D&D General Tips for Using Paper Character Sheets

SlyFlourish

SlyFlourish.com
Supporter
What are your best tips to help players use paper-based character sheets? What tricks have you personally found helpful when using paper character sheets?

I’ll offer a couple:

  • Write page numbers next to spells, powers, class features, and anything else you might want to look up at the table.
  • Track hit point and other expendables on index cards so you don’t wear out your sheet.
  • For DMs: write down or print out magic items with descriptions in small sheets or index cards so you can hand them to your players so they can hang onto them with their character.
  • Track damage done instead of subtracting damage from hit points. Adding up is easier than subtracting down.

What are some of your top tips for using paper character sheets?
 

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First, apply the pointed end of your graphite writing stick to the paper. This works best if it is on a firm surface, such as a table. You will find that by careful manoeuvring you can create fairly accurate reproductions of keyboard characters. You can create a space character by lifting your writing stick from the surface and moving it a short distance.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I encourage my players to make a whole new sheet every time they level up, so they can rearrange things as they become more important or new abilities/items are gained and they have a record of the lifecycle of their PC.

And while I have a generic sheet I made for them, I also encourage them to create their own bespoke version in whatever their program of choice is (excel, word, publisher, whatever), so they can put things in the order than makes the most sense to them.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Use item cards for inventory. Constantly tracking it on the same sheet of paper gets old fast.

I have done this for decades and it works really well. We also have a corollary rule that losing the card means you've lost the item, though to be honest I don't think I have ever actually enforced that rule.
 

Reynard

Legend
When I run games at cons, i make sure the pre-gen are packets that include everything the PC can do so no one ever has to pull out a book. Some players scan the packet and make notes. Others never look anywhere other than the "actions" box unless they find themselves in a weird spot, but all the info is there regardless. Everything else is up to me, the GM, and I only ever open a book if it is absolutely necessary.

All that said, some games make for phatter packets than others. 5E packets are decent thickness but nothing compared to Starfinder packets. Savage Worlds "packets" are usually just a couple pages, and Shadowdark requires a one sided character sheet.
 

darjr

I crit!
The new RPG from Darrington Press breaks a lot of things out into cards. I wonder if the breakdown helps with this. And if some of that idea could be adopted into 5e.
 

darjr

I crit!
When I run games at cons, i make sure the pre-gen are packets that include everything the PC can do so no one ever has to pull out a book. Some players scan the packet and make notes. Others never look anywhere other than the "actions" box unless they find themselves in a weird spot, but all the info is there regardless. Everything else is up to me, the GM, and I only ever open a book if it is absolutely necessary.

All that said, some games make for phatter packets than others. 5E packets are decent thickness but nothing compared to Starfinder packets. Savage Worlds "packets" are usually just a couple pages, and Shadowdark requires a one sided character sheet.
Have you ever put these online?
 

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