Saturday, July 19, 2008

Random Review: D&D Character Record Sheets

In an earlier post, I questioned if selling D&D Character Record Sheets in an era of unprecedented digital tools for creating them yourself was even viable.  I saw a pack for sale when I was picking up my comics this week and on an impulse decided to plunk down $9.95 on them. 

I figured that if I got no other use out of them, at least I could write a review on A Hero Twice a Month.  Unfortunately, I fear that will be the only real use I get out of the D&D Character Record Sheets.

Before I get into the review portion, I should go over what you get:

  • One illustrated folder to hold your Character Record Sheets.
  • Two official character sheets.
  • Two "widescreen-style" character sheets.
  • 64 color-coded blank power cards.

So, going over these one by one using the patented "Dragon Orb" rating system:

The illustrated folder is nice, but not great.  The front cover shows a picture of an adventuring group fighting a green dragon on one side and "generic 4th Ed Brown" on the back.  On the inside, the right flap has the XP table for levels 1-30.  The left side has seven lines for notes that will probably never be used by anyone.  Honestly, another table would have been nice here.  So, what is the value here?  Well, its a passable folder with a nice picture and one useful chart.  3 out of 5 dragon orbs.

The two official character sheets are identical to the free PDF you can download from the WOTC website.  There is nothing wrong with these sheets, but since they only give you two, they obviously are expecting most people to photocopy them.  Since they provide the same sheet for free in PDF form, there is not much value here.  0 out of 5 dragon orbs.

The two "widescreen-style" character sheets are almost identical to the official sheets, except formatted to display the information horizontally rather than vertically.  This format is actually pretty nice.  On the other hand, there is really no reason this couldn't have been released as a free PDF as well.  1 out of 5 dragon orbs.

The 64 color-coded power cards are actually kind of neat.  There are eight green "At Will" cards, twelve red "Encounter" cards, twelve "Daily" cards, sixteen "Utility" cards, and sixteen "Magic Item" cards.  They are all printed on perforated cardstock.  If you use a soft pencil, they would probably hold up to numerous writings and erasures.

On the other hand, why hasn't WOTC come out with pre-printed power cards?  They could release a set with PHB powers.  Heck if they wanted to they could split them up into different sets like a "Fighter Pack" and "Races and Feats Pack".   When new books came out they could release boosters like the "Martial Power Source Booster".  It seems like it would be right up their alley, since they made their name in the collectable card market.  I can only assume these cards couldn't be made with a wide enough profit margin for the D&D market.  Otherwise, this would already be announced as an upcoming product.

In any case, as the only part of the D&D Character Record Sheets package I am considering using (besides the folder), I will give the cards a 3 out of 5 dragon orb rating.

So it looks like the average value of the D&D Character Record Sheets comes out to 1.75 out of 5 dragon orbs.  Honestly, unless you really want blank power cards, and don't want to use any of the blank or filled power cards you can find online, its not worth the $9.95.