Special Dispatch: Character Sheet Development Update

Posted in EpicTable Development on June 20, 2008 at 1:56 am

retro radiotower illustrationIt’s time for another development update. Last time, I talked about leaving the world of mapping to delve into character sheets. Since then, I’ve been busily fleshing out the character sheet concept in EpicTable—especially user-defined character sheets.

My recent forays into indie and story games have had a profound impact on EpicTable’s character sheets and game systems. I’m not prepared to show you screenshots yet, but I can give you some insight into the direction EpicTable is headed with respect to character sheets.

Guiding Principles

I can’t tell you precisely what I mean by each of these. These aren’t features. These are a set of values that I use to evaluate my ideas about EpicTable’s character sheets.

These are not absolutes, but for the majority of character sheets (and all the most common ones)…

  • No code!
  • No manual editing of XML
  • Improv-friendly
  • End-user extensible
  • Sharable
  • Easy
  • Building support for a game in EpicTable should promote the game, NOT eliminate the need to buy the game!


These are more specific. They’re still not at design or implementation level, but they’re goals that give form to the principles above. These aren’t promises for any particular version; they’re meant to give you some insight about the vector along which EpicTable is traveling.

  • A new sheet can be built by the target audience (GMs or users slightly more technically savvy) in a small amount of time for a small number of fields–minutes not hours for the typical indie game sheet. Hours not days for a d20 sheet (proportional to the sheer number of fields and pages that comprise the sheet).
  • Dice cups can be defined for the most canonical games currently on the market. (The efficacy of the dice cup feature is closely related to the scheme for managing dice mechanics; i.e., rolls, resolutions and sequences. As such, this feature must be developed somewhat in parallel to the dice cup and character sheet features to ensure that they all work together.)
  • The dice cup mechanisms should be extensible to cards.
  • Users can define their own dice and cards.
  • All calculated values on a pen-and-paper sheet can be automated. (User can choose not to automate everything.)


These are things that I’m sure are in the product in the short term.

  • You can attach dice cup buttons to the sheet, which cause a dice roll to go to the resolution area, whether that’s just the chat output window or somewhere else. This is already prototyped and shown in one of the screenshots on the front page of the EpicTable site.
  • You can use the image of an existing character sheet as the basis for your EpicTable sheet.
  • Areas of the sheet can be defined and then bound to character data or to values calculated from the character data (perhaps in combination with supplementary tables).
  • All but the simplest sheets are game system specific.

Calling All Character Sheet Designers!

As part of the work I’m doing on character sheets, I’m working with several that I think are representative of what’s out there. The point of this is to make sure I’m aware of the breadth of the character sheet space.

While my goal is to make sure that you can adapt your favorite character sheet to EpicTable, I’d also like to include a few of these with the initial version of EpicTable for those out there who (like me) are less artistically inclined. If you’ve got a great-looking, functional character sheet, and you’re interested in having your sheet be among the base set offered to EpicTable users, .

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