Review: Green Ronin's Character Record Folio

Stopping into my local FLGS today to finally pick up a copy of Curse of the Kingspire, I spotted a few copies of Green Ronin's Character Record Folio and decided to take one home and check it out. I know this has been out for a while, but I decided to throw my 2 cents in now. Initially, when they announced they were not supporting 4E I had decided to just stay away, but but for five bucks I figured, well, what if it's good?

Now, I am going to be be comparing it directly to Goodman Game's Character Codex, because I have been using that for my character in Antioch's Scales of War campaign for a few months now, and I've gotten pretty familiar with it.

The first thing I noticed when cracking it open was that both inside covers have handy folder pockets for storing whatever else you'll need to bring with you. I like this because I've been using power cards (the ones you fill out that came with the 4E character sheets) and even though I paper clip them to my Character Codex I've often found them strewn all over the place inside my messenger bag. With the pocket folder I wouldn't really have to worry about that.

The first three and a half pages of the Character Codex has a very nicely organized character sheet, one that I like much better than the official character sheet, however the 'Power Index' section, where you list all of your powers along with their attributes is too small, too small to me in the same way the official sheet is laid out, which is why I use the power cards in the first place. But I don't really mind, I actually like using the cards. However if you don't, the Character Record Folio has about four pages sectioned off very similar to power cards for everything from at-wills to magic items to having one for your racial feature. And they are numbered to match exactly the number of utilities, encounters etc. that you get according to the Character Advancement table in the Player's Handbook. Nice.

Another cool thing about it is that it has a 'Companions' page with sections for the stats of a total six other players, whereas in the Codex it has a 'Comardes-In-Arms' section with room for only two other players. Something I would have used if it had room for everyone in my party.

Both contain a page dedicated to character advancement, and are pretty similar to each other, having a small section for starting ability scores. This is really great for tracking the powers you gain, as well as increases in ability scores and feats gained. I do like the Goodman Games version better because it is organized in a Microsoft Excel style table, making the whole thing neat and easy whereas the Folio has you fill everything out above dotted lines (like the rest of the Folio) and the dragon art piece in the background is a little too dark for my taste, and if your as nitpicky as me this could start getting on your nerves. Overall neatness makes for easier bookkeeping.

Both contain an adventure journal/campaign log, but again I like the Goodman Games version better because it is just more neat and easier to keep track of, with more room for writing.

Another thing I really dig is there is a page dedicated to Rituals. It includes everything you need to keep you from having to go back to the books when you want to use one, including type, time, duration, component cost etc., etc. The Codex only has a very small section for listing the names of your Rituals. I'm definitely going to be transferring my 8th level wizard I'm using in our Pyramid of Shadows game to the Folio just because of this factor.

One thing the Folio is missing that the Codex does have, that might matter to some Points of Light readers, is a section for drawing your pc. I always hated the old character sheets that didn't have a small section for that. However the Folio does have a pretty large section for drawing you characters coat of arms, and assuming most of you 4E'ers aren't playing in a converted Greyhawk campaign, you could just as easily throw at least a facial profile of your pc here. I will be.

I feel as though I'm skipping over basic structure, so I'll point out that the Character Record Folio does not have anything resembling a traditional character sheet. Everything is sort of expanded a bit and laid out in very simple sections. One thing it doesn't have that I think is pretty cool about the Character Codex is a section for you to make a copy of and fill in your ability scores and prop up on the game table for your DM to see, with a section on the back for reminders. I haven't had need to use it, but for a group playing with a new DM, and maybe new players, this could be a really useful tool.

Another thing to note is that the Character Codex from Goodman Games has a page for mapping out a dominion, as well as a page for mapping out a stronghold or hideout. Though there is more that could be discussed, this sort of brings me to my conclusion. If you are more into an old school look and feel and are playing in old school style 4E games, and can either memorize details about things like rituals, or don't mind hitting the books often, the Character Codex is pretty cool, and I've been happy with using it over the last few months - just for the fact that the character sheet is better than the WotC one. It does seem as though it is marketed for people looking for a nostalgic addition to their games. However if you want something to track your character with that has a new look and feel, one that really matches the new feel of 4th Edition, the Character Record Folio is more than worth the $4.95 price tag. I dig both, and will be keeping the Codex for my cleric in Scales of War, and will be using the Folio for my wizard.

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