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Character Sheet Musings

Started by Emily Care, February 13, 2006, 11:31:11 AM

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Emily Care

Over on his blog, Thomas has written an essay on the effects of character sheet layout on interpersonal interactions while role playing.  He analyzes the character sheets from Breaking the Ice and Polaris, and has good things to say about the games.  His general point is that the positioning of information and people around a character or resource sheet can have a major impact on play in and of itself. 

About BtI:
QuoteSo, you can see that this single character sheet is designed to be used for an entire two player game of Breaking the Ice. Not one sheet per player, one sheet per game. Since players (generally) want to be able to see the sheet for reference, both players are going to try to find a way to sit (or stand, or whatever they are doing) so that they can both look at the relevant parts of the sheet. It turns out that the most natural seating arrangement for this character sheet is sitting side by side with the sheet on the table in front of the players.

In Western cultures (probably in others too, but I do not know for sure) this is an arrangement of cooperation. You sit beside someone in this manner when you are working on a math problem together, or when you are facing some other challenge. This calls up associations of "the two of us facing a challenging task". Note that this is not "the two of us facing an opponent", that would require a person across from you. So the character sheet here gets people into the mindset of "the two of us are going to face this challenge of telling a cool story, and we're going to beat that challenge".

About Polaris:
QuoteFirst, you sit across from your primary source of adversity. This naturally gets you in a competative state of mind. That guy across from you is the one you have to "beat". Then it sets, equidistant between you and your opponent, a pair of neutral arbitrators. The rules themselves call for these arrangement of physical space, and they really help get people into the right mindset.

He has some critical things to say about the new character sheets I've made available at the Black & Green website.  Definitely worth thinking about. I'll have to keep playing with this aspect of the game and see what directions it takes me.

Thanks, Thomas!


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