The original D&D character sheet is a marvel of simplicity compared to the ledgers you use to circumscribe your modern-day D&D dude. And the very best part of the whole sheet was the generous space left for you to draw your “Character Sketch or Symbol”.
The reason it was the very best part is because it opened up the field for you. Every other part of the page was a box designed to be filled with some number or set of letters–a tool that allowed you to interact with the rules set, funneling you down into specific lines of thinking.
Then along comes a box that says, “Open it up and draw something, kid.”
It was actually too much for me! I was intimidated. What could possibly go there? I couldn’t draw very well, and my characters never had “symbols.” But they could have. No reason they shouldn’t have.
The new thing from Wizards is… well, it’s got a big circle in the middle of it. That’s visually interesting. But it also has a little box above the circle labeled “portrait.” It’s a step in the right direction.
My ideal character sheet is a big drawing of your character smack in the middle of the letter-size paper. Then all the numbers and words are around the edges in the margins. Your intelligence-related stuff is near your head, your Strength-related stuff is near your arms, Constitution-related stuff near the torso, etc. But mainly, when you look at it, you see a bad-ass picture of your dude looking awesome and then there’s some other stuff too as necessary.
I still can’t draw worth a damn, but I’m much less inhibited to try and be bad at it these days. If I ever get another turn on the player side of the screen, I’ll give it a shot.