Building a better character sheet

I don’t like the default 4e D&D character sheet. I’ve said it. There’s no going back now. It’s fine as a worksheet if you’re riffin’ it old skool and calculating the numbers by hand, but as an actual in-play character sheet…… it’s not great. And looks like it took a sip from the ugly jar, which doesn’t help things either.

But all isn’t lost because it’s an easy enough matter use Character Builder to move things around, take out some unneeded elements and the end result could look like this:


Ok it’s not perfect, but for my needs it’s a huge improvement. The layout is split into three columns. The first covers the important in-combat numbers and general crunch. There’s the ability scores, Initiative, Speed, AC, Saves and Hit Points. The centre column gives Skills the importance they deserve by sticking them bang in the middle of the sheet. That’s rounded out with the Race and Class abilities so you don’t end up forgetting any of them in the heat of the moment. Finally, the end column is chock full of role-playing goodness with space for your character’s Background, personality, appearance, mannerisms, languages and equipment. Add a space for your Feats, and it’s done.

One sheet. Add in printed Cards for your Powers, Basic Attacks and Items and you’re good to go. Print it out, fold it up, and……


Standy uppy character sheeties!

:sigh: I’m so easily pleased.

Incidentally, that character is Brug, a 1st level Half-Orc Rogue and escapee from a vile Star Pact Warlock Cult. I love me some club-wielding Rogues with Arcana training. Lovely.

Grab GreywulfsSheet.csl and load it into the Character Viewer (Layout->Load Custom Layout) if you want to try the design yourself. Head into Options->Unlock Panels if you want to have a go at creating your own custom layout. Click and drag to move each panel, or right-click and delete to remove ’em for good. If you want to resize the panels (some of them are MUCH too big by default!) drag up from the bottom.

So, can you do any better?

19 Comments on “Building a better character sheet”

  1. Woah! I’ve spent the last hour sorting out a new character sheet format as I realised yesterday during a session how useless the second page is (all the background stuff tends to be in my head rather than written down). After I finished I popped on twitter and there you are tweeting about the smae thing!

    What’s the point of having your powers listed? You have power cards! What’s the point in listing your magical equipment? All magical items have power cards! etc.

    That’s a good arrangement, but I still don’t like the character sheets for all that black ink. Very draining on my printer.

  2. @Baalham Glad to be of help :D

    I’d love to be able to customize it further, and especially replace those icky black headings with something more printer-friendly. I’d like to be able to create a proper landscape character sheet too. I’m sure there’s a way if I delve in with a text editor. Hmmm……….

  3. I don’t like the default char sheet also. It has such silly things as separate parts for attack bonuses and damage and a power list with no way to record what a power does. And it is two pages long, what I don’t like at all… plus power cards.
    Also, I certainly won’t record my character description and background in a sheet – I’ll certainly write down at least a full page. I don’t need a special sheet for it, just some blank sheets of paper.
    So, I made a design myself, with just the cruchy and strictly necessary parts (“background” is there for the eventual FR or Eberron region, for example). It’s not in char builder format (jpg really) because it was made for easy printing:

  4. Here’s a thought that has come in handy for me: Combat Cards. You take an index card, right your name in the middle. Above your name goes Initiative mod, AC, Fort, Reflex, Will, in that order. To the left goes HP (and bloodied value). To the right goes speed. Bellow goes level, race, class. Bellow these goes feats. On any empty space go your two at wills with boxes around them. Oh, and healing surges and surge values go right bellow Speed.

    Got that? Now, if you flip the card over, and write down all of your skills on the back, you only need to take out your power cards and you’re ready to play.

    Obviously, you’ll have to use a very abbreviated style when writing out your At-Wills, to make sure they’ll fit. Usually just damage, bonus to hit and status effects (or range) are all that is needed. I assume all At Wills are standard, at-will, melee, untyped damage unless stated. I also don’t bother with keywords (when’s the last time you needed to reference a keyword?).

  5. Nice work, GW. Thanks. I’m currently pondering a party bonus tracker card with basic defenses and attacks as well as a few other commonly buffed stats. I’d hand each player a uniquely colored set of d6s, and let them add those to the sheet when they buffed other party members. They’d be responsible for pulling the dice when the effect ended. Any suggestions on other methods to track buffs in a centralized manner would be appreciated. (We’re using color-coded hair bands on the minis to track conditions.)

  6. It just so happens that I was just starting to look at more customized character sheet layouts when you posted this, with an eye towards recreating the double-sided delve cards that WotC had at GenCon. Impossible to do with the character builder, since you can only rearrange blocks, but there is another way. Take a look at iplay4e as an example of a .dnd4e file parser that creates an entirely new character sheet from raw character builder data. The trick being, of course, that it takes a hell of a lot more work to build a parser and output custom layout than it does to just rearrange some boxes.
    .-= Greybunny´s last blog ..Group vs. Individual Initiative =-.

  7. @Capt_Poco:
    You seldom use keywords, but having them written avoids all the trouble looking at the book when you do. Most players know at least their at-wills by heart, and can figure attack bonuses and damage very quickly, but doubt can easily arise about wether Sleep has the charm keyword or not.

  8. Hi!

    Any suggestions on how to print off character sheets (.dnd4e files) if I dont have a printer? I’ve tried some online .pdf printers but the dnd files are NOT compatible with anything out there!

    Help! :D

  9. Do you have an updated URL for this? It looks like they changed things around over there and now your link doesn’t work.

    1. Unfortunately no, sorry. It looks like the offline Character Builder is gone from the official site. Unless anyone else knows differently, of course. Finding anything over there is a mess at the best of times.

      1. Aaaand I’m an idiot. I thought you were asking where you could get a copy of the Character Builder.

        I’ll dig out my copy of the single page Character Sheet, and re-upload it to a new location for you.

  10. NP – I should’ve been more specific. I’ve got a couple of new players and I think this Character sheet will do a lot better for them understanding how the numbers fit together. I certainly appreciate the extra effort.

  11. is there a way you could make this character sheet a “blank” one in pdf format that way i can just hand write everything in there? that’d be amazazing!

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