I'm not some kind of book person, some person who remembers things like a book would. That's what books are for, you dummy! As a human, I have to use index cards to keep track of story and gameplay elements when running Dungeons & Dragons.
Cutting down on prep time
Rather than flip through my Monster Manual at the table, I prefer to have the stats for monsters on individual cards. I'd spend 20 minutes or so of my three-hour prep copying stat blocks — that's a fair chunk of time allocated to admin. I somehow convinced myself it was a good timesaver to spend 40 hours making digital stats for every monster.
Fifth edition licencing works under the Open Gaming License (OGL), which means only content sanctioned in the System Reference Document (SRD) is legally publishable. There are around 200 stat blocks in the SRD, so that's about a third missing from the Monster Manual.
There are lots of sources replicating the official style of fifth edition stat blocks, but I wanted to improve on the original. Everything else out there works mostly on vertical layouts, so I explored a more horizontal approach.
I had four main ideas when starting this project:
- Challenge Rating needs to be prominent
- Attacks and abilities need to be prominent
- Card sizes need to be uniform
- Cards should be easily printable in black and white
Overall, I think I've accomplished those goals. There are a few changes I would make if I did the project over—and I would never want to start this mammoth project again—but I'd get rid of the gradient in the background, move the speed/HP/armour boxes to the top, and I'd redraw all elements to look prettier.
I remember watching Phil Fish approach complete mental breakdown in the Indie Game documentary and thinking, "Oh Phil Fish. It'll be OK." He touched on the idea that by the time you've finished a big project, all the work you did at the start of the project looks bad in hindsight, because your skills have improved as you've worked. That's how I feel about all my products on DriveThruRPG. If I let myself, I would rehash and redraw forever, so I ignore that instinct. Rather than revisiting old successes, I'm chasing new challenges .
That said, I have been redrawing my character sheets and they look fucking sick.