Tag Archives: character

D&D 5e Character Library and Conditions Reference

I have uploaded several new aids for D&D 5e. The first two are different versions of a list of conditions: one to be shared by the whole table, and one for individual players. The table version has every condition, paraphrased and converted to second person to hopefully make them easier to understand. With one or two on the table there should be less need for players on both sides of the screen to stall the game while looking up rules. The player version has a condensed list so that four of them can fit on a page.That way each player can have a list of the most common conditions, and can reference the table version for the others.

The other aid is a D&D 5e character library in the form of an OpenOffice spreadsheet, which is a convenient place to keep any number of characters without using up a ton of disk space (important for Dropbox and thumbdrives). There is also a Google Docs version for players who like to keep everything in the cloud. I see the latter as also being used by GMs to keep all of their players’ characters in one place for easy reference.

My next character library will likely be for GURPS since it will be easy, and then I’ll make one for HackMaster 5e for the sake of my current campaign. I may even make one for OVA eventually since I do have about a dozen characters for it. My current focus is on revising my GURPS character creator and finishing the D&D one. That said, the D&D character library is a result of my drive to free up some space on my nearly-full Dropbox, so I may well make the other libraries as part of that process.

UPDATE 2015-04-16: Added space for saving throw values and proficiences. I truly don’t see how I overlooked that before, but it’s there now.

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GURPS Character Creator

If you have ever had trouble with the math of GURPS’ character creation process, or needed to make multiple characters in little time, or just wanted to play with a character’s numbers without erasing a hole though the page, then my GURPS character creator is for you. It does all of the math for you, including applying the final modifiers to advantages and disadvantages, and calculating the final skill level for techniques.

There are detailed instructions on the first tab and on other sheets as needed (aided by examples), but here’s a summary:

  • “Basics” is where you put in your character’s base attributes as well as how many points you have to spend.
  • On “Ads” and “Disads” list all of your advantages and disadvantages, as well as their base costs and total modifiers. The sheet will then calculate the final costs.
  • On the “Skills” sheet it is vital that you spell things carefully since it is used as a lookup table by “Techs”. For each skill you also specify what attribute it is tied to, its difficulty, and what relative skill level you want. The spreadsheet will then calculate the final cost of each skill, as well as its final value. The next version will also include space for you to specify any modifiers to a skill (such as Combat Reflexes to Quick Draw).
  • “Techs” does the same for techniques, but instead of looking up the associated attribute, it finds the associated skill on “Skills”. that’s why the spelling of skill names is so important.
  • “Gear” should be self-explanatory. Simply list any equipment your character buys, along with its cost and weight, which the spreadsheet will total for you. The character creator does not include a database of equipment because that would be a copyright infringement.

Speaking of copyrights: due to not wanting to step upon Steve Jackson’s toes, and simply because there are hundreds upon hundreds of GURPS books available, the spreadsheet contains no actual skills, advantages, or any other content other than a small subset of the freely-available GURPS Lite, so you will also need whichever books you are using for your campaign.

Like all of my trpg aids, I built this in OpenOffice (AOO 4, to be precise), so I can’t guarantee it will work in other spreadsheet programs, but it should work in StarOffice’s other descendants (I wrote previously about the pros and cons of LibreOffice vs Apache OpenOffice, but there are several other derivatives as well). Normally it wouldn’t be an issue since the very few things I don’t upload as PDFs are relatively simple, but this thing is the second most complicated spreadsheet I have ever created; the first being my still-in-progress D&D 5e version. I simply don’t have the time to thoroughly test it in all of StarOffice’s children, so if you do use one of the other OO variants, please let me how well it works – especially if part of it doesn’t.

Also in common with my other aids is the fact that I built it, with input from my wife, specifically for our use, and don’t seek input from others. But in this case, instead of simply offering it up to the world for people to use or not as they please, this time I would like your feedback. Naturally, I need to know about any bugs or formula errors immediately so I can fix them. But I’d also like to know which parts of it you do and don’t like, as well as suggestions for improvements. Bear in mind, however, that this is version 1.0, and 2.0 is about half done.

One of the major changes is cosmetic. As it stands, “Usage” and “Basics” don’t even look like they’re part of the same document as the rest, so I’m making everything easier to read while giving the whole thing a facelift. Another small yet big change is that I somehow neglected to separate out CP spent to raise BS and BM from modifiers to them, so it ends up charging you CP a second time for any modifiers you list. That has already been remedied, so all of the major mechanical issues should now be dealt with. The only other mechanical change I’m planning at this time is to repeat the character’s BL on the gear tab. I may also include there the specified TL’s starting wealth, but providing a way to modify it for Wealth will just needlessly clutter up the sheet for most characters, so I will likely instead include a box where you can specify the character’s starting wealth, and the spreadsheet will keep a running total and tell you how much you have left to spend.

“Pain is Temporary… Quitting Lasts Forever”

(Post title is a paraphrase of the following quote:
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” –  Lance Armstrong in It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life.)

Those of you who follow me on facebook or know me personally may already be aware of this, but for the past couple of months my chronic pain levels reached the point where I was almost totally incapacitated. The most I could type at one time was a paragraph about as long as this one will be when I finish.

As a result, I haven’t been blogging or working on any of my books or short stories because I haven’t been able to. That doesn’t mean, however, that I have been totally unproductive. To make my life GMing D&D Encounters easier, I copy-pasted the relevant monsters from my epub to the spreadsheet that I normally only use to calculate how much XP to give each player. In doing so I discovered that I could do work like that for much longer than serious typing, so I got some other things done instead.

Made D&D 5e Character Sheet More Multi-class Friendly

In making my first multi-classed character, I discovered that my sheet was only slightly better for that purpose than Wizard’s. I rearranged the top matter a bit to make room for listing multiple classes and their levels, leaving the original “Level” space for the character’s total level. The largest difference is that in place of the checkboxes for keeping track of spent hit dice, there are now two boxes for tracking two types of hit dice – there wasn’t room for a third one, or I would have included it.

It has replaced the old version on Scribd.

Added Features to the D&D 5e Grimoire

In putting a caster on a character sheet for the first time, I realized the grimoire could use some additions. Across the top there are now spaces for your spell attack bonus, saving throw DC, the maximum number of spells you can prepare each day (generally caster level + spellcasting ability modifier), and your spell slots.

For the sake of the mage character sheet, I also lightened the color of the headers so the bar wouldn’t bleed through the page as much.

Both have replaced their old versions, linked above.

Mostly Finished GURPS Character Creator Spreadsheets and Half Done With One for D&D 5e

In the course of creating a new GURPS character several months ago I accidentally half-built a GURPS character creator spreadsheet. Over the past couple of months I’ve been slowly revising it. Now all it needs is a little spit and polish.

Inspired by that project, I decided to make one for the current editions of D&D and HackMaster as well. I haven’t yet started the HackMaster one, but the D&D one is at least half done. I have yet to start on the “Race and Class Features” tab, but the mechanics of everything else are mostly, if not completely, done.

The only major things I have left to figure out are how to handle armor and weapon proficiencies, and race-based skills (dwarves, for instance, don’t actually grant proficiency in History, but for all things stonework, they are considered proficient and double their proficiency bonuses).

The gear proficiencies are the big puzzlers. I have only been using lookup tables and other advanced spreadsheet features since a fellow D&D Encounters GM helped me start my GURPS character creator, so I’m mostly learning by doing. Because of that I have no idea how to limit the player’s equipment choices based on the proficiencies granted by the character’s race/class combination. My temporary fix is to simply list them and leave it up to the player to only choose proficient gear. Likewise with limiting the player’s choice of skill proficiencies.

Other than that, all that is need is more spit and polish, and to have local players do their best to break my code and give me their feedback on the user interface (UI). After that I’ll upload a basic version to Scribd as usual, then continue working on actually integrating proficiencies into the various places they are needed.

These are currently my top priority and should be finished fairly soon.

Worked on HackMaster 5e Campaign Manager and Started D&D Version

If you were active on the Kenzer & Company forums when HackMaster Basic first released, you may have seen my original encounter builder spreadsheet. Since then I have incorporated much of my HM4e campaign manager into it, and applied some of my new-found advanced spreadsheet coding skills, as well as the session experience tracker I originally made for D&D Encounters. It is probably only about half done, but is a lower priority than the other projects since it does everything I need it to for my current campaign (it works, but the UI is ugly and a bit clunky), and both D&D and GURPS have larger user bases.

Speaking of the experience calculator, while working on the HM campaign tracker, I slowly added new features to it, gradually turning it into a D&D campaign manager. I am also adapting it into a  generic campaign manager that should be easily user-adaptable to handle just about any level-based fantasy trpg. It will likely become my top priority after I finish the character creators.

As an indicator of how much better I’m doing now, I wrote this entire post in one sitting. I need to rest for a while now because my upper back is starting to flare up pretty intensely, but I was able to ignore it long enough to finish this, so I have high hopes for the near future (although, as always, I’ll sleep and then proofread it tomorrow before actually posting it). On the advice of a doctor, I started taking magnesium supplements a week and a half ago, and it seems like it may be doing the trick. If you suffer from chronic pain, it might be worth a try (but always talk to your doctor before taking any supplement).

So that’s my last couple of months in a nutshell. Keep watching here for updates on my character creators and campaign managers.

Rebirth of a Monster

Here, at long last, is the flash fiction version of the origin of probably the most beloved of all of my recurring NPCs, Manny the ogre chef. In the present day he’s a pacifistic tavern-keeper who is well-renowned for his kitchen prowess. But he wasn’t always so friendly…


As the sun rises over the Mountains of Ayel, the remains of the village of Woodston continue to smolder. Among the ruins, five ogres feast upon the villagers they roasted in the flames of their own homes. As one of them raises a leg to his slathering jaws, liquid fat dripping from the leg to the ground and tusks ready to tear off a mouthful, he is suddenly overcome with revulsion and nausea.

Lowering the now revolting hunk of meat from his mouth, Manny looks around, confused, yet clear-headed for the first time in his life. “Why you not eat?” asks one of his warband, using his tusks to rip a large chunk of meat from a child’s charred torso. Then he adds, spraying bits of manflesh through the intervening space, “this meat good.”

After taking a moment to spit out some errant bits of flesh that were caught in his teeth, Manny finally replies: “The smell makes me sick.”

His companions’ faces cycle through expressions of confusion, shock, disbelief, and finally horror. “We help!” one yells as he pounces. They grab Manny, pin his arms and legs to the ground, and attempt to beat out of him whatever evil spirit has possessed him. Since nothing like this has ever happened in all of ogre history, their simple minds cannot fathom any other possible explanation for Manny’s behavior.

As blow after blow rains down upon him, Manny revels in the pain as a respite from the nauseating smell of roast villager that permeates the air. Finally, just before he surrenders to welcome oblivion, the blows stop as one of the ogres picks up the discarded leg and offers it to Manny with a grunt. He turns up his generous nose at the proffered morsel, and with a final punch to the nose, embraces blessed unconsciousness.

When he finally regains consciousness, night has fallen, the embers are cold, and he is all alone – except for the squad of rangers stealthily emerging from the woods on southern edge of town, their bows drawn, and their steps silent. As he sits up, head spinning and stomach churning, Manny’s brain is so rattled that he doesn’t notice the silent approach of impending death. His nose eventually draws his attention downward, where he sees the fateful roast leg of hapless villager. Sneering at it in disgust, he flings it away, then lumbers to his feet. Seeing this, the astonished rangers melt back into the woods and vanish.

Creative Commons License
Rebirth of a Monster by Frank Wilcox, Jr (fewilcox) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

D&D Basic Character #2: Human Fighter

In case you haven’t seen it, Wizards of the Coast has followed Kenzer & Co’s lead and released a bare-bones version of the new edition for free. Since we have decided to use it for the next season of D&D Encounters, I decided to make a few characters with it even though I’m planning to GM next season.

Alden is the other main character in my book, and eventually marries Brianna, the first character I make in every new class-based system I try. He’s the youngest son of a merchant family (my wife’s book dynasty). (They are also the parents of Reine, who pays for Farga’s schooling in alternate universes where dwarves exist.)

While the family was moderately successful, there wouldn’t have been enough inheritance to go around, so Alden disinherited himself and went out into the world to make his own fortune. All he took with him when he left home were his dad’s old armor and sword, a backpack full of provisions, and barrels of charm (or so he thinks). The main ways he earns a living at the beginning of his career were gambling (and cheating) and womanizing. This is years before he finally meets Brianna.

Mechanically he’s a sword and board fighter with a high Charisma, and therefore as easy to make in D&D 5e as Farga was.

Alden Fairhame

Level 1 Human Fighter

Str 15 +2
Dex 12 +1
Con 14 +2
Int 11
Wis 14 +2
Cha 14 +2

HP 12
AC: 19 (Chain armor + Shield + Fighting Style)

Initiative: +1
30′ move.
Languages: Common, Goblin
Saving Throw Proficiencies: Str, Con
Second Wind
Fighting Style: Defense (+1 AC in hvy armor)
Skills: Insight, Perception, Sleight of Hand, Persuasion
Tool Profs: Herbalism Kit, Playing Cards
Background: Voluntarily-disinherited son of merchant family.
* Feature: (I’m stumped. Any ideas?)

Gear (84 lb)
Chain armor (10 lb) (Disadvantage on Stealth checks)
Shield (+2 AC) 10 g, 6 lb
Longsword (15 gp, 3 lb) +4/1d8+2 slash (V 1d10+2)
2x handaxes (2 lb ea) +4/1d6+2 slash LT
Traveler’s clothes (2 g, 4 lb)
Healer’s kit (5 gp, 3 lb)
Ink, 1 oz bottle (10 g, – lb)
Pen (2 cp, – lb)
10x Sheets of parchment for letters home (1 sp, – lb ea)
Whetstone (1 cp, 1 lb)
Playing Cards (– lb)
3x Belt pouch (5 sp, 1 lb ea)
Explorer’s pack (10 g) (50 lb total)
* Backpack (5 lb)
* bedroll (7 lb)
* mess kit (1 lb)
* tinderbox (1 lb)
* 10 torches (1 lb)
* 10 days’ rations (20 lb)
* waterskin (5 lb) * 50′ hemp rope (10 lb)

As usual, none of the sample backgrounds fit, so I’m made up my own, but this time I can’t think of a good Background Feature.

D&D Basic Character #2: Dwarf Fighter

In case you haven’t seen it, Wizards of the Coast has followed Kenzer & Co’s lead and released a bare-bones version of the new edition for free. Since we have decided to use it for the next season of D&D Encounters, I decided to make a few characters with it even though I’m planning to run next season. If I wasn’t GMing, this is the character I would probably play:

Farga is one of the characters I adapted into pre-gens for use by new players at Encounters, so you can read his background there, but just as for Brianna, I’ll give you a brief summary here: Farga’s fighter school tuition was paid for by a young half-elf traveling merchant (Brianna’s youngest daughter, in fact) in exchange for serving as her bodyguard for two years upon graduation. During their travels they slowly became friends, so much so that he continued with her for several more years, and he eventually learned a great deal from her about how to effectively manipulate customers, despite lacking her… “equipment”.

Just like Brianna, he started life in a video game and made his tabletop debut in a HackMaster 4e campaign. He was learning a fighting style called “Axe Storm”, which featured dual throwing axes, so tempest fighter was an obvious choice when I made him in D&D 4e, and he was not surprisingly quite easy to create in 5e:

Farga Kneecleaver
Level 1 Hill Dwarf Fighter

Str 15 +2
Dex 10
Con 14 +2
Int 10
Wis 12 +1
Cha 14 +2

HP 13
AC: 16 (Chain armor)

Initiative: +0
25′ move.
Languages: Common, Dwarf, Elf
Advantage on saves vs Poison. Poison resistance (1/2 damage).
Tool proficiency of choice: smith
Double proficiency bonus for History checks related to stonework.
Saving Throw Proficiencies: Str, Con
Second Wind
Fighting Style: Two-weapon fighting (Add ability modifier to off-hand attacks)
Skills: Athletics, Insight, Perception, Persuasion
Tool Profs: Smith, Herbalism Kit, Cart
Background: Retired bodyguard/apprentice of not-always-honest merchant.
* Feature: Reputation

Gear (98+ lb)
Chain armor (10 lb) (Disadvantage on Stealth checks)
4x handaxes (2 lb ea) +4/1d6+4 slash LT
Abacus (2 g, 2 lb)
Traveler’s clothes (2 g, 4 lb)
Healer’s kit (5 gp, 3 lb)
Ink, 1 oz bottle (10 g, –  lb)
Pen (2 cp, –  lbs)
Book (ledger) 25 g, 5 lb
3x Belt pouch (5 sp, 1 lb ea)
2x Sacks (1 cp, .5 lb ea)
?x Bottles of wine “blessed by Bahamut” (2 lb ea)
5x flasks of “Holy Water of Bahamut” (1 lb ea)
Smith’s Tools (20 g, 8 lb)
Whetstone (1 cp, 1 lb)
Explorer’s pack (10 g) (50 lb total)
* Backpack (5 lb)
* bedroll (7 lb)
* mess kit (1 lb)
* tinderbox (1 lb)
* 10 torches (1 lb)
* 10 days’ rations (20 lb)
* waterskin (5 lb)
* 50′ hemp rope (10 lb)

Thanks to once again making up my own Background, he has learned Elven and herb lore from Reine, so he can make and sell healing potions even when he can’t lay his hands on other merchandise. The stuff that is “blessed by Bahamut” is from the sadly-aborted campaign in which I played him for a few months.

The party ended up in a lost temple of Bahamut, so Farga helped himself to several bottles of wine he found there and later sold two of them to the tavern keeper back in town as “blessed by Bahamut”, so he made a sizable profit. The “holy water” is simply river water he scooped up to sell alongside the very dusty bottles of wine. Once he runs out of wine, that scam will probably no longer work. The “?” in place of the number of bottles is because I have misplaced him at the moment and I don’t remember how many bottles I had left.

Needless to say, he’s incredibly fun to roleplay. His combat style may actually be more fun in D&D 5e than it was in either HackMaster 4e or D&D 4e simply because of the more free-form combat. I can describe his various throws, slashes, and charges in a variety of ways, rather than being limited by the style-specific maneuvers in HackMaster or powers in D&D.

Taking D&D Basic for a Spin: Elf Archer

In case you haven’t seen it, Wizards of the Coast has followed Kenzer & Co’s lead and released a bare-bones version of the new edition for free. Since we have decided to use it for the next season of D&D Encounters, I decided to make a few characters with it even though I’m planning to run next season.

If you are a regular reader or someone with whom I have roleplayed in the past, you know that I don’t really like class- or level-based games (which is why my love of HackMaster is so surprising), and that I always test new class-based games by trying to create Brianna, the main character in my first book and matriarch of most of the other characters. If you read my previous attempt with a playtest version of D&D 5e, then you know her history, but I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version here:

In D&D terms she’s closest to being an an old-school ranger (her tabletop debut was as a ranger in HackMaster 4e aka D&D 2.5), but has changed quite a bit as my world has evolved. She’s a Robin Hood level archer, but has access to elemental and healing magic. Her healing is primarily done by channeling magic through poultices she creates, thus multiplying their effectiveness. Her elemental magic manifests most often as arrows that ignite in flight, explode on impact, or the like.

Since my previous attempt in D&D 5e is the closest I’ve ever gotten to making her book version in a class-based game, I was actually pretty excited about making the attempt, despite how disillusioned I had gotten with the system as the public playtest proceeded. I’m sad to say that newest version can’t even get me close at level 1, but the multi-classing rules in the forthcoming Player’s Handbook may well do the trick. But here’s what I have using only Basic and at level 1:

Brianna Sheàri
Level 1 High Elf Fighter

Str 10
Dex 16 +3
Con 12 +1
Int 14 +2
Wis 14 +2
Cha 10

HP 12
AC: 14 (Leather armor: 11+Dex)

Initiative: +3
30′ move.
Low-light vision 60′
Languages: Common, Elf, Dwarf
Mage cantrip (race): Fire Bolt (+4/1d10 fire 120′ VS)
Saving Throw Proficiencies: Str, Con
Second Wind
Fighting Style: Archery (+2 attack with ranged weapons)
Skills: Medicine, Perception, Stealth, Survival
Tool Profs: Herbalism Kit
Background: Self-proclaimed defender of her home forest
* Feature: Reputation

Gear (77 lb)
Leather armor (10 lb)
Longbow (2 lb) +5/1d8 pi 150/600 Hvy, loading, 2-H
* Quiver (1 lb)
* 20 Arrows (1 lb)
Rapier (2 lb) +5/1b8+3 pi Finesse
Dagger (1 lb) +5/1d4+3 pi 20/60 Finesse, LT
Traveler’s clothes (2 g, 4 lb)
Herbalism kit (5 g, 3 lb)
* Forest-colored: +1 Hide in Shadows in forests
3x Belt pouch (5 sp, 1 lb ea)
Explorer’s pack (10 g) (50 lb total)
* Backpack (5 lb)
* bedroll (7 lb)
* mess kit (1 lb)
* tinderbox (1 lb)
* 10 torches (1 lb)
* 10 days’ rations (20 lb)
* waterskin (5 lb)
* 50′ hemp rope (10 lb)

Thanks to making up my own Background (since the four examples in Basic are all thoroughly unsuitable), all that’s really missing is healing magic, but if taking a level of cleric will give her a couple of spell slots and a 1st-level spell, then she’ll be reasonably close to the way I’m writing her. At that point the only thing she’d really need is another Wizard cantrip (Ray of Frost), and maybe a lightning one, if one exists. So it looks like I may actually be able to create her in a class-based game for the first time, but still not at first level.