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Character Sheets

1336163065
Deightine
KS Backer
Sheet Author
@Nolan: I LOL'd, I admit it. As to the Link... just copy and past a URL into the bio.
Oh, I see. Odd that there's no way to actually link without using the copy-paste functionality, but I guess it wasn't really an intended design element. Now if it would only display the linked page in a frame inside the character bio, it'd be perfect.
Hopefully no one made a similar comment and I missed it, but here goes: I understand the difficulty with having character sheet "forms" built into the system. Honestly, that wouldn't be a necessity for most games. Most players will build their character sheets in advance. All I would need would be for them to be able to upload their character sheets and attach them to a character name. The ability to attach that sheet to a specific token would be a plus, but not necessary.
The reason I'd like to be able to build the sheet in Roll20 is so that it can be edited in Roll20 during the play. I'd fully expect the design of the form to be a task that would be done ahead of playing and not on the fly.
I just figured out that you can copy and past whole tables from word into the character info boxes. Here's a screen shot of my fucking around this morning: <a href="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v99/Prvt_Pile/Screencap.png" rel="nofollow">http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v99/Prvt_Pile/Screencap.png</a>
Nice find! This isn't ideal of course, but it's much better than what I thought was possible with the current set up. I'll play around and see how it goes. Now if only the players had editing capabilities. :)
My group has tried many times switching over to a digital format for character sheets over the years. Everything from DnD to Whitewolf and in between. Our results have been less than spectacular. First, players hated having to constantly edit their sheets while on a PC. Most players opted to use the pen and paper method during game play and than edit the changes later on the digital copy. Second, it actually took longer sometimes to find info on the digital sheets than if they had a physical one in their hands. Some of these games have three or four or more sheets just to play and screen size makes a difference. Not everyone is going to have dual screens or resolutions large enough to display more information per sheet. Third, upgrades to the digital programs.... This does not always go smooth. I have had players loose entire characters during "upgrades" or added features to the programs we used. Can you imagine the programming that will be needed to upkeep just a few character sheets with new versions? Now imagine hundreds of sheets and making sure they all work as intended. Fourth, the upkeep to maintain both a physical copy and a digital one was just double the effort. Most of my players just gave up because either they didn't want to do the extra work or didn't feel it was necessary to maintain two copies. Fifth, even though there were plenty of pre-designed or "official" character sheets released for a particular game type... my players still preferred making their own up. Not everyone is going to want to use the one sheet provided for a game. Now how does this get handled? Who's version of the characters sheet is correct or deserves to be used and how is that determined? Last, it has always been my impression that when a GM plays a game, they are there to play the game and tell a story. If the GM doesn't do the homework than the story suffers and its simply not as fun. GMs are supposed to know a their players backgrounds, interests and limits. If a GM is constantly looking at info on sheets, than IMHO they didn't do the homework. Spontaneity sometimes does make the best game play and yes i don't have a perfect memory, that's why i keep critical GM info on my players which we already have in RollD20 in the form of a Journal.
The beauty of a feature like this is that if a group doesn't want to use it.. they don't have to.
The beauty of a feature like this is that if a group doesn't want to use it.. they don't have to. Exactly. Just because your group doesn't use or need a feature doesn't mean there aren't 500 others that do.
Your both correct, they dont have to use it, but as far as im concerned its not a priority either since anyone using the program can also have a physical sheet instead of one thats digital. Or they could use an outside source or they could just email CS back and forth or the GM could just keep copies. Digital CS are IMHO a very long term commitment and not worth the obvious aggravation for the programmers.
We're not saying we need them NOW. This is a suggestion/feature request thread. Plus, your argument could be made for all the features in the program. "You don't need the system to roll dice for you! Just roll some on your table!" Sorry, not meaning to bash, just trying to get the point across. Whether Riley puts a feature on the todo list is up to him and his friends, but he won't know what we could use unless we discuss it.
1336236990
Mr G
KS Backer
Keep it going, guys, still some great thoughts being bounced around here. I'm just off to check out including URLs in characters and possibly handouts. Just to reiterate: I do NOT: a) Require the material to be stored in the Roll20 database b) Require to be able to edit the material within Roll20 I DO a) Require to be able to access the material with a single click on something (icon, hyperlink, button, whatever) that IS within Roll20.
1336251374
Mr G
KS Backer
Deightine's tip above also works in handouts. I've created a handout called "Alan's Character Sheet", pasted the URL to the PDF character sheet on Google Docs into the "Description and Notes" box, and added the handout to the corresponding player's journal. Note that it only works if you copy and paste the URL from your URL bar. If you type it out or anything else, Roll20 doesn't recognise this as a URL. As previously mentioned, by default it opens the URL in your current tab, throwing you out of Roll20. To help, I've added the following text immediately above the URL in the handout. Right click on the link below and select "Open link in new tab" to view. Do not left click on the link as this will throw you out of Roll20.
1336251494
Deightine
KS Backer
Sheet Author
I think that some kind of meta information is traveling with the URL from the address bar, so that it recognizes it as a link. For the moment, this will suffice for me as well.
I too think character sheets are important to making this a huge success and should be top on the list of needed features. Overall I am very impressed with this!
Plus, your argument could be made for all the features in the program. "You don't need the system to roll dice for you! Just roll some on your table!" Rolling dice is simply not a good comparison for many reasons the biggest being keeping player's roles honest. Plus the ability to roll any number of die and sides is critical...having editable character sheets IMHO will have little impact on if people will use this tool or not. Sorry, not meaning to bash, just trying to get the point across. Whether Riley puts a feature on the todo list is up to him and his friends, but he won't know what we could use unless we discuss it. No harm done, we both have opinions and those opinions can be neither right nor wrong, they are just opinions. We certainly dont see eye to eye on the subject but thats why we are here in the forums to discuss both the pros and cons.
Rolling dice is simply not a good comparison for many reasons the biggest being keeping player's roles honest. Plus the ability to roll any number of die and sides is critical...having editable character sheets IMHO will have little impact on if people will use this tool or not. I have to go with David on this one, too. I'm aware that this particular tool is more oriented towards the D&D\D20 crowd, so maps and tokens take precedence. However, as someone who's trying to get a proper online WitchCraft game going, I find having access to the character sheets (and spells, and special abilities) actually quite necessary -- especially when I'm preparing encounters and NPCs beforehand - I'd rather not have my story derailed because the players simply don't have the skill or ability to overcome a certain challenge, or a certain NPC would just simply destroy the players (as had occurred before). Having just an interminable list of skills, spells, attributes, qualities, flaws, essence pool, stamina pool, channelling level among others in the "Bio Section" makes for impractical gaming, at least in my opinion. I've been trying to sell Roll20 to my players, but upon taking them for a trial roll this morning, I got immediately asked for character sheets (or, at least a place to organize and store information contained in the character sheet that isn't a text box), and I do have to agree that it's an important feature to have, if the goal is to emulate a virtual tabletop. Of course, I should be also asking for the ability to rolled dice to show up on the tabletop itself for the experience to be complete. Of course, then I'd have to ask for virtual chip crumbs and tomato sauce\coke stains too...
Of course, then I'd have to ask for virtual chip crumbs and tomato sauce\coke stains too... LOL Add them to the map layer as tokens or part of the map! :)
Of course, I should be also asking for the ability to rolled dice to show up on the tabletop itself for the experience to be complete. Of course, then I'd have to ask for virtual chip crumbs and tomato sauce\coke stains too... And for dice to fall off the table, knock over minis, and end up cocked against the edge of the mapboard.
Deightine's tip above also works in handouts. I've created a handout called "Alan's Character Sheet", pasted the URL to the PDF character sheet on Google Docs into the "Description and Notes" box, and added the handout to the corresponding player's journal. Note that it only works if you copy and paste the URL from your URL bar. If you type it out or anything else, Roll20 doesn't recognise this as a URL. As previously mentioned, by default it opens the URL in your current tab, throwing you out of Roll20. To help, I've added the following text immediately above the URL in the handout. Right click on the link below and select "Open link in new tab" to view. Do not left click on the link as this will throw you out of Roll20. Starting in the next update, the links inside of Character and Handouts fields will be auto-linkified (so you no longer have to copy + paste directly from your browser's URL field, although you still can), and they will open in a new window (along with a short message informing the player how to get back to Roll20) like all other external links.
1336404386
Mr G
KS Backer
This gets better by the minute! Thanks, Riley. Cheers, Mr G.
1336406299
Deightine
KS Backer
Sheet Author
Awesome, Riley. Thanks!
1336446878
Mr G
KS Backer
Just tested this, Riley, and it works fine. Just to up the already pretty awesome awesomeness level, would it be possible to specify a name for the hyperlink so that the player sees: To view your character sheet click here rather than: To view you character sheet click <a href="http://www.docs.google.com/file/b/sdoke436gofdsocao5tyrgewcibblebibbledonkeydribble" rel="nofollow">http://www.docs.google.com/file/b/sdoke436gofdsocao5tyrgewcibblebibbledonkeydribble</a> That would be very cool.
1336478153
Mr G
KS Backer
One thing: if it's a dead link, it does not open in a new tab and you get thrown out of Roll 20.
Dead as in leads to a 404? Or...?
1336542330
Mr G
KS Backer
Must have just been me being a klutz. I tried it again just now with all sorts of combinations of URLs that lead to nowhere and Roll20 handled it just fine.
All I really need for a Roll20 character sheet is for my players to be able to fill out a simple text (or basic HTML) document linked to their characters' bios; something like this (in GURPS 4e): ---------- Alden Fairhame (Frank Wilcox) Human Male ST 14, DX 12, IQ 10, HT 12 BS 6, BM 6, Dodge 10 (Combat Reflexes) SKILLS: Broadsword-16 Carousing-14 ADVANTAGES: Combat Reflexes DISADVANTAGES Voluntarily Disinherited and so on. ---------- Is that doable?
1336706186
Mr G
KS Backer
Hi Frank I would have thought that was doable with the current text boxes. Here's what I've landed on putting in the 'Bio & Info' text box on the character form. I lead off with a link to the full character sheet that I've put on Google Docs (a PDF in my case - that's not a real link by the way), then a potted summary of the character. Works surprisingly well for me. Character Sheet: <a href="https://docs.google.com/file/bibble/edit" rel="nofollow">https://docs.google.com/file/bibble/edit</a> ----------------------------------- JONAH PRIEST Player: Alan ----------------------------------- Class: Human Warrior Background: Security Crew Training: Ground Forces Level: 1 HP: 8 ----------------------------------- Background: In 2150 human exploration of the stars had begun, continuing at a ferocious rate, until by 2200 it was at its peak as millions of humans left Terra for a new life amongst the stars. Some organisation saw this as the ideal opportunity to engage in research away from the watchful eye of the Terran Federation, etc........
Yeah, I have copied character sheets in that sort of format out of a wiki and pasted them into the "biography" section of the character thingies for one campaign, and also copied formatted text out of a word processor and into the bio section of the character thingies for another campaign. Editing the material in Roll20 is not as convenient as editing it off-line, but I understand that it is now the case that players can edit the thingies of characters to whom you assign them control.
All I really need for a Roll20 character sheet is for my players to be able to fill out a simple text (or basic HTML) document linked to their characters' bios; something like this (in GURPS 4e): ---------- Alden Fairhame (Frank Wilcox) Human Male ST 14, DX 12, IQ 10, HT 12 BS 6, BM 6, Dodge 10 (Combat Reflexes) SKILLS: Broadsword-16 Carousing-14 ADVANTAGES: Combat Reflexes DISADVANTAGES Voluntarily Disinherited and so on. ---------- Is that doable? I like this idea a lot because it cuts down on the window clutter (which I have a LOT of), however I don't think this is a high priority thing and would rather them work on other issues.
What's interesting with this is how some people don't see the need while for others(like myself), it's a game breaker. When I sit at an in person table I need: dice, hand outs, battlemap, minis and my players have character sheets. Any VTT for me needs to do the same. Coming from Fantasy Grounds 2 that game is completely centered around the character sheet and the game flows quite smoothly. I don't want to have to manage this myself outside the app.
1336748346
Deightine
KS Backer
Sheet Author
Our hobby takes all kinds, it seems. :)
Well, I need the same things that Mark Mealman does, plus poker chips, index cards, markers and erasers, and a lot of other junk. But my dining table and coffee table are respectively 93" and 56" on their diagonals, whereas my monitor has a displayable area only 24" on the diagonal. And part of that is taken up by the video feeds. That means that I want to get everything I can off the monitor. If there is anything that doesn't have to be shared I prefer to take it off the VTT and put it in the 20" strip of desk between me and the monitor.
1336871175
Chez
KS Backer
Also coming from FGII it is a big paradigm shift moving away from a program that doesn't center around the character sheet, but for me, that is one of the strengths of Roll20. The focus is on the table and other players. Not to say I don't see the need nor value in character stat tacking, which I think the tools in Roll20 allow currently, its just done differently. Being system agnostic is a feature, and coded character sheets taking away from that. My 2 cents.
So first let me say I understand why (being system agnostic) character sheets are not a priority. However, I have to agree with some of the folks here in that having some form of sheet tracking integrated would vastly simplify the experience of keeping track of everyone's abilities/stats/gear etc. I like the proposed idea of creating a template that is nothing more than some text boxes with labels. It doesn't seem like adding such a thing would be all that laborious, especially if you have good libraries (whether it be your own written ones, or standard ones like JQuery and such). Being able to create a number of text boxes with labels and specify whether they are multi-line or not would allow you to track data for pretty much any game in existence. If members could share their templates then you are less likely to have space bloat from templates, since most people would rather use a pre-existing template rather than build a new one from scratch. I know everyone seems to be saying that you can just use google docs or some such, but if I wanted to use a bunch of separate tools I wouldn't be using something like roll20 in the first place. I like this application BECAUSE it brings most of the different tools I need together in one place.
I disagree with the idea that an elegant character sheet feature has to be anything other than system agnostic. Here's MY dreamt up application of character sheets for Roll20 -------------------- The GM is able to add multiple SHEETS to the campaign's library, saving each one by name. A SHEET is a single page and has three layers: A background layer, a permanent layer, and a working layer. The GM can lock any or all of these layers from player edit and turn visibility on or off. On the background layer the user is able to place a graphic image with scaling options similar as to how the map layer works on the main board. On the Permanent Layer the user is able to put Text Labels and Textboxes. Labels and Textboxes can be assigned fonts, font style and size, as well as justification. Frames can be visible or invisible. Data can be entered into the Textboxes. The Permanent Layer can be copied to the Working Layer. The working layer only allows the text boxes to be accessed and data entered. ---------------------- Multiple SHEETS can be collected, and put into a RECORD. RECORDS are assigned to Characters. The owners of the characters and the GM can open and edit the sheets within a RECORD using the various layers. Ideally the record opens in it's own window that can be dragged onto a secondary monitor. ________________________ The idea is that a user COULD make a scan of a system's character sheet, and place it as a graphic on the background layer. It is a simply an image, stored in that GM's space and I should think would certainly be an example of fair use. The permanent layer would be used to construct the datafields over the graphic on the background layer, and to store the character data prior to play. The working layer is where players will edit the data during play. If the Working layer is made visible, the underlying Permanent layer is made invisible. In this way a GM can lock the Permanent Layer, and allow editing of the values on the Working Layer, but retain a copy of the original values. ----------------------- I don't think this system would place a great deal of overhead on the Roll20 servers. It's usage is similar to interface concepts and styling already present in Roll20, it's extremely flexible and rules agnostic, and seems to me, to be well within the technical capabilities already displayed by this software.
That's clever.
Thanks!
@amontillado I like that, it's slick, and for the people willing to put a little time into building it (especially if it can be exported into campaigns so I don't have to do it over again each time) you'd have a nice, good looking sheet for your system of choice. Slightly related: It'd be nice if the entire handout/journal section was able to be popped out, so I could view, manipulate and assign notes etc. on a auxiliary monitor, while keeping the board & chat open on the primary screen.
1337139201
Mr G
KS Backer
I'll go one further. That is *very* clever. [Although putting a link in the Character form to character sheets stored in Google Docs does seem to be working well for our group so far. I have also created a handout called "Party Journal" and added it to all the players' journals that has a link to our blog in it]
@MrG I've done something similar - used editable PDF character sheets, loaded them onto googledocs, put a link into each PC Character to their respective sheet and aslo a link to anything they may need (online index of their class spells for spellcasters, for example), and also entered the PC's character sheet data using the 'block of stats' method most RPGs publish NPC/Monster stats to the bio and info section. It probably doesn't look pretty, but it allows characters to update on the fly while I update the "hard" sheets on my system. What I've also done is add a character called "Journal" and "Loot" to the Character section editable by anyone so the players can make their own notes and write down what they've recovered from stashes and enemy corpses (they usually form a communal pile of junk and split the hard currency as evenly as possible at the end of the adventure, anyway).
LOL remember what i said earlier about each player wanting their own characters sheets because nothing ever seems to work exactly like they want....have you read the this post?!? No one can agree on much of anything other than they need them, let alone what the CS needs to display. How on earth do you plan on keeping everyone happy? Simple answer, it cant be done unless the player can somehow drag and drop their own CS with the info on it they desire or need. And even than it has to be editable...so unless the DEVs make some sort of editable CS where players can choose what fields are displayed on it, i cant see this working without a lot of devoted time to creation and long term upkeep.
@WI Gaming Group, it looks like Amontillado's suggestion would cover your requirements though.
@ Nicholas G Yup, in theory that would be ideal... but wouldn't it just be easier to email a PDF of the current character sheet to the GM and i don't know say, have them minimized on his PC? In essence both get a CS into the hand of the GM for viewing anytime. Only the emailing of the PDF is considerably less effort for the same results. We wouldn't need extra resources to run, store, create and update the extra layers needed. I really think this CS issue is coming down to one thing.... Some GMs/Players want a "pure" digital CS that can be edited in real time. "Real time" being the keywords here....And as far as i am concerned, that just being lazy. Others will disagree and that's totally in their right to do so. Everyone has their opinion and is entitled to them. So the real question here is...Why is the CS important to you? Is it because your desired game must have one? Or is it merely a matter of convenience for you? The only reason i ask is because this will not be a quick and easy task to accomplish. It will definitely take the DEVs some time to get this one right, while instead they could devote more effort to the table top interaction itself. As far as i am concerned this program is an online tool for a virtual table top, nothing more. I don't believe it was meant to simulate a video game or something which is built around a CS. But that's just my opinion.
I think that this issue is a lot like the issue we have with the virtual dice. We're pushing to computerize things for the sake of computerising them, despite the fact that doing so actually detracts from, does not enhance, the experience of playing an RPG. Typing an arcane formula into the chat window is actually slower than picking up some dice and rolling them. Similarly, click an icon to get a list of character sheets, clicking to select the on you want, clicking to open it in a pop-up window, mouse-dragging to find the part you want, double-clicking to select a text box, and clicking to place the text insertion point before starting to type is going to turn out slower, less convenient, and more distracting than taking a pencil to an actual character sheet on your actual desk.
The advantages of the in-program thing are: - Centralized resource. You don't need another out-of-program thing to deal with them. They're all managed by the program everyone is using. This is even more important if you've got pick-up games with pregens, as its an easy way for the DM to hand out the sheets (just like other handouts in the current system). - Edit during game. Character sheets change during game, so having the interface Amontillado suggested would allow this management to take place as part of the Roll20 environment. - View updated details during game in real time. As things change on the character sheet, the program would keep things synced so the DM could view the current state, not just what was uploaded before. - Certain cases could require a player to receive a character sheet to play on the fly. Examples would be if the party gains a follower/hireling, a magical effect that swaps characters' minds, someone Dominates an enemy and gets to play them, the DM wants a player to play the monsters because his character has been killed, etc. Having them within the program makes it easy to just assign this data and go. This is also one of the most highly requested features, so I don't really think this is just a matter of a difficult but unimportant program aspect. Personally, would I use it? I'm not sure honestly. I tend to make Gnumeric spreadsheets for all my characters with auto-calculate for derived quantities, etc. I also spend about 50% of my game time looking at my character sheet in most tabletop games (during other people's actions in combat trying to figure out what to do, etc), so its really a major element of the tabletop experience for me.
So the real question here is...Why is the CS important to you? Is it because your desired game must have one? Or is it merely a matter of convenience for you? Let's not dismiss 'convenience' too much. After all, isn't the point of a VTT to make playing table-top RPGs online convenient enough that people do so? There's not an RPG out there that couldn't be played online right now through some mixture of IM or email, but the inconvenience of trying to do so means that it doesn't get done. I do agree that focusing on 'replicating the real experience' is more important than adding video game features, but at a live table, interacting with a character sheet is very much an activity that players and GMs can perform. Maybe the games you play don't lend themselves to updating character sheets often, and that's fine. But there are many games and play styles where interacting with a character sheet regularly are vital. Similarly, click an icon to get a list of character sheets, clicking to select the on you want, clicking to open it in a pop-up window, mouse-dragging to find the part you want, double-clicking to select a text box, and clicking to place the text insertion point before starting to type is going to turn out slower, less convenient, and more distracting than taking a pencil to an actual character sheet on your actual desk. To me, that sounds like a solvable problem, rather than an invalidation of the concept of a digital character sheet entirely. Yes, the current hand-out style of character bio is slower than using an actual piece of paper, but I do think that there could be an implementation of digital characters sheets that is, if not faster, at least fast enough to mimic the physical thing.
The expectations are going way beyond just a CS here... people dont just want a "plain jane" CS, they want one that is editable, than next it needs to "auto-update", than it needs to reveal real time changes, than they want images, then scaling boxes, than it has to interact with the tokens, than its one button clicks....where does it stop? From a programming and maintenance standpoint alone its a nightmare in the making...Our eyes are getting bigger than our stomachs. Its all a matter of levels of convenience...yes this entire program is a convenience but lets not confuse convenience with being just plain lazy or the sake of doing because it might be possible.
1337198485
Chez
KS Backer
Amontillado has some interesting ideas. The idea of a sheet as an image with the ability to put text over it as an overlay is potentially straightforward, completely system agnostic and may be achievable using much of the already existing coding. Clearly, control, individual player flyouts and I'm sure a number of other things I have no idea about make it far more complicated then one might expect, but that would provide a tool that could work for any system.
The expectations are going way beyond just a CS here... ....where does it stop? Well, that's a good question, so I'll give you my answer on 'where it stops.' Others will have different opinions, but as none of us are the devs, that's about all we have, feedback and opinions. So, here goes: ================== A virtual character sheet should mimic a physical one as close a possible. I can quickly refer to a character sheet during play, as can others, if they need to. I can edit a physical sheet in real time, and share those changes with the rest of the table, if I choose. Physical sheets can represent a variety of data types, primarily text and numbers, though also simple check boxes or even just drawings. Physical sheets can and do have images, and the format and aesthetics of the sheet can add much to the game. Often, these images are already provided in digital form, ready to be printed, or available at the back of a book. Physical sheets don't automatically calculate stats for you, nor do they tie stats to specific miniatures on the table, should those minis exist. Physical sheets don't record any sort of history, nor do they guarantee their own completeness or validity. In some games, character sheets are assumed to be physically on the table and may be physically interacted with as a part of the session, while in others games, the character sheet is just a repository of information about this imaginary world that we're sharing, and thus the sheet's form isn't nearly as important as the information stored on it. Physical interaction with sheets is very quick, and I can look to my character sheet, then back to the table, in no more than a couple of seconds. I don't have to go to a file cabinet or folder to retrieve a character sheet (except for maybe once at the beginning of the session). ================== That's enough for now, I think.