Thursday, April 23, 2009

DnD: Player Reference Sheet for DM's

I can't speak for the more experienced DM's out there, but it is tough for me to create an rich, immersive session where my players forget that they are playing a game and fall fully into their characters. It's so irritating, having to ask "What's your AC?" every time I roll during an encounter, rather than just knowing it and being able to say "The Orc connects with a mighty blow, doing [x] damage."

Especially frustrating is when I'm starting to build up some momentum which I then loose when I have to interrupt myself to ask "What's your passive Insight/Perception?" Not only does this ruin the narrative momentum, but it tips the players off to something that I either don't want them to notice, or want them to take initiative and discover on their own.

In a brief discussion with Jonathan from The Core Mechanic, I found out that his players have folded cards with their essential stats written on the side facing the DM. For myself, being primarily a laptop DM, I created a spreadsheet for myself on Google Docs:

Not to leave anyone out, I have also created a sheet for DM's that can be printed out. It has entries enough for five characters, and uses the following layout:

Click here for the full-size sheet (1.9 MB .jpg - fits 8.5 x 11 paper)

How do other DM's manage this information? How do they use it to convey details to their players? Would you rather hear "You failed to notice something." or not be told anything on a failed Passive Insight/Perception check? Does it take something away from the players to have a DM tell them when they're hit, rather than continually asking for their defensive stats?


  1. I've always recorded down PC names, AC, race/class for the same reason you mention. Including the new defenses and the passive skills is a good addition. I'm playing rather DMing currently, so I'll be sure to pass along your reference sheet to my DM.

  2. Can't speak for DnD, 'cause I haven't run it since 1976, but for my other games I have copies of players char sheets in protectors I can flip to when I need a piece of information. It's up to my players to make sure I have an up to date one, and if they don't provide me with one, for the adventure we're running, the one I have is the one I rely upon. Works fine for me, especially since the char background and conceptual info in also on it in case I need it.