Pen & Paper tools for managing NPCs


I am about to run an almost Warp Shell game. I have recruited some D&Ders after great effort and want their first session to be a wide open sandbox. I have outlined several seeds and created NPCs and bad guys to support their choices. We play at a game cafe and I am trying to have all the info on paper and easily at my fingertips. This is a challeneg in balancing “trees killed” with “level of detail.”

I like the Heroes of The Hammer NPC format, but one page per NPC seems rather large. I am pondering a 4-up NPC info card, sort of like an index card character sheet. What paper tools do you guys use for managing NPCs at the table? Got examples to share?


There is a booklet form with like 4 characters per sheet floating around somewhere


Thanks. I actually used the search box before posting, but to no avail. Got a link?

I am knocking together a 4-up, but it is still just a character sheet (and utilitarian - no style at all ). I sort of hoped this post might reveal one of those super cool I-wish-I-had-thought-of -that solutions. An NPC tracker in a format that eludes me would be great. HA! :grin:


I was just searching too, it might have been in the google+ days.


I stumbled across this:

Looks WAY better than mine (but still just a character sheet and not a paradigm-shifting GM tool). I like it a lot, though.


Ok in the back of the core book 2nd edition is a 4 characters per page sheet, just look in the back where all the various sheets are


I would recommend stripping the character sheet to its essence. For example, SDIWChC represents all Attributes. If there isn’t a bonus then don’t write it. Most monsters in ICRPG have a blanket bonus (+2 to all rolls). So Smitty the Goblin could be written as: Smitty (gob) +2.
Let’s say you want more detail for Lars the Archer: Lars (arch) S1 D3 C2 A12 W2
S, D and C are attributes, A is armor and W is Weapon Effort. Hearts (or H) is only mentioned if it is more than one.


My Go-To Character Sheet I created a 3x5 char sheet awhile ago that might work for NPCs,


Very nice!

Still… I am hoping for a breakthrough tip on managing the NPCs. :grin:

OTOH… Perhaps printing a small deck of NPCs is as simple as it gets.

When it comes to actual character sheets, I love the several designs but usually opt for greatest utility for least amount of ink. That means little visual appeal, but info intact. Just sayin’… :wink:


For simplicity I use the following NPC method that often requires 0 paper:

*Rule of 3: Give +3 to the 1 or 2 stats that make sense for the character. Everything else is 0.This is the equivalent of given a character easy checks in areas of their strength and is easy to remember.
*For Armor simply add +1 if they’re wearing some and +2 if they carry a shield (+3 for both). Using a mini, or even the image of the character in my mind’s eye I remember this.
*If relevant, give one special power/spell/loot item.

So as an example:

A Paladin STR +3 & WIS +3 Armor +3 (he wears armor and caries a shield).

A Cleric +3 WIS. He knows Cure Spell (magic, so Magic Effort).

A Barbarian +3 STR & +3 Weapon Effort.

A Rouge +3 DEX & +3 Basic Effort. Wearing leather armor so +1 Armor.

I’ve found this works well for me. Using this technique I literally can pull them together on the fly or if needed I can fit a bunch onto one index card if I want to include a detailed spell or something.

For more detail, I like what @Sweenie_McGuffin posted above. the main thing is just write abbreviated notes for those things that are more than 0.


Here is a set of NPC sheets I made a while back and have enjoyed using, especially when tracking multiple monsters in battle. It doesn’t save the most ink but I could easily re-design it to have more white. I don’t know if this is anything like what you’re looking for though :slight_smile:


Good ideas here, so thanks to all. Until the “eureka moment” comes along, I am leaning towards a small NPC deck. This is for NPCs that matter and not mooks and their ilk.

Here is one semi-filled in with some details.

At this size, I get 8 NPC cards from a letter size sheet of card stock. Hmm… Still to ponder.


To save even more space, split that in half (between stats and Gene splicing) and print the second half on the back.


I realize you’re using Warp Shell, and this doesn’t quite fit… but for a fantasy setting check out:

It’s free, though there is an inexpensive paid option with better backgrounds. You get over 100 NPC images at 9 per page.
The art is good & there’s space on them for a few quick notes.