I love coming up with an elaborate character backstory. I suck at remembering it in play.
Thus, my character sheets end up a study in marginalia: scrawled near the top of the sheet is the reminder that this character is characterized by a wise laziness and always seeks the most effective path of least resistance. Off to the side is the reminder that he took a nearly fatal mace wound to his right ribs, and he favors his left side when he has the option. Near the bottom is a scrawled and disorganized list of semi-meaningful NPCs, and some of the hooks or tips they’ve dispensed.
These notes are essential to play. However, they become a haphazard frame around a collection of statistics which were generated waaaay back at character creation. The funny thing about these stats: I have no problem remembering them, and they can basically be represented by a 1e-style monster stat block. But the character sheet’s design makes them the centerpiece, forcing me to relegate those things that matter (and that I actually struggle to remember, unlike my AC or Charisma) to the margin.
Enter Intwischa’s Vitruvian Character Sheet (VCS), developed jointly by me, Intwischa art director Matthew, and Leonardo da Vinci (who is a great artist but a major dick of a rules-lawyer at the game table). The VCS gives blocks that represent different physical regions of your character, and ample room to write/sketch pertinent details.
Attached are two examples of characters using the VCS. One character is the late Enyo Tanicus (who you may have heard about once or twice), a character created in a homebrew setting based on Swords and Wizardry. The other is Pache Gwain, a cybered-up troll from a FreeFATE game that evolved out of an earlier Shadowrun game.
Pache is an impulsive troll from a Native American tribe who the spirits just seem to have it in for. As a youth, he went on a vision quest to find his spirit guide in the dystopian world of Shadowrun, and his spirit guide turned out to be an undead horse kept alive through cyberware. Throughout the years, much of Pache has been replaced by cyber as well–and while he’s tried to keep alive the traditions and philosophies of his people, he finds that it’s usually easier to hit things with an axe.
I’ve uploaded the FreeFATE standard character sheet of Pache, and the VCS version of that same sheet. On the VCS version, aspects are marked by a circled capital A, Skills are marked with an “S” inside a triangle, and stunts are “ST” inside a diamond. The VCS version represents everything necessary to play the game, but gives much more room to remind me who Pache is, both in external and internal character.
Note that, while the Vitruvian Character Sheet works well as a replacement for a FreeFATE character sheet, it cannot easily replace a Shadowrun sheet. Then again, if you’re playing Shadowrun, you have no problems with numbers defining your character
Enyo Tanicus is the deceased assassin from our Swords and Wizardry game (see his character sheet in VCS format). Where are the numbers? Check out the right margin. The old D&D rules are so simple that most of these numbers don’t need central billing–I just included a spot for HP in the “Person” block and AC in the “Torso” block, and kept a shorthand for class features and attack rolls in the “Mind” and “Arms” block, repsectively.
Intwischa’s Vitruvian Character Sheet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. That means you’re free to use it, you’re free to modify it, and you can even sell it–as long as you tell people where you got it, and you allow use under the same terms.
Update: Download the blank version with 100% less genitalia, and white space to sketch your character!
Have you ever gotten frustrated with the prominence of numerical data for characters in RPGs? Or do you think you CAN actually fit a whole Shadowrun character onto this thing? Tell us about it in the comments!