Since we created the layout for the physical character sheets, where you take a primary character sheet and insert a secondary character sheet in order to create one unique, blended Archetype booklet, we’ve been scratching our heads on how to implement a good online character sheet that is both easy to use and easy to put together.
Our first thought was custom, form-fillable PDFs, but that seemed a little cumbersome to both create, but also use. You would be flipping between two sheets constantly. Next, we thought about a custom PDF builder, but that would take an immense amount of time or resources to throw together, and it just wasn’t practical. Finally, it hit me (Ryan) after creating characters for Hearts of Wulin (currently in the middle of a kickstarter which you can check out here) on Character Creation Cast (you can listen to those episodes here: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3). They used Google Sheets for their character sheets for this phase of testing. They were pretty basic, but there was a master sheet that you just copied into another sheet, and you could line all player’s up side by side.
That’s when I got the idea to use this for Chimera. I started a basic design in Excel to see if the basic layout could be duplicated, and it could. I then copied that into Google Sheets and realized that some things in Excel didn’t translate properly, so I just abandoned Excel entirely and started working. A few iterations later, and now we have a solution that gives the proper feel of fusing archetypes together, like we do with the paper character sheets.
To avoid confusion, here’s the final product for a player’s character sheet:
There’s a lot going on here, so let’s dive in. First, you’ll notice the color coding. The borders of the archetypes match the colors in the artwork we had commissioned for the current play test sheets. Purple = Fantasy. Green = Magical Girls. Red = Superheroes. We even color coded the Archetype tabs to match, for ease of use:
Next, you’ll notice the Primary Archetype is fully represented along the left-hand side, and the Secondary Archetype is fully represented along the right-hand side. Just like the physical version, the pages line up next to one another to complete one another. You’ll notice that the Primary Page 1 has the attributes and look on it. The Secondary Page 1 has the Fellowship Pool and Basic Advancements/XP chart on it. And each page has their corresponding Abilities and Archetype specific Advancements. Page 2 has the Archetype specific moves listed here, side by side, so you just need to look in one spot in order to see what moves you have selected and how to trigger them.
If we dive into the individual tabs, you’ll see a similar setup to above, except it’s just for that one Archetype, like this:
In order to create your own character sheet, you go to the tab for your Primary archetype, and copy the columns from the far left to the middle column just right of the character sheet, and then paste that into the upper left of your Player sheet. Then you do the same for the secondary Archetype. Go to that page, select the columns from the far right to the middle, then go back to your Player sheet and paste it right next to the previous paste. This gives you the results from above. From there, you build your characters in your own Player tab, and now everyone can see everyone’s characters, including the Genre Moderator, at any time!
But, before you get to character creation, you need to build a world. To do that, you go to the World Building tab in this workbook and check out your options:
It’s as simple as following the directions on the left-hand side. Checking the boxes on the far left as you finish each step will help you keep track of where you are in the steps. What’s nice here is, once you select a genre, it automatically visually opens up the genre on the right-hand side:
This will greatly help players keep track of which options are available to select from when building your worlds with the World Tropes. Once you finish selecting your tropes, the options will all turn green, which will make for a nice visual indicator that you’re done:
Of course, if you select more than you need, these boxes will turn red, and then you get to figure out which tropes to take away to get it back to green:
From there, you continue answering questions, create your characters, finish off the details of your world, set the Fellowship Pool, then you are ready to play!
We should be done with all of these sheets by the middle of next week, if not the end of this weekend, and then we’ll be ready to begin play testing in earnest to test out these online versions. We are both very, very excited about this for Chimera Version 0.4 Beta. Next up? GM Moves, GM and Player Agendas for both the base game, which span all genres, as well as each Genre Module. This will be combined with any alterations from 0.4 play testing to create version 0.5 just before GenCon, with luck!