#RPGaDay: Coolest Character Sheet

26. Coolest Character Sheet. One of the most common reactions to discovering D&D in the late 70s and 80s was to create your own character sheets. While printed sheets were available, we were kids with small or nonexistent allowances. But I had a typewriter and access to a mimeograph machine. Soon I discovered lots of fellow gamers had the same idea, and we had dozens of options for character sheets.

But my favorite character sheet is one I prepared for a Call of Cthulhu campaign yet still haven’t run on account of moving out of town. I’d planned the game for a group including casual and non-gamers. To make things easier for them, and to mask a lot of the mechanics, I prepared a notebook and an index card.

On the card I provided a short description of the characters’ abilities: “You’re an excellent archeologist with above-average experience as a researcher. You can handle a pistol, but you’re a crack shot with a rifle. You can operate a radio but would have a hard time repairing one.” That sort of thing.

The notebook was blank. I expected the characters to keep notes on their investigations, writing down addresses of NPCs and sketching items they discovered. Each game session also came with a homework assignment. For instance, before the first session, it was, “Find a photograph—perhaps from newspaper archives or other historical sources—that represents your character. Paste it onto page one.” Later it was things like, “Write a letter to a colleague back home,” or “Compose a telegram requesting information from the British Museum.” Maybe “List the steps to clean and load your weapon.” Evolving over the course of the campaign, the notebooks would become the character sheets, while that index card, remaining vague, would contain all the disguised game mechanics.

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