Joseph Erwin – Freelance Dungeon Master

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Character Sheet is Up!

The Erwinian Roleplaying System now has a touched up and standardized two-page character sheet!

It covers all the necessary aspects of a character while leaving room for notes, doodles, and what-have-you, as any character sheet should. We went with a minimalist, print-friendly design, seeing as how we like to try to save people time and money on printing. Plus, it’s universal; there is only so much we can put on it before it begins to carry hints of specific settings, which we wanted to keep subtle.

The interesting thing about a character sheet is that, like a properly organized school notebook, it has an enormous impact on the one’s experience. Often times, it is the game accessory which is seen and used more than any other, especially for players. It’s best to make sure that all necessary info can be accessed easily and that the sheet is pleasant to look at.

Shadow of the Demon Lord, by Jacob Schwalb

Shadow of the Demon Lord, for example, has a great character sheet. Aesthetically it matches the occult tone of the game world. Plus, there is plenty of open space to write details (though we usually end up recruiting a few extra scrap papers soon enough). It shows off the simplicity of the system, while organizing all the attributes and their related abilities right next to each other. Plus it doesn’t use much ink to print, which is good considering how many new characters we need to make…

Barbarians of Lemuria, by Simon Washbourne

Another good example: Barbarians of Lemuria! A slick Sword and Sorcery system, and everything a hero needs to know is laid out clearly. Attributes, Combat skills, and Careers are all lined up next to each other, with additional details further down. And of course, weapons and armor for the adventurous types!

But there are other cases where the character sheet fosters confusion, and by extension makes the game feel too complex. Every moment spent searching a sheet looking for one detail is a moment that the pace could drop negatively. Not all the time, but when you just need to know the armor rating of your boots, I don’t recommend being confronted with this:

Conan: The Roleplaying Game, published by Mongoose Publishing

A fine piece of art, to be sure. It’s intricate, lovingly rendered, thematic… and utterly impossible to take in easily in one go. It doesn’t help that this is just the first page, and the sheer number of statistics and details is enough to make even the most seasoned wizard bite his nails! As delightful as the design is, I find the presentation to be too much for regular use. Crom forbid your have to make a new character; this sheet implies hours of building them from scratch, plus money and time lost printing out more sheets!

It may not seem like much, but these sheets must not be taken for granted. As I said before, they are the most regularly used game aid in almost every system. These sheets of paper are the first and last impression given of a character and their world of play, and it’s best that they are friendly… nothing more fearsome than a fire-breathing character sheet!

Published by Joe Erwin

I am an independent creator and GM with a deep love of storytelling and adventure! I desire most to share these things with others, and I hope to do that through my work and my writing.

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