The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

The End of Interesting Character Sheets

In his review of the new character builder Donny the DM mentioned that digital characters aren’t really yours. This brought on a wave of nostalgia for me.

You see, when I started playing we had no access to character sheets (or photocopiers), so everyone had to draw their own character sheets. It was a a royal pain in the butt and we were glad when we finally got access to professionally produced ones, but something was really lost when we stopped making our own.

When we made our own character sheets every character sheet was unique. You could say that the look and feel of the sheet was a part of the personality of the character. Some sheets were attempts to recreate the look and the feel of professional character sheets, while others were just functional. Some were made on plain white paper, many more were made on lined paper, and a few were made on graph paper.

Back then everybody filled in the box for “character portrait or symbol” with their own art work (after first hand drawing said box onto their sheet). I always opted for a symbol as I have never been a very good artist.

Then, one day, we started using professional character sheets, and there was much rejoicing. But even within a few months of that switch over I began to recognize that we had lost something. The writing in the boxes became the only thing distiguishing one character from another.

But even that writing had a leg up on how things are done now. Now character sheets are 100% functional. They are all done up on computer and they all look the same. Sure there are many benefits; there is a huge drop in little mistakes on the sheet, and now every sheet is completely legable.

But in some ways I am very sad, and long for the days that every new character meant a new and unique character sheet.

Have an opinion about this article? I love comments. Please feel welcome to leave your thoughts.


December 19, 2010 - Posted by | Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs | , ,


  1. I still have my first character sheet from around 1980 or so. Keeping that in mind, I don’t think of the new CB as not allowing ownership of my character. It’s like money in the bank. It is my money, but I have to go the ATM to get it.

    Comment by Anarkeith | December 19, 2010 | Reply

  2. Sure there are many benefits; there is a huge drop in little mistakes on the sheet, and now every sheet is completely legable.
    I want to introduce you to a friend of mine, who can make even a pre-printed character utterly unreadable with his arthritic chicken scratch. 😉

    Comment by Tyler | December 20, 2010 | Reply

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