In light of the sudden increase in people looking for options to roleplay online, I thought it might be worth sticking up a how-to guide on taking a character sheet, which you might otherwise have printed out for use at the table, and setting it up so that it can be shared with others around the world (and who will be able to see it updated as you fill it out).
Sorry if you find some of the steps rather obvious. I am writing this as if it were for the benefit of my less tech-savvy colleagues and relatives. As such, it is also rather picture-heavy.
To get started, you need a Google account and a pre-made character sheet. For the purpose of this tutorial, I grabbed the freely available character sheet for Old School Essentials to work from. Do go and check it (and the rest of the OSE product range) out. If you don’t have a Google account, there will be an extra step where you can set one up.
First things first – you need to turn the character sheet into an image document. If it comes already saved as a JPEG or PNG file, you can skip this stage and go to ‘Making the character sheet online-friendly’, but most character sheets comes as PDFs.
Converting the character sheet into an image
You will need to open it up in some form of PDF reader. If you don’t have Adobe or something similar installed, you should be able to right-click the document, choose ‘Open with’ and select an internet browser.
Rotate the sheet so that it’s as large as you can get it while still all being visible, and take a screenshot.
Paste that screen shot into MS Paint or some other image software, and rotate the sheet back to its preferred orientation.
Save it wherever you feel most appropriate, being sure to save it as a PNG file (for a better quality end result).
Great, now you’ve got your favourite character sheet as an image.
Making the character sheet online-friendly
Now we will need to submit ourselves to the almighty Google corporation. Go to docs.google.com/presentation. If you don’t have a Google account, this is where you will be prompted to make one. If you do have one, this will present you with a couple of options to create a presentation. Create a blank one.
It brings you to a new document. If you’re familiar with Microsoft Powerpoint, a lot of it will be quite recognisable.
Get rid of the default text boxes – you will be creating your own later.
Now we find out what size the character sheet is. Right-click the image document wherever you saved it, go down to Properties, and then Details, and you should see its height and width in pixels.
Go to File and scroll down to Page Setup.
The Page Setup box will let you customise the size of the slide, and you want it to be as close to the character sheet as you can get it. Go down to Custom, change the measurement units to pixels, and put in the appropriate width and height.
With that, your presentation slide should resemble the shape of your character sheet. Perfect.
Go to the Slide menu, and head down to Change Background. Choose Image allows you to upload your character sheet image file as the slide background.
What this means is that you can now mess around with the slide, drawing text boxes wherever you want there to be an editable entry, and there’s no risk of messing up the layout of the character sheet design itself.
Adding editable entries to the character sheet
There’s a button along the toolbar at the top of the slide. Clicking on that let’s you then drag an appropriately-sized text box wherever you like.
My advice would be to place all the text boxes you want to use going forwards, turning the sheet into a form to be filled out, and then you can save it as a base copy from which you can create new characters as and when old ones die off.
Sharing the character sheet with other players
Once you’ve filled everything out, you’ll want to share it so that your GM and other players can see it. Look to the top right for the Share button, click on it and then on the Get Shareable Link option
This will give you a link which you can give to anyone you want to have access to the sheet.
And if you want the sheet to be one that these people can also modify themselves, click on the Can View drop down menu and change the permissions.
If you’re the GM, it might be worth considering setting up the character sheet yourself, and then duplicating it so that everyone has a character sheet within the same document, making it a lot easier to jump from one to the other.
And there you have it! Now you can make use of all those character sheets you actually like the look of, rather than those soul-less spreadsheets you might have been using up till now.
Do let me know if you found this helpful, and if you have any comments or suggestions to make with regards to using Google Slides!
Here’s one I made earlier for a Knave character: