Character sheets: flowery or matter of fact?

I love well decorated and designed character sheets. With digital editing we can do so much right at home as far as making them unique. What is your preference? Do you like detailed images and expressive fonts? Or do you want the facts of the matter ordered as clearly as possible? 


I’m curious if there is a correlation in playstyle to preferred character sheet format. Do 3.5 and PF players universally want a streamlined easy to read and uniform sheet? Do rules light players look for individuality and artistic expression in theirs? 


Thanks for any feedback or information.

Here's the one I'm working on for Lamentations:

 

Full size image HERE

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Simple and direct.

I don't need pretty pictures on my character sheet, it just wastes ink.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Simple and direct.

I don't need pretty pictures on my character sheet, it just wastes ink.



This.

When I was younger I loved the big, pretty, multi page character sheets. They felt like I was making something grand. It felt great.

As I grow older, I've really started to drift more toward functionality. I like my character sheets 1 page, 2 page max. If it's cool looking, let it be so. But don't let it get in the way of text, or take up neededless space. I like to keep my character sheets clean, easy to read, and easy to use. As long as it fits that criteria, fill it up with whatever else you want.

Want a good example of an easy to use, 1 page character sheet? Check out the new WoD sheet. It, to me, is the perfect example of a nice, functional character sheet
My two copper.
I think a mix between utility and style is best.  I don't want something that is too utilitarian.  A nice display font can help set the mood, but it is possible to get too flowery.

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An option for both would seem best, but I prefer function over fashion. Commonly referred-to stats on page 1, less common go to page 2. Maybe another sheet for NPC companion and/or follower stats.

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So long as it's well-organized, the number of sheets involved doesn't bother me.  I used to put my characters on 'sheets' by entering them into a word processor program; in 2e, I usually had a four or five page sheet because I would put EVERY bit of information I thought I might need on the sheet, so I didn't have to go flipping through books in the middle of a game.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I like it to be as simple as possible - all the stats and abilities on one page, maybe a second page for gear. A third page for spells if applicable.

I also like it to be clean and orderly - having things in big fonts with ample white space so it's easy to read and not cluttered.

As for pictures and fonts, a simple, easy to read font is best, and I don't care about illustration except that I always want to have a picture of the character on the sheet if at all possible (even if it's a watermark barely visible behind the text) because it is a reminder that this character is a person, not just a collection of numbers and abilities.

I will also have a page or three of character description - motivations, attitude, agenda, appearance, beliefs, etc - which to me is the real meat of the character. But I don't consider that part of the character sheet since I'm usually not referencing it during play.
So long as it's well-organized, the number of sheets involved doesn't bother me.  I used to put my characters on 'sheets' by entering them into a word processor program; in 2e, I usually had a four or five page sheet because I would put EVERY bit of information I thought I might need on the sheet, so I didn't have to go flipping through books in the middle of a game.



That's not a bad idea.
My two copper.
I prefer matter of fact sheets over flowery ones.  I've got nothing against some floweriness, but in the end, I need a sheet where my information is clearly presented, easy to find, and preferably fits on one page(front and back is fine).  If I'm presented with one option that meets those criteria and one that does not, I'll take the one the one that does.
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I prefer a single sheet with all the details I will use 90% of the time, easy to reach and read.

Then, I am open to as many other sheets as needed (still clean and direct) for the details.  I never want to have to grab a book, or see my players grab a book, during the game.

∴ "Virtus junxit, mors non separabit." 

Mostly purely functional, regardless of what I'm playing. CLEAN. Not a lot of black blocks like the official sheets often have. They look too busy. Here's some PF sheets I did a while back.
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Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

Wow, this brings back memories of the early 90s. I used to spend endless hours on an old black and white Mac II designing character sheets using a program that had a lot of different textures. Good times, good times.

But like others in this thread, now that I'm and older dragon, I prefer consise, easy to read, "just the facts, ma'am" kind of sheets. In fact, my group often tinkers with creating character sheets that will fit on one or perhaps 2 3x5 index cards.
Want a good example of an easy to use, 1 page character sheet? Check out the new WoD sheet. It, to me, is the perfect example of a nice, functional character sheet



Exactly. If I can get a character on one sheet of paper, or maybe two, I'm a happy man. Additionally, folks have done some fun things with the nWoD character sheet - there's a site that has a bunch of them, for pretty much every splat (if not all of them), for instance. Many of those are PDF's you can edit, and then print that out, so it's very neatly typed.

I've also seen multiple Excel sheets that print out nicely. The nicer ones, done by a friend of mine, print out sheets that look almost identical to the ones WW/OPP puts out (as do the ones from the aforementioned site).

So, if DDN could encapsulate everything down to one sheet, I'd be very happy. In the playtest sheets so far, I've been a bit less than thrilled about the two different sections for things like Class abilities and such - it's just wasted space and ink, to me. But I'm hopeful the finished product will be neatly done.

For those confused on how DDN's modular rules might work, this may provide some insight: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/11/the-world-of-darkness-shines-when-it-abandons-canon

@mikemearls: Uhhh... do you really not see all the 3e/4e that's basically the entire core system?

 

It is entirely unnecessary to denigrate someone else's approach to gaming in order to validate your own.

My preference is for simplicity and ease of use. Ideally, everything I am likely to need is on one side of one sheet. Miscellaneous info (gear, treasure, notes) can be on the back side of the sheet. One more for a companion or mount is okay, but that is really my limit.

One of my friends, on the other hand, will have a character sheaf. It is not uncommon for him to have 10+ pages, front and back, reduced size (4 pages to a side), listing the details of every item, spell, or ability that he might want to use. He also loves searching the internet for the perfect character picture to include.   


I love well decorated and designed character sheets. With digital editing we can do so much right at home as far as making them unique. What is your preference? Do you like detailed images and expressive fonts? Or do you want the facts of the matter ordered as clearly as possible? 


I’m curious if there is a correlation in playstyle to preferred character sheet format. Do 3.5 and PF players universally want a streamlined easy to read and uniform sheet? Do rules light players look for individuality and artistic expression in theirs? 


Thanks for any feedback or information.

Here's the one I'm working on for Lamentations:

 

Full size image HERE




I prefer concise with option to doodle.  Here is one that I made that you can download and check out from deviantArt

miladoon.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d503ho...

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Wow, 13 posts and 11 votes for "just the facts." =-D I guess I will print off more of the generic sheets! Somewhere along the line I picked up the scrapbooking bug; not something that I do a lot of, so maybe its looking for an outlet. 

90% of my char sheets are hand written in various styles. The funniest may have been the Hackmaster sheets; they had a bunch of information to keep track of. So I would spread them out over 7 or 10 pages in a spiral notebook, each sheet was very clear that way.  

Your PF sheets are nicely laid out arderkrag; the density of information on those is just too much for me though. One of the reasons I guess that I like to use a bunch of sheets and don't mind doodles and illustrations, it just helps me to order the information.

Thanks for sharing those. 
I mostly just write the relevant info on a piece of notebook paper, and then doodle in the margins while everyone else spends half an hour synchronizing their character sheet tracking programs.

If I ever did have a printed-out character sheet, I would want it to be something fancy with diagrams and pictures in order to justify going through all of that effort.

The metagame is not the game.

How much do you guys draw in your rulebooks? I am a very prolific in book note taker, and alterer.

HERE'S A great video about how a DM can tell a story just by altering the books a bit with a sharpie marker and some pasted in pictures.  
Nice alterations. 

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Thanks =-) Yeah, I have a ton of fun with that sort of thing. and those old books are so cheap now, there's no reason not to!
It's possible to have very utilitarian and still have it look aesthetic. I'm making a spreadsheet-driven character sheet that puts all "use all the time" stuff on the front, "refer to often" on the back, and other additional pages as needed (like spells, maneuver descriptions, etc.). But I'm also a fanatic for lining things up and for using fonts that are both readable and not ugly.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

As a player, I like big fluffy character "folios" that have everything you could possibly need to reference for your character somewhere on them, are several pages long, and have nifty little borders and fancy lettering and all that nonsense.

As a DM, I like it when my players have everything crunched down to one page.  :P 

All around helpful simian

As a player, I like big fluffy character "folios" that have everything you could possibly need to reference for your character somewhere on them, are several pages long, and have nifty little borders and fancy lettering and all that nonsense.

As a DM, I like it when my players have everything crunched down to one page.  :P 


I tried keeping 2 copies because of that...It never worked =-P
There is a balance between utility and style. I highly approve of style, so long as it does not interfere with utility. I know people that often design their own sheets, and they look amazing. The officials ones I've seen (all editions) really aren't that great.

Obviously for the playtest, I want utility only. Style is nice, but considering how much printing we're already doing, it's not worth it.
Even 3E's bloatopia still managed to fit everything important about a character onto an index card.
I appreciate a little decor on my char sheet, but what I really need is an efficient, easy-to-use layout. Preferrably no more than two sheets, with vital info like hit points, AC, abilites I'll use often, and attack and damage bonuses on the front sheet, and important details like equipment, including additional weapons and armor, and treasure. Actually, I like the sheet used in the playtest ATM, but I think it could use some tweaks. For example, equipment & treasure should really be equipment, magic items, and treasure, with each as a separate category. Honestly, though, if I have a problem with the char sheets provided in the final product, I'll probably just use a custom sheet.
Simple and direct.

I don't need pretty pictures on my character sheet, it just wastes ink.



This.


I share this opinion as well.  Most of the time that I am reading the character sheet, it is during play, when I am trying to reference things on my sheet (bonuses, magic items, etc.)

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

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We just print ours' out in monster format (give or take).
We just print ours' out in monster format (give or take).


Really? single column, crunchy stats on top fluff towards the bottom? Thats awesome, bout as simple as it gets.
We just print ours' out in monster format (give or take).


Really? single column, crunchy stats on top fluff towards the bottom? Thats awesome, bout as simple as it gets.



Yep, since 3rd Ed I have always formatted characters in monster format.

Of course, you would have other info on your character, but that is the crunch. 
It depends on the game, really.

For D&D, I like concise, clearly laid-out, easy-to-read sheets.  For Shadowrun, I had to make my own sheet, because the one in the book was too short, and the ones other people made didn't have space for the information I felt was important.

My Shadowrun sheet is anywhere from 2 (at the very simplest setting) to 8 pages (at the most complex), and it has different pages based on your archetype.  I even made sheets devoted to single things, like vehicles (for your riggers), contacts and so on.

But I don't need that for a game like D&D, even in the most complex campaigns.

A character sheet might even turn me off from a game.  See: Anima. 

A character sheet might even turn me off from a game.  See: Anima. 




I'm with you there, if I were to sit down at con and someone handed me an excel sheet I would consider not playing that game. If i registered for it, or if the game wouldn't fly if I left I would stay. But the char sheet is such an important interface with the game for me, it has to reflect the milieu at least a bit.





A character sheet might even turn me off from a game.  See: Anima. 




I'm with you there, if I were to sit down at con and someone handed me an excel sheet I would consider not playing that game. If i registered for it, or if the game wouldn't fly if I left I would stay. But the char sheet is such an important interface with the game for me, it has to reflect the milieu at least a bit.




I'm going with this.  If I'm familiar with the game I want functionality foremost.

If I'm being introduced to a game, I want something that catches the eye and sticks with me. 
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