Characters without Sheets

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Last week, Mercury talked about statting NPCs, or rather, not statting NPCs. In his post he makes the argument that it might be useful to leave NPCs without stats. This week, I want to talk about not statting Player Characters.

Most player characters have stats associated with them one way or another, and nearly every game system associates at least some form of numbers, tracks of dots, plusses, dice types, etc.

Of course, roleplay in general does not always need those stats. For example, a player playing news anchor to bring news about events to other players does not need stats. They are not the hero of the story, they are merely there to provide background, despite being a full character. You do not need stats to play such a character, you need stats to clarify your character’s advantages within the game system’s rules. And for some types of roleplay, it does not matter what the rules are at all!

To allow for this type of character, we decided to rethink how RPGpad thinks about characters.

Character Rework, Part 1. We selected two main goals for the character rework:

  • we wanted players to be able to have characters without character sheets,
  • and we wanted RPGpad to understand that NPCs and PCs are very different things.

We observed that whether or not a character has a Character Sheet has little to do with them being a player character or not. NPCs can have character sheets and PCs might not have one. Moreover, we had already ran into trouble a few times already due to the way sheets and characters they were linked. Because of that, we decided to separate the Character Sheet from the Character altogether.

By splitting the “characterness” away from the character sheet, any wiki page can now be made playable for a player, and those characters can (optionally) have an attached character sheet. This allows us to have playable characters without a character sheet. And it has the added benefit that we no longer restrict what you can play: you can make a playable star ship, or play a sentient sword!

With NPCs, we observed that those are used differently. While most players have only a handful of playable characters, most game masters juggle dozens of non-player characters. Instead of having a game master claim all these NPCs as their character, we added a special tag ability that makes any page tagged with that tag an NPC.

This first part of the character rework has been completed this week.

Character Rework, Part 2. There is still work to be done on improving the way the relation between Playable Characters and Character Sheets is presented. Right now, you can do everything you need to do as a player. You can create new characters, make existing character pages into playable characters, and attach character sheets. But there’s still a way to go to in terms of presentation, and we will be working on that in the near future.

Additionally, we want to give players the option of sharing a character. This is especially nice for forum-based roleplays, where someone might have some characters that sit on the border between being PCs and NPCs — like the news reader we mentioned earlier. Furthermore, there are types of NPCs that can effectively be played by anyone — the barmaid in a tavern for example — which is also a thing we would like RPGpad to support.

This second part of the character rework will be done in the coming weeks, together with many smaller visual improvements all over the site!

If you are interested in the nitty-gritty details of this week’s changes, head over to the changelog!