As a GM, I’m a huge fan of being prepared. Ideally, I’d prefer to be prepared for every eventuality, but that’s not realistically possible.
The PCs are central to the game, of course, and so the prudent, organised GM has an up to date copy of everyones’ characters. For me, there are four more reasons to do this:
- Backup: Sometimes, a player loses his character sheet. For example, his bag could get stolen or his copy could get covered in Coke or something else. Having a backup copy of the character sheet makes the immediate aftermath of the event slightly easier for everyone involved.
- Plotting: A PC’s character sheet can tell you a lot about how the player wants to play the game. For example, a PC with lots of “face” skills is clearly designed for diplomatic/social encounters while one focused on mobility-based skills is clearly hoping for (or expecting) interesting terrain to utilise during adventures. It’s good to know this kind of stuff so you can design your adventure for your players (or tweak a commercial one to better fit your group’s play style).
- Balance: I’m on the fence about balance, and how balanced the various PCs in your campaign should be in regards to one another. That said, it’s always a good idea to know which spells, magic items and special abilities the PCs can use or access. For example, if you plan an encounter that includes opponents with damage reduction overcome by adamantine it’s a good idea to know if the party actually has adamantine weapons! If they don’t, things could go horribly wrong.
- Absence: As an organised GM you’ve no doubt got some house rules regarding absent players and what happens to their character while they are away. Sadly, real life sometimes intrudes on gaming and consequently a player can’t make the session. If your house rules handle this eventuality and specify the player’s PC continues in the game you need a copy of its sheet for someone to run. Already having a copy makes it much easier for everyone involved.
How to Do This
In the age of smart phones and tablets sending a copy of your character sheet to the GM is a simple exercise. Beyond handwriting a copy, there are several ways to easily and quickly send your character sheet to the GM. Here are just a couple:
- Take a photo of your character sheet and text, whatsapp or email it to the GM.
- Send a scanned copy (PDF or .jpg) via email.
- In Herolab you can quickly export your character sheet as a stat block or PDF and email it directly from your tablet. (Most of my player use this method which means I have an updated copy of their character sheets at the end of the session before they have left the building).
- Set up a shared note or notebook in Evernote. (Did I mention, Evernote is a fantastic gamer’s tool?) For my Shattered Star campaign, I add all the character sheets I get to Evernote and tag them to they are easy to find—then if I need to reference them in the game, they are only a couple of clicks away.
What Do You Think?
Is there another reason for having a copy of all the PCs’ character sheets? Do you think doing so is pointless? Let me know in the comments below.