Wednesday, August 14, 2019

2019 RPGaDay 11: Examine

Having a difficult time with this one, I asked my wife, "In the context of RPG's, when you hear the word "examine" what's the first thing you think of?" After taking a moment to wrap her head around the idea of that specific context, she answered "Character sheet?" Sounds good to me!

Character sheets are such a universal element to RPG's. I can't think of a single game that I've ever heard of that doesn't use one in one form or another. In fact, when I pick up a new game, the character sheet (usually in the back of the book) is the first thing I look at.

The character sheet is like a quick preview of the game. There you can see how complex, crunchy, detailed, simplistic, and comprehensive a game will likely be. Is it a stylized sheet, with genre-specific artwork on the fringes? Does the font evoke the typical setting? How many "stats" does the character have? How are skills or talents listed? Is there room for a character illustration? Personally, I love character sheets, and will sometimes be more interested in a game if it has an attractive one.

But, I never seem to be happy with the standard one in the back of the book. I tend to like specialized sheets. Especially for D&D. Here are the things I look for in a good sheet:


  • Artwork - I like little bits of artwork. A fancy border, images of weapons, even something like a small creature somewhere.
  • Character Sketch - I am a chronic doodler, and I almost always draw a picture of my character (even for a 1-session Con game). So, if the sheet gives me a spot to do that, bonus!
  • Stylized Font - I like the font to be legible, but also reflective of the genre.
  • Pertinent Information - I like all of the general information right in front of me. If it's D&D, or another game with "classes" I prefer the class-specific stuff to be on the bottom, if there's room, or on page 2.
  • Short and Concise - Speaking of pages, I prefer sheets that have as few pages as possible. One sheet is perfect, two is pretty acceptable, depending on the game. But three or more and I start looking for a shorter version.


Since D&D is my favorite game, below is a link to some of Dyson's custom sheets. I use his 5E sheet almost exclusively.

As an aside, Dyson also does a LOT of other cool stuff, including maps and other illustrations.

Dyson's Various Character Sheets

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