Editable PDF character sheet, looking for feedback

Greetings Sodales,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I am currently in an Ars game that has 50% of players on the west coast, and 50% on the east coast. We do much of our seasonal and inter-magus interactions on message boards. However, we are now having to update and track many different character sheets, magus, grogs, companions, npcs etc. For this reason, I created an editable PDF character sheet. This is my 2nd draft, and so, I would like feedback if anyone would like to help out. Please feel free to post here with any questions you might have.

It is not as pretty as others, but was built to be functional for wiki/forum based games, and so is not optimized for printing.

If you are interested, please download and read the readme rtf here: https://sites.google.com/site/globalcharactersheets/file-cabinet/Ars_5_char_sheet_readme.rtf?attredirects=0&d=1

The actual character sheet I made is here: https://sites.google.com/site/globalcharactersheets/file-cabinet/Ars_5_Magus_Char_Sheet.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Again, please post any questions or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you.

~Magus Tariq (aka Ryan)

I have strong beliefs on this subject which I share whenever it pops up. I find this order awkward and confusing to use. Since everyone does it the same way as you, it may be only me who has a different way of thinking. But who knows, maybe you will agree with this concept.

Score should alway be left its name, aka "I have 3 in Awareness (keeping watch) for a total of 30 xp", because this is how we think and because you can scan down with ease on the second column of tabular data.

As it stands, score is so far from ability/etc. that you have to traverse the whole row and read the entire information before finding it and risk changing row. Whereas a quick peek left could give you the same information.


  • +3 Intelligence (logical) Int
  • 3 Awareness (keeping watch) 30
  • +3 Honest
  • 3 Drunkard (Paris University) 30
  • 15 Creo 120
    Which are the tabular blocks on the form.

An alternate: Pe 10 [size=85]Perdo[/size] 55, using a smaller font to spell out the Arts

Also, typo auria in ritual casting.

@ Tugdual,

All noted, and can be fixed in my first revision. I agree that the order was a bit clunky. Obviously, I was working off of the Sheet in the Book.

This would be some work to re-arrange all of them, however, your suggestions seem more organic than the book's sheet.

To Confirm, you would rather see:
[table][th]1. Characteristics:[/th]
[tr][td]Score Characteristic Description Abbreviation[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]+3 Intelligence (logical ) Int[/td][/tr]

[tr][th]2. Abilities:[/th][/tr]
[tr][td]Score Ability (Specialty) [Exp][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]3 Awareness (keeping watch) [30][/td][/tr]

[tr][th]3. Personality Traits:[/th][/tr]
[tr][td]Score Trait[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]+3 Honest[/td][/tr]

[tr][th]4. Reputations:[/th][/tr]
[tr][td]Score Reputation Type ( I don't know what this number means)[/td][/tr]
[tr][td]3 Drunkard (Paris University) (30)[/td][/tr]

[tr][th]5. Arts v 1.1[/th][/tr]
[tr][td]Score Art [Exp][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]15 Creo [120][/td][/tr]

[tr][th]6. Arts v 1.2[/th][/tr]
[tr][td]Abbreviation Score Art(in smaller font)[Exp][/td][/tr]
[tr][td]CR 15 [size=85]Creo[/size] [120][/td][/tr][/table]

Typo fixed for Char Sheet 2.0 :slight_smile:

So, I just need to know if people think the above is more organic (which it seems to be to me), and if Arts v1.0 or v1.1 is preferred for display.

Everyone, please be aware, that moving the text cells around is generally a manual process, so, I don't mind changing one time, so I will get as much feedback for a final layout as I can before modifying the cells.

Thanks again!!

ArM5, p167, although reputation does not use xp, it advances as an ability does.

There's a 1.3 that matches Characteristics {15 Creo [120] Cr}, either way they should use the same pattern.

Thanks for trying this out, I hope you enjoy the results!

Thanks again Tugdual!

I'm still open for a few weeks to see if any more feedback comes in.

Frankly, I think creating PDFs is the wrong way to provide your needs.

You seem to have two problems:
a) You need to update many character sheets.
b) You need to communicate them easily across various message-boards and wikis.

Creating an editable PDF would not allow you to easily update lots of sheets. You can try using Metacreator, but that costs money and has its problems, especially if you use house rules. A PDF file also cannot be easily posted to many message-boards and wikis.

Creating a text-based standard format for the character sheet would frankly be superior. It would allow quick reference, easy updating, and could be shared more easily and adapted to a character's unique needs as needed. It also offers room for a detailed seasonal history, notes, and so on. It's less pretty, but it's better for your needs IMO.

That still won't make it easy to update lots of characters. I suggest using a uniform spreadsheet to produce the character sheets of grogs and companions. This page for example uses fairly pretty sheets that include weapon stats (though I think it's for 4e), and where the only thing you really need to update are the experience points - the spreadsheet then calculates the scores, determines derivative scores, and so on. I myself prefer to list each season's advancement and let the spreadsheet sum it up - this leaves a "paper trail" that allows me to look back at the character's history and saves me the trouble of adding up the xp on the page - but it is harder to program, and makes the spreadsheet heavier (a past attempt of mine is here, but there are probably much better ways of doing this). Either way, you can print out the character sheet of the spreadsheet as a PDF if desired (using OpenOffice or a free PDF-printer driver), and with enough Excel/Calc-fu can make it a pretty page too. This provides you with the same benefits as a form PDF, but makes it much easier to update lots of characters.

The spreadsheet approach probably won't work as well for magi, since there is lots of information there that needs detailed updating - like the details of magic items, spells, and so on. You could try to create a combined spreadsheet-text two-files package, that updates the basic statistics based on the spreadsheet but allows further notes in the text document. This is more complicated to create, however.

Finally, a note on the sheet itself - I personally find that I like the D&D 3/4 character statblock idea. The basic idea there was to divide the sheet into thematic blocks, and order the information in each according to the order it would be called up in play. The blocks are separated clearly, by a line or so on. In text form, it would look something like this; an Word/Writer document can look much prettier and clearer. The point is - rethink the entire structure of the sheet, and build one that serves your needs most effectively.

I also don't like the idea of having "+3 Intelligence (bright)" on the sheet - I think I prefer to have "Intelligence +3 (bright)" or "Intelligence (bright) +3". That allows for easier scanning of what I'm looking for, and fits my intuition just fine - I'm looking for my score in Intelligence, not my intelligence in "+3". I agree that the score should be as close to the ability name as possible, to make it easy to look up - but it should be after the ability's name, not before it. So as a compromise, I'd go with:

Intelligence +3 (bright) [1 Aging Point]
Awareness 5 (standing guard) [75 XP]
Creo 5+3 [15 XP]

and so on.

For abilities, I prefer the

type (specialty) score (bonus) (xps)
Ex with a puissant:

awareness (alertness) 3 +2 (30)

Idem for arts.

But in fact, I don't use anymore preformated sheets, I use a simple words page (which i find easier to manage and which contains all i need for a particuliar character)

Salve Tariq,

I like the .pdf a lot. Unfortunately, I do not think there is any good way to update many sheets. Whether you go text based, excel or pdf you are still going to run into the same problem, you have to fill out many fields for each character.

The only downside to pdf docs is that they cant really be viewed from a site without downloading them first. Aside from that I think the doc you posted looks good. To be honest I am used to reading Ars Magica Char sheets the way they are offered in the book. So the formatting in general does not bother me that much.

As far as specific things I would change...
I would probably shrink the font and move the Player, Saga, Setting, Age, Confidence, House and Current Year fields to a small box above Birth Name, Year Born, ect..
And reduce the abilities section by 3-5 fields to accommodate the new section above Birth Name.

Rather than have Character in big bold letters, id just take out the word character and put the character name there. When I look at it I think, what is the purpose of this sheet? The person running your game doesnt need the word character there in order to know that its the name of your character. You as the player definitely dont need that field there to know it either. Additionally, I think moving the player, saga, ect... to the right and making the font smaller still serves the purpose of keeping track of incidentals like what year it is. That information isnt really needed in bold at the top of the sheet.

With the new space you could move the House, Covenant, Dominus Magus, Primus, Parens, and Covenant of apprenticeship fields to page 1. I know they put that information on page 3, but those details are really important as a part of the pc's profile. They really dont have much bearing on his magical abilities which is what page 3 is all about. Also, Page 3 repeats the house field which is already described on page 1. The spell section rocks.

I kind of see it like this..

Page 1 - Character profile (details setting, personality and stats/traits/ect)
Page 2 - Combat, Age and Warping
Page 3 - Magical abilities, related casting skills and famliar (I would almost argue vis stores belongs on an inventory section but eh.. small potatoes)
Page 4+ - Spells

Yeh, it shows. The sheet in the book isn't well done sadly, too much stuff carried over from previous editions that no longer apply.
I'd suggest
Score and Points for Confidence, Decreptitude, Warping, Reputation and Characteristics (aging points).
Have Presence and Communication above Stamina and Strength (thats the order Atlas lists in the books)
Effects of Aging, this is basically aging points. Not certain if Effects of Warping would be used often enough to have it's own place on the sheet.
I'm not sure of the Combat and Combat Modifiers boxes. Seems unnecessary.
Fatigue Levels doesn't need a Fresh box.
You don't seem to have left a gap between the weapons/qik boxes, or the init/dex boxes.
Multiple Casting doesn't work like that anymore.

Others have mentioned that pdf may not be ideal for your needs, this is likely true. But this looks like it could be useful tool.

And, i personally prefer virtues/flaws as 1 list, rather than 2 seperate. For those characters who have far more of one than the other