Character Cards for ATZMost of my games are run with large groups of players; typically from 4 to 7. Although the core of the group is usually the same, maybe half the players are different each time. This can make it hard for me to remember who is in charge of each unit or character as well as making it difficult for the players to know the capabilities of their command. To this end, I design character or unit summary cards for all the games I play - these cards sit in front of each individual and identify which forces that person commands. Note that I'm not a graphic designer or an artist by training, so these cards are functional rather than beautiful.
For ATZ, a card typically describes 1 or 2 characters. Here's an example of a pair who are very popular at my local club (all the kids want to play the guy with the fierce dog, though it's surprising how often he dies!):
- Game: I play a number of different games and sometimes even use the same models in more than one game system. It's important to be able to tell that this data is for ATZ and not for 5150 or some other game. Border colour can be used to distinguish factions (I've done this for other rules but not for ATZ) and layout can be altered for different game systems.
- Character: The name of the character(s) on the card.
- Picture: A picture is worth a thousand words! At least in this case, as it makes the card much more useful. It probably takes more time and effort to photograph a model than the time to create the rest of the card, but I believe this is vital to the usability of the cards.
- Synopsis: A data card can be very dry and boring. On my cards, I place a synopsis that is intended to give the player some insight into the character's behaviour and motivations. Of course, this doesn't in itself prevent a player from acting any way they wish. It might, however, make me (as gamesmaster) think twice about awarding "cool points" to a character who was described as a "pillar of the community" if they were played as a looter and backstabber.
I see Mr Braxton as a middle-aged suburbanite, possibly a used-car dealer or some form of salesman. He's clearly fond of luxury, as can be seen from his cigar and gold jewelry. Perhaps the very large dog is a sign of a bit of insecurity?
- Special Rules: Most cards won't have any special rules, but some do. In this case, Clancy the dog doesn't have a truly independent existence; his movement and actions are closely associated with those of Mr. Braxton (and it's perhaps not surprising in how many games the "superdog" has died defending his master against a horde of zombies after the REP 3/Slow Mr Braxton has fallen behind the rest of the party).
- Attributes &c: The stats and weapons for each character. Technically it would be sufficient to give just the name of a weapon or an attribute, as the full data could be looked up in a master chart. However, I find that this slows game play considerably and it's much more convenient to have that information duplicated here.