Character Sheet Alternatives
Character sheets. In games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, these sheets of paper form the bare-bones, mechanical representation of a character in a game world. Character sheets are supposed to provide a player with all the information they need about their character to resolve in-game situations at a table. However, in my experience, a game’s official character sheet rarely serves its intended purpose for very long, if at all. It’s a good thing that those sheets aren’t your only option! Allow me to introduce you to some character sheet alternatives that have proven useful to me over the years.
If you like having a physical character sheet but are unsatisfied with your game’s official character sheet, a cursory Google search will reveal that a number of talented individuals have created an ocean of printable, custom character sheets. Admittedly, there is no guarantee that a custom character sheet has been made for your game of choice. This is especially true if your game of choice is new or not one of the popular tabletop role-playing games. If you’re looking for character sheets for a game like Dungeons & Dragons, however, there will likely be a sheet out there that caters to any preference you might have. Unfortunately, this manifestation of the “there’s an app for that” phenomenon makes it difficult to recommend a small sampling of character sheets that are great in general. Personal preference dictates a lot of what a particular player wants out of their character sheet, after all. For example, I like having a veritable library of information about my character in front of me when I’m playing tabletop role-playing games. Thus, the über edition of this character sheet for Dungeons & Dragons version 3.5 is my personal favorite character sheet for that game. Obviously, this sheet would hold little appeal for a minimalist.
If you don’t mind parts of or the entirety of your character sheet being in an electronic format, you’re in for a treat. The previously mentioned pool of talented, Internet-dwelling individuals have also made and published a number of character sheets in the PDF format that can be filled out like a web form in the right editor. While somewhat convenient, these sheets often have bugs in the form of math/visual errors in my experience. Fortunately for you, dear reader, none of these electronic character sheets rivals those made available in your browser by the kind folks over at Myth Weavers. You can fill them out like a form, have few errors, and are available for a great many games.
Should you happen to play Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder and enjoy role-playing a spellcaster, you have no doubt encountered difficulties packing all the information you need to use your character effectively onto a single character sheet. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. In fact, there’s a couple I can recommend. Spellbook Master is great for those players who have nothing but Apple products. It’s a searchable dictionary of spells you can carry with you! While it comes with all of the Open Game Content spells from Pathfinder and the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, it can be extended further by the user with spell entries from any system. Similarly, Pathfinder Spellbook is another portable spell dictionary. Unlike Spellbook Master, it’s only available on Android devices, and it cannot be extended by the user. Pathfinder Spellbook is a really solid app, thought, that comes with much of the Pathfinder RPG‘s Open Game Content spells. Other apps that serve this niche exist, but these are the ones I have found to be the most helpful up to this point.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, a lot of what I have recommended in this article has had some connection to either Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. This has a lot to do with my personal background in tabletop games. I am more familiar with these two games than any other. Thus, if you have suggestions for good character sheet alternatives for those two games and others, please let me know in the comment section below. With that said, I will leave you with one final suggestion for getting your hands on an alternative to the official character sheet in your favorite game.
For those of you willing to learn the markup language LaTeX: there is no limit to what kind of character sheet you can create. When I needed an organized list of creatures that could be summoned using the Dungeons & Dragons/Pathfinder spell Summon Monster, I found myself unable to find something suitable. An exhaustive search without results lead me to trying to create the very thing that would satisfy my needs. With the help of LaTeX, I was able to create these lists. If you are interested in learning LaTeX, this is a good place to start. If for some reason you are interested in the summon monster lists I made using LaTex, perhaps as a kind of example, you can find them here.