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(+)What Do You Want In A Character Sheet?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Now, to be clear, the (+) is about not being a jerk in this thread or derailing it to complain about basic types of character sheets or the like. I am soliciting feedback, here. Just, ya know, useful polite feedback. And also general discussion of character sheets.

So, Here is the latest version of my character sheet, made in Excel and Word because I don't know how to use any other program I can think of that could produce something like this. I think it's pretty slick, and puts pretty much everything you'd want on the front page, while maintaining readability and ease of use. it's a game where the books should only be open during prep and character creation, ideally.

The success ladder is the most obvious "I could save space and have it look cleaner if I was better at graphic design" element of the sheet.

Lastly, the second and third pages are less and less complete, compared to the first page, because the first page took a lot of time, so I'm still working on those, and also because the first page is the most important.


But also, in general, what do you want from a character sheet? Do you prefer very simple sheets, very informative and throrough sheets, do you really want style and flair on the sheet or do you prefer plain utilitarian sheets?
 

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Ulfgeir

Hero
Hmm, that was some interesting groupings of skills. Not going to comment on the specializations as I do not know what you intend there.

A few reflections:
The character sheet gives some ideas of what the intent and underlying mechanics of some things are (though the spent-pat on the stats is unclear if that is how much XP is spent on them or if parts of the stat has been spent to do so something). The trauma part, the way it is done, makes it appear as you can only treat physical trauma. Also you probably want to say that they "affect things" instead of "effect things".

Your spell list has the same drawback as that kind of lists seems to always have. Not enough space to write down what a spell does, meaning you can basically only write down the name of the spell, and if you are lucky the page number it is printed on. So you will have to look it up in the rulebook every time it is used,. Ilike that you do provide extra space later on for writing details of techniques. Not sold on the idea of splitting it up though over multiple pages.


As for things, I would want on a character sheet; for example if there is an exhaustive list of skills you can have, then they should all be printed there (you almost succeed. Craft/art/science being an exception) Likewise I want enough space to write things down that are important.
Sure I want the character sheet to look pretty, but it must be utilitarian first.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Okay I’ll answer some questions to clear things up. Thank you for the feedback!
Hmm, that was some interesting groupings of skills. Not going to comment on the specializations as I do not know what you intend there.

A few reflections:
The character sheet gives some ideas of what the intent and underlying mechanics of some things are (though the spent-pat on the stats is unclear if that is how much XP is spent on them or if parts of the stat has been spent to do so something).
You spend AP to do special moves or improve the success tier of a skill check, or to interrupt/try to negate another characters action.
The trauma part, the way it is done, makes it appear as you can only treat physical trauma.
Wait, how so?
Also you probably want to say that they "affect things" instead of "effect things".
Yeah
Your spell list has the same drawback as that kind of lists seems to always have. Not enough space to write down what a spell does, meaning you can basically only write down the name of the spell, and if you are lucky the page number it is printed on.
So you will have to look it up in the rulebook every time it is used,.
Spells are usually custom made by PCs, but yeah you cannot fit a lot on the front page. The back page list for spells and techniques is a placeholder for a bigger version that will take up a whole page, so you can print your “spellbook”, essentially, but have the basics of your most used spells/techniques on the first page.
Ilike that you do provide extra space later on for writing details of techniques. Not sold on the idea of splitting it up though over multiple pages.
It’s the fridge principle. Put the fruit and other highly perishables where you see them every time you open the fridge, and put condiments and other stuff that you will open the fridge to find in the back of shelves and in drawers. In this case, listing the basic info of techniques and names of traits reminds you of what you have, and you need only flip a page to see the details.
As for things, I would want on a character sheet; for example if there is an exhaustive list of skills you can have, then they should all be printed there (you almost succeed. Craft/art/science being an exception)
For that skill, the player decides what the specs are, and generally you don’t want to try to have a ton of them.
Likewise I want enough space to write things down that are important.
Sure I want the character sheet to look pretty, but it must be utilitarian first.
Fair enough! Again, thanks for the feedback!
 
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Ulfgeir

Hero
The trauma part; I did misread that, didn't see which checkbox were which. On a second look it seems you can only have one trauma per type (body/mental) treated at the same time.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The trauma part; I did misread that, didn't see which checkbox were which. On a second look it seems you can only have one trauma per type (body/mental) treated at the same time.
Yep you just have body or mind trauma, and might have a condition from gaining Trauma. Trauma being treated means you fine for now, but vulnerable to further Trauma until you take significant time to rest up in a safe environment. Ie, and extended rest.
 

tommybahama

Adventurer
I don't know how RP heavy your system is, but part of the genius of the D&D character sheet is that it has the personality traits, flaws, bonds, etc. on the first page and distilled into single sentences. I think it helps struggling role players to remember their character's motivations.

The room you have for equipment would only cover weapons and armor for a typical adventurer. ;)

If you use Adobe Acrobat to make it an editable pdf then I think it will work. I have good handwriting but it's big. I don't think I could fit my writing into the text boxes you have there.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't know how RP heavy your system is, but part of the genius of the D&D character sheet is that it has the personality traits, flaws, bonds, etc. on the first page and distilled into single sentences. I think it helps struggling role players to remember their character's motivations.
Yeah I want to get the “quest, event” etc part of the second page onto the first page when I figure out how to save some space up front.
The room you have for equipment would only cover weapons and armor for a typical adventurer. ;)
QFC isn’t a gear-heavy game, and what gear you have is either kinda hand-waved professional kit, or your signature custom/magic stuff, which might end up sharing space with the spells/techniques section.
If you use Adobe Acrobat to make it an editable pdf then I think it will work. I have good handwriting but it's big. I don't think I could fit my writing into the text boxes you have there.
Yeah I need to print this version out and see what’s up with the sizing. Can only tell so much from pdf
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
Once upon a time, I used to be all about the hand-drawn boxes and border-decorations, and when I was a kid I always made (and Xeroxed) hand-drawn character sheets with the usual affectations (shield-shaped AC box, sword-shaped THAC0 space, etc.).

But nowadays, I lean toward the sparse and functional:

I just use Word to compose the sheets. I keep "rules" on the sheet to a minimum, but add notes where they're convenient to have (like speed and check penalties associated with encumbrance levels). An absolute must for me is a functional inventory "grid" that eliminates any need for a player to track encumbrance by tallying weights.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Once upon a time, I used to be all about the hand-drawn boxes and border-decorations, and when I was a kid I always made (and Xeroxed) hand-drawn character sheets with the usual affectations (shield-shaped AC box, sword-shaped THAC0 space, etc.).

But nowadays, I lean toward the sparse and functional:

I just use Word to compose the sheets. I keep "rules" on the sheet to a minimum, but add notes where they're convenient to have (like speed and check penalties associated with encumbrance levels). An absolute must for me is a functional inventory "grid" that eliminates any need for a player to track encumbrance by tallying weights.
Yeah makes sense. For now, there is no encumbrance in QfC, but if there were I’d definitely want a solid table with a space for weight or encumbrance points or whatever.

Basically you decide what to prioritize to have on your person, and what “stays in the car”. This can have consequences either way, but rather than encumbrance, the GM is invited to use your tacticool load out of 100 items on a single person as the focal point when you get a complication or choose negative consequences as the price you pay for getting what you want in a mixed failure.
 

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
But also, in general, what do you want from a character sheet?

As little as possible. The character sheet should contain everything you need to reference, and nothing else.

I've been fiddling around trying to make a one-page sheet for 5e, including the spells. Obviously it's impossible to put on there spell descriptions as well, but I would hand out spell cards for those. First draft is not great as I find you have to write some things really really small to fit, but I think it's doable as long as you remove all the extraneous stuff. Thankfully I think I have a much broader definition of 'extraneous' than most, so there's a lot I'm happy to cut.

Every 5e character sheet I've seen, even the most slimmed down, includes a space for passive perception, for example. Aside from it being trivial to figure out on the fly, I can't actually come up with any reason a player would ever need to reference their passive perception. Save the space for something relevant.

I'll share the finished version if I get a form I'm happy with, but be warned it will be functional and not pretty.
 

I want the bare minimum on the character sheet: proficiencies, hit points, AC. I then basically have a ledger with all my gear and money, where it is stored, how heavy it is, and what the attacks are. After my list of spells and spell slots, I have a print out of all of my spells.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
As little as possible. The character sheet should contain everything you need to reference, and nothing else.

I've been fiddling around trying to make a one-page sheet for 5e, including the spells. Obviously it's impossible to put on there spell descriptions as well, but I would hand out spell cards for those. First draft is not great as I find you have to write some things really really small to fit, but I think it's doable as long as you remove all the extraneous stuff. Thankfully I think I have a much broader definition of 'extraneous' than most, so there's a lot I'm happy to cut.

Every 5e character sheet I've seen, even the most slimmed down, includes a space for passive perception, for example. Aside from it being trivial to figure out on the fly, I can't actually come up with any reason a player would ever need to reference their passive perception. Save the space for something relevant.

I'll share the finished version if I get a form I'm happy with, but be warned it will be functional and not pretty.
I’d be happy to help you make it into a more visually pleasing form, if you want? Without adding anything unneeded.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I want the bare minimum on the character sheet: proficiencies, hit points, AC. I then basically have a ledger with all my gear and money, where it is stored, how heavy it is, and what the attacks are. After my list of spells and spell slots, I have a print out of all of my spells.
Interesting. You Old School or playing 5e?
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I am not familiar with the game this character sheet is for, so I can't comment much on it.

On the general topic of character sheets for RPGs, I prefer utility over flare anytime.

I think a character sheet should be as concise as possible, but it also needs to be complete, so I want enough room to fit all abilities the PC will gain in the course of the campaign.
It can contain short (1-2 lines) summary description of special abilities, but not full details.It should avoid duplicate information, certainly.

Ideally, there should be only ONE page in front of you all the time. In D&D it's not possible, except for non-spellcasters, and at fairly low level. Unless you focus on character mechanics on that page, and move non-mechanical information and stuff you use in downtime (equipment and possessions, roleplay fluff, lists of all known spells) to other pages.

Perhaps you can achieve the best by designing different character sheets for each class, but so far I have managed with a common template:

 

Ixal

Adventurer
I prefer utilitarian sheets.
I also do not need space for pictures and backstory. Those spaces are usually not large enough anyway and when I want to write a backstory I do that elsewhere.

On the other hand, equipment lists are nearly always too short.
 

But also, in general, what do you want from a character sheet? Do you prefer very simple sheets, very informative and throrough sheets, do you really want style and flair on the sheet or do you prefer plain utilitarian sheets?
What I look for from a character sheet is two things:
  1. Everything that's not a basic rule being on the character sheet (including e.g. spell text) so there's almost never a need to look things up in the rulebook
  2. The character sheet grouped thematically by how things are used in play. So, for example all the combat stats plus the combat skills are in one section that the player can turn to when combat starts with obvious numbers being obvious. If this leads to numbers appearing twice so be it as long as one number defaults to the other.
Time maintaining a character sheet between sessions is cheap compared to time spent at the table faffing with rulebooks when everyone is waiting.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I am not familiar with the game this character sheet is for, so I can't comment much on it.

On the general topic of character sheets for RPGs, I prefer utility over flare anytime.

I think a character sheet should be as concise as possible, but it also needs to be complete, so I want enough room to fit all abilities the PC will gain in the course of the campaign.
It can contain short (1-2 lines) summary description of special abilities, but not full details.It should avoid duplicate information, certainly.

Ideally, there should be only ONE page in front of you all the time. In D&D it's not possible, except for non-spellcasters, and at fairly low level. Unless you focus on character mechanics on that page, and move non-mechanical information and stuff you use in downtime (equipment and possessions, roleplay fluff, lists of all known spells) to other pages.

Perhaps you can achieve the best by designing different character sheets for each class, but so far I have managed with a common template:

Yeah honestly even fairly simply games can have a hard time fitting everything on one page. I prefer to have the "what you use the most" stuff on page one.
I prefer utilitarian sheets.
I also do not need space for pictures and backstory. Those spaces are usually not large enough anyway and when I want to write a backstory I do that elsewhere.

On the other hand, equipment lists are nearly always too short.
yeah I like to have an extra space on a second or third page for detailed equipment lists, but the front page is for the things you use a lot.
What I look for from a character sheet is two things:
  1. Everything that's not a basic rule being on the character sheet (including e.g. spell text) so there's almost never a need to look things up in the rulebook
  2. The character sheet grouped thematically by how things are used in play. So, for example all the combat stats plus the combat skills are in one section that the player can turn to when combat starts with obvious numbers being obvious. If this leads to numbers appearing twice so be it as long as one number defaults to the other.
Time maintaining a character sheet between sessions is cheap compared to time spent at the table faffing with rulebooks when everyone is waiting.
Yeah for 2 I do try to put all the stuff with numbers that change during play up top.
Okay, so are you usually able to fit all your features on one page?
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Proficiencies, hit points, and AC. I don't want the rest on the same page. As I said, I have a ledger that works for me much better.
Huh. No saves?

edit: seems like a good usage for a character card, where it stands up in front of you with art and name on one side and the little bit of info you need on the other.
 

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