As was hinted at last week, we have made some significant improvements to the World of Darkness character sheets. But since a lot of that is hidden for most players, I thought it would be nice to take some time to showcase what we have developed and what options it offers for World of Darkness campaigns and players.
When we originally designed the World of Darkness sheet, it was designed to support a single creature type. It wasn’t until we expanded this to multiple creature types that we discovered just how fundamentally different the seemingly similar World of Darkness books are.
The sheet could easily handle different creature types within the same ruleset — for example, it might easily support both Werewolves and Kinfolk, or Vampires and Ghouls. While having certain fields differ between the types, the general rulesets between those are the same — both Werewolves and Kinfolk use gifts and both Vampires and Ghouls use disciplines, and each relies on generically the same set of backgrounds. The way powers are supported for most campaigns reflect this — you choose whether your campaign uses, for example, disciplines with a dots rating in Vampire, or nested groups of gifts such as in Werewolf.
When trying to fit these different types together for the New York by Night campaign (go check them out, they’re awesome!), we had to make some “quick-and-dirty” fixes to allow the necessary fields to be displayed for each creature type, resulting in some unfortunate solutions like using the Virtues originally added for vampires to add spheres for mages — not exactly an ideal solution.
Seeing the limitations of the system allowed us to make some important observations, however, about what we’d need to better support the different creature types, and to complete that, we introduced a system we’ve dubbed ‘extra fields’ — fields that are specific to a certain creature type, and they can be configured in the game system configuration of your campaign.
Each field can be set to one of nine different types, such as a small or large text field, a numerical value, dots rating or temporary and permanent score. We’ve also added an option to make lists (such as which gifts you have), dot-rated lists, and dot-rated lists with notes.
Notably, each field has a group setting. This allows single-line fields to be grouped together under a single header, allowing you to make entries for such things as mage spheres or the three types of renown, each set to their matching type. When used for dot-rated entires, this is like a dot-rated list, except that the entries are provided for you instead of needing manual entry.
One interesting aspect of this model is that it requires conversion and legacy values between fields. While it is probably rare mid-game, having different creature types means you can switch a character from one type to another — for example, when a ghoul is sired by their domitor. When you switch between creature types, we don’t want you to lose the data you entered, especially if both creatures have similar data, but if the new creature type has no field for the old data, you still need to be able to see it.
Likewise, if a game master changes the character sheet layout, removing a field for example, we don’t want that data to be lost. Instead, we use legacy fields to make sure you can see the old data when you are converting to the new sheet layout.
All this added a lot of extra complexity, however, so it took us a while to get it in a state where we could deploy the new model. Fortunately, that was completed last week, and all sheets have since been updated to use the new model. This allowed us to fix a lot of somewhat unwieldy issues like switching the extensive dropdown for backgrounds, moving the gifts section back to Advantages from the Other section and having a proper listing for spheres on the mage sheets.
Doubtlessly there are many other improvements to be made to the sheet, and next on our task list for the World of Darkness sheet is to make some polish on the sheets to improve the appearance and detailing. In the meanwhile, we’re keeping our eyes open for other improvements to be made, so if you have any, be sure to let us know in the community forums. While there, why not check out this week’s Changelog as well?