For anyone who just wants to download the official character sheet for Ngen Mapu, here it is:
For everybody else. If you want to, you can keep on reading and discover how it is that we got this character sheet.
For some time now, the first thing I want to know about a roleplaying game is its character sheet. More than the fiction it’s trying to model, the writing, art or system (all important things in their own right, of course), the first impression I care the most about an RPG is its character sheet.
If an RPG is interesting but its character sheet is “complex”—i.e., with too many things that need to be completed in order to start playing, or having too many pages—the most probable result is that I won’t dedicate the time to read or learn how to play it. I may adapt the fiction it proposes to a system I find comfortable (like Fate, for example) but, unless I play it and it proves to be easy to understand and apply, I could almost surely say that the RPG lost me as a prospective player or Game Master (GM).
On the contrary, it may happen that a not so attractive RPG at first sight seduces me if its character sheet is well laid out and it’s pleasing to the eye. A sheet that seems easy and/or quick to fill out will motivate me to at least skin the RPG, if it doesn’t lead me to add the game to my RPG library.
Maybe because of this taste for “good” character sheets, I have a really hard time designing character sheets for the RPGs I write. Especially so when it’s for a project like Ngen Mapu that is based upon Fate, a game whose character sheet it’s one of my favorites.
The first playtest session is, in my experience, a more or less controlled chaos vortex. In the case of Ngen Mapu—and after a couple of failed tries, cancellations, and unexpected absences—I ended up sitting to play with three female players, two of them having their first experiences when it came to roleplaying games.
After a successful session, which included character creation, various explanations about Fate’s system, and the particulars of Ngen Mapu, the moment of truth came. I asked the players about what things had been complicated during gameplay or what things they considered needed explaining/clarifying. To my surprise, the first thing the three of them mentioned was the character sheet.
I had only barely modified Fate Core’s character sheet, but the playtesters noticed that it was of little use and unintuitive, especially so because we discovered it didn’t have space for multiple skills with the same rating.
Just for posterity’s sake, here’s an image of that character sheet.
Once Ngen Mapu was officially published, it was time to introduce it properly in society. The result was that I found myself in need of cobbling together a character sheet to use at the event. Considering my limited graphic skills the result was pretty decent, although it was far from something definitive.
In case you’re interested, here’s the character sheet the players had to use this time:
At least this version has enough space for all the necessary information to play. The only problem is that it’s still hard to visualize the different forms and to understand the associated rating for each skill is unintuitive.
Considering what I previously mentioned—and before the event in which I presented Ngen Mapu in society (Ludocrónicas: Kaiju)—I had already asked Fred Hicks if he could design a character sheet for the setting. He kindly said yes, but he also mentioned it was probable that it’d take him some time because he was dedicated to other commitments at Evil Hat Productions at the time.
A couple of weeks after that Fred wrote to me and asked me to provide him with what he described as a “road map” to design Ngen Mapu’s character sheet. Once again my almost nonexistent design skills came out to shine and, after a couple days of agony, I finally decided to present him with my ideas in the most expedite way I could: I just drew a quick draft of a possible character sheet for Ngen Mapu with pen on top of pencil.
With a little bit of shame because of its precariousness, here’s that sheet.
The “best” thing about this sheet is that, although it looks horrid, I think it reflects perfectly the results of both playtesting and its debut in society. Those sessions allowed me to identify the most part of the Ngen Mapu’s gameplay—i.e. shapeshifting and everything that implies at a mechanical level—and to give it a central role in the character sheet.
As you could at the top, the final character sheet that Fred designed is, at least in my opinion, a wonder to behold. I think he understood exactly what I referred to with my poor scrawling and was able to turn them into a sheet that’s extremely functional, clear and, as if it were not enough, it has lots of style.
I love that the sheet provides so much space and relevance to forms, without taking anything from aspects and stunts. I feel that, at least from my perspective, it is a perfect representation of Ngen Mapu as a setting and as a set of mechanics that modify Fate Core.
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