When Shane talked me into going to my first D&D game ever, I didn’t know what to expect going in. I showed up, they gave me a character sheet, and set me loose figuring out how to do a witch with half levels in sorcerer in Pathfinder.
That was enough to distract me from the fact that everyone else in the game was playing characters that had been made for them, too. Including Shane.
He didn’t love that fact, and when his poor bard met with an unfortunate end, it was almost with glee that he told all of us casters to save our stabilizes and cures. The group decided that in the interest of time, they’d let him play a character he already had from a previous game who was about the same level, and he very happily whipped out his iPad.
At first I was curious about putting a character for a traditionally pencil-and-paper game onto a tablet, because wasn’t the point that it was all offline? But after I had to recreate my character page because I accidentally rubbed right through the HP section from having to erase it too often, I understood.
Since then, I’ve wanted to try building a character digitally rather than on paper, but it wasn’t until Silver—admittedly one of the least complicated builds I’ve ever tried—that I decided to go for it. Possibly only because I got tired of having all those sheets of spell cards printed when all I was using was Cure Wounds, but hey.
I did a bit of research, because I wanted to find a platform that would let me store spells along with all my character’s information, and I ended up at DiceCloud.
Note: Just to clarify, this post isn’t at all endorsed. This is just what happens when I Google “online character sheet for 5e,” spend way too long building and rearranging a character, and end up on several Reddit threads because I skipped the tutorial.
So here’s what I learned, and what I liked about it.
It’s all cloud-based—like the name would suggest.
This has to be one of the most literally named programs I’ve ever seen, but I like it! Because it’s cloud-based, I’m not limited to one device when working on my character. I can do all the heavy lifting and excessive typing on my PC, and then pop over to the game table and open my character sheet on my much more table-friendly phone.
It has a great library of items and spells.
When you add things to your inventory or your spell list, because of the way the library is set up, it pulls in a lot of key information like weight, attacks, and even your spell DC into the cards themselves so you don’t have to remember what it was and look up how to calculate spell DC a billion times.
Not that that’s from experience.
The only thing I was a bit disappointed with here is that it’s limited to the base game library, which means things like a forge cleric’s domain spells don’t really exist. But it’s easy enough to add spells from scratch, so as long as you have the right description handy, it’s not a huge deal.
It’s got a lot of great tools for organizing.
My biggest pet peeve with paper character sheets is that I can never remember where things are, even though I wrote everything out in the first place. Everything in DiceCloud is sorted out into tabs, so you’ve got your primary stats, features like attacks and bonuses from your race or archetype, inventory, spells, key character traits, and your journal all sorted out.
I found it a little confusing at first when I didn’t know where things went or how it fed into different tabs, but honestly, it’s pretty straightforward and if I’d paid attention to the tutorial I probably would have figured it out faster!
It also lets you colour-code things however you want, which then rearranges them to be in the order of those colours. It’s determined by default in DiceCloud, so custom arrangements aren’t really a thing, but still. You better believe I have the prettiest spellbook that ever existed in 5e.
The spells tab is awesome, but a little confusing.
This tab is where you’ll keep all your spells, and you can actually set up multiple spellbooks depending on your character and how you want to organize things. For example, I have a standard cleric spellbook, and I have a separate book where I keep my domain spells so I don’t accidentally mess up which ones I have prepared.
Spells themselves have a lot of room for customization, too. DiceCloud lets you colour-code individual spells, so I have mine all organized by their general use in battle—with things like attacks near the top in pink, buffs and general support utility in purple, and debuffs in blue.
It also lets you add things like buffs and attacks to individual spell cards. Most of the default spells already have this set up, but I recommend doing the same for any spells you add—because if you have attacks associated with a spell, and that spell is prepared, then the attack for that spell will show up in the Features tab where it shows you your equipped weapons and things.
It’s already made a big difference in how aggressive my so-called healer is!
For classes that need to prepare spells, you can use the little icon at the top-right of your spellbook to change which spells you have prepared for the day. Once you do that, those spells will show up in your attacks and whatnot, so you know what you can do for the day.
Though Shane doesn’t really make us pick spells ahead of time, I can only imagine how useful this would be for keeping track of which spells are ready for use.
And my favourite—it lets you program things like spell slots with formulas.
I will admit I was baffled by this at first when I went into a spell and saw a mysterious thing called a formula field, and this is absolutely what I spent the most time on Reddit for. With formulas, you can set up your character so certain things change based on specific circumstances.
For example, I used formulas to set up Silver so as she levels, she automatically gains the right number of spell slots based on the cleric table in the player’s handbook.
It was a little complicated to figure out, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know what most of it means, but with a little logic it’s pretty easy to adapt into an accurate setup so you don’t have to remember to change and add spells every time you level up.
To create spell slots, which show up under your Spells tab, you have to go to your Journal and add them under your class, which took me a while to figure out. Then, you can use Add Effect, choose Spell Slots, pick your level, and set it to Base Value.
The formula is 2+if(ClericLevel>=2, 1, 0)+if(ClericLevel>=4, 1, 0), where 2 is the base number of slots for that spell level at first level, and it essentially tells DiceCloud that if your class level is greater than or equal to 2, it needs to add 1 spell slot, and then again at level 4. Heck if I know what the zero is for but it seems to be essential.
I set this up for all spell levels right away, so I’m excited to test out how it works when I get to level 3 and gain my first level 2 spell slots.