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Ed Zachary
03-19-2007, 09:17 AM
What type of character sheet do you use?

How would you make it better?

In my opinion, there is no better character sheet than a blank piece of paper.

Farcaster
03-19-2007, 10:09 AM
I almost exclusively DM, so for my detailed NPCs, henchmen, and companions, I use the standard D&D v.3.5 Character Sheet (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/DND_charactersheet.zip). I also have a custom NPC sheet I made that follows the basic format of the monster entries in the SRD. I also plan to start using the Magic Item Sheet (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/Mag...ecordSheet.pdf) from the Magic Item Compendium -- in fact, I printed out multiple copies to bring to my players this weekend.

ronpyatt
03-19-2007, 10:12 AM
D&D = If its more than a 1st level character then I use a Spreadsheet (OpenOffice or other software aided calculator)
Champions (Hero System) = Spreadsheet
Silver Cord = Blank Forms to fill in the blanks
Others = Paper and Forms

My handwriting is terrible. So, having a preprinted sheet with blanks is better for me than a blank sheet of paper.
I use blank sheets and scraps for NPCs.

Computer printed characters are better for me as I like to track my character's history and the changes it goes through. I end up with a folder full of character sheets for the same character.

Moritz
03-19-2007, 10:36 AM
D&D - Sometimes I used Metacreator (when the version was right). Or I'd use the D&D character creator software - name i cannot recall. while the players use the standard 3.5 printed character sheet.
Champions - always used Metacreator
Marvel Super Heroes - Paper - still use paper. There's some software on zap.to/zans which is great, but paper always appealed to me for it.

Never played those -fill in the bubbles for power- games like for WoDs or Palladium.

Ed Zachary
03-19-2007, 12:19 PM
D&D = If its more than a 1st level character then I use a Spreadsheet...

Computer printed characters are better for me as I like to track my character's history and the changes it goes through. I end up with a folder full of character sheets for the same character.

As a DM, I expect my players to track the following information regarding their characters. It makes them think about how their characters live, act, and are perceived, and does help foster better role playing. I recently finished updating this list for 3.5 (from 2nd Ed), and I'm still updating my characters.

I have all the old sheets from my four previous groups, when I start my campaign I will use those 30 or so characters as the principal NPCs, and will ask any new players if they want to semi-retire their classic characters as NPCs.



Who Are You?



*What is your name (given and family), and what does it mean? Do you have any titles or nicknames?
*What do you look like (race, gender, height, weight, build, skin, hair, eyes, voice, abnormalities)?
*What is your profession? How and where did you learn it? Why do you adventure?
*What is your alignment (morality and civility)? How strong are your convictions? Have they changed over time?
*What are your likes and dislikes? What are your greatest fears? As described by you and by others, what are your greatest characteristics and your greatest weaknesses?



Current Situation



*What type of community (nomadic, village, town, city) and region were you from before adventuring? What were your family and the people of that society like? What events or people drove you to chose the life that you’ve made for yourself? Do you ever return there?
*Where do you call home now? What is that society like? What is your role in that society? What do you and your community worship? What type of political situation exists? What are the major power structures (royalty, temples, guilds, militias, etc), and what is your relationship to them?
*Where do you reside in that community? What type of structure do you live in? What security precautions have you taken?
* When not adventuring, what do you, such as a profession, training, crafts or research? What do you wear when at home? What do you wear when moving about? When you sleep? Where do you keep your valued possessions?
*Do you have a mate? Do you have any children or other family? Who are your friends and allies? Do you have any pets or animal companions?
*Do you have any enemies? If so why are they enemies?
*Who are your traveling companions? Do you belong to any group, and what is your mission?
*What are your immediate goals (coming year)? What are your long-term goals?
* What have you been doing all your life? Give some examples of your more notable accomplishments.




Adventuring



*What do you wear while adventuring? What do you carry, and how do you carry it?
*How do you move while adventuring? How do you position yourself within a group? Do you use any type of stealth?
* What types of resistances, protections and immunities do you have? Do you put up any magical defenses? How well can you see, sense and detect things?
* How do you deal with threats when they are still at a distance? Do you use any ranged weapons? Do you cast any offensive spells?
*How do you conduct yourself while in melee? What kinds of weapons do you use, and how do you use them?
*Where, how and when do you sleep? How do you safeguard your possessions when you’re asleep?




Character Details



*What are your six ability scores?
* How many Hit Points do you have? How do you heal after taking damage?
*What is your Initiative modifier?
*What is your Base Attack and other bonuses?
* What is your Armor Class when ready, when flat-footed, and against touch attacks?
* What are your three Saving Throws (Fort, Reflex & Will), the Difficulty Class (DC) of your spell attacks, and what is your Caster Level Check (CLC)?
* How many Languages do you speak, and what are they?
* What Skills have you learned?
* What Feats can you accomplish?
*Do you have any Extraordinary Abilities?
*Do you have any Spell-Like Abilities?
*Do you have any Supernatural Abilities?
*What Spells can you cast?

Grimwell
03-20-2007, 10:59 PM
That's a great list of questions to ask a person before they even make their character! Very good way to focus things beyond the meta game design.

Farcaster
03-20-2007, 11:33 PM
Back in the 2nd edition days, when I knew the system like the back of my hand, I used to have the players roll up their initial scores and pick their proficiencies and so forth, but then I would take their character sheet and hand them back a description of their character that would describe their character line by line from the sheet. This sheet would be updated as the character leveled, but the player would not know what his exact scores were. Nor did they know their hitpoints. In fact, sometimes the only reason they could be certain they had leveled was because the mage would get new spells.. Each level that they receive proficiency slots, I would based all skill advancement on what the character actually used -- even for thievery based skills. Here are a couple of examples that I still have saved. See if you can pickout what each line is describing.


Sunic Revin
Race: High Elf
Class: Thief

Sunic was no stranger to hard work, and possessed honed muscles.
His hand to eye coordination was amazing.
Like most High Elves, his constitution was simply average.
He was of average intellect.
Neither fool-hardy or wise, he was of average wisdom.
He was of average charisma,
But very handsome.

Unlike humans, most elves had some skill in Reading and Writing, and Sunic was no exception.
In his early years, he was also taught to not only speak the language of his kind, but also the language of the commoners.
He also spoke with some proficiency the language of Orcs.
Equally, he had managed to learn the elusive tongue of the Nymph.
His nimble nature made him excellent at avoiding damage from falls.
His mastery of rope use was excellent.
In his travels abroad, he learned how to favor the odds in his favor when gaming,
And could separate the bauble from the truly valuable.

His slight of hand was quicker then most could follow.
His abilities as a locksmith were remarkable,
And had developed a keen eye for identifying the more devious snares and traps of the realms.
In a darkened room, he could blend in with the shadows, making him difficult to detect.
He also had a very quiet step.
And could detect the footfalls and mumblings of others that would be missed by most.
He could scale very difficult surfaces.
He had learned to recognize some of the more important arcane symbols.
Short through Long Blades were his to command.
The short bow too had become his ally in combat.

Lynn Ebonsong
Race: High Elf
Class: Fighter

Lynn had a deeply corded musculature, and possessed tremendous strength.
He was also very nimble.
Restorative magics, however, had worked their toll on him, leaving him with less endurance then was common for his age.
Being more physically apt, he was keen, but only of average intelligence.
He was also of average wit.
Amongst those who knew him, he was known to be charismatic.
And he was gifted with very handsome elven features.

As if borne to water, Lynn was a master swimmer.
Always pushing himself to the limits, he had developed a tremendous amount of endurance.
In training as a swordsman, he also learned the skill of blind fighting.
Unlike humans, most elves at least had some skill in reading and writing, he was no exception and wrote with above average skill.
In addition to his native tongue, he had also knew with average proficiency the common language of the realms,
As well as Auld Wyrmish,
And even the vile tongue of the Gith.
Though not a mage, he possessed an understanding of the craft comparable to many devoted students of the magical arts.
He was a master of the longsword and off hand weapon use,
And had become adept with most long blades as well.
Horsemanship came naturally to Lynn – his skills at handling his steed could only be judged as excellent.And here is one that has the numbers added to it. Remember though, this is still from 2nd edition, so skills worked much differently.


Evlyn Firetree, Touched Priestess and Silverstar to Her Lady of Silver
Human, Height: 5’2, Weight: 110, Age 17, Hair: Auburn, Eyes: Green

Evlyn’s gentle and feminine physique misled many to misjudge her extraordinary strength (17).
She was of merely average physical agility (11)
And though she could spend many hours performing and spinning tales, her stamina for the labor of men was limited, (13),
But it was her tremendous faith and wisdom that was her most notable feature (17).
She possessed the keen mind of a learned woman (13).
So too was she borne to leadership, and could be quite convincing when her mind was set (16).
The curvature of her womanly frame coupled with her alluring visage and soft features hinted of an inner beauty that was both inviting and pleasant to look upon (15).

Evlyn found the face of her goddess among the stars that paint the sky above, and she was quite skilled at reading their meanings and signs. She looked to them for both inspiration in spiritual matters (13) and to guide her physical journey across the lands of Fairun (11).
As a young lady, Evlyn had been well taught even some of the more subtle nuisances of Etiquette (16),
Coming from a cultured upbringing, Evlyn had also the opportunity and drive to become an accomplished scribe and illuminator (14)
Though the midnight light of Selune’s countenance had always guided her path, Evlyn had explored many of the religions of her land and people (17).
Music had long been a favored pass time for Evlyn, and she was gifted with operatic soprano tones that paled only to the gentle light of the moon above (16)
She had also learned to play the Harp with average ability. (10)
In fact, it was her love of learning the complex, melodic psalms of the elven people, that had taught her to speak the wistful tongue of the elves with fair ability (13).
Evlyn also enjoyed some skill as a seamstress (11).
And her affinity at horsemanship could only be described as blessed (20).

Evlyn favored the mace, and was skilled in its use.I've considered doing something like this again, but in 3rd edition, there are so many more choices, and it is difficult to ask a player to divorce themselves from direct control of how numbers are allocated. Still, I think that when I did use character sheets like this with my players, it freed them up to think more about the roleplaying aspects and less about the numbers. I did everything in the background for them, including calculating THAC0. They didn't even know what the exact stats were on the magic items, weapons and armor they had acquired. They only knew it in a very general sense how powerful items were to each other. And I'd say that overall, they loved it. In fact, when we switched to 3rd edition, the transition to having their own character records was something that took time for them to get used to. To this day, they still don't want to know their hitpoints and much prefer for me to keep track of it and describe to them how injured they are. That is the only thing we kept of the old system after switching.

PhishStyx
03-20-2007, 11:38 PM
There are numerous games where that kind of thing is much easier to do now. Risus, for instance, WuShu for another.

gdmcbride
03-21-2007, 01:58 AM
What type of character sheet do you use?

How would you make it better?

In my opinion, there is no better character sheet than a blank piece of paper.

I completely agree. I usually just keep my character as a word document that I print out and then update sporadically as the character changes enough that my notes are starting to get cramped.

Gary

Ed Zachary
03-21-2007, 07:08 AM
Back in the 2nd edition days, when I knew the system like the back of my hand, I used to have the players roll up their initial scores and pick their proficiencies and so forth, but then I would take their character sheet and hand them back a description of their character that would describe their character line by line from the sheet. This sheet would be updated as the character leveled, but the player would not know what his exact scores were. Nor did they know their hitpoints. In fact, sometimes the only reason they could be certain they had leveled was because the mage would get new spells. Each level that they receive proficiency slots, I would based all skill advancement on what the character actually used -- even for thievery based skills.

As a player or DM I don't believe I'd like that. And as DM I was always looking for tasks to pawn off on my players. It kept them involved, and face it... the DM often gets bogged down in administrative stuff during a game. Often when one or two characters were challenged (but not the entire group), I liked to allow another player to control the monsters, and I would just referee. It added to the overall creativity, involved players when their characters' weren't involved, and made my job easier. And players were often more ruthless (within the rules) in how they played monsters. And for that, they couldn't blame the DM for being too nasty!

I tend to like games where the players have more control of and influence over their surroundings and situation, and the DM is just an referee and presenter of interesting situations. Games where the PCs are little more than bit players in the DMs grand vision of the world are not for me. Amazing storylines develop when the PCs put all their creativity into it. Home made adventure modules practically wrote themselves based on what the PCs did, and what direction they set forth for themselves.

Skunkape
03-21-2007, 08:37 AM
And I'd say that overall, they loved it. In fact, when we switched to 3rd edition, the transition to having their own character records was something that took time for them to get used to. To this day, they still don't want to know their hitpoints and much prefer for me to keep track of it and describe to them how injured they are. That is the only thing we kept of the old system after switching.

Sounds like a really great way to go, but I have to agree with Ed that the job of the DM is really tough, and anything I can pawn off on the players I like to. Maybe eventually if I start using a PC to help with gaming, then I'll keep track of stuff like that, but as it stands now, I'm busy enough as it is!

Farcaster
03-21-2007, 09:53 AM
Oh, I completely agree -- now. But, by this time, I had already been playing 2nd edition for something like 10 years. I knew the system inside and out. I could flip to the page in the Players Handbook, DMG or Monster Manual by feel alone. And, to be honest, the system was in many ways less complicated. Characters didn't gain skill points every level, there were no feats or prestige classes.

Don't get me wrong though, the players did have control over their characters. It was just the mechanism of improving their characters became transparent. If they wanted to improve a skill, then their character would actively work on it. And if the rogue spent the last level doing nothing but picking locks and detecting traps, I didn't allocate all of his points to moving in shadows and pickpocket. So, their characters advanced based on their actions in the story.

Digital Arcanist
03-29-2007, 12:19 PM
I'm surprised no one has mentioned HeroForge yet. I love that program and its little brother SpellForge. They are great programs that are easy to use and output beautiful v3.5 sheets that look the same as the PHB sheet.

I would also suggest the sheets from www.sunrainstudios.com for their character background sheet. It asks for detailed descriptions on appearance, motivation, enemies, allies, etc. Before I allow a campaign to begin all my players must have this page filled out along with some kind of picture or wizard's symbol. It forces the players to connect and become attached to their characters.

Someone mentioned Champions, but not Hero Creator. Its put out by Hero Games and is free for the previous version and like 20 bucks for the latest. It allows you to build power trees to minimize point usage and outputs the character sheets in like 4 dozen formats.

As a GM I like to hold on to my players' sheets to make sure everyone has a sheet when its time to play as well as making sure no one is fudging their numbers. Because of this, I make my players use the v3.5 sheets from WoTC.

fmitchell
03-29-2007, 09:39 PM
I'm a Luddite ... I prefer paper. My handwriting -- non-cursive anyway -- isn't so bad, so I tend to use a blank form and a pencil. Generally I write down the numbers and other crunch ... it's easy to keep a biography in my head.

The problem I encountered in a recent d20 game was that I had so many special abilities I didn't have space on a generic 2-page sheet. I started writing each ability, and its rules, on index cards ... only to shuffle cards whenever I was trying to decide what I could do.

BRP/Call of Cthulhu/RuneQuest/etc. isn't quite as bad, in that usually you've got attributes and skills ... but sometimes a lot of skills, more than can fit comfortably on a pre-formatted sheet. The Mongoose version alleviates the problem somewhat: a short list of "basic skills" and then learned skills that are assumed to be zero if not listed.

As I recall, a full GURPS character can fit on a single sheet, two if you use the magic system ... unless you insist on copying the meaning of each advantage, disadvantage, and spell. (Actually, all you need is the page citation; very seldom did I actually need to look something up.)

Really, though, I prefer games where you can record the essentials on a single index card: PDQ, Wushu, FATE. Castle Falkenstein had a goal of making the "character sheet" merely a bookmark in a character diary; while I don't like the idea of character diaries -- I don't have time to write about my own life -- it's still a great goal.