D&D General Tips for Using Paper Character Sheets


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Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I work for a company that went "paperless" ten years ago, where there is now a printer at everyone's desk because managers won't give up their requirement for employees to print out their work so it can be scanned into our document imaging system for reference. I was recently involved with helping clean out the office when one of those managers retired - and we tossed two 6 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide bookshelves filled with binders of system screenshots as far back as 20 years ago. All screenshots where you could pull the screen up on the PC today and see what was entered those years ago (for systems we still have, that is).

I will do anything I can for paper character sheets to go away in the RPGs I am involved in.
Why?

Like seriously, why? Are you scarred by what happened in your office so you can't face paper?

Do you think that because 20 year old screenshots have no value that one or so character sheets per campaign kept as memorabilia has no value?

Do you discriminate against people who have the physical books and don't want to pay again to get them in an app?

Do you gatekeep that real players can only access their character sheets via technology?

I'm absolutely for everyone having their own opinion on if they want hand drawn illuminated sheet, apps, functional print-outs or whatever works for them. Which is why I find your declaration that any RPG you are involved with you will make sure there are no sheets to be wrongheaded. Why do you get to define for others in the RPGs you are involved in that they may not have sheet?!
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I spent an internship at 3M convincing them to stop printing and sending inventory reports all over the world. They agreed to test it, and let's just say no one complained and they saved A LOT of money after that....
A friend of mine who works for Prudential has passed on a similar story. About how they had acquired a Japanese asset and a large amount of manual work went in every month to creating this many-inches-thick monthly report. My friend was flown to Japan on short notice to work on automating it, but at the end when parts really were a manual slog and they talked to the recipients about if they could be changed, found out that no one read the damn things anyhow. So they trashed the majority of the report and automated the rest.
 

MarkB

Legend
A friend of mine who works for Prudential has passed on a similar story. About how they had acquired a Japanese asset and a large amount of manual work went in every month to creating this many-inches-thick monthly report. My friend was flown to Japan on short notice to work on automating it, but at the end when parts really were a manual slog and they talked to the recipients about if they could be changed, found out that no one read the damn things anyhow. So they trashed the majority of the report and automated the rest.
In the company I work at, the pandemic was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for paper-based working. Nobody was in the office to print and file the dozens of reports generated by the Finance teams, so it all went over to being saved electronically, we got a lot hotter on requiring suppliers to submit documents via e-mail, and as it turned out, it all worked just fine. So that's the way we've continued to work.
 

John Lloyd1

Explorer
I'm DMing at the moment, but when I play consistently, I like to print the them from DND Beyond so that the short description is there. Also draw circles to keep track of uses.

I am hoping the new core books are laid out so that individual classes, sub-classes and backgrounds are kept to their own pages. Then I can photocopy them and attach them to the character sheet.
 

aco175

Legend
related:

Anyone got a sheet they recommend (esp. for new players)?
Here is the resource page for 5e character sheets. I posted a basic one I use that is rather simple in Excel. A couple of my players use the standard one from Wizards and one writes everything out and gets lost looking for to hit, and spell DC- even when he uses symbols like a sword and wand next to it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Nope, just venting my frustration with people's lack of willingness to go digital.
Digital, while sometimes useful, is not the be-all and end-all and never will be.

I don't need electricity or a charged battery to read a piece of paper by candlelight, which is handy when the power goes out (power-cut candlelight dungeons are a blast, by the way!).

I don't need to rely on the continued functionality of both my tech and that of others (internet providers, server farms, etc.) to use a piece of paper and a pen.
 

ART!

Deluxe Unhuman
We used to use just regular scotch tape over the HP area. The kind of tape with a matte finish, because you can write on it with a pencil and erase it.
 

ART!

Deluxe Unhuman
I know the context seems to be longevity of play for an established group, but I've actually found the layout/design of many printed character sheets to be a bit of an issue – more so for newer players, but not exclusively. One of the challenges with paper sheets is information accessibility where the "tax form" nature ends up "burying the lead" so players don't get what they need at-a-glance-or-two. Digital sheets solve this with a hovering cursor opening info boxes. However, getting players to write "short form notes" of what their spells/features do (the paper equivalent of "cursor info boxes") can be an uphill or fruitless battle, depending on the players.
Amen to this.

I find the focus and layout of most 5E characters sheets befuddling. I've gone to the trouble of making my own in InDesign, but I haven't finished it because there's nothing like designing a character sheet for a system to make the things you don't like about the system into glaring problems. That said, some of the comments above about character sheet layout have given me hope.
yep, I’m comfortable with it but Roll20 + Beyond20 makes playing D&D easier!
Roll20 + Beyond20 made playing D&D pointedly more difficult for me as a DM.
 

R_J_K75

Legend
Nope, just venting my frustration with people's lack of willingness to go digital.
I worked for an engineering/manufacturing company about 15 years ago and the manager wanted to scan the thousands of technical drawings stored in flat files and put them on our server. I was one of the younger employees in the department and immediately said yes when he asked for the groups opinion. All the older employees whined and complained and convinced him it was a bad idea. He caved in under 5 minutes. I was so mad I almost quit on the spot due to the lack innovation and constant adhering to outdated 40-50 year old policies. Digitizing all that information would have made the department so much more efficient.

Back in the 80s and 90s we all used handwritten character sheets, but nowadays I never would, I don't see the need anymore. I prefer using form fillable pdf character sheets. They are easily stored, shared, updated, re-printed if someone loses or forgets it, and they are legible. Though I do prefer paper sheets over an app on a tablet. computer, or phone at the table, and encourage my player to use them if I'm the GM. A few pieces of scrap paper at the table during play goes a long way and the main sheet can be quickly updated as needed.
 

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