Choosing a Character Sheet for Dungeons and Dragons
All information will be based on Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons.
Dungeons and Dragons, usually known as D&D, is a fantastic game. The rules are clearly defined, but allow and expect players to make house rules. All the players work together, eliminating the competitive aspect of most tabletop games. Players have been known to be inspired by the characters they create and develop an attachment to them. Dungeon masters, or DM’s, get a chance to tell a story and create something everyone can be a apart of. D&D has been known to inspire games like Wizardry, Dragon Age, and even Final Fantasy. The only thing stopping a player from diving into the DM’s newly crafted world and experiencing their story is one thing — a character sheet.
Character sheets are important aspects of the game and have been around since the beginning. Initially just sheets of paper that players would copy information onto, Wizards of the Coast started releasing their own character sheets specifically for the game. Now, there are many types of characters sheets all serving different purposes. While there is a neutral character sheet that comes with the Player’s Handbook, some are not interested in it. There are no major problems with the normal character sheet, for those who have been involved in the game for a while, it can feel as though it’s not focused enough. And fans have answered the problem with character sheets by designing their own. But, how does one go about choosing one?
Note that a character sheet isn’t the most important aspect of character creation. But, a good character sheet allows the player to focus more on playing than trying to figure out the save DC on a spell. So, when choosing one, the player must decide what is most important for them.
Wizards offers three sheets from their site. The first is the sheet included in the Player’s Handbook. The second is an alternative version I recommend to newcomers. It arranges saving throws and skills by putting them underneath their corresponding stat. This also leaves it with more space for character notes. However, it lacks a page for all spells. A second alternative version is included and works for the visual learners. All sections are labeled with an image alongside words. However, skills no longer have an efficient place for corresponding modifiers. The sheet does, however, include a sections for different pieces of armor the player may be wearing.
It’s good to note that all the character sheets, sans alternative 2, have PDF versions that can be edited on the computer. This is incredibly useful for those with bad penmanship or those who play online.
Speaking of online, there is another character sheet that allows players to save their characters to a cloud. The application is known as DiceCloud. By making an account, the player can design a character and save it online which can be accessed from mobile and desktop browsers. Apps like this are excellent for the players who like to have everything easily arranged. Almost everything can be color coded. This also saves on paper as the sheet can be accessed from anywhere. Learning this sheet has a higher difficulty curve than most others, but it allows more information to be saved and separated and arranged. And no one can ever complain about not having their sheet on them. This sheet can also be shared through the cloud with the DM and other players. A similar sheet can be found on D&D Beyond.
Some players prefer having more information at a glance. For them, SpadaBastarda created a sheet that opens like a folder and keeps track of just about everything including how many turns and rounds have passed. This is a very tedious sheet to fill out and, like the DiceCloud sheet, can be overbearing at first glance. But, like the previous sheet, so much information is presented that it more than makes up for it. This is a sheet for those who don’t want to bother with the learning curve of DiceCloud. It is also more newbie friendly as it includes notes about how many actions a player can take in a turn and negative status effects. It’s not as visually diverse as the alternative 2 sheet, but uses many shapes and some drawing which can appeal to visual learners. This sheet can be found here.
A major frustration with character sheets is that they contain information the player may not use while lacking space for what the players need. For them, here is a list of sheets designed by u/hornbook1776. Each sheet is designed to work for a specific class. The downside to this sheet is that it only has room for information found in the Player’s Handbook. So, if a player wants to use a homebrew class or class from the upcoming Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, there’s not much space for them. They also lack an “other” section, so races found in Princes of the Apocalypse or Volo’s Guide to Monsters are also unusable with these sheets. They are also quite wordy, but color coordinated.
So, what happens when a player doesn’t like any of these sheets? Well, then they can go back to the beginning and create their own sheet. One can communicate with their resident DM and ask what information needs to be on the sheet. This often works for those who like to draw their characters or simply need more space than the other sheets offer. They can also be filled with information unique to the DM’s campaign and setting.
Honestly, which sheet one decides to use is entirely up to them. It’s up to players to work with their DM’s to find sheets and applications that work for the both of them. D&D is fun, and the last thing anyone wants is to struggle with a character sheet when instead they can be playing the game and exploring a new world. Sleep tight.