Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bifurcated Sheets and One Shots

One of the features of OSR games is "quick character creation," and for the most part that's true. Even so, it requires SOME fiddling before a one shot game to wrangle everybody and make a character (especially if you grant random gold and let the players pore over the equipment list--definitely the biggest offender). I wanted to share a technique that's worked fairly well for my one shots. It lets players totally ignorant of the system to slap together a character quickly, and allows for a middle range of character customization. This does require a little GM prep time, but it's not hard if you're familiar with the system you want to run.

I call it the "bifurcated character sheet."

You, as the GM, are going to make a few premade characters for their players. What I do is usually create a few standard flavors of an adventuring party (e.g., Ranger Fighter, Front Line Fighter, Elementalist Wizard, Illusionist Wizard, Cleric, Thief). For one shots, I rarely roll and count gold. Rather, I fill up equipment packs with considerations towards "failed occupation." For example, I make one pack for "Dominatrix" and fill the pack with like, whips and chains, and make another pack for "Outdoorsman" and fill the pack with a tent and a bedroll, and another for "Rat Catcher" and give them a cudgel and a mean dog or whatever. Then, I cut the character sheets of these characters into parts. Separate out the section that details your race and/or class and the one that details your gear.

When the players arrive, I tell them everybody has gets to pick a class (and a race, if applicable) and a failed profession. Go around a circle and give everybody one choice, then reverse the order and give them another. The combinations they make are often really cool and subvert my expectations.

The stupid simple sheet I use for my own homebrewed OSR games is here.


  1. (The "Dominatrix" pack should also contain leather armor.)

    I like the cut-up approach! It's always cool to give your players something tangible, material. Picking one index card out of a pack is easier, then choosing an entry from a list. And more fun...

  2. I like this solution to the equipment problem. I run lots of games at cons, so picking equipment always takes too long. (Picking spells is the only thing that takes nearly as long.)

    I have also created 2-4 pre-selected equipment packs (not as colorful as failed professions). Macchiato Monsters has random equipment tables that are pretty cool.

    But I think I'll try this at my next con.


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