Oddities from My Bookshelf – Old School Character Sheets
Today I found out that DnDClassics are offering the old 1st edition AD&D adventure The Temple of Elemental Evil for free for a limited time. Naturally, I went to check out their site and download a copy, but I got stalled immediately by their search widget. I knew that font, that color.
Boom! Nostalgia smackdown!
I had to go back to my gaming shelves looking not for an old binder, but my oldest binder. It dates back to an SF Giants Back-to-School night giveaway in the late 70’s. From the day the binder came home it became dedicated to my D&D characters. I overfilled it by the early 90’s, but I could never bring myself to get rid of it or its contents.
So down I went, digging for that familiar orange vinyl. I just had to share this memory with the world. I knew I had a blank one somewhere, the one my brother and I kept blank to photocopy onto the backs of old flyers at my parents’ law office.
I found the sheet – and found out I was wrong. Well, I was half-right anyway. In my mind, I had blended the color of one character sheet with the font of another, later version. (I’ve included both for reference.)
It’s funny. When I was a kid, character sheets were the coolest things around. Actual pre-printed character records instead of disorganized scratches on notebook paper. But then the home computer age began, and before long we were all designing our own, trying to outdo each other with details and styles that made ours better, as well as unique.
But now the wheel has turned again. Computers are ubiquitous and real desktop publishing software is common – but most of us no longer avail ourselves of these tools. Instead we use the sheets provided by character generators or simply print the .pdfs supplied by the game designers. There’s no longer a need to buy pre-packaged sets of character sheets or rely on the ones that come with Game Master’s screens.
There’s no need, but I confess: sometimes I like filling in the forms that come pre-packaged for certain games. Like the 1990’s West End Games Star Wars, that supplied me with custom sheets for planets, ships, speeders, pilots’ and captains’ licenses, wanted posters and more.
It’s a new era, but sometimes the older tools are the most appealing. (And sometimes I still scratch out characters on notebook paper.)
How do you like to track characters?