Category Archives: Sheet Protectors

Old School Two Part Mapping

While preparing for my upcoming play test, I made a map of the level that I can show the players. Instead of re-drawing the whole thing by hand, or scanning and printing to make a GM copy, I used a sheet protector. I put the map in a sheet protector and I have pens with Red, Blue, and Green ink that I can make GM notes.

So at the table, I can take it out of the sheet protector to show the players, and put it back to see where things are for the GM.

I have to make sure and line it up correctly so I don’t enact a location base encounter at the wrong time. This is not hard to do.

Since the sheet protector is two-sided, I can put another area in, or draw it on the back of the same page as the other map, and get use of the entire thing.

The drawbacks are that I can’t use this sheet protector for anything else if I mark it with permanent ink. I’m not worried, this sheet protector is probably 25 years old. I bought a pack of 100 sheet protectors on sale for about $7.00 a couple months ago, so I’m not worried about running out.

This old sheet protector does not seem like it would work with a dry erase marker. It is different than my other old sheet protectors. Because it is so old, I didn’t even worry about making permanent marks on it.

Sharpies or other permanent markers could also be used.

So there you have an old school way of doing it. If you didn’t have easy access to a copy machine or nowadays if you don’t have easy access to a scanner, you can make one map do the work of two.

This came to mind as I was in my mapping groove. Not the quality of all the great cartographers online. But I didn’t want to have to get up, come in the office, and scan the map as I made various degrees of changes. I have a U-shaped configuration of tables set up with all the gaming materials, and the sheet protectors were right there, along with all my colored pens.

I still had to scan my maps so I can use them online. I can print out extra copies, or backup copies, or a physical copy I can mark up or modify.

Work, Work, Work

Last week got crazy with last minute preparations to go out of town to train a client, and trying to get over the bug that’s going around.

I don’t have much to write about for the blog, except that I have more ideas and things on the back burner than I seem to be able to get to. The internet at the hotel was particularly difficult to connect to so I could write this post and maintain my daily posting.

I am finally mostly over the cold or whatever it is. My ears are still a bit full, but I’m not coughing so hard I pass out when I do cough. I’m still tired, but now I actually feel like doing something.

Training today went well, and the data entry the client did is done and we verified it and I didn’t have to bring any work back to my room  tonight!

I ran by the local Wal-Mart and they had sheet protectors, so I got a package of 100.

I picked up some other odds and ends and had some ideas for the various games/campaigns I am working on/thinking about/planning.

I tried watching TV in my room. I don’t have regular TV at home. It was all ads and very little worth watching, and to think I was contemplating giving cable another try. I don’t miss it. It gives me more time to do other things.

Well, time to wrap this up and see how much I can get done before I need to get to sleep.

Character Sheet in a Sheet Protector

I have mentioned using sheet protectors to cover things so you can make notes with either dry erase markers or grease pencils. I shared my Spell Slot Tracker idea, and my Troop/Horde Tracker idea.

Today, I just mention character sheets. With all the the erasing and re-writing that can occur, they can become a mess.

I developed my own way of preparing an AD&D character sheet, whether I used notebook paper and hand wrote it, or took the same format and typed it up. When it is in a sheet protector, I can make temporary notes, and only make changes that are long term or permanent after the session. For example, a level change with requisite level title, and change in mas hit points.

In the online game I play in on Wednesdays, I use the form fill-able PDF our DM gave us, so I print that out and make notes. I need to get more sheet protectors because I have been writing and erasing a bit on it.

I use a separate sheet for tracking experience points and money, since those are the things that change the most often.

As a player, I recommend that when you are a player, that you are organized and have all the information you need at your finger tips so that the game is not delayed while you fumble with papers.

As a GM, I recommend that you suggest ways for your players to be organized, even giving them examples, or mandating they use a certain form, if they are never ready. Especially with online play, there are so many other potential interruptions, by weather, family & pets, phone calls, trains [I live near the tracks], technical issues, etc. that anything to minimize difficulties and interruptions will have big dividends in the long run.


Troop/Horde Tracker

In yesterday’s post on my spell slot tracker idea of a printed sheet with spaces to write information about spells and put in a sheet protector, I mentioned another idea.

This is something I came up with to speed up tracking all the followers and mercenaries Griswald has. I divided them into units of ten, or less if there were not enough of the same troop type for a full ten.

I outlined ten squares on graph paper, in two columns of five rows. I wrote the type of troops, their weapons and armor, and wrote their hit points in each box, For mounted troops, I put their mounts in a set of boxes to the right, with their armor, harness, and hit points. I then put this in a sheet protector. I could then mark and track hit points with a dry erase marker or grease pencil.

As a DM, I do the same with monsters in a lair. For example, 200 goblins, and assorted females, children, chiefs, sub-chiefs, shaman, etc. I don’t go to that much detail unless the players intend to attempt to clear out the goblins. For wimpy creatures, like kobolds and goblins that are less than 1 HD, I don’t roll their hit points. If they take a big enough hit, they are going down. I only roll the hit points for the leaders, or assume maximum hit points.

For multi-hit die creatures, for speed, I often give them average hit points, for each hit die. I make sure that if there are several of them, like an ogre lair, that the leaders have more hit points. I tend to do that more for on-the-fly scenarios. If I prepare ahead of time, I go with rolling them up.

Putting the prepared list in sheet protectors makes it easy to re-use that group of monsters again, for example, if I want to re-set the events of the live campaign for use when I start the online version of my campaign.

Spell Slot Tracker For AD&D

I have written a lot on this blog about my favorite character, Griswald, from my brother Robert’s campaign. Griswald is a half elf Fighter/Cleric/Magic-User.

As a character with two spell classes, it grew harder to track spells, levels, and details of each spell, so I came up with this simple, old school solution.

Lots of erasing of pencil on paper, or writing in ink and having to re-write makes for a mess. I settled on a neatly handwritten form made with a ruler on typing paper, later I printed it out on a dot matrix printer. I put it in a sheet protector. I can write on the sheet protector with a dry erase marker or grease pencil and wipe it off for continued use.

Griswald's Spell Sot Tracker
Griswald’s Spell Sot Tracker

Griswald has three magic user henchmen, so I have one sheet to track all three of them.

Henchmen Spell Tracker
Henchmen Spell Tracker

Next is the dot-matrix version.

Computer Printed Version
Computer Printed Version

Here is a link to a PDF of the unfilled printable version in a current word processor, Libre Office writer. It could just as easily be done in a spreadsheet, like Libre Office Calc. I did not take the time to get the row height adjusted to only have as many rows as needed. This gives a bit more room to write.. In my brother’s game, he does not enforce level limits, so my half-elf F/C/M is level 10/10/11. It took a LONG time to get there dividing XP by 3.

Here is a link to a PDF of the blank printable version

This has proved to be a handy tool for at the table. I will make something like this available to the spell casters in my game, or at least a suggestion that they use something like this to speed up play.

What I did was indicate one side for cleric spells and the other for magic-user spells. I then indicated how many rows for each level of spell. There is a spot for spell name, range, area of effect, casting time, and duration. This covered most of the crunchy bits of using spells. I also had a copy of the spells from the player’s handbook, also in sheet protectors, so that I did not have to take long to find them.

I got this idea from playing Star Fleet Battles and having the ship sheets in sheet protectors.

I came up with a few other uses, one that I find can apply to my current campaigns, that I will share tomorrow.

Old School With New Tools

There are two types of old school roleplayers. Those who lived it back in the day, and those who are discovering it today.

Back in the day, everything was pen, pencil, paper, and maybe an electronic calculator. Calculators were very expensive back then.

We could create entire worlds from our imagination and some notes and stats on notebook paper and a quick map on graph paper.

We could stuff sheets of graph paper into a spiral notebook and hope we didn’t lose them. Or we could get a three ring binder and organize our notes. We’d use a hole punch, to punch one hole at a time, if any paper we used didn’t have holes. Sheet protectors could be used for maps to make sure they were not damaged.

We made our own character sheets on notebook paper, using narrow ruled or college ruled paper to get more on the page. Notebooks to track a player’s character information could quickly grow to include tracking spells and items, castles and troops. I made a sheet to track spell slots that I could put in a sheet protector and write the spell for the slot in dry erase marker, or grease pencil. I then either erased it, or checked off that I used it, if I planned to use it again.

When computers were first affordable enough to have in the home, some of us made dice rolling programs to generate a thousand kobolds in a few seconds.

When word processors became more usable, we could type up our notes, and make our own character sheets, and other notes that we as players or DM could use. Does anyone remember the DOS version of WordStar? Italics and bold remind me of how to do it in HTML.

Spreadsheets, word processors, scripting languages, programmable text editors, and more all have a use. Now many of them are all online and shared storage of Google Drive, and Communities.

As new tools came along, we could put them to use too. 10 cent copies at the town library or college library, or access via a job, allowed lots of copies of our hand drawn maps to note different information. One for terrain, one for monster locations, etc.

As computers improved in performance and tools became available that we could afford, we did more with computers. The availability of free and open source software (FOSS) opened a lot of doors. A lot of FOSS has neared or equaled commercial software. We have GIMP, Scribus, Hexographer, and many others for various purposes. Such tools and scanners and cell phone cameras have enabled us to take our original old school materials and make a record of it. We can also share our original stuff with the world, or just make it available for a virtual session via the internet.

The new tools we have, allow us to do a lot of things with our old school methods and ideas. We can share them with the world, and can game with people from across the globe. In my weekly Wednesday night AD&D game our DM alternates between two states because his work is in one location and his family in another. I am in Michigan, one player is in Florida, another is in England, and we have a few more, all in various U.S. locations.

Playing over the internet has one weakness of in person play. No electricity, or no internet, or computer problems, or provider problems, and you can’t play. With in person play, just like back in the day, you don’t need electricity. You have your notes, manuals, dice, and a flashlight, candle, lantern, or camp fire, and you can game. For that aspect alone, in person play rules. In person play also rules because you can see player’s faces, and body language, and you have more time to get to know each other, than people across the planet you only interact with once a week for four hours. I feel I know them, but I wouldn’t know them if I passed them on the street. We don’t use our cameras in Google Hangouts to help minimize lag issues.

The one way online play rules, is that you can easily find a group to play with, if you know where to look. If you live in a small town and don’t know the right people, it can be hard to find a group to game with. So you have to find a FLGS or go to a local con and meet the local people. This is an issue if you are new to an area, or are new to RPG’s.

For me, if I still lived within an hour of where I grew up, I could get together frequently with many of the original gang I started with. Since I have been 13 years in Michigan, and only got serious about getting back into playing the last few years, I have found that the resources for finding local players for in person gaming, like Pen and Paper Games, and others like it, aren’t helpful if no one is interested in your version. It looks like it would work great, if you lived in or near a major city, like Detroit, or Chicago, where the numbers are there.

However, once you find people who like your style of game, you are in a circle of knowledge that lets you dig deeper to try to find a group for your own local game, whether as a player or a DM.

Or you can have kids and game with them, until their lives get complicated with their own kids, or they move out of state. Then the cycle of looking starts again….