roaming\Steve Jackson Games\GURPS Character Assistant 4\

Note: In either XP or Vista you'll need to replace [..USER..] with the user name you've logged into Windows with.

Clearing the Windows Virtual Store files for GCA may also fix some issues with GCA. A application to removes GCA's Virtual Store Files, GCAClearVirtualStore.exe, is also included in the GCA install folder:

C:\program files\GURPS Character Assistant 4\GCAClearVirtualStore.exe
In 64-bit Windows (7 or Vista) it should be located here:
C:\program files (x86)\GURPS Character Assistant 4\GCAClearVirtualStore.exe



If reinstalling hasn't worked, please follow the procedures for Rebooting, Logging to an Administrator Account, and shutting down background programs. Then uninstall GCA completely and delete the GCA.ini file as instructed above. Then try installing GCA from scratch, followed by applying the latest Data Updates and Program Patches.

GCA appears to be incompatible with DEP (Data Execution Prevention), which is normally only Enabled for Essential Windows Programs but can be enabled for all programs in Windows XP, Vista, or 7. If you have DEP enabled for all programs you must make an exception for GCA. You can alter the DEP settings by going to:
In Win XP
Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> System -> Advanced Tab -> Performance/Settings Button -> DEP tab
In Win 7 (and I believe Vista)
Start -> Control Panel -> System -> Advanced system settings -> Advanced Tab -> Performance/Settings Button -> DEP tab

There's a much more through discussion of DEP and solving DEP issues in this thread.




Every time I start GCA an installer for another application starts running. Or Windows attempts to find the installer for another program but can't find it. What is going on here?
There have been reports of this happening with a few different programs and GCA, and many reports of this happening between other pairs of programs (such as Windows Messenger installer starting when Adobe Acrobat is started). This actually appears to be a case of Windows itself going slightly mad, and isn't really a problem with GCA per se. The registry entry for the other program's installer has somehow been corrupted and cross referenced with the GCA executable file, so when GCA runs Windows is calling up the other program's installer as well.

The cure for this so far has been to uninstall the other program and reinstall it, or if you already removed the other program you may need to reinstall it then properly uninstall it again (it may not have been properly uninstalled the previous time).

Last edited by ericbsmith; 03-07-2012 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:49 PM   #4
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is GCA giving me errors regarding missing printer drivers?

A: GCA uses your computers default printer drivers to help draw aspects of the Quick View Tab as well as for use during Print and Print Preview operations. If you do not have a Printer installed GCA may report possible problems from missing printer drivers. This may also happen if your printer drivers are outdated or corrupted. If you have an existing printer you should visit the manufacturers website and try downloading and installing the latest printer drivers.

If you do not currently have a printer you can work around this by installing one of the default printer drivers which ships with Windows (Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Printers and Faxes), just don't print a preview page.

See also the next question for another option on working around the missing printer drivers issue.

Last edited by ericbsmith; 11-16-2008 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will GCA ever have an Export to PDF feature built in?

A: No, there are no plans to incorporate an Export to PDF feature into GCA. Fortunately, there are several (Free!) virtual printer drivers which will allow GCA (and any other programs) to Print to a PDF file. You can find most of these programs by doing a search on the internet, however one that I personally recommend is Bullzip.

Last edited by ericbsmith; 04-22-2015 at 03:00 AM.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:52 PM   #6
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will Data Updates for future books be free?

A: Absolutely. We already have complete data files for many of the current GURPS 4th Edition books available, and continue to work on data files for other books.

Be aware that the people working on these files are doing so as volunteers. This means that there is sometimes a lag between when the book is released and when the file is created. Please be patient.

Last edited by ericbsmith; 06-30-2008 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How come GCA doesn't have a trait or template creation wizard, or some other feature I like to see in the program?

A: GCA was shipped as a fully functional character creation program, and it is that. There are plans to add trait and template creation wizards into the programs in future updates, but it was deemed more important to release the official GURPS character creation program than to include every feature we'd all like to see added. We are working on adding new features. Again, please be patient.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I just downloaded the update and all the spells from GURPS Magic (or all the templates from GURPS Fantasy, or...) were not included.

A: First, check the update page again and make sure you've downloaded and installed both the GCA 4 Patcher and the GCA 4 Data Update. Without the data update the new files for new books will not be installed, and without the latest program patch the new Data Files may not work.

Next you need to make a new Data Set which loads the new book information. To make a new Data Set, open GCA, use the menu to go to Tools -> Options -> Data Sets (tab) -> Browse (button). From the window that pops up you can create a Data Set with the new files included. Click OK, then Load Now to load the new files.

It is worth noting that Data Files within Data Sets are loaded in order, from top to bottom, replacing or adding to information from Data Files loaded earlier in the set. This means that you will almost always want to load the Basic Set file first, followed by any official book files you wish to use, followed by any official variant files you wish to use, followed by any unofficial or personal files.

You should load only those files that you wish to use in your current campaign; you can then create a different Data Set for each campaign with a different mix of Data Files loaded in each Data Set. Many Data Files contain information which is specific to the game world presented in the Worldbook(s), and even make changes to the way some of the standard traits work or remove some traits altogether. If you load all of the Data Files you may see seemingly odd behavior which is intended solely for a specific game world. In particular, any Data File with the phrase Remove Unnecessary Traits removes many traits from being displayed within GCA, as per the suggestions in that particular rulebook. There are files like this in the Variants folder as well as for several Worldbooks, including GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and GURPS Monster Hunters.

Q: In what order should I load the data files in a data set?
  1. GURPS Basic Set 4th Ed.--Characters.gdf must be first (unless you're using GURPS Lite 4th Ed.gdf instead)
  2. After that you can load any non-worldbook data files (the files in the base folder) in any order you desire, with a couple of specific exceptions the order really doesn't matter.
    • GURPS Power-Ups 3 Talents - Alt Cost.gdf requires that GURPS Power-Ups 3 Talents.gdf be loaded before it.
    • GURPS Power-Ups 2 Perks 4e - Charms.gdf and GURPS Fantasy 4e - Fixed Magic.gdf require that GURPS Magic 4e.gdf be loaded before them.
    • GURPS Supers 4e.gdf requires GURPS Powers 4e.gdf
    • GURPS Martial Arts 4e - Gladiators.gdf requires that GURPS Martial Arts 4e.gdf be loaded before it.
  3. Next you will want to load any worldbook files you will be using, and if there are more than one worldbook file for the gameworld you are setting up you should load them in increasing numeric order (that is, if you are loading a Dungeon Fantasy game you should load GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 1 - Adventurers.gdf first, then you'd load GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 2 - Dungeons.gdf, etc.). Then you can load any miscellaneous files for the worldbook, such as the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Pyramid.gdf file.Last you'd load the the Remove Unnecessary Traits for the worldbooks, assuming there is one (e.g. you'd load GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Remove Unnecessary Traits.gdf after all the other Dungeon Fantasy files).
    NOTE: Worldbook files are oftentimes destructive; that is, they make campaign level changes to the way that traits work. You should only load data files from ONE gameworld at a time to avoid errors and conflicts.
  4. Next you'd load any homemade or downloaded non-official data files.
  5. Last you'd load any Variant data files - those data files found in the Variants folder. Again, order doesn't really matter here, although you will want to load Variants which make changes before you load destructive Variants. For example, if you are loading a Variant file which changes Equipment to Metric you will want to load that before you load the file that removes Equipment above TL 4. The reason for this is more pragmatic than necessity; GCA unfortunately slows down loading dramatically if it is trying to make changes to traits that are no longer present in memory, so if you remove a whole lot of traits or equipment then try to make changes to those same traits and equipment the load times will balloon for no real gain.

Note that the data files have an ordering built into them; they know which files must be loaded before them in the data set order, and will pitch an error if you try to load them out of the expected order.

Last edited by ericbsmith; 04-26-2016 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I see that some alternate character sheets are available. How can I use them with my characters?

A: First download and save the alternate character sheets to your GCA character sheets folder. The default location is:
Windows Vista / Windows 7:
%USER%\Documents\GURPS Character Assistant 4\sheets\
Windows XP:
%USER%\My Documents\GURPS Character Assistant 4\sheets\

When downloading from a webpage make sure to Right Click on the link and select Save Link As... If you open the file in your browser and then attempt to save it the formatting may be damaged and GCA may not be able to properly read the file.

Next, within GCA you can either do a Print/Print Preview Using... command, which will allow you to select an alternate character sheet for the current print/print preview, or you can go to Tools -> Options -> Default Character Options and select a different default character sheet which will be used every time you do a Print/Print Preview.

Last edited by ericbsmith; 12-08-2009 at 01:07 PM.
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Old 10-07-2007, 03:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: GCA4 FAQ - GURPS Character Assistant 4 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I did not know that alternate character sheets are available. Where can I get them?

A: Armin has posted several on his business website. These will also be made available with the official updates when they are posted:

http://www.misersoft.com/gca/sheets/

There are a several other very good fan created characer sheets available, which you can read about in the Updated/New Character Sheets thread.

Last edited by ericbsmith; 10-07-2007 at 04:10 PM.
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