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4E UPDATED 6/20/08! kiznit's 4e Fold-over Character Sheet w/ Cards

kiznit

Explorer
Hey guys!

After the pretty good reception of my 4e Combat Crib Sheet, I thought I'd take a stab at making an easier-to-use and easier-to-read version of the character sheet, the official one of which I find to be pretty blech and I bet a lot of you do too.

This sheet is meant to be the ideal analogue sheet for those of you who eschew computers, but I'd love it if someone (like NeoLithic did with an earlier version) wanted to make a form-fillable or even an auto-calculating version.


Better pics of the sheet filled out coming soon! (The wife has the digital camera, these were taken with my cel phone)
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The Power Cards come in two flavors! Four of the six cards are basic attack cards, the remaining two are trigger or non-attack cards. These could definitely use some play-testing, so let me know how they work.

Since it's usually pretty tough to print color onto cardstock, I personally recommend getting a few different colors of cardstock paper and then printing B&W to help differentiate At-Will/Daily/Encounter. :D


Design Notes:
  • A good character sheet has to keep several things in mind. First and foremost is how easy it is to play off of - i.e. does it "read" well right-to-left, top-to-bottom? Are the important items obvious and easy to find? Do the constantly-changing stuff have lots of room for notes, scribbling and re-scribbling?
  • In terms of layout the 3.5e DMG2 took a nice hard look at this, redesigning stat blocks so that basic encounter-first abilities are towards the top (init, senses, languages, etc.) then Defensive abilities, then Offensive abilities, then Special abilities, and so on. I think a good character sheet has to incorporate some of this prioritizing.
  • Secondly, a character sheet has to be easy to fill out, specifically in the order of how one creates a character (see p.14 4ePHB). This traditionally does things like put the Ability scores nicely in the top-left where everybody knows where they are despite the 3eDMG2 and other pre-generated character sheets (like from H1 and DDWWGD) usually putting them last. So we've got two somewhat conflicting "methodologies" of how to lay this puppy out, and I've tried to find some nice middle ground.
  • Next is how big to make it. A well-designed character sheet usually tries to fit on two pages, since double-sided on cardstock is nicely compact and quite durable. I've seen some really cool character sheets laid out on four pages, which if printed on a single 11x17 cardstock makes a really nice "foldover" character booklet, if you will. Other character sheets range to even longer.
  • My hope is to pare this thing down to a two-pager, but seeing how dense the official sheet is I know that's going to be a nightmare. It bothers me quite a bit that all your character powers on the official sheet, arguably your most crucially examined options, are slimmed down to single lines with simple checkboxes in one corner of the page. Since I already know that I'm going to have to "space out" the entire sheet to make it much more readable, I was thinking of building a PDF that consists of 2-pages plus a third page of various blank fill-outable power cards laid out nicely, perhaps in a 6-up. That way you could print your main character sheet out nicely double-sided, and print out as many of the 3rd page you need to be able to cut apart and track all your powers. Sound cool? I hope so.

Download the sheet here (v1.0):
http://www.koboldstyle.org/stuff/4eCharacterSht_kiznit_v1.pdf (7.2 megs)

NeoLithic's Form-Fillable Version (Now updated for the latest version)!
kiznit_cs_v1.0_form_v2.pdf
Thanks, Neo! :D Please give this guy some props for his hard work as well.

This is very much meant to be a living document. Any comments or critiques are still very much appreciated! :cool:
 
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kiznit

Explorer
A thought from left-field.

I've never seen it on a character sheet before, but I was thinking that given 4e's tactical focus it might be cool to have room on the sheet for various powers/race-based combat effects.

Things like:
  • Bonuses for Opportunity Attacks
  • Combat Advantage
  • etc.

Edit - Something like this:
 
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mattdm

First Post
a few comments

I like your overall design approach. A few specific comments:

  • The box under HP probably shouldn't say "wounds", since very clearly in 4E more than ever hit points represent morale, endurance, and, well, narrative verve as much as or more than they represent physical damage.
  • Also, as I commented on Mad Irishman's 4E sheet, I use scrap paper for this rather than scribbling on my character sheet, so that box is kind of a waste. I do like the idea of the death saving throws checkboxes, though. I suppose I could get used to having it there and printing a new sheet more often. :)
  • XP can probably go on page 2, yeah?
  • Initiative and speed aren't Senses, but they're under the "senses" section.
  • Languages seems shoved in at an odd point.
  • Should "Attack and Damage" say "Basic Attacks"?
  • I like what you've done with the armor penalty checkboxes — much cleaner than having n/a written.
  • The feat list seems too narrow to write the names of many of the feats, let alone short notes on what they do. This is probably less of an issue in 4E where feats tend to give always-on benefits rather than situational options — which to me means that the main list can be moved to the second page, with only special cases noted on the front (maybe in the "other notes" section).
 

kiznit

Explorer
mattdm said:
I like your overall design approach. A few specific comments:

The box under HP probably shouldn't say "wounds", since very clearly in 4E more than ever hit points represent morale, endurance, and, well, narrative verve as much as or more than they represent physical damage.
Heck of a good point. Changed to "Current Hit Points".
Also, as I commented on Mad Irishman's 4E sheet, I use scrap paper for this rather than scribbling on my character sheet, so that box is kind of a waste. I do like the idea of the death saving throws checkboxes, though. I suppose I could get used to having it there and printing a new sheet more often. :)
Yeah, I'm mixed on this one too. Everyone's got a different way to track their hit points, but at this point I feel it's a crueler thing to limit those who want to track them on the sheet when they pick up and play.
XP can probably go on page 2, yeah?
Yeah, it probably can, I agree. There's something to be said for it being grouped with other rewards. Will decide later when I'm deep into designing page numero two or am desperately looking to make more room on page one for something.
Initiative and speed aren't Senses, but they're under the "senses" section.
Agreed. I feel like they should still be grouped in the same area, though. Just can't think what to call it, and "Reaction, Movement and Senses" or something is too wordy. Will think on this and change it.
Languages seems shoved in at an odd point.
Yeeeah. True. I do feel like they belong somewhere mid-to-top though.
Should "Attack and Damage" say "Basic Attacks"?
Agreed. Changed.
I like what you've done with the armor penalty checkboxes — much cleaner than having n/a written.
Thanks! :D
The feat list seems too narrow to write the names of many of the feats, let alone short notes on what they do. This is probably less of an issue in 4E where feats tend to give always-on benefits rather than situational options — which to me means that the main list can be moved to the second page, with only special cases noted on the front (maybe in the "other notes" section).
Yeah, these were poorly squeezed together. Need at least 19 lines for Feats (maybe more?) and maybe it's just my holdover 3e sensibilities that wants to group them near skills. I could indeed see them moving to page 2.


Edit: OP updated with some of these new changes. Thanks, Matt!
 
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kiznit

Explorer
How do you guys feel about paper-doll style magic-item equipping lists?

Too ostentatious/scattered? Kinda cool?



I think it has potential, but it's a definitely space-waster. :)
 



Serensius

First Post
kiznit said:
How do you guys feel about paper-doll style magic-item equipping lists?
Loved it! You should definitely keep it, it makes the sheet unique and more visually interesting. It also seems like it would make keeping track of your stuff much easier.

Other thoughts:

- The top logos don't look right. I understand that the are probably just placeholder, but they just put me off as soon as I saw the sheet
- The little headlines, Ability Scores, Reactions, Hit Points and so on, should use a larger font so it's easier to spot them right away
- Indicating somewhere that you include 1/2 your level to ability checks would be nice
- Gray boxes are both aesthetic and easy on the printer, good call
- Maybe include which ability scores apply to which defense in small print (like Wisdom and Charisma for Will)
- More fields in the skills section to sort the various bonuses after. Having more misc fields is never bad
- Just a suggestion: have a field for page numbers in the feat and power lists? Kind of struck me as something that might be useful
- I realize you're probably pressed for space, but the power section is too small. At least this close to release, you're going to want to have more room to write your powers in, so you don't have to go back and check the book all the time.
- Move at-will powers to basic attacks? Seen some character sheets do this, seems practical
- Maybe include some bullet points in the power list? Bullet points are always good
- Equipment section: Maybe sort it in a table of sorts, with a field for location (ie, which bag you keep it in or similar) and weight

Overall, it looks and reads quite nicely, although some areas need more definition. Looking forward to see how this progresses! :)
 

mattdm

First Post
kiznit said:
I think it has potential, but it's a definitely space-waster. :)
I think it's worth it: there's less to cram in on 4E sheets anyway (especially if one uses cards for powers — I'm interested to see how that works out in real play).

I'm concerned, though, because the character in the current graphic appears to be in the process of donning latex gloves, and I'm a bit worried about what he/she is going to do next.
 

kiznit

Explorer
mattdm said:
I'm concerned, though, because the character in the current graphic appears to be in the process of donning latex gloves, and I'm a bit worried about what he/she is going to do next.
Curses, you've tracked down the secret of my clip art!
(this was originally the silhouette of some generic painter guy with workboots and an apron). I figured throwing a sword-sheath on there and a little belt-bag would "fantasy" him up, but maybe I can tweak him so it looks like he's adjusting his bracers or something.
cthulhus_pinky said:
With the magic item tracker, you could put in a check box to track the daily powers used, like the official one.
Good call. Will do.
Serensius said:
Loved it! You should definitely keep it, it makes the sheet unique and more visually interesting. It also seems like it would make keeping track of your stuff much easier.
I'm so glad the paper-doll is getting a positive reception. I think it's okay to sacrifice some space for certain aesthetic considerations, I was just worried that it was taking it too far.
Other thoughts:

1. The top logos don't look right. I understand that the are probably just placeholder, but they just put me off as soon as I saw the sheet
2. The little headlines, Ability Scores, Reactions, Hit Points and so on, should use a larger font so it's easier to spot them right away
3. Indicating somewhere that you include 1/2 your level to ability checks would be nice
4. Gray boxes are both aesthetic and easy on the printer, good call
5. Maybe include which ability scores apply to which defense in small print (like Wisdom and Charisma for Will)
6. More fields in the skills section to sort the various bonuses after. Having more misc fields is never bad
7. Just a suggestion: have a field for page numbers in the feat and power lists? Kind of struck me as something that might be useful
8. I realize you're probably pressed for space, but the power section is too small. At least this close to release, you're going to want to have more room to write your powers in, so you don't have to go back and check the book all the time.
9. Move at-will powers to basic attacks? Seen some character sheets do this, seems practical
10. Maybe include some bullet points in the power list? Bullet points are always good
11. Equipment section: Maybe sort it in a table of sorts, with a field for location (ie, which bag you keep it in or similar) and weight

Overall, it looks and reads quite nicely, although some areas need more definition. Looking forward to see how this progresses! :)
1. Yeah, they are placeholders, and I need something better. I do like the slightly homebrew scratchiness of the typography, but these could definitely be better quality and more cohesive with the rest of the sheet.
2. Duly Noted, will try to squeeze another point or two out of them.
3. Yes! Thank you for pointing this out. I know it's sort of a learn-once and never need to see it again sort of thing, but it's important to me that this sheet be new-player friendly.
5. Already done, just haven't released 0.3 yet because I've been waiting for more changes. I also sorted the abilities to be in proper 4.0 order (Con before Dex).
6. Yeah. The skills and feats section has been easily the most challenging part of the first page to design. I'm about 50% convinced I should move the feats to page two, which would make plenty more room for the skillbox.
7. Interesting. If I can fit it, I think this is a great idea.
8. As noted in the OP, page 3 is going to be a 6-up of Power cards. I may get rid of the Power index completely, although I have a 3-page folded-over Character sheet idea I'm brewing up.
9. This does make sense, but I'll have to look up how many at-will powers PCs potentially get in total. I could see this taking up a significant amount of page real estate.
10. Mmmaybe. As mentioned, I may get rid of the Power Index.
11. This was actually my original idea, but I'd hate to constrain player's creativity as to how they want their characters to sort their stuff. I'll have to think on it, or maybe I'll release several versions.

Thanks again for all the great commenting! New version up either later tonight or tomorrow night.
 

mattdm

First Post
kiznit said:
9. This does make sense, but I'll have to look up how many at-will powers PCs potentially get in total. I could see this taking up a significant amount of page real estate.
I think the worst case currently is the human wizard, with four cantrips, three regular at-wills, and then a ranged and melee basic attack — 9 total. (Which may be replaced by magic missle, but maybe not.) The paladin is the next-worst, with two at-will class features, so with the almost-guaranteed two basic attacks and then three at-wills for humans, that's 7. But if we ignore utility powers which happen to be at-will, and barring supplements which add cantrips (via a feat, I expect) or crazy classes with lots of at-wills, that's the max.
 

FoxWander

First Post
I like the aesthetics of your sheet. It's open and feels simple yet it conveys all the information you need. I think the "primitive" looking logo adds to that effect and you should use it rather than something more "refined". I also like the 'graph paper' background your sample has in the second post. Not only does it give the sheet an interesting old-school look but it also works as lines to write on for the various open fields you have such as- racial ability mods, conditions, action pt effects, etc..

I have several thoughts and suggestions, of course. ;) My ideas involve moving some things around so I'll try not to get too confusing.

PAGE ONE
1- Move experience pts to the back near treasure, since it's a "reward" also- plus it frees up space on the front to...
2- Move reactions and senses up into the space left by XP and drop languages to the bottom where you have a block for notes, which allows you to...
3- Put immunities and resistances under passive senses, which will make it thematically linked with what's below it when you ...
4- Swap defenses and basic attacks. This puts attacks where most sheets have it so it's where people are used to looking. I'd also...
5- Scrunch down the size of the boxes and lines used for basic attacks so you can fit four basic attacks in. This will balance it with defenses now that the two are side by side and give you more room for attacks. Since this is D&D you'll probably need more room for those.
6- You should now have the bottom third of the sheet for skills, feats, class/racial abilities and languages (which may have to move to the back). I'd switch to a 3-column format with 1 column for skills (exactly as you have it now- though boxes for the other two columns of modifiers might be a good idea, or the graph paper background I mentioned), 1 column for feats and the last column split top and bottom for class and racial abilities. Putting the skills column in the middle will probably make the sheet look more balanced.

PAGE TWO (no real 'move stuff around' type ideas- just some suggestions)
1- Definitely keep the paper-doll for equipment. It sets the sheet apart and makes organizing things easy- especially if you add the daily use check boxes. Find a more fantasy-esque silhouette for the image though.
2- Keep the powers index. It will be useful to have a straight list of all your powers just so you can see them all. With a stack of 'power cards' some things might get lost in the stack and get overlooked.
3- I'm unsure about changing the layout of the powers index though. The frequency headings you have there now make it a nicely delineated list but at the same time it's too open. BUT adding lines to write on makes it a big box of lines which would look very blah.
4- Remove rituals from the powers index. Mainly because not everyone has rituals, so it's a very class specific heading- yes, you can ignore it, but it will just look out of place on a straight fighter. But also, for those that do get rituals, you're likely to collect several of them and they would fit better on a 'spell book' type sheet.
5- Add lines for coin denominations to the treasure box, as well as an open area for gems and what not.
6- Get rid of the campaign notes, comrades and allies sections. I've never used them, nor have I ever seen them used. AND if they were used they would quickly become a jumbled mess of random notes.
7- A section for description is always nice. The basics like height, weight, hair, etc. of course but maybe a section for personality and mannerisms to go with the descriptive adjectives and questions from that section of the Player's Handbook. A space to write down a character quote is good too if you manage to have the space to spare.

Anyway, that's all I have. Hopefully some of it's useful. But whether you use any of these or not, I like where you're going with this and especially the overall look of it. Can't wait to see the final product!
 


cferejohn

First Post
I just don't know why ability scores are still front and center. They are used in calculating your to hit/damage bonuses, defenses, skills, etc., but you don't really refer to them that often during play. I really liked the way the demo characters in Shadowfell had the powers front and center and the ability scores pushed to page 2. If you're looking to save space (and you do need more for the powers), that's where I'd do it.
 


kiznit

Explorer
cferejohn said:
I just don't know why ability scores are still front and center. They are used in calculating your to hit/damage bonuses, defenses, skills, etc., but you don't really refer to them that often during play. I really liked the way the demo characters in Shadowfell had the powers front and center and the ability scores pushed to page 2. If you're looking to save space (and you do need more for the powers), that's where I'd do it.
When I'm building a character, after I pick my race/class, the very next thing is to assign ability scores, and as everything else gets filled out I'm constantly pulling modifiers from them, so there's a very real convenience reason for having them right up there.

As mentioned in my Design Notes, I'm trying to find a middle ground between a character sheet that's easy to create a character with, and one that's easy to play off of.
 

Storminator

First Post
I'd prefer to see a "worksheet" page, with all those fiddly bits on it, then a "play" page where I transfer the final total for defenses, skill modifiers, basic attacks, etc.

That way every single number on the front page is vital for play. As it is, just under half of the numbers on the first page will actually be used on game day.

And the paper doll is awesome.

PS
 

Aust Diamondew

First Post
I'd say give more room for powers and feats, so make it a 3 page character sheet.

I've been in favor of 3-4 page character sheets for d&d and most rules heavier RPGs for years, but usually no one makes them.
They're not as compact and make things appear more complicated than a 2 page sheet but in actualy play they work out better.
Otherwise I just have to use a piece of extra loose leaf paper with 2 page character sheets.
 

cferejohn

First Post
kiznit said:
When I'm building a character, after I pick my race/class, the very next thing is to assign ability scores, and as everything else gets filled out I'm constantly pulling modifiers from them, so there's a very real convenience reason for having them right up there.
Right. Easier to design, but usually when I'm doing my character design, I'm working off scratch paper anyway. For me I'm looking for something useful as I'm actually playing.
 

mattdm

First Post
cferejohn said:
I just don't know why ability scores are still front and center.
They are the shorthand which describes your character. It wouldn't be proper D&D to me without them right up there.
 

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