Crucible's Guide to PbP Character Sheets

Online Campaigns General Discussion

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In the spirit of the fine work of the Doomed Hero's Guide and Painlord's excellent follow-ons, I hope the following will be of value to the community.

As a player and PbP GM I find myself looking at many character sheets. Some are fantastic. Some are awful. As GM I'd rather see a players with great sheets, and I find the best sheets follow some consistent formulae. Here goes:


Your character sheet is your ambassador to the game. The GM will look at it when deciding to pick you, other characters will look at it throughout the game. Think of it like a resume. It’s nice if it looks good. It’s better if it’s clearly and concisely organized.

What's in a good (PFS/PbP) Character Sheet?

Take some time to browse character sheets. There are some great examples out there. (I'm particularly proud of mine.) Good sheets take effort, but facilitate online play. Remember, your character sheet is not just for you, it's also for your GM.

In addition to the basic stuff (weapons, armor, skills, etc.), you should have, at a minimum:

  • Link to your Inventory Tracking Sheet
  • Links to each of your chronicles
  • SRD links or brief descriptions of each feat/ability/spell/weird thing that is not in the Core Rulebook. Don't assume everyone knows what your feat is.

Even better sheets
To build a quality sheet, make it easy for both you and your GM to parse during a game. Try to craft your sheet to make it hard for you to forget situational bonuses.

  • Provide full stat blocks for each weapon
  • Provide alternative stats next to regular ones. For example if your character is regularly enlarged, shapeshifted, or enraged, list the stats for your weapons in both normal and altered states.
  • Link known spells to their SRD pages.
  • Calculate encumbrance on your Inventory Tracking Sheet
  • Use bold and italics appropriately. Follow the Pathfinder style: italics are great for spell names and magic item names. Capitalize skills and feats. Use bold and ALL CAPS judiciously for headings.

Super awesome sheets
Expert sheet strategies are about long-term maintenance and making your sheet easy to audit. Use the 'ooc' tag liberally to provide meta information.

  • Spell out how bonuses are calculated. I suggest combining the 'smaller' and 'ooc' tags.
  • Specify how feats are earned (and at what level), whether through class features or level gain.
  • Use a spoiler to list how your favored class bonuses are applied at each level.
  • For items not in the Core Rulebook, identify which resource is used.

Players should also put a statblock under their name.
Most GMs expect this. You can edit the character's Race, Class/Levels and Gender fields to show information that will appear in the forum, such as:
- Hit Points
- Armor Class (also include touch and flatfooted AC)
- Saving Throws
- Combat Manuever Defense
- Perception bonus
- Initiative bonus
For example, you could use this format:

Statblock wrote:
HP 30/30 | AC 15 t11 ff14 | F:4 R:5 W:3 (+2 vs Evil) | CMD 18 | Perception +9 | Init +1

This information should all be visible without a spoiler tag.

Advanced players use the statblock to track things that change regularly, like daily uses of abilities and spells. This is a great use of the spoiler tag (and can be made better by using the 'smaller' tag within the spoiler). For example,

wand of cure light wounds 50/50, Lay on hands 5/5, Burning Hands 1/1, Ghost Salt 5/5, Arrows 50[/smaller]

It may be easier to put static information in one field (e.g., Race) and changing information in another (e.g., Class). No matter your strategy, avoid using more than one spoiler tag in the stat block. (It takes up too much vertical space.)

Feedback, please! Comments, things to add? Do you have links of good examples of character sheets? (I don't think it's necessary to link to bad ones. We've all seen them.)

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

This is really handy!

I have to say though, I've been in a lot of PBPs and few have ever kept a separate inventory tracking sheet (in one game we did have one party member keep such a thing; otherwise we just tracked our inventory in our profile). Is that a PFS thing?

I also don't understand "link to your chronicles." I will assume that is also part of the secret cant that PFSers speak, and us lowlifes not in the club don't have to worry about it.

Would be awesome to have sample bbcoded text to copy and paste to use for character sheets.

Other stuff to add...

I suggest judicious use of spoiler tags to help make long PBP sheets more readable.

I don't think this should be required, but of late in games where I find I make a lot of skill checks, I put my skills in a spoiler in the class field. Makes it easier than opening the profile to check.

The best sheet is an updated one! As soon as you take HP damage, cast a spell, use a resource, mark it on your sheet.

I like my sheets but I'm bad about adding links to spells, etc.

Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber

We never really tracked encumbrance in my home games either. But PFS (and vanilla rules) say we must.

Yes, PFS is even more particular about inventory tracking. Any expenses over 25gp are supposed to be noted by a GM.

And yes "Chronicle" is part of the "secret" PFS jargon. The chronicle lists awards, gold, and experience for each session, so players can move from GM to GM with a standardized record. PFS players are expected to bring their Chronicles to each session in live play. PbP should be no different.

My experience is that commonly updated stuff (like daily uses, spells used) should be in the "statblock" fields where it's easier to update, rather than deeper in the profile where it's harder to find.

You've got some thorough sheets, DQ, but if I may make a suggestion, take advantage of the 'spoiler' label. Try [.spoiler=Spells.] rather than Spells:[.spoiler.] This would reduce some visual clutter. And you're right, spoilers are great for hiding stuff, but spoilering *everything* get cumbersome to view the sheets.

I've gone ahead and made a "Gist" (a public code posting) of the BB code I used for one of my characters.

The Exchange

The thing I like best about this (and I choose to believe it's an intentional omission) is that no where are classes mentioned for the stat block. +1 to that.

In an RP focused format, like PbP, the less information about class the better. It simply isn't ever necessary.

* * *

As a further note with my new games and where the GM is comfortable with it, I've taken to just sending the GM my full character sheet via PM rather than posting it to my alias at all. Since I use Herolab, it's easy for me to quickly cut/paste a full char sheet into PM.

I prefer keep my mechanics between myself and the GM, rather than open to all. I use the alias for tracking history & background, appearance & personality. And, most importantly, tracking consumables.

Of course, not every GM feels this way and I'll match what my GM prefers. However, I prefer less focus on crunch.

* * *

Good guide, Cruc.

Wow! The Painlord seal of approval. That means a lot. I'm giddy, even.

And I agree, the class isn't important to drop in the abbreviated stat block that appears on each post. Personally, I do it for many of my characters as I think it adds to the visual given the limited number of avatars, but it's flavor, and doesn't need to be part of the quick reference. Good note, thanks.

Maybe you should put an example of the kind of character sheet you expect, Crucible

I've seen variations as unique as the player, many of them are good. I'm not saying all sheets should follow a One True Format™, but that no matter the format there are things that should be included, and ways of presenting information that assist readers other than the player.

Great summary!

For PFS I would say to add whether you are Male or Female in your "under name" statblock. The same applies for race, you help remember your group some basic traits of your character they might want to use while writing. This is probably not necessary in long campaigns where everybody gets to know quite well your character, but in PFS where the group changes often it helps a lot during the first days, specially if your avatar picture is not very clear about gender and race.

I agree this is not that important to have handy in long campaigns where your character is well known. But even then, I also find useful to have Class and Race with a link to the PRD, so you can easily go and check class features and race traits to the source.

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Just making note because I don't think this is too widely known... You can fit a great many details in the header by using the Gender, Race, and Class tabs seperately. Each has it's own character limit and you can fit a great many details in the header.

Here is one of my PCs. Note that I can squeeze all of my spell slots and my 8+Int skills into the header by using all three fields.

I'm a big fan of squeezing my spell list into my headers on full casters and using strikethrough tags to keep them visible to everybody. It can get to be something of a tight squeeze once you get a few levels under your belt, but it can be really handy on the fly.

Thanks for the guide! I'm sure it'll help a lot of players.

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Excuse me GM Crucible, but how do you get those symbols next to your skills on your character sheets? I've been filling out my character's information for an upcoming PBP; using your character sheets as a template, but I can't figure out how to get them to show up.

Nowadays I just go find an old sheet and copy/paste the characters I want.

On a Mac (OS X), there is a "Special Characters..." (recently changed to "Emoi & Symbols..." in El Capitan) option in the "Edit" menu of most browsers. Or you can pop up a keyboard viewer (from the Keyboard system preference panel) to see what's available.

I'd have to go look it up on Windows. Google is your friend here.

Grand Lodge

Sorry for the necro, but, I'm looking for various PbP character templates. Specifically, a very basic one for Animal Companions, Phantoms, and Eidolons.

Other template links would be greatly appreciated.

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I put Animal Companions in a spoiler embedded inside the PC's character sheet. Here's an example:

Rhinocerous Animal Companion
N Large animal
Init 2

AC:30 = 10 + 13 (natural) + 2 (Dex) + 4 (armor) + 1 (AoNA); (touch 12, flat-footed 28)
hp 90
Fort +11, Ref +7, Will +5; +2 vs. aberrations, outsiders, and undead; +4 to Will vs. enchantment

Speed 40 ft.
Melee gore +12/+7 (2d6+9)
(Power Attack: -2/+6)

Str 25, Dex 15, Con 20, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 5
Base Atk +6; CMB +13; CMD 25
Feats Blind-Fight, Power Attack, Improved Overrun, Devotion against the Unnatural, Multiattack, Impaing Charge

Future Feats to consider: Hefty Brute, Greater Overrun, Charge Through, Elephant Stomp, Improved Natural Attack, Furious Focus

Tricks Attack(x2), Come, Defend, Down, Guard, Heel, Stay, Track, Watch

Climb: 7 = 1 + 3 (Str) + 3
Perception: 6 = 2 + 1 (Wis) + 3
Survival: 9 = 5 + 1 (Wis) + 3
Swim: 7 = 1 + 3 (Str) + 3

Scent, Powerful Charge (gore 2d8), Link, Share Spells, Evasion, Devotion

large mithral chain shirt barding, Amulet of Natural Armor +1

Of course, the [bigger] tags don't work in alias pages, but I leave them and [ooc] tags in there in the hopes that Paizo will reenact them someday.

Grand Lodge

Thank you. I ended up doing just that after viewing various players' PCs and seeing many did the same.

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