Friday, September 2, 2011

Discussion: Character Sheets

Character sheets have an interesting task, and lots of games handle them differently. In a nutshell, they have to make all the information that you need to play your character readily available, and broken down in an organized and easy to find way. Now, obviously some games do this better than others, and I don't think there is a system getting played out there that doesn't have a fan made character sheet, but it is still an interesting problem.

How much information is needed is also different from player to player, and it's not uncommon to see character sheets that are anywhere from 2 to as many as 10 pages for the same system. Just who needs that 10 page packet, I'm not sure, but maybe magic users?

So, my question for today is this: How do you like your character sheets, and of all the systems you've played, which one was your favorite?

Currently, I'm kind of partial to the Dark Heresy sheets. The sheet is two sided, with one side dedicated to combat, and the other to non-combat. As such, you can flip the sheet for whatever you need at the moment, and have an easy time finding things. A lot easier than having to cram all your skills in under all your combat stats, by all means.

Aside from that, I almost tend to prefer simple note book paper for characters. Sure, it can be messier at times, but you can also place things where you want them for that character. Not that I'll say no to a good character sheet, but sometimes those are hard to find.


  1. Good topic.
    My preferences in the past used to be along the lines of "one sheet to cover them all" with every possible character iteration covered on as few pages as possible by adjusting the footprint to as small a space as possible.

    These days, when I think back on those character sheets, I see them as ugly, bloated, and overly complex... not to mention indicative of a huge hurdle to new players.

    In fact, my latest character sheet creations for Astrolomancer have been atomic and streamlined, with as little information as is necessary to play the game. I'm moving to the "Let the player add features and content if he desires" reference point.
    See the outcome of the concept here:

    In fact, were I to create character sheets for D&D these days, I'd probably have a separate sheet for each class (and maybe even for each race as well) just to make sure what's important to the specific character was highlighted and not jumbled in with unnecessary pieces and parts for other classes.

    This may be while I also more fondly recall characters on notepaper and printer paper... Only the necessary information about the character was present.

  2. I've always loved long character sheets where you fill in every single thing about your character. I just love having a stack of paper to go through and be able to know precisely where something is and find it quickly. It's why I've always loved magic users on paper, though I prefer barbarian characters in play.

    My favorite character sheet is the one I've made for my own RPG system, 1d12!. I've put literally dozens, if not at least 100, hours into making it exactly perfect. It's simple, but it covers everything.

    I think my favorite parts of character sheets, though, are the parts that have nothing to do with stats. I love having a separate sheet for background and characteristics and things like that.

  3. Kevin, that sounds really neat. The link looks really cool too. I don't know the system well enough for really in depth commentary, but they all look very nice.

    Broken, I also like where I can have my mechanics and RP separated. One of the things I'm trying to do for my own system is have it so all the RP centered stuff is on one side, and the mechanics are on the other. So when playing, a character could completely ignore their stats and just go with the flow for RP, but then have things neatly laid out once combat begins. We'll see how I do, I guess.