Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cyberpunk Character Sheets and Tips

Cyberpunk Version RolePlaying in the Dark Future came out in 1990 and it was too edgy for the teenage me.  I wish I played this game when I was younger.  But, as Cyberpunk puts it, I was one of those players still playing that other game with the happy elves.

My appreciation for the Cyberpunk genre was a much later development.  I read Gibson's books and liked them, but didn't love them because I feel that in my mind Cyberpunk had already taken on a certain style.  A style that Gibson touched upon sometimes.  Perhaps I was tainted by anime, I don't know.

For me, I didn't care so much about the A.I. or philosophical aspect of the genre, it was the style and the gritty, street-level action that caught my eye.  I love the Cybernetics.  I love the thought of jacking-in and hacking the world and the fact that people fry their brains trying to do so.  I love the thought of endless city arcologies where it's always night and almost always raining.  I love the thought that the woman shooting at you is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen.  I love the fact that the world is merciless and will utterly kick your ass because that's the way it goes.

That's Cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk is back in the news these days.  R. Talsorian Games is set to release their Witcher RPG which is supposedly based on Cyberpunk's Fuzion/Interlock system.  This is creating a lot of buzz for the company.  Apparently the long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 video game is not too far away.  And this fall/winter is supposed to see the release of a revised Cyberpunk RPG called Cyberpunk Red.  Take all of that with a grain of salt, I only know what the forums know.

Sooo, this put Cyberpunk back into my head.  I revisited the rules, gave them some thought, rolled up some characters, and redesigned the character sheet.  This character sheet reflects my philosophy for playing this game.  There is no second page for life-path generation or for excessive amounts of gear.  I prefer the notion that you don't really know who you are until that first roll of the die. It's a more pulpy take -- I prefer mysterious backgrounds.  Nor do I like characters armed to the teeth.  There's plenty of space on this sheet for your stuff.  Besides, you're about to get wasted and put into the spare parts wagon.

Some thoughts on playing Cyberpunk

  • This is a deadly game but players can armor-up and become quite bullet-proof.  Cut all of the armor values in half.

  • Equipment.  Everything in this game is CHEAP.  Multiply the cost of everything by 5 or 10.  Players should almost never get the really fancy stuff unless they find or take it.  Buying stuff on the black market should be a mini-adventure all on it's own.

  • Some stats are almost meaningless and then there are super-stats like Body.  Randomly generate stats by rolling 1d6+2 in order, switching any two.  This will give a result between 3 and 8.  Nothing terrible or godlike.  Another method, under the fast-and-dirty expendables rules (pg. 30) is roll 2d6, re-rolling 11's and 12's.

  • Consider randomly determining starting skill values based on the Career Skill charts (pg 44).  There are multiple approaches to this, like going down the list and rolling 1d6+1 for each skill.

  • Use the fast-and-dirty expendables (pg 30) chart to give each player one randomly rolled piece of starting cyberware.  Do this for armor and weapons as well. This adds built-in history.  Also, assume starting characters are all unemployed and they have cash equal to that listed on the special ability table.

  • Hacking is a beast and has never really been done well in any game.  I suggest, for now, simply use skill challenges like 5 out of 7 successes, or 3 consecutive successes --- or else you get disconnected, catch a virus, etc.  How to handle hacking is a future topic unto itself.

  • Finally, if you're not willing to make life hard for the players, play a different game.  This doesn't mean be a jerk.

"It's not enough to be good---you have to look good while doing it (Attitude is Everything)."

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Pathfinder Character Sheets

There are tons of Pathfinder Character Sheets floating around the web.  Might as well add mine to the mix.  On the eve of the Pathfinder 2nd Edition play test no less.  But I think many people will be playing 1st Edition Pathfinder for years to come.  Some will never make the jump.

As bloated as it has become, I have a lot of love for Pathfinder.  At heart I prefer the OSR, but sometimes you crave a little crunch.   Sometimes you want those options.  Sometimes you want books to pour through.  And always, you want beautiful artwork by Wayne Reynolds.

I've tweaked and tweaked and re-tweaked my Pathfinder character sheets and could probably keep tweaking them until the end of days.  The version below is what I've settled on to share, for now.  I'll probably want to mess with it tomorrow.


To the slayer of 4th Edition D&D, I salute you.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Savage Worlds Character Sheets

For those of you into Savage Worlds I offer three separate Character Sheets. The Basic was the first one I designed followed by the other two when I revisited the system more than a year later.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

In The Grim Dark Future There Is Only War.

"Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war.  There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods."

It's a good time to be a Warhammer fan.  Three new games coming out:  Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition, Wrath & Glory, and Age of Sigmar.  I will eventually buy them all.  

Dark Heresy and the other Wathammer 40K games by Fantasy Flight Games rank among the best looking books in the RPG industry.  They took the setting seriously, the art was spectacular, and the character sheets were actually pretty good.  My goal as usual, if possible, was to fit everything on one page.  Without a doubt, one of the most complex character sheets I've designed.  Getting everything to fit on one page was a chore and evolved over many versions.  This character sheet might fill up if you play the same character for years, but this is Warhammer so don't count on it. 

This character sheet should be able to accommodate any game from Dark Heresy 1st Edition and Rogue Trader all the way through to Dark Heresy 2nd Edition. 

Long live the God Emperor of Mankind!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Small Tribute to William O'Connor

I had an entire article written up here but I scrapped it.  Keep it simple.  I never saw female dwarves drawn before William O'Connor came along.  His art was one of the few good things to come out of 4th Edition D&D and it blew me away.  Because of him I now love dwarves.

Thanks for the great images, William O'Connor.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Numenera Character Sheets

With Numenera 2 due out soon these character sheets will probably need to be tweaked.  But for now, enjoy.

Phision Tul:  A Tough Glaive Who Wields Two Weapons At Once.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Symbaroum Character Sheets

Is there a RPG anywhere more beautiful than Symbaroum?  Do yourself a favor and google Symbaroum and you'll be bombarded with mesmerizing images of cover and interior art.  The books are thoroughly gorgeous, so much so that even non-gamers would want them on their coffee table.

Full disclosure:  I've backed Symbaroum from the beginning.

Basically, in Symbaroum you play characters who are refugees from a fallen empire who have travelled north to plunder an ancient forest called Davokar.  It's a dark and deadly game of intrigue, exploration, and combat....and characters WILL die.

There's no need to do a full system review, but it's somewhere between simple and medium crunch.  It's one of those games where players roll all the dice, which is a trend in all honesty that I'm not a fan of, but who cares, this game is awesome.

The official character sheet is one of the cooler sheets I've seen.

Regardless, I had to design my own...

Here's a sample character whose stats were built using the 2d6+3 method rolled in order.

Check out Symbaroum.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

More D&D 5th Edition Character Sheets

I have a large collection of RPGs.  It became a routine:  Hear about a game, buy it, figure it out, and ultimately make it my own by redesigning the character sheet.  Nothing helps you understand every aspect of a game better than designing a character sheet for it.

The first question I always ask:  Can I make this a one-page character sheet?  It's always my goal to fit everything on one page.  In a way, its a barometer for how complicated a game is.  But, not always.  Some games are actually fairly simple yet require a lot of booking-keeping.  Many games have optional layers of complexity and offer complete character folios several pages in length (eg, Pathfinder's Character Folio, a nice looking product for sure, but how many people actually use it?)  The simple act of flipping your character sheet over to look at the back or even turning pages causes a certain level of inefficiency to the gaming experience (it's kind of like pausing and having to look up a rule in the rule book(s).)

Now, is this really that big a deal?  No.

But more and more, I'm an OSR guy.  I have really come to appreciate the beauty of simplicity.  Just picked up Frostbitten & Mutilated by Zak Smith, another great product by that guy.  More on OSR products another time...

Throughout most if it's history Dungeons & Dragons only required a single page character sheet.  I remember, back in high school (in the late 80's) any time I was bored in a class I would just start writing out character sheets on lined paper.  Many gamers back then probably produced very similar looking sheets.  The game was simple and there was always plenty of room on the page for everything your character had including all the spells if you multi-classed or were playing a Magic-User or Cleric, but having a separate page for spells wasn't unheard of.

Remember these?  Nice stats!

Eventually no one used hand written sheets.  The official ones were too cool, and if we designed our own, it involved a lot of cut and paste and photo-copying, and wow, it was tedious and fun.  Would not have the patience for that any more.  These days require a different kind of patience.

Frankenstein's Character Sheet.

Don't even remember designing this one for DC Heroes.

3rd Edition D&D opened the floodgates.  With the addition of feats, skills, extensive class abilities, animal companions, and the necessity of  owning many magic-items, one-page D&D character sheets flew out the window.  This information bloat continues with Pathfinder -- which, don't get me wrong, is a fine game and I pre-ordered the 2nd Edition play-test, if only just to own, who knows.  (Love Wayne Reynolds art.)  I'll do a later post on Pathfinder character sheets.

With 5th Edition we have returned to simpler times.  Without talking about the game itself, the rules have just the right level of complexity that makes designing character sheets a joy.  Everything comfortably fits on one page (except spells.)  The official character sheets for the game aren't bad, but I had to customize my own.

 Little side note:  Back when 5th Edition was D&D Next, WOTC asked people to send in their character sheet designs.  Not sure if they were looking for talent or just inspiration, but whatever.  Below is what I sent in.  I think it resembles the final official sheet in tone, i.e, grey and white, and it  shows how my own designs have evolved since then.

On to the alternate 5th Edition character sheets.  The files attached include a spell sheet.

This sheet is similar to the one in my first post with the addition of proficiencies.

This is a full-on Dungeoneer sheet that lists a bunch of items that are commonly needed in a dungeon crawl.  I've always liked the idea of having to track all this stuff.

The Dungeoneer

And here we have an alternate layout linking skills directly with abilities.

And finally, a few more of my sketches...

A Monk I rolled up for Pathfinder.

An Elf I rolled up for the OSR.

A new Acolyte.

Until the next time....

Sunday, July 1, 2018

First Post: D&D 5th Edition Character Sheets

I've spent years designing character sheets for various RPG's that only a handful of people have ever seen or used.  It is time to share them.  I also love drawing character sketches and have drawn HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS.  It's time to share some of them too.  This is an experiment, as I have never blogged before, so please bare with...

Nothing is more fundamental to a Role-Playing Game than the character sheet.  Very rarely, if ever, do I see a character sheet for a published game and not want to tweak or completely redesign it.  I know hard work was put into many of them, and some are beautiful, but how many are practical and user friendly?  Subjective I suppose.  For me a character sheet must be eye-catching, practical, and atmospheric.

Over the course of time I will be posting Character Sheets for the following games:  D&D 5E, Pathfinder 1E, Dark Heresy, Mongoose Traveller 1E and 2E, Cyberpunk 2020, Symbaroum, Numemera, Savage Worlds, Palladium Games, Mutants & Masterminds, Anima, Iron Kingdoms, Lamentations of the Flame Princess,  and others.  Many of these have multiple versions (especially Traveller -- at least a dozen.)

Let's start with the most popular game out there...

This is my standard version for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.

Below is the Spell Sheet.

Here is a link to both files combined.

And here's one of my character sketches.

That does it for now.

And Now... HYPERBOREA! Plus Character Sheet...

A Shaman I rolled up Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, these are the three main authors (among a few others) that Jeffre...