Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cheat Sheets are a GM's Best Friend

I have a hard time spreading the love when I'm running a game. About three-quarters of the way through, I realize one player has dominated most of the spotlight, several others have had some neat moments, and one has just been quiet, making rolls when called for and little else. It also seems that quite often, the bad stuff all happens to one person. This is usually a result of bad luck, but since I think I need to get a little meaner as a GM, I need to spread the hurt around as well.

Now, add to this my desire to encourage certain types of behavior, and that's a lot of tiny little things to keep track of in my head. My head is not good at that. Usually when I run a game, I jot down some notes about the PCs. I've taken that idea a step further, added stuff I think will be helpful, and cleaned it all up into a handy GM's Character Sheet. If you just want the sheet, you can get it here. If you'd like some explanation, here's the breakdown:
The vital stats are pretty self-explanatory. The key is at the bottom. Spotlight and Ire are reminders to myself to get everyone in on the action. When someone gets a decent bit of spotlight, I'll mark it off. As the game goes on, I pay attention to who hasn't had it yet, and try to give them a moment to shine. I don't mind if some people have a bit more spotlight than others, as long as everyone gets to feel important. Ire is the same way, but it's bad news. When a character gets mauled by zombies, blows up their Weird Science device, or has some other lousy luck, I'll check that box off. Later, when I have some nasty thing to spring, and I don't know who to spring it on, I can just see who hasn't had any GM Ire.
Note that if I spring something bad on a character, and they survive unscathed, I'm still going to check off the box. Sometimes the dice hate you, but that doesn't mean the lucky guy always has to get jumped by the ghouls skulking in the shadows.

Below Spotlight and Ire are a couple more checkboxes. These are reminders of Benny awards. I want to encourage Roleplaying, Heroism, Teamwork, and Panache (that is to say, badassery). Leaping from a train onto a steam wagon to take out the banditos on it is pretty rad, and deserves a benny (before the attempt is made, so that it's more likely to succeed). Each only has one checkbox, but there's plenty of room for more checks underneath. Now I just need to remember to mention these boxes to the players, so we all know what will get bennies.

That's pretty much it. If you like it, hate it, or have ideas, there's a comment section down below. If you'd like to tweak it, make a note of that and I can post the Word document or a Google Doc, and you can go nuts. Plagiarize at will. I doubt this is where I'm gonna make my first million.


  1. Nice sheet - particularly the spotlight and ire checkboxes - definitely stolen

  2. I have needed this SO BADLY! I'm printing some up and using them this weekend!

  3. are my eyes going, I cant read it that well, besides that, kick ass ya knucklehead!

  4. Dang, Jera Bear. You can read? The pic on here is just sort of a thumbnail of a single panel. There's a link above it with the actual document.

    I'm glad to hear folks like this. Now I just have to go back and cut off the blank second page, which I just realized was there.