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What do you want from a Character Sheet?


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#1 Greville

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Posted 09 June 2014 - 12:53 AM

Hi,

I'm looking at putting together a character sheet for a game of Mythic Iceland because I would like to have all the combat information including fatigue all on the second sheet. It's got me thinking of character sheets in general and I thought I'd ask a few questions:

Do you prefer multi-page character sheets?

What information is crucial for the front sheet?

Should all the combat information be together?

Any pitfalls to avoid in the placement of commonly changing info? If I'm erasing and rewriting this part of the sheet, does it smudge other parts of it? Or do I print new sheets because this one corner is unusable do to constant erasing?

Do you use a separate form to guide players through character generation?

I may end up using the default sheets in the end, but am enjoying thinking about something I normally take for granted.

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#2 soltakss

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 12:31 PM

I'm looking at putting together a character sheet for a game of Mythic Iceland because I would like to have all the combat information including fatigue all on the second sheet. It's got me thinking of character sheets in general and I thought I'd ask a few questions:


It makes sense to do that, if you have all combat information grouped together, including spells.

Do you prefer multi-page character sheets?


I prefer 2 pages, front and back, so one sheet of paper with printing on both sides.

What information is crucial for the front sheet?


Characteristics, Attributes, Skills, Spells, Hit Locations (where used), Name/Background, combat information

Should all the combat information be together?


It makes sense, otherwise you flip the page over when working things out.

Any pitfalls to avoid in the placement of commonly changing info? If I'm erasing and rewriting this part of the sheet, does it smudge other parts of it? Or do I print new sheets because this one corner is unusable do to constant erasing?


Constant erasing is a problem if you wear holes in the sheet. We tend to print sheets our every so often and change skills a little bit. It means updating the online sheet to match the paper sheet, but that is normally quick and easy.

Do you use a separate form to guide players through character generation?


It makes sense, especially for allocating skills. I have a sheet with skills on the left and amounts on the top, so you can allocate points to each skill and have a running total for each skill and each points pool.

I may end up using the default sheets in the end, but am enjoying thinking about something I normally take for granted.


Which is good. Most people prefer their own character sheets, anyway.
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#3 Darkholme

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 11:17 AM

Hmm. I don't know if this advice is helpful for you, but in our games/for our group, I (or one other guy) come up with a rough character sheet template, which is blank, using Google Docs.

 

I then make a copy of that sheet for each player, and share editing rights with that player.

 

Players put their character in there.

 

The benefit is that I can see all the players' sheets at any time. If the players are cool with it, I also allow them to see and comment on eachother's sheets (but not edit). Players sometimes print the sheet out before game, and sometimes they refer to their laptop screen. I don't really care which - we've typically got 5-7 laptops on the table anyways, with only a single hard copy of the book and several people having the PDF for referencing things. It vastly speeds things up to have a search function. Only one guy doesn't have a laptop at the table, and he just got an android tablet.



#4 Mankcam

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 12:15 PM

I tend to make our sheets with excel, and we use two page sheets, front and back.

Front page has demographics, Characteristics, Hit Points, Power Points, Fatigue levels, and Hit Location. The other half of the front page is for character description and illustration. I think this is very important to have on the front page, as it is a good reference for the players and tends to lend a narrative focus to the game, otherwise the sheets are just full of statistics and not much character.

Back page has Skills listed under Skill Categories, Weapons, Stunts, Spells, Notable equipment.

Works well for us.



#5 Darkholme

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 12:30 PM

Oh. I should have mentioned that our character sheets routinely include artwork.

 

Here's a link to a character sheet for a character in my currently ongoing SciFi Game being run under the Edge of the Empire Rules; so you can see what I mean.

 

This player for some reason likes to use his own sheet templates, and uses monospaced fonts and spaces to make any tables rather than actually using tables (I've never been able to figure out what he has against actual tables, but he won't use them, even though he constantly complains about things getting misaligned when he's editing his monospaced notepad style text tables.)



#6 Mankcam

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 12:52 PM

Nice sheet, especially with the focus on character portrait



#7 Darkholme

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 01:12 PM

But yeah, these days, I'm heavily inclined to go with something online and digital like this, over a conventional paper sheet.

 

Paper sheets get lost. I can't see your character on a paper sheet if you take it home with you. I can't easily leave you comments on your paper sheet telling you you did the math wrong, or that you missed something. I can't see your updates to your character in advance on a paper sheet unless you come by my house and give me the paper. And if you're sending me digital files, How do I know I'm looking at the most up to date copy? I could see an argument for dropbox, but that relies on everyone using a machine with MS Office, and sometimes players have needed to pull up their sheet on other kinds of devices. Everything has a web browser and a google account - it's simpler to just have everyone use google drive. :)

 

That being said, Google drive DOES support spreadsheets, if you prefer spreadsheet character sheets to Word Doc styled ones.



#8 kreider204

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 01:26 PM

I made my own for a post-apocalypse campaign I'm hoping to run at some point.  It's pretty much what I prefer, as far as your questions go.

 

https://drive.google...iew?usp=sharing

 

All the essential crunch is on front, the back is mostly for other gear, notes, etc.  

 

I also made it a fillable and auto-calculating PDF, so that my players can just plug in characteristic values and skill points, and have the rest total up for them (and it keeps track of total points spent in the footer).

 

I do plan to write up a little rules primer, including character generation.



#9 Darkholme

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 09:40 PM

Not bad Kreider204. Looks pretty comprehensive. I think I'd want the portrait front paged, but otherwise, it would serve well as a physical sheet.

 

Is it fillable while up on google docs, o do you have to download it and fill it in acrobat?



#10 kreider204

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 10:02 PM

Thanks, that took me a while to put together.  Simple math is easy enough with Acrobat, but it you want to round numbers off, or assign text values (specifically, the damage bonus), you need to do custom Javascript.  Not being a programmer of any kind, it took me quite a while to figure out ...

 

Ya, I would have liked the portrait on the front too, but I just couldn't figure out how to make it fit, so I compromised.

 

I also left off powers and power points, not being sure if I was going to use them at all anyway.  I figure they could go in the notes on the back, or get a separate sheet if they got extensive. 

 

Hmm, I'm not sure about filling it on Google, never tried.  If and when the time comes, I'll probably just email it to my players anyway - it'd be for a local / face-to-face game rather than online.



#11 Darkholme

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 11:45 PM

Hmm, I'm not sure about filling it on Google, never tried.  If and when the time comes, I'll probably just email it to my players anyway - it'd be for a local / face-to-face game rather than online.

Ah. I only play local face-to-face games. Never been able to get into play by post; and something is still lost in Virtual Tabletop. Still vastly prefer the online, public, digital sheets, for the list of reasons given above. :P



#12 smjn

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Posted 08 October 2014 - 01:43 AM

Seems like spreadsheets are the way to go. Ten years before I made a custom character sheet for RQIII with a piece corporate desktop publishing software at the universtity. The sheet inluded all the important stuff missing from the official version. Ten years after I made a new version with OpenOffice(.org) Calc that calculates all the fiddly bits automatically.

 

Page One inludes the stuff on the official and then some in a more concise manner. Skills, stats, hit locations and such. On my sheet page two has all my spells (I play the only magic user in our group). Sheet two has all my alchemical recipies and ingridients, including prices. I would love to add calculations on how much money we would need to spend to make a certain amount of such-and-such potion, but unfortunately I'm not that good of a programmer.

 

My co-players have propably modified their sheets to fit their liking somewhat. We use four different operating systems in - I think - six different versions, so interoperability is important. Thankfully OpenOffice and Libreoffice are Free Software and cross platform.

 

Would love to post empty sheet, but ... language (Not English).



#13 shahbaz

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 04:53 AM

Ah. I only play local face-to-face games. Never been able to get into play by post; and something is still lost in Virtual Tabletop. Still vastly prefer the online, public, digital sheets, for the list of reasons given above.  :P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#14 TrippyHippy

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 05:05 AM

I prefer one sheet, with a visual layout that encourages the eyes towards key information at the game table.

 

In the case of BRP, having a full list of the available skills is useful at character generation, while the Characteristics ought to have space for multiplied values.  The rest of the detail depends upon the options taken or needed for each respective genre. That is tricky of course. 



#15 Darkholme

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Posted 17 October 2014 - 07:57 AM

Ah. I only play local face-to-face games. Never been able to get into play by post; and something is still lost in Virtual Tabletop. Still vastly prefer the online, public, digital sheets, for the list of reasons given above.  :P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am confused as to why you copied my post, but didn't respond to it. Were you just doing a "Me Too" or did you mean to reply and had technical difficulties?



#16 jagerfury

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 03:39 AM

I want my sheets to have "character". The more artsy, out of the box, dripping with atmosphere the better. I love finding hand crafted sheets with original art on them, regardless of game.


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#17 g33k

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 07:20 PM

+1 jagerfury:

Character-sheets with character !   Fitting fonts, genre-matching marginalia, etc...  +points for a portrait of the character.

BUT, nothing that interferes with legibility, or other aspects of functionality.

 

So... what makes for "functional"?

Topical stuff clustered - I don't want to be skimming all over the sheet to find yet another bit of info relevant to the situation at-hand.  If we're in melee, I want the combat-stats all in one place; if it's a party or other social scene, I want all the socially-relevant scores in one place.  I *most particularly* don't want to be flipping from page to page (or front to back) looking for information I need NOW.

 

Sometimes... maybe even "often" ... this means custom sheets, e.g. a combat wizard will have spells next to the other combat-stats, but a soldier-type with a few minor utility-spells would NOT have spells with the combat-stats.



#18 seneschal

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Posted 27 October 2014 - 08:00 PM

For me, the simpler the better.  Complex, multi-page affairs are overwhelming.  One page, combat stuff together, essential game mechanics only, portrait space optional.  It needs to be uncluttered, with enough white space to be readable.

 

Character background stuff belongs elsewhere, on a single-paragraph printout by the player (with a copy for the GM).  I haven't played the types of games where it is necessary to list every possible item the character is packing, either.  Primary weapons or tools only, assume standard stuff like bus fare or matches are handy when needed.  Hate encumbrance rules; as long as a PC isn't trying to carry a fully stocked refrigerator on his back, we're good.


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