The other day I sat down to think about how I could contribute to the Dragon Age community. My first thought was regarding a form-fillable character sheet for easy tracking, updating and printing of PCs for the game. Before beginning such an endeavor I thought it wise to check out the Dragon Age forums to see if someone had already started such a project. Lo and behold, someone already beat me to the punch and did me one better at that.

Forum poster Sync, from Melbourne, Australia, had started a thread regarding building an Excel spreadsheet character generator similar to the Heroforge project for D&D. This sounded really exciting. I’m a fan of the Heroforge sheets for 3.5 and found them a great help in keeping things up-to-date on my characters. Even thought the forum thread was from a couple of months ago, Sync had updated the first post with a link to the completed version for download. So I downloaded version 1.01 (apparently it had already gone through one revision) and started playing.

Download:

Dragon Age Forge (ZIP; .6 MB) External Link

This file is an Excel spreadsheet of the 97-2003 variety. You will need Microsoft Excel to make use of this spreadsheet. I have not tried to upload it to Google Docs nor open it in OpenOffice (both freely available software) to see if they would see if the file would still work. I also did not try to convert it to a newer version of Excel, but ran it in compatibility mode. If you are running Excel 2007 or later, you may have to enable macros in order to get the full functionality of the character sheet.

How does the Dragon Age Forge do after playing with it for a while? Read on.

Concept

To test the sheet I set out to make three iconic characters: A human mage, elf rogue and dwarf warrior. Concepts were really light since I was seeing what the sheet could do rather than a fully realized character. I drew inspiration from the cover of Set 1 as well as the images used in the class descriptions from the same set. While the spreadsheet does support Set 1 and its errata as well as the playtest material released for Set 2, I stuck to Set 1 information except for one notable exception: point buy.

After opening the spreadsheet I read over the disclaimer in the first tab. It’s more accurate to say that I skimmed it more than read it, relying on my knowledge of Heroforge sheets to carry me through. This is my way of saying user error played heavily in getting up and running. After going back and reading the disclaimer again, I was on much more solid ground. So what follows are the steps I took to create my characters. If you are only interested in the review of this sheet you can skip down to the end of this post.

Generate Abilities

The majority of the input done in this spreadsheet is done on the WorkSpace tab. While Sync recommends selecting background, class and generating abilities as the order to take (this is supported in the sheet layout, background is the first choice to be made on the sheet), I chose to generate my stats first. What can I say, I’m old school; I like to see what kind of character I can make from the rolls. Plus it is the recommended second step in DA Set 1. This had the added benefit of seeing if the order of steps in character creation was important to the sheet.

Since this was a software character sheet I thought I’d generate the stats using software as well. I logged into Obsidian Portal and launched the dice roller from the top menu (the same one I use to generate rolls in Daniel’s The AGE of Uruk campaign. I generated 8 rolls of 3d6 and recorded the stats in order in cells H6 through H13. Record the actual dice rolls, not the ability score generated from the Determining Abilities table in Set 1; the spreadsheet will do the conversion for you.

As an alternative, you can use the point-buy system outlined in the DA Set 2 open playtest document. To do this, use the spin controls in cells I6:I13 to select the points you want to spend on each ability. The spreadsheet tracks the points you spend and updates the number of remaining points displayed in cell I14. For the dwarf and elf I used the dice rolls and for the human I used the point-buy.

Background & Class

Next I selected a background from the drop list in cell B5. As mentioned, all backgrounds from Set 1 and the playtest document for Set 2 are available. Selection made here sets up the sheet and starts narrowing choices. There are separate choices for for each background that allows more than one choice for selection of race (Apostate & Circle Mage). At this point you may also choose gender and caste in cells E5 & E6.

If you select a background that gives you a choice between rogue and warrior, you must make the class choice next in cell B8. If you selected Apostate or Circle Mage you can skip this step as the spreadsheet automatically selects mage in cell D8. Next are the abilities granted by the by rolling 2d6 twice.

Back at Obsidian Portal I generated my rolls and recorded the two values in cells F10 & F11. The spreadsheet does the work of looking up what abilities were gained. If you record two numbers in these cells that are for the same ability, the spreadsheet will alert you of this by asking you to “ROLL AGAIN”. This is such a nice feature because it saves you time looking up the information in the book. And isn’t that what character sheets like this are for?

The next few steps of class selection are just as easy to do: chose class focus (F13), select method of ability generation you used (I4), record hit points roll (D22), mana point roll if appropriate (F22) and select your level 1 Talent (H22). Fighters will need to select a second Talent (H23).

Miscellaneous

There places on the worksheet to record mundane physical characteristics of the character and starting money on the WorkSpace tab. All characters will need to select starting armor and weapons on the tab labled Armour & Weapons; warriors will need to select the three weapon groups they are trained in on this tab as well.  Mages will pick their known spells on the Spells tab.

And that’s pretty much it! It has taken me far longer to describe the process than it took to do it (false starts due to user error aside). In fact, by the end I had the whole process to less than 5 minutes, including typing out starting equipment on the printable character sheets – far less time that it would have taken me to hand-write the same information on a printed character sheet. Speaking of the characters sheets…

Character Sheets

The spreadsheet has three tabs devoted to the printable character sheets. The first tab has the basic stat information and includes weapon information. This layout is similar to that of the character sheet on the back of the Player’s Guide of Set 1. The second sheet has spells and talents and the last has equipment (you can type in whatever you need here) and class abilities. Money, character background and goals are also on this third sheet. Here is a link to each of the characters I generated using Dragon Age Forge so you can see for yourself what they look like:

Review

What this sheet does very well is simplify the character generation process. It helps automate many of the steps so you can get to play faster. There were several opinions on the forums that DARPG doesn’t need a character generating spreadsheet because it is not very heavy on the rules. I disagree. Regardless of the rules, tracking character generation, upkeep and leveling needs to be made as easy as possible to keep the play running smoothly at the table. Plus, if your handwriting is as sloppy as mine, your GM will thank you for putting it in an easy to read format.

All the drop lists for choices are sensitive to what you character can do. For example, when picking weapons, you are only presented with weapons that you have the strength to employ. Likewise, when selecting your class talent, you can only see those choices that you qualify for.

The presentation of this is a little odd, as the drop list is not shortened, but the items that you cannot select are simply blank. This took a minute to get used to, especially when I opened the weapons selection list and saw what I thought was a completely blank list. I figured out if I scrolled down I could see the choices that were allowed to me. This approach does help focus on just those items that work best with your PC’s current stats, however, it might have been nice to see all the choices, but those that were not allowed listed in red.

The progression up the levels couldn’t be any easier. you have a spot to record experience points and once you cross the threshold to a new level the spreadsheet shows you that it’s time to level up. Increase your level and record the new info about your character. Save and print the sheets and you’re ready for next session.

One thing I would have liked to have seen is a checkmark or some indication on the printed character sheet which stats were primary. It should be noted to get the full effect of these sheets you will need to install the Requiem font that is included with the spreadsheet. I believe this is the same font used on the character sheet in Set 1.

I think that this spreadsheet will be indispensable to me as a player. Kudos to Sync for a job well done.

Note:  In the course of writing this article Sync has released another update (v1.10) on the forum post linked above. This newest version included a Version History tab with all the changes to date. A very nice touch. As the changes seemed minor, I did not re-generate my three characters.

This points out a drawback to this style of character sheet:to transfer information from an older version to a newer version, you will need to retype or at least copy and paste the information from the old sheet into the newer one. In my book, this is a small price to pay for the freedom and ease that this sheet provides Dragon Age players in character generation.

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