Wednesday, 4 February 2015

A Belated Rebellion Day [Character Sheet Tip]

The last day of January, I ran the Star Wars Roleplaying Rebellion Day gamekit at a FLGS, who originally got the kit for FFG's event back in September of last year but had neither the time or people to run said event. Eventually, some time was put aside last weekend to run it after I inquired/volunteered to helm it.

Only a couple people showed up to game (one of which was my friend who'd already played the system), but the experience was still enjoyable and the new player left with positive impressions of the system and a set of narrative dice as a prize. Beyond gaming I had the chance to chat with a few familiar faces; reminds me how much more I need to get out and about, and I'm considering running a RPG at the game store on the last Saturday of each month (or each weekend before and/or after GottaCon and Medieval Chaos).

Speaking of GottaCon, I was trying out a GM aide that session: Though printing character sheets is somewhat low-cost these days, many don't have access to a printer or suffer from various printer issues: lack of ink, poor print quality, etc. Or a times you may get access to very nice colour prints of (usually pregenerated) character sheets and it seems a shame that they're going to end up marred by pencil, pen, and eraser marks. Additionally, let's say you're GMing the same adventure repeatedly at a convention; that means you need to provide fresh copies of character sheets to your players every game. A bit of a hassle.

For example, the Rebellion Day kit came with several full-colour pre-generated character sheets, and I was considering reusing them at GottaCon later this month as one of my Games-On-Demand selections, but lamenting that I'd only be able to do so a few times before all copies were trashed.

I quickly came across a solution to many of these problems: Vinyl Sleeves and Wet-Erase Markers. You just slide the character sheets into the appropriately-sized sleeve, give each player a marker along with their sheet and POW they can write on the sheet all they want. All you need is a bit of water on hand (like a small finger-pump spray bottle) and a tissue to make corrections and clean up the sheets afterwards for reuse next session.

I choose Vinyl and Wet, not Dry-Erase markers for a couple reasons; Specifically, Dry-Erase markers don't work as intended on vinyl surfaces (too porous); they smear messily when you attempt to clean them up and may stain the surface (as I learned in my younger days both with a vinyl tablecloth and a battlemat in a household of gamers). Also, since Wet-Erase markers don't wipe away without water, this means that you can safely transport a stack of sheets without worrying what's written upon them being erased.

I presume you could go with another type of plastic sleeve (in a pinch, magazine sleeves used by collectors work for both ink-types; inexpensive but they aren't as sturdy nor as nice looking IMHO) and possibly Dry-Erase for quick-wipe, non-permanent marking, but these were the options I went with.

Even if you're not using fancy or pregen char sheets, I think using these sleeves it on regular sheets are just as useful at the gaming table: the sheets last longer because they're not longer subject to the constant writing and erasure wear (particularity in the areas of hit points) and are protected from food stains and drink spills. Maps can easily be sleeved and wrote upon without fear of permanent marks, and clever GMs could have their own sleeve for keeping notes/tracking initiative (and in the case of EotE/AoR, Group and Base sheets respectively; making tracking and editing Obligation/Duty easier).

The map provided in the Rebellion Day kit was full-page, but the PCs only had access to part of it.
Solution: Fold it in half and stick it in a sleeve with a blank sheet and presto, a place to track initiative.
The trial run of this idea at the Rebellion Day event was a success and I plan on using this aide when I'm running Games-On-Demand at GottaCon; since the sheets provided with the kit are only one-sided, I went and printed the pregens for the free EotE adventure, Under A Black Sun and sleeved them on the reverse, giving me quick access to both current flavours of the Star Wars RPG for interested players.

[Quick aside: I really like how FFG has designed the pregens in both these adventures; they allow a bit of customisation and such choices actively effect the related adventure with a slim-down version of the Obligation/Duty mechanic respectively. Brilliant.]

Regardless of system, I think that this whole concept has merit and despite the initial cost, might prove invaluable. I'm considering implementing this beyond my convention games.

Cheers! ;{١