I finally designed character sheets and monster sheets that I am happy with. It includes seven sections to help me role-play the characters from one sheet.
- Profile: the character’s name, overall concept, and portrait
- Role-Playing: the character’s motivation, appearance, voice and mannerisms
- Keywords: Just a list of keywords to keep in mind while playing the character
- Custom Moves: key actions the character can take
- Gear: anything cool that they carry on their persons
- Thoughts: Short quotes in the character’s voice about key topics
The format will allow me to quickly scan things at a glance, so I don’t miss a key characterization and focuses on creating a compelling and memorable character. Now that the design was completed, all I had to do was create a sheet for all of my NPCs (non-player characters).
The main problem with designing my various game materials with Clip Studio on the iPad is that adding and updating text is kind of a pain. The popup keyboard takes half of the screen and maintaining font styles can be inconsistent. I wanted to find a better flow for the kind of sheets I plan on putting out with lots of text and styles.
To test things out, I built out a NPC sheet in Affinity Publisher to see if I could get something that would be easy to templatize and make multiple characters with minimal design work (outside of the character portrait). The template was more manageable than Clip Studio, but I still had to manually click into each field to update content and that would get tedious pretty quick.
Publisher, Affinity’s competitor to InDesign, is still in beta and does not have the full range of features that it will hopefully have later on. One bit of functionality that InDesign has that Publisher is currently lacking is the ability to import data into a template.
Unfortunately, this was kind of a deal breaker for me. And I’m not about to go back to Adobe’s products.
I work with lots of data in my day job and I enjoy building out data systems. I knew if I could find some way store data and import it into a template without messing with design, I would have an ideal setup.
So I went back to the drawing board and back to my comfort zone, building it in HTML. I created all of the data tables and input a good chunk of content into the database, so I could test out the template and started building the web pages. This wasn’t a small task and I’ve spent about three weeks putting everything together.
And I’m finally finished with the basic template for NPCs on the upcoming Harrowlands website. The three characters I have completed are:
Having everything online and in a database has many benefits: I can access with any device, everything is easily indexed, and of course the more content I can put online, the better the search rankings become. And most importantly, I am getting started on building the knowledge base for the Harrowlands game.
The one place this is lacking is when I want to have a copy of the sheet in hand.
Which is why one of my next steps is to edit the print CSS styles to give me the ability to print a single page directly from the browser. It may lack a little of the nuance of a custom designed sheet in a graphics program, but I won’t need things to be super pretty for games. Besides, I’m confident I can get the stylesheets to print out something quite nice.