Quickstart 5e character sheet (beginner friendly)

Quickstart 5e character sheet (beginner friendly)

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Quickstart 5e character sheet (beginner friendly)


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This is my first attempt at a simplified 5e main character sheet (derived from the official WotC 5e character sheet), that is aimed at being the least intimidating to beginners as possible, by minimizing the amount of information included, and offering plenty of space for at least the first two tiers of the game. The character sheet encourages minor calculations during the game, rather than trying to pre-calculate a lot of stuff that may or may not be used.

General design notes (UPDATED - 4th August 2017):

- the general idea is having character sheets that are not overwhelming to beginners (e.g. avoid unneccessary or duplicate information)

- the whole set contains FOUR PAGES (first 2 available so far), but only the "Character Sheet" page is required; the "Spellcasting Sheet" is only for spellcasters; the "Roleplaying Sheet" and "Equipment Sheet" are not essential to the game

- the sheets are derived from WotC official character sheets, with many modifications, as summarized below


Character Sheet:

- SHIELD is separated from ARMOR, to make it easy when dropping/readying the shield

- INIT bonus is removed, it's almost always the same as DEX

- the HIT POINTS and HIT DICE section have small areas for static values (which change only at level up) and larger areas for values that change often

- the ATTACKS section is to be used for weapons and cantrips; it is limited to 5 different attacks under the assumption that most characters don't regularly use more, barring long-term changes; DAMAGE and TYPE are split (they are a bit cramped in the official character sheet); RANGE is added when applicable; NOTES can be used for short reminders (e.g. weapon special properties or extra cantrip effects); the area below can be used for additional weapons or for a few special abilities that should be always at hand when making attacks

- the SAVING THROWS section can be used to list their proficiencies, as well special abilities that should be remembered when making saving throws (such as advantage under specific conditions)

- the PROFICIENCIES & LANGUAGES section should be a mere list including weapons/armors, skills and tools (but not saving throws), no numbers needed; characters who have Expertise or Reliable can just mark it manually in this section

- EQUIPMENT is meant for really equipped items (including cash), which are ready to use while adventuring; a QUANTITY column is added for ammunition/rations/torches if needed; weapons already included in the ATTACKS section should not be listed here

- the FEATURES & TRAITS section is purposefully large to allow players to optionally include a short reminder of how the feature works; an ACTION/TIME column is added as a quick reminder to how long does it take to use the feature and hence when it can be used (for an even quicker visual aid, I suggest to use colored markers to color-code different action types)


Spellcasting Sheet:

- the first page supports spells up to 4th level, a second page (TBD) will support the rest

- the number of prepared spells is added to the general stat tab

- the number of rows per level is increased to support almost every character

- column size is stretched to allocate some quick-reference "flags" as follows:
V,S,M = spell components
X = eXpensive component (which needs to be in the Equipment)
R = Ritual
C = Concentration
S = Scalable (can be cast using higher-level slots)

- the "CAST" section can be used to mark if the spell is cast as a Bonus Action, Reaction, or any other specific time (but it is recommended not to write anything if the spell is cast as a regular Action, so that anything other than that will be immediately more visible on the sheet)

Inventory Sheet:

- The inventory sheet page is meant to expand and complement the Attack and Equipment sections on the main character sheet, more specifically to record possessions that are not equipped and carried around. This depends on gamestyle, but as a rule of thumb, running out of space in the main character sheet is an indication that you might be overequipped.

- The main area "Adventuring Equipment" is for permanent items, whether mundane or magical, that can have direct use in the adventures by equipping them. Instead of moving items back and forth between the main character sheet and the inventory sheet, you can use the "Location" column to mark e.g. "Backpack", "Stash", "Home" etc.

- Consumable items get a separate section with a Quantity indication. Use the "Type" column to indicate e.g. "Scroll", "Potion" etc. (works also as a quick indication about who can / how to use certain items), and the "Effect" column for either the name or function.

- Items under "Treasure & Trade Goods" are supposed to constitute the bulk of cash which is stored safely somewhere and not carried around all the time.

- Additional sections "Vehicles, Estates & Assets" and "Hirelings" are intentionally left more open.
  1. SubDude
    Interested, but don't see the actual file to download it.
  2. Quickleaf
    @Li Shenron Looks like it didn't upload properly.
  3. Li Shenron
    @SubDude @Quickleaf

    I don't know how to setup correctly, apparently... It was uploaded already but not visible, I have now unchecked the boxes "Is preview" and "Is thumbnail", and I think the link to download has become visible. Boh?
  4. Li Shenron
    I am still not sure that "DEX/OTHER" is needed. My idea was to include a way to quickly get your unarmored AC in case you end up in combat when not wearing armor, in which case your AC is 10 + Dex (some character get other bonuses). But then maybe it's better to just have 2 AC values, one when armored, one when unarmored.

    I also wonder if it might be useful to have Saving Throws in their own section, instead of being with the other proficiencies. The reason is that at least half of the classes and half of the races get some special ability related to Saving Throws, for example advantage in a subset of ST. It is very common, and it will be convenient to have this info directly near the ST proficiencies instead of somewhere in the "Features & Traits" section.
  5. Li Shenron
    I have made those updates: http://www.enworld.org/forum/rpgdown...ownloadid=1415

    I also updated the description, but since it doesn't automatically update the first post, here's a short summary of changes in this 2nd version:

    - removed the "DEX/OHTER" box for AC bonus (thus ARMOR should now contain the full AC)

    - brought back the "SPEED" box (I originally removed this because we play gridless and don't bother with small speed differences, but I guess we are in the minority)

    - added a new "SAVING THROW" free-form section, ST proficiencies should be marked here rather than under the general "PROFICIENCIES & LANGUAGES" section, together with any special abilities related to ST (for example, advantage on a certain subtype of ST)

    @Quickleaf and @SubDude let me know what you think of this yet-another-character-sheet
  6. Quickleaf
    @Li Shenron It's a nice clean sheet. I'll just make a few quick comments about layout & design as it relates to beginners. Obviously YMMV because no D&D group is the same.

    I think you could shrink down the HP and HD boxes, but especially the HD box to further draw attention to the HP, so those don't get confused.

    This might allow more space for Proficiencies or for something like Initiative. I've seen experienced players flounder trying to remember their initiative, and actually it happens on Twitch streams often enough to make me think it deserves its own heading, and not just assuming players grok that Dex modifier = initiative 9 times out of 10.

    Saving Throws always had a bigger present on the sheet going way back, with like a black field around them on old character sheets to draw the eye. There was a reason for that. I'd consider changing saving throws by (a) moving them under AC (because the eye goes to a "defenses" cluster, then to hit points), and (b) giving them circles/bubbles/boxes to call them out more.

    The Attacks section also seems somewhat on the large side.

    I think between those adjustments, you could probably include some additional information on the sheet. Personally, with new players I'm partial to a "sketch of your character goes here" white box, but it really depends on your groups' style. For example, some groups might like it for note-taking, others for recording personality/bonds/ideals/flaws, others for consumable magic items & arrow counting.
  7. Li Shenron
    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    @Li Shenron It's a nice clean sheet. I'll just make a few quick comments about layout & design as it relates to beginners. Obviously YMMV because no D&D group is the same.
    Thanks for taking a look at my character sheet and giving suggestions

    I have actually already given long thoughts on most of these topics (took me more than a year to finally step up and do the work...) so here's some more rationales for my current choices. Debatable, of course!

    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    I think you could shrink down the HP and HD boxes, but especially the HD box to further draw attention to the HP, so those don't get confused.
    The reason for the large boxes for current HP and used HD is because these are invariable the two numbers that are erased-rewritten most often during the game! Everything else on the character sheet changes a lot more slowly, basically only at level up (except equipment).

    But the "size ratio" between HP and HD is actually something I haven't thought much about... I can consider shrinking the HD row if I need more space.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    This might allow more space for Proficiencies or for something like Initiative. I've seen experienced players flounder trying to remember their initiative, and actually it happens on Twitch streams often enough to make me think it deserves its own heading, and not just assuming players grok that Dex modifier = initiative 9 times out of 10.
    This one I disagree In fact, unless you happen to have the Alert feat, your Init bonus is always your Dex bonus. They could have even dropped the term initiative score from the game and just refer to Dex.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    Saving Throws always had a bigger present on the sheet going way back, with like a black field around them on old character sheets to draw the eye. There was a reason for that. I'd consider changing saving throws by (a) moving them under AC (because the eye goes to a "defenses" cluster, then to hit points), and (b) giving them circles/bubbles/boxes to call them out more.
    This can be done but... in 5e saving throws are really just reactive ability checks. It is redundant to write their bonuses when 4 out of 6 are going to be the same as ability bonuses for most characters. It's enough IMO to write down which ones you get the proficiency bonus.

    OTOH it can really be useful to leave more space to write stuff like "advantage on ST against poison", because about half of the races and half of the classes have that kind of benefit, but if you don't write it near the ST, it will be somewhere under "Features", making it is easy to overlook.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    The Attacks section also seems somewhat on the large side.
    Yes, probably 5 lines are too many. Some characters use just one weapon or cantrip, most use 2-3 weapons. I was a bit generous with space here.

    Again, the free area below is quite useful instead! A lot of characters have something related to attacks that is easier to keep in mind if written directly under their weapons.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    I think between those adjustments, you could probably include some additional information on the sheet. Personally, with new players I'm partial to a "sketch of your character goes here" white box, but it really depends on your groups' style. For example, some groups might like it for note-taking, others for recording personality/bonds/ideals/flaws, others for consumable magic items & arrow counting.
    All the RP stuff is moved to another sheet, so that the main one is only for the "crunch".
  8. Li Shenron
    @Quickleaf and @SubDude , I have added sheet 2 of 4 i.e. the Spellcasting Sheet.
  9. SubDude
    I've printed it and I'll look at it later. First thought? Why a PNG file?
  10. SubDude
    Looking deeper, I honestly don't think this is an improvement over the standard WotC sheets.

    The Hit Point / Hit Die boxes are actually larger on Wizards' version, and frankly more useful given the inclusion of temporary hit points and death saves. The lack of a specifically calling out "hit point maximum" isn't a major problem, but I think taking it away reduces the effectiveness of this sheet - for beginners especially.

    Deleting all of the proficiencies seems actually COUNTER to the sheet's supposed "beginner friendliness." What is the newbie supposed to when asked for a Medicine Check when he isn't proficient? Likewise with the saving throws. Now our poor beginner has to manually write down all the proficiencies and saving throws? I think these are both large negatives in that they are not included on your sheet. In fact, you have 18 lines on your Proficiencies section, and that would cover all 18 of the Proficiencies, leaving zero room for any tools, kits, or languages.

    I agree with you and Quickleaf about the Attacks section being too large, as in too many lines. You might actually be better served by just making it wider than the Wizards version. If you take their default character sheet, and shrink the "Features and Traits" section such that you can widen the "Attacks and Spellcasting" section to the right margin, that would probably be more useful to a beginner than having a lot of extra room for features.

    Also, I think it is even more important for a beginner to have their character traits (bonds, flaw, etc.) front and center on the top page. They are learning the mechanics of their character, but they are also learning about Role Playing. Burying these items on the back pages implicitly lessens their importance - erroneously in my view.

    Thank you very much for uploading this; but all in all, I'll just use the standard WotC version for my beginners.
  11. Li Shenron
    Thanks for checking it out, and for the comments! All your points are things I've been addressing while using the official WotC sheets and then while designing my variant, so I can tell you why I made those choices differently from WotC.

    Quote Originally Posted by SubDude View Post
    The Hit Point / Hit Die boxes are actually larger on Wizards' version, and frankly more useful given the inclusion of temporary hit points and death saves. The lack of a specifically calling out "hit point maximum" isn't a major problem, but I think taking it away reduces the effectiveness of this sheet - for beginners especially.
    The Hit Point / Hit Dice section on WotC official sheet is not good for many reasons:

    - "Hit Point Maximum" is a row, which makes no sense because you only need one number, and it changes only when you level up; in addition, it's also a pretty thin row, so it's both too long horizontally and too short vertically -> this is why I replaced it with a box

    - "Temporary Hit Points" is a huge waste, it's not rare to gain temp HP but it's also not as frequent as to need this large box; when gaining temp HP, I just mark e.g. "+4" in the "Current Hit Points" area, and remember to lose these first if damaged

    - "Hit Dice" area is usable but again I thought it's frequent enough to have to mark how many HD you used in a short rest and then update them during a long rest, that IMO it deserves a bit more space (if I see that in our games players have too many cancellations in one box of their character sheet, to me it's a signal that it needs more space)

    - "Death Saves" are not needed as often as I thought; it's ok to have them on the sheet, but it's better to just count to 2 or give a token to the player who is making death saves (and yes, you don't need three circles here, because once you are supposed to tick the third circle, you no longer need to record your death saves!)

    What they did well is the "Current Hit Points" area. Very good idea to have a large box so that you don't need to erase+rewrite each time, but can instead cross a value and write the update next to it. I tried to keep it mostly intact, even tho on my sheet I sacrificed a bit of width, but since the Maximum is removed from this box, there is enough space for two rows of writing here. Although now that you mention it, I could definitely shrink it vertically a bit, and gain one more row for the Proficiencies table.

    Quote Originally Posted by SubDude View Post
    Deleting all of the proficiencies seems actually COUNTER to the sheet's supposed "beginner friendliness." What is the newbie supposed to when asked for a Medicine Check when he isn't proficient?
    This is a key feature of my character sheet, to the point that I could say that removing the full skills list is the original reason why I made this character sheet. Nobody else has chosen to do this, as far as I know, and that's what makes my character sheet different, rather than just another one in thousands versions.

    Removing the full skill list creates a shift in the way players think about their skills.

    What is visibly written on your character sheet is often what gives you ideas on what to do. In my personal experience, beginners should not be given too many suggestions, or they'll get lost and do something useless. Their character sheet should rather focus on what their PCs can do well. When they see "PROFICIENCIES: Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Stealth" they are reminded that those are the things their PC should be doing most often, because it's her role in the party.

    Small example: I once had a player who asked multiple times during the first game "What is this Sleight of Hand? What can you do with this?", and obviously wasn't proficient with it. This was a sign that the player was wasting time going through the whole skill list continuously in search for something to do instead of focusing on the most effective options.

    I really believe the roleplay game is better when everyone focuses on their role instead of just trying everything. There is always a possibility to improvise when one really needs to.

    ---

    As for the second case i.e. when it's the DM asking for a check, it's a false problem.

    In 5e D&D the focus is on ability checks, not skill checks. I might be wrong, but I don't think that the PHB or DMG ever use the term "skill check" in 5e. The idea is that the DM most of the times asks for an ability check, and tells you that if you have a specific proficiency, you can add your bonus to the check. Everywhere in the books those checks are written as Wisdom(Medicine), and that's the proper way to do it in 5e; calling out for a Medicine check is a common shorthand at the table, but it's the DM's fault if this habit causes confusion to the player.

    Quote Originally Posted by SubDude View Post
    Likewise with the saving throws. Now our poor beginner has to manually write down all the proficiencies and saving throws? I think these are both large negatives in that they are not included on your sheet. In fact, you have 18 lines on your Proficiencies section, and that would cover all 18 of the Proficiencies, leaving zero room for any tools, kits, or languages.
    NO! The player should definitely not write down 18 skills, she should be write down only the 4 (or whatever) she is proficient at.

    In this section, she should also write weapons/armors, tools and languages proficiencies (I moved the saving throws to another table).

    So normally 4-7 rows for skills, 2-3 rows for tools/languages, 2-3 rows for weapons/armors. I actually tried to be abundant in this section!

    Quote Originally Posted by SubDude View Post
    I agree with you and Quickleaf about the Attacks section being too large, as in too many lines. You might actually be better served by just making it wider than the Wizards version.
    Originally, the 5 lines were prompted by a couple personal cases when beginner players picked up new weapons from treasure or dropped by enemies during the first adventure, and wanted to try them out until they knew what to stick with... so again I tried to be abundant, but I agree that this might be rare.

    Quote Originally Posted by SubDude View Post
    If you take their default character sheet, and shrink the "Features and Traits" section such that you can widen the "Attacks and Spellcasting" section to the right margin, that would probably be more useful to a beginner than having a lot of extra room for features.
    Err... not so sure about that! There are plenty of Features & Traits already at 1st level due to racial abilities in addition to class abilities, as well as the background feature. IMXP this section should be large, especially because for some non-obvious features you might actually want to write a whole summary instead of just the name.

    Quote Originally Posted by SubDude View Post
    Also, I think it is even more important for a beginner to have their character traits (bonds, flaw, etc.) front and center on the top page. They are learning the mechanics of their character, but they are also learning about Role Playing. Burying these items on the back pages implicitly lessens their importance - erroneously in my view.
    I don't want to mix roleplay stuff and game mechanics on the same page (in fact I am even considering removing "Alignment" from the top section).

    In addition, not everyone game uses Traits+Ideals+Bonds+Flaws. They can be both a huge help and a burden to beginners, depending on what kind of game you're running. To be more specific, if I run a one-shot game or a tactical combat-focused game, I would not waste time defining the narrative/roleplay details of the PCs.

    I will later post the third sheet of the set, which contains roleplay/narrative details, so that it can be seen together with the other sheets.
  12. Li Shenron
    Quote Originally Posted by SubDude View Post
    I've printed it and I'll look at it later. First thought? Why a PNG file?
    Sadly, because all the character sheets are made by "cut-copy-paste" from the original WotC files. I know it sucks, but I don't have the software to edit PDFs directly, and it takes me a lot more time in Word that it does by working directly on a bitmap image
  13. SubDude
    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    Thanks for checking it out, and for the comments! All your points are things I've been addressing while using the official WotC sheets and then while designing my variant, so I can tell you why I made those choices differently from WotC.....
    Okay, I understand.
  14. Li Shenron
    Inventory sheet added.
  15. dagger
    I converted the inventory sheet to PDF, since I like it.

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