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Science and technology

3 methods to handle RPG character sheets with open supply

It’s that point of 12 months once more for avid gamers in all places.

Tomorrow is Free RPG Day, a day when publishers throughout the tabletop role-playing recreation business launch video games for gamers each new and skilled, they usually’re all fully free. Although Free RPG Day was canceled in 2020, it is again this 12 months as a reside occasion with some digital help by means of free RPG sampler downloads from Dungeon Crawl Classics and Paizo. And if the occasion’s digital choices aren’t sufficient, you may take a look at my checklist of open source tabletop RPGs.

Over the previous two years, like most individuals, I’ve been taking part in my tabletop video games on-line. I take advantage of open source video conferencing and a few shared mapping software. Don’t get me improper: I like my pen and paper for analog video games. To this present day, I not often go away residence with out my 2E5 quad e book so I can sketch out dungeon maps on the go. But I discover my laptop desk will get fairly cluttered between RPG sourcebooks, splat books, random tables, cube tower, cube, and character sheets. To clear some area, I’ve not too long ago adopted a digital system for my character sheets, for each my participant characters and non-player characters after I DM.

Digital character sheets

Typically, a personality sheet is crammed out in pencil on old school bodily paper. It’s a time-honored custom that I’ve completed for the reason that late ’80s, and much more skilled gamers have been doing for the reason that late ’70s. Going digital generally is a massive step away from one thing that may really feel like an intrinsic a part of the sport. I sympathize with that sentiment, and I do not take my digital character sheets evenly.

When I determine to take care of a personality with the help of a pc, I insist on substantial profit for my divergence. I’ve tried two completely different choices for digital character sheets, and certainly one of my gamers invented a 3rd. They’re all open supply, and I consider they every have distinctive benefits that make them value making an attempt out.

laptop

The laptop command reads character information as an INI file, then helps you to question it by class or by attribute. The format is comparatively versatile, making it appropriate for many RPG methods, whether or not you play D&D, Swords & Wizardry, Pathfinder, Starfinder, Stardrifter, or one thing else.

The syntax for an INI file is so easy that it is virtually intuitive. Each heading is enclosed in brackets, and every stat is a key and worth pair.

Here’s a small pattern:

[Character]
Name=Skullerix
Level=5
Class=Fighter
Ancestry=Human

[Health]
AC=14
HP=43
Max=66

The limitation to this format is that you may’t have single-value attributes. That signifies that if you wish to checklist attributes that get a proficiency bonus in D&D fifth Edition, you may’t simply checklist the attributes:


Instead, you have to power them to be a pair.

In D&D 5e, it is easy to give you a worth. These saving throws are highlighted solely as a result of your proficiency bonus applies to them, so I simply make an observation of the character’s present bonus:


In different methods, there could also be attributes that merely do not have a worth and actually are meant simply to be listed. In that case, you may both set a worth to itself or to True:


Once you’ve got entered your character’s information into the INI format, you may question it with the laptop command. The command requires the --character or -c choice together with the character sheet file you wish to question. With no additional arguments, you get an inventory of the complete character sheet.

Add a heading identify to view all stats inside one class:

$ laptop -c skullerix.ini Character
Character:
Name: Skullerix
Level: 5
Class: Fighter
Ancestry: Human

Provide a heading identify plus a key identify to view the worth of a selected stat:

$ laptop -c skullerix.ini Character Level
Level: 5

If you are like me and play a number of video games, you may hold your whole characters within the default location ~/.native/share/laptop, then question them with out the trail or file extension.

For occasion, say you’ve got froese.ini, kitaro.ini, and wendy.ini< in ~/.native/share/laptop:

$ laptop -c kitaro Character Class
Class: Wizard
$ laptop -c wendy Health AC
23
$ laptop -c froese Save INT
3

To see the characters in your default folder, use the --list or -l choice:

$ laptop --list
froese.ini
kitaro.ini
wendy.ini

The laptop venture is written in Lua and is offered from its Gitlab repository.

PCGen

PCGen is an utility designed that can assist you construct and keep characters. It even has information of the foundations of the system it is aiding you with. Far from only a configuration file generator, PCGen is a database of open supply guidelines and the way they relate to 1 one other over the course of a personality’s life.

PCGen can construct characters for D&D 5e, Pathfinder 1e, Starfinder, and Fantasy Craft. When you first launch PCGen, you may obtain rule definitions for every recreation. The information are small, however relying on what you wish to set up, there might be lots of information to obtain.

You solely need to do it as soon as, although, and PCGen tends to every little thing else however clicking the button to start out the obtain for every system.

Once you’ve got every little thing downloaded, you can begin creating characters by choosing New from the File menu.

PCGen retains observe of incomplete duties within the panel labeled Things to be completed, and it helps you proceed via the method of satisfying every requirement till you’ve got acquired an entire character.

PCGen does all calculations for you, so you do not have to determine your talent ranks, how a proficiency bonus impacts your rolls, and different computations. Better but, you do not have to calculate how your scores change as you degree up and even what advantages you get with every new degree. You’ll have selections to make at every degree, however you do not have to flip via your rulebook in hopes you are not lacking something vital.

One of my favourite issues about PCGen is its capability to render your character sheet when completed.

On paper, your eyes in all probability know precisely the place to look to search out your proficiency bonus, or talent ranks, or different character stats. In some codecs, you lose that while you go digital. PCGen has a built-in renderer and might present you your character in commonplace character sheet layouts that an skilled participant will doubtless discover acquainted.

PCGen is an ENnie award winner, and it is properly deserved. Maintaining a personality is straightforward with PCGen, and it is an utility I discover myself opening on lazy afternoons only for the enjoyable of constructing one thing new.

  • On Linux, obtain PCGen’s common installer from pcgen.org. You should have Java installed.) Run pcgen.sh to launch the appliance.
  • On macOS, obtain PCGen’s common installer from pcgen.org. You should have Java installed.) Run pcgen.sh to launch the appliance.
  • On Windows, obtain PCGen’s Windows installer from pcgen.org. You should additionally install Java.

Player character XML

One of some great benefits of utilizing a terminal command to question character sheets is that you simply achieve independence from the format.

Playing a number of recreation methods might be taxing, as a result of almost each system has its personal format. With a terminal command, nonetheless, as an alternative of trying over sheets of paper for information, you search for the identical info rapidly by letting your laptop do the scanning.

One of the tasks I’ve been having fun with currently for character monitoring is the d venture, which makes use of XML to precise character stats and the xmllint command to question it. The d venture options just a few utilities:

  • d command rolls cube (embrace FUDGE die).
  • v command queries character sheets.
  • The e command initializes your private home listing by inserting information in predictable places.

Because XML is so flexible, this format lets you devise your personal schema, relying on what works greatest on your system.

For instance, a class-based system like D&D or Pathfinder could profit from a piece for particular class options, whereas a skill-based system might need a easy schema with no classes.

Here’s a easy instance:

<char>
  <identify>Robin Hood</identify>
  <well being>20</well being>
  <acrobat>5</acrobat>
  <archery>8</archery>
  <disguise>3</disguise>
</char>

First, export the situation of the character sheet:

$ export CHAR_SHEET=~/.config/char/robin.xml

Alternately, you may initialize your private home listing with the e command, which creates the ~/.config/char listing and defines the CHAR_SHEET variable in your .bashrc file:

$ e init

After you’ve got acquired your surroundings configured, you may question your character sheet:

$ ./v char.identify
<identify>Robin Hood</identify>
$ ./v char.archery
<archery>7</archery>

Functionally, v is much like the laptop script, however as a result of it makes use of XML, there are lots of potentialities for a way you view it. With XSL, you might fashion your XML-based character sheet and provides it a format for customers who aren’t comfy within the terminal however nonetheless retain the XML supply for many who are.

Open supply on the open desk

Whether you are in search of a fancy utility like PCGen to information you thru character creation or easy utilities like laptop or d to rapidly question character stats, open supply has loads of choices for you.

And the selection of tooling is exactly what makes it such a pleasure to do your analog recreation in a digital distant setting.

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