Character Sheet Feedback

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
*UPDATE: Sheet now compatible with the PHB!*

I've updated the static version of the sheet. I want to get feedback before I put in the effort to update the fillable sheet. I'll once again provide the InDesign file when finished.

Version 1.1 is available from the forum Downloads Section.


Previous Versions:

I started working on a character sheet for D&D Next as a thought experiment when, low and behold, Wizards announced a contest.

I don't care so much about winning, though it would be nice. I just want to make a really good sheet, so I'm looking for feedback.

My initial work is being done in Libre Office Calc, because it allows for quick prototyping of the basic design. When that gets nailed down, I'll switch to either InDesign or GIMP to build a more attractive version.

Please let me know your thoughts.


Release 0.1


For this release, the basic design concepts are in place. The front page is focused on the core mechanics of the game, broken into four major vertical sections. Horizontally, the design is split into thirds to create visual symmetry.

The top section is dedicated to a character biography. I've always felt that having an image in the top left corner next to pure character description was important for two reasons. First, It makes an individual character sheet recognizable at a glance. Second, it reinforces that you're playing a character first, and that the rules are secondary to that.

Lastly, I use a separate sheet for spells. I figure you either need a lot of space, or none.


Release 0.2

This release made several changes based on the feedback given.

I've also further embraced the concept of a modular character sheet. The first two pages are core, and relate to everyone. Additional optional pages add detail for those who want it.

I'm also providing the LibreOffice Calc file I'm using for reference.

Changelog
  • Added missing labels in several places
  • Reorganized the character biography to keep game related information together and at the top.
  • Added description of how to use abilities and skills
  • Redesigned the Attacks and Defense sections to allow for more content
  • Added entry for Initiative
  • Restyled the Class and Race section and added tracking for class features with limited uses.
  • Expanded Carrying Capacity information
  • Added section to track coinage
  • Created optional sheet for recording magic items
  • Created optional sheet for tracking hit points, spell effects, conditions, and adventure notes, plus bookkeeping for experience, and treasure.


Release 0.3

This release has a redesigned second page and a focus on increasing white space.

I wasn't happy with the amount of space for equipment and treasure, so I've expanded that section.

With the design team planning to implement bigger feats, I've decided to treat them in the same manner as I do magic items. Namely, have a concise list of feats on the main sheet, and then provide an optional reference sheet, which will be designed when we know what the new feats look like.


Release 0.4

I've moved on to InDesign! This is just the front page for now. Working this way takes more time, and I want to get feedback at this point.

Some caveats:


  • I haven't really worked on the portrait box to incorporate a D&D logo or text saying it's a character sheet.
  • Some of the lines appear to have varying thickness in the PDF, but not when printed.
  • The "Current HP" box extends beyond the pages print margin. I need to find a solution to that.


Release 0.5

This release represents the basic sheet in a fully useable form.

I fixed some copy problems, added a new portrait border, redesigned the hit points section, and completed the second page. Next step is the spell sheet. It's possible that I'll have all of the sheets converted for the next release.


Release 0.6

The sheet is complete, including all the optional sheets I've presented so far. I post it now for final feedback before I submit it to the competition.


Release 0.7

I have done a quick update to reflect the changes in the 8-2-2013 playtest packet.


Release 0.8

I've made changes according to feedback and experience. In particular, there's a place to record your lifestyle costs, "vision" has been renamed to "senses", fields of lore is now a checklist, the class features section has been revised, the hit point tracker has been redesigned, and magic items now how a checkbox for attunement.

Release 0.9

I've updated the sheet for the September 20th, 2013 packet, as well as to address feedback.

As always, I'm looking for feedback. Once I've address feedback, I'll take the time to make it fillable.

What's changed:

The Defenses and Attacks section have been merged into a combat section and rearranged. This was done to open up some more space for tracking proficiencies and various modifiers while keeping the sheet feeling organized.

A fair amount of stylistic polish has been included as well. Hopefully you like it.

After far too many hours, the 1.0 release of my sheet is complete. Thank you all for your feedback. It was invaluable.

I have only made the main page and the spellcasting pages fillable for now (though that alone increased the file size by an order of magnitude). I'll get to the other two pages eventually, but I needed a break.

D&D 5E Character Sheet 1.0 (Static).pdf (185 KB)

D&D 5E Character Sheet 1.0 (Paritally Fillable).pdf (1,674 KB)

As promised, I'm also providing the InDesign document. Feel free to do with it as you will.

Dungeons and Dragons 5E character sheet.indd
 
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sheadunne

Explorer
My only suggestion would be to move all the "appearance" stuff to a second or third page. I don't think it needs to be referenced often in a game. But I always do like having it on the sheet.
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
I like a lot of it. My group is really enthusiastic about drawing their characters, so they'll like having the drawing area on the front. Fields like "Upkeep" and "Birthday" don't really seem necessary.

I'm not a huge fan of the skills being right next to the ability scores like they are. Maybe that's because it's a perfect way of representing the current skill system, and I hate the current skill system. I'd prefer a little space with 4-6 blank lines.

What's the deal with all the little bubbles under "defense?" Is that supposed to be for encumbrance? If so, I don't see how that helps (and it shouldn't be under "defense").

There needs to be more slots for feats.

I like the equipment section, but it's missing a place to put coinage (IMO, the best way to do this is to have separate boxes for gold, silver, etc. and have the conversion rates right there). Also, you could have more weight capacities and what they mean (unencumbered, encumbered, max drag/lift).

I like the spell page.
 
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Libramarian

Adventurer
Pretty nice, I prefer it to the official sheet already.

Using hundreds of little circles to represent every hit point is pretty inelegant though. Why not use an abacus, like this:
10|_ _ _ _ _._ _ _ _|_
01|_ _ _ _ _._ _ _ _

Top row represents tens, bottom row represents ones. The slot to the right of the tens row represents +100, so you can take it to 200.

e.g. 123 looks like this:
10|_ * _ _ _._ _ _ _|*
01|_ _ * _ _._ _ _ _

You can have another slot next to the ones row representing that the number is negative.
 
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Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
My only suggestion would be to move all the "appearance" stuff to a second or third page. I don't think it needs to be referenced often in a game. But I always do like having it on the sheet.

It's a difficult choice. After reading this, I once again considered the placement and played around with alternatives (such as placing equipment on the front and moving biography to the back), but in the end I want to keep all biographic information together. Second, I'm considering an optional set of expanded equipment sheets, which plays better with altering the back page.

Good feedback, though.


I like a lot of it. My group is really enthusiastic about drawing their characters, so they'll like having the drawing area on the front. Fields like "Upkeep" and "Birthday" don't really seem necessary.

I'm not a huge fan of the skills being right next to the ability scores like they are (I'd prefer a little space with 4-6 blank lines). Maybe that's because it's a perfect way of representing the current skill system, and I hate the current skill system.

What's the deal with all the little bubbles under "defense?" Is that supposed to be for encumbrance? If so, I don't see how that helps (and it shouldn't be under "defense").

There needs to be more slots for feats.

I like the equipment section, but it's missing a place to put coinage (IMO, the best way to do this is to have separate boxes for gold, silver, etc. and have the conversion rates right there). Also, you could have more weight capacities and what they mean (unencumbered, encumbered, max drag/lift).

I like the spell page.

The portrait box is a keystone of all my sheets these days, so I'm glad you like it. I feel it really makes it feel like a character sheet to have that top right.

What entries you have in a character bio influences the expected game play. Birthday, for example, is an entry that ties a character to the setting and calendar. Upkeep, on the other hand, I've always struggled with. I want to find a better term to represent how well a character takes care of themselves as far as grooming, hygiene, and clothing. I think it says something interesting about a character. But you're right. If I need to free up some space, those could go.

As you say, the way skills are displayed is intended to reflect how they are used in the system. If I submit this to the contest, then I'll have to choose one and stick with it. But, if I build this in InDesign, I could actually use layers to allow you to choose your preference, so I'll keep this suggestion on the back burner.

The bubbles under defense are a hit point tracker. I've been adding them to D&D sheets for a long time and they've proven quite popular at the table.

Why does it need more feat slots? You can only get four feats from specialties. Bonus feats from classes are, first of all, class features and would be recorded there, and on the way out according to Mearls. Am I missing something?

Your callouts for equipment are absolutely correct. I especially can't believe that I missed the coinage. The next version will have an updated equipment section. I'm also working on an expanded equipment sheet for those who desire such a thing.



Pretty nice, I prefer it to the official sheet already.

Using hundreds of little circles to represent every hit point is pretty inelegant though. Why not use an abacus, like this:
10|_ _ _ _ _._ _ _ _|_
01|_ _ _ _ _._ _ _ _

Top row represents tens, bottom row represents ones. The slot to the right of the tens row represents +100, so you can take it to 200.

e.g. 123 looks like this:
10|_ * _ _ _._ _ _ _|*
01|_ _ * _ _._ _ _ _

You can have another slot next to the ones row representing that the number is negative.

Your suggestion is elegant, in that it allows for tracking a lot of hit points in a small space. But, it has two problems when used on a character sheet. First, it's a bit confusing. Second, it requires erasing and rewriting every time your hit points change, which doesn't save you much over just writing down your current total. Lastly, all those extra erasings will destroy that section of the sheet over time.

The method I use means you can make simple marks to track where you are, and only need to erase them when you're healed. Plus, its very straightforward to use. Sadly, it does take up a lot of space.
 

Philousk

Explorer
An example of your character sheet filled with data by an existing character would be clearer to me. As "posture" in the identity section seems futile unless I misunderstood the good meaning of the word. Do you mean the physical posture? i.e. my old druid have the shoulders hunched and his back is bent. Also, I would like to understand the meaning of blank rectangular boxes (small and large) and circular on the page dedicated to spells. Otherwise, I tip my hat to your very promising first draft.
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
What entries you have in a character bio influences the expected game play. Birthday, for example, is an entry that ties a character to the setting and calendar. Upkeep, on the other hand, I've always struggled with. I want to find a better term to represent how well a character takes care of themselves as far as grooming, hygiene, and clothing. I think it says something interesting about a character. But you're right. If I need to free up some space, those could go.
It just makes it feel like it was designed to make a point, rather than to be convenient and useful. It's like the lemon squeezer thing. You can make a page with boxes for "favorite color" and "mother's maiden name" and call it a character sheet, but what people actually want character sheets for is to write down their stats.
The bubbles under defense are a hit point tracker. I've been adding them to D&D sheets for a long time and they've proven quite popular at the table.
How do you use it?
Why does it need more feat slots? You can only get four feats from specialties. Bonus feats from classes are, first of all, class features and would be recorded there
The classes just say "you gain X feat," which to me says that it's a feat and belongs under feats. I dunno. I hope they go far far away and this is not an issue. :)

I've been looking at the spell page for a few minutes trying to come up with how to make it better (as it's nearly perfect right now). The only thing I can think of is that it's weird for divine spells; it feels like you'd have to write and erase every time you want to prepare a different spell loadout.

Can you share how you created this in Calc (or upload the file)? I'm really interested in how to make stuff like this.
 
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Evenglare

Adventurer
The sheet isnt bad by any stretch of the imagination, however, ever since 4th edition's essential character sheet I simply LOVE one (or at the most 2) page character sheets. A sort of less is more aspect. I would love a sheet that went indepth with all the calculations, but then a sheet where you could bring it to your table and play.
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
An example of your character sheet filled with data by an existing character would be clearer to me. As "posture" in the identity section seems futile unless I misunderstood the good meaning of the word. Do you mean the physical posture? i.e. my old druid have the shoulders hunched and his back is bent. Also, I would like to understand the meaning of blank rectangular boxes (small and large) and circular on the page dedicated to spells. Otherwise, I tip my hat to your very promising first draft.

Yeah, it means physical posture.

The entry fields and circles are for recording and tracking spells per day for each level. There is a label for that under "level one spells". If you missed it, then I should consider labeling every box.
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
The sheet isnt bad by any stretch of the imagination, however, ever since 4th edition's essential character sheet I simply LOVE one (or at the most 2) page character sheets. A sort of less is more aspect. I would love a sheet that went indepth with all the calculations, but then a sheet where you could bring it to your table and play.

When I can, I absolutely agree with you. But I don't feel that D&D Next doesn't accomplish it well if you want one sheet to handle 20 levels. So I settled on a two page spread. Then I discovered that spells really need a page to themselves.

My plan for the next revision is to have the normal two page spread, with optional expanded pages where they make sense.
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
It just makes it feel like it was designed to make a point, rather than to be convenient and useful. It's like the lemon squeezer thing. You can make a page with boxes for "favorite color" and "mother's maiden name" and call it a character sheet, but what people actually want character sheets for is to write down their stats.

I've always played with people who will happily fill out any descriptive field I give them, so maybe it's a playstyle thing. You should see the sheets I built for that purpose. Again, I can expand or contract the number of entries based on available space. I'd rather focus on improving the other areas, and adapting the rest as needed. I certainly wouldn't want character bio to significantly impact the usability of the sheet.

How do you use it?

Usually, you mark off your total hit points and maximum negative hit points, then make marks going backwards as you take damage to track your current total. Some people fill in the bubbles. Other cross them off with a line. I prefer to use small ticks to reduce the amount of erasing I have to do later.

Some players prefer to count damage upward toward a hit point total. Either way works well.

I've been looking at the spell page for a few minutes trying to come up with how to make it better (as it's nearly perfect right now). The only thing I can think of is that it's weird for divine spells; it feels like you'd have to write and erase every time you want to prepare a different spell loadout.

This has long been a challenge with divine casters. The best sheet for them would list every spell on the Cleric Spell list. I'm not ready to do that with the game is such flux. My recommendation would be to fill out the spell sheet with the spells you prepare most often, perhaps with a couple blank spots per level. Then just check off the ones you've actually prepared.

Can you share how you created this in Calc (or upload the file)? I'm really interested in how to make stuff like this.

And give away trade secrets? NEVER!

Actually, I use a set of custom cell styles to do most of the heavy lifting for fonts, fills, and borders. For Checkboxes, I use special characters, which is unfortunate because every other part of the sheet is fillable in Calc, but I can't make the checkboxes functional.

I'll include the .ODS file with the next revision for people to look at.
 

jrowland

First Post
I'm probably in a minority here, but I like character sheets with....character. Little doodles and such, The AC box in the shape of a kite shield, HP box in the shape of a heart, an open book instead of a box for the spells, font that looks more like it was written by hand (or at the very least a serif font - sans serif looks good on screen, serif looks good on paper). Perhaps simply use watermarks of things like shields, weapons, hearts, etc for each section. I don't know, but I want something with more artistic flavour than a technical spec sheet.
 

Libramarian

Adventurer
Your suggestion is elegant, in that it allows for tracking a lot of hit points in a small space. But, it has two problems when used on a character sheet. First, it's a bit confusing. Second, it requires erasing and rewriting every time your hit points change, which doesn't save you much over just writing down your current total. Lastly, all those extra erasings will destroy that section of the sheet over time.

The method I use means you can make simple marks to track where you are, and only need to erase them when you're healed. Plus, its very straightforward to use. Sadly, it does take up a lot of space.

When you think about it it doesn't actually require that much more erasing--using the bubbles, assuming you heal up to max HP, you're going to be erasing every mark you make at some point with that method as well. Maybe it feels like less erasing because you do it more irregularly.

Anyhoo, I agree with the other commenters that the personal/descriptive info at the top of the page is a bit much. I would cut out Size, Build, Posture, Hairstyle, Upkeep, and combine Height and Weight into one line.
 

babomb

First Post
  • First of all, it should probably say "Dungeons & Dragons Character Record Sheet" somewhere at the top, especially on the version you enter into the contest.
  • I'd also prefer class and level to be next to each other (especially when the multi-class rules are in).
  • "Use ability score to" is not a good heading for the skills, because it seems to imply that, for example, you can't use your strength to break an object unless the box is checked.
  • Ideally, assuming the rules for them don't change, the feats that let you use a skill die (Disarm Traps, Open Locks) would also be listed with the skills.
  • The AC section has spaces for armor and shield, but it doesn't have spaces for dex bonus, barbarian's iron hide, ioun stones, or anything like that. I know those will be written somewhere else on the sheet, but I think it's convenient to list everything that affects AC together, even if it's a little redundant, so you can easily verify the number. (It's also a good reminder for new players.)
  • I like to have a space for notes next to weapons, so if I have a weapon with special properties, I can write a brief reminder of that next to the weapon (e.g. "+2d6 dmg on crit").
  • Similarly, space for special properties of armor would be nice.
  • Speed being under "Attacks" is a little weird.
  • There's only space for one type of ammunition. (Admittedly, few characters need more than one, but it does happen.)
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
I'm probably in a minority here, but I like character sheets with....character. Little doodles and such, The AC box in the shape of a kite shield, HP box in the shape of a heart, an open book instead of a box for the spells, font that looks more like it was written by hand (or at the very least a serif font - sans serif looks good on screen, serif looks good on paper). Perhaps simply use watermarks of things like shields, weapons, hearts, etc for each section. I don't know, but I want something with more artistic flavour than a technical spec sheet.

I absolutely agree, and this will happen. As I mentioned in the opening post, I'm still in the prototyping stage, so I'm mostly focused on basics of layout and usability.
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
  • First of all, it should probably say "Dungeons & Dragons Character Record Sheet" somewhere at the top, especially on the version you enter into the contest.

I agree. I think I'll attach it to the character portrait when I move beyond the prototype phase.

  • I'd also prefer class and level to be next to each other (especially when the multi-class rules are in).

An interesting thought. I'll put some consideration into it.

  • "Use ability score to" is not a good heading for the skills, because it seems to imply that, for example, you can't use your strength to break an object unless the box is checked.

I've been meaning to add some simple instructions regarding trained skills. I may have found a way, so thank you for pointing out that this was a concern.

  • Ideally, assuming the rules for them don't change, the feats that let you use a skill die (Disarm Traps, Open Locks) would also be listed with the skills.

Good point. Why these aren't just skills in the first place, I don't know.

  • The AC section has spaces for armor and shield, but it doesn't have spaces for dex bonus, barbarian's iron hide, ioun stones, or anything like that. I know those will be written somewhere else on the sheet, but I think it's convenient to list everything that affects AC together, even if it's a little redundant, so you can easily verify the number. (It's also a good reminder for new players.)

I tend to agree. I'm going to have to do a lot more prototyping on the defense section to get this right.

  • I like to have a space for notes next to weapons, so if I have a weapon with special properties, I can write a brief reminder of that next to the weapon (e.g. "+2d6 dmg on crit").

  • Similarly, space for special properties of armor would be nice.

Again I agree. I'd like to work in a properties section, if nothing else. More significant details will still have to be left for an expanded equipment sheet.

  • Speed being under "Attacks" is a little weird.

I would prefer to turn it more into an "Actions" section.

  • There's only space for one type of ammunition. (Admittedly, few characters need more than one, but it does happen.)

Agreed. I know that I can make room for another when I move beyond the prototype, as I'll have more control over spacing, but I think I may have an idea that will improve this now.

Thank you for this feedback.
 

Nytmare

David Jose
The bubbles under defense are a hit point tracker. I've been adding them to D&D sheets for a long time and they've proven quite popular at the table.

I have to agree with this. Circles for hitpoints, ammo, and components have been the only addition to my character sheets that my jerk players have ever commented on or complimented.
 

Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
Release 0.2

This release made several changes based on the feedback given.

I've also further embraced the concept of a modular character sheet. The first two pages are core, and relate to everyone. Additional optional pages add detail for those who want it.

I'm also providing the LibreOffice Calc file I'm using for reference.

Changelog

  • Added missing labels in several places
  • Reorganized the character biography to keep game related information together and at the top.
  • Added description of how to use abilities and skills
  • Redesigned the Attacks and Defense sections to allow for more content
  • Added entry for Initiative
  • Restyled the Class and Race section and added tracking for class features with limited uses.
  • Expanded Carrying Capacity information
  • Added section to track coinage
  • Created optional sheet for recording magic items
  • Created optional sheet for tracking hit points, spell effects, conditions, and adventure notes, plus bookkeeping for experience, and treasure.
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
Quick notes:

You might want to change "deity" to "religion."

Fields for coinage could have the conversion rates.

Different subheads for different types of magic items ("Weapons & Armor" and "Rings & Wondrous Items") seems unnecessary, especially since they use the same template.

Loling at the XP and treasure invoice section. It actually seems very useful, but just a little silly.
 
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Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
Quick notes:

You might want to change "deity" to "religion."

Fields for coinage could have the conversion rates.

Different subheads for different types of magic items ("Weapons & Armor" and "Rings & Wondrous Items") seems unnecessary, especially since they use the same template.

Loling at the XP and treasure invoice section. It actually seems very useful, but just a little silly.

Good call on religion.

I'd like to add the conversion rates (I had them at one point), but I haven't found a concise method that doesn't eat up more equipment slots. Electrum really throws a wrench in there.

I generally agree on the magic item subheadings, but I also need something to separate the two rows visually. White space alone wasn't doing the trick. I'll think on it.

As for the invoices, they're terribly silly, yet highly useful for answering, "where did that money go?" or "when did we reach sixth level?" But they also fly in the face of everyone who hates bookkeeping.
 

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