Saturday, May 5, 2018

Character Record

The search or the ever elusive character record continues. Above is my current character record. Here is some brief rationale and commentary:

I want it too look old school, like something printed back in the day. Hence the boxes and the old school fonts. (I have an even smaller version, using a font that looks like a type-writer.)

I hate it when I find someone's character sheet and there is no player name on it. So I made that the first thing. I'm always bummed when people have no idea how long they've had a character (including me), so: problem solved.

By character description I really mean epithet(s) and extraction, not some "background." Hence the brevity of space.

I want this record to be usable by folks who have never played and by folks who have. I want it to be usable by players that roll their own dice and also to work well for situations where I play it really old-school and I roll all dice, for everyone, behind the screen. I love playing this way and it frees the players up to figure things out and role-play.

Thus "title" is more important than level. Titles are fun and interesting and aid role-play. The levels can be jotted down in parentheses for those interested.

Likewise knowing who's side you are on is easier to make sense of then "alignment." Also, when law vs. chaos is not much more than just "shirts vs. skins," we can avoid the unending philosophical contemplations of the nature of the "alignment system."

I play race as class in my 0e games, so I just list them in the same box with a slash mark.

The first five boxes can be read out pretty straightforwardly: John's Character is Jack the Fat-lipped of the Sundown Marches; he is a Veteran Lawful Fighting-Man.

Ability Scores, sum of 3d6, each, straight down the line, no funny-business. I use Delta's abbreviation of Charisma, "X," from the Greek Chi, thus distinguishing it from the "C," for constitution.

What the heck is "apotropy"? Okay, so I know you are mad at me about this. But remember the principle from above that I want this for new players and for folks who aren't even going to be rolling dice. Okay, I hear you say, now you've lost me. But hold on. Let's look at the other boxes and come back to this one.

Reading Philotomy's Musings on the nature of hit points got me trying to call them something else. I started calling them "luck points," you know: "you're down on your luck, man; your luck is running out!" Etc. I explained this to a group of folks that included three Ph.D.s in psychology. One of them said, "oh, I get it, it's resilience, isn't it?" "Yes," I said, "resilience points." And it just kind of stuck. But for those who know or want to work with the mechanics, there is "HP," right there, still listed to the side.

I use Delta's Target-20 method for both attack rolls and saving throws (see my house rules summary). Most new folks -- and all folks when I do all the rolling behind the screen -- only need to know what kind of weapons they have. If they tell me what weapon they are using and what they are trying to do with it, I can take it from there. But for those who want the old mechanic or demand to "roll their own," then the mechanic is right there next to it, "(HD)."

Likewise, players who don't want to have to fiddle with mechanics do like to know if they have armor on or not, and if so, what. And as long as they can read the handwriting and tell me what they've got, then I know their armor class anyway. Again, you can write the armor class right there next to it in parenthesis, as suggested by the "(AC)" immediately to the right of "Armor."

Every old-school character record needs to have a box for "languages." That is how you figure out what is going on behind that door you are "listening at"!

Gold. Well there you have it. I used to call this box "Treasure," and then list "Purse g.p.," and "Bank g.p." But then I would say, "Hey, how much gold do you have left." And they would say, "Gold? gold? Where is that on here?" So now, although the game is about Monsters and Treasure, the character record just boils it down to what we are all looking for: Gold (piece value). Because, well, gold is experience. And experience is everything.

Gold is next to Armor, above it. Because starting armor comes from starting gold. And Gold is next to Equipment (which is next to Supplies), below it. Because you buy equipment and supplies with gold. Nice, right?

That is something else I was going for with this record. I wanted things also to have a logical coherence. It is pretty good, but not perfect. So experience affects level, and thus title, which in turn affects hit die, which in turn affects hit points and even saves. So all those mechanical things are clustered together on the right side.

But I also did that on purpose. If you go straight down the right-most column you have everything that most players need most of the time. You already know your characters name (right?). So you can glance down the right side and see your character's: Title (Lvl.), Experience (XP), Resilience (HP), Armor (AC), and (most importantly), GOLD!

The first thing I suggest under "Notes," is that "Last Will & Testament," urged by Men & Magic.

All those supplies listed do not indicate that the character actually has them, yet, without purchase. Nor does it suggest that you must purchase those and only those. The idea is to help out the new players with some key suggestions. I always recommend that they place the amount they purchases in parentheses next to the item listed, and then use tally marks to count them down so that they know when they need to supply up again. So, for example, Torches (6), followed by tallies until all 6 are gone. Then, if you make it back alive, buy some more torches. Rope? I hear you ask. Yes, rope. Hemp romp gets 5 uses and silk rope gets 25. I'm just tough that way.

So how about that apotropy? Well, I thought you'd never ask. Now that I've convinced you that I've done a (pretty) good job of rendering mechanical things into handy nomenclature (Resilience, Weaponry, Armor, etc.), I can tell you that that is what I am trying to do with Apotropy. I had been calling it "Resistance," but it sounded to much like electrical engineering (or freedom fighting, or whatever). Apotropaic magic is magic that wards off magic and other unlucky things. These are like talismans, amulets and charms. So this is a place for folks to jot down apotropaic objects and spells they may have in place, like a ring of protection, or whatever -- and then remind me they have it so I can factor it in when I roll their saves behind the screen! Those who know, or want to know, what is going on still have "ST," for Saving Throw(s), listed there in parentheses immediately to the right. I use a single save, but other's could easily list all five if they wanted to. So, anyway, you may not be thrilled by my word choice, but, hopefully, you get what I was trying to do: give new folks and non-rollers a box that makes some sense that can double as a saving throw box for those who want it.

(If you like this and think you might want to use it, the full-sized photo is available for download on my Character Record page.)