I have an Excel sheet serving as a master spell list for a tabletop game. Each row (save for row 1) contains the data for a spell: Name, Target, Range, Duration, Function, Effect, Subject, Level, and Description. (Row 1 contains headings for the filters.)

There is a specific set of values for columns B through G (Target through Subject), and those values define which spells a character might be capable of casting. For example, "Agony" has Target: Individual, Range: Seen, Duration: Sustained, Function: Genesis, Effect: Diminish, Subject: Body. If a caster doesn't know how to cast "Subject: Body" spells, he or she cannot cast Agony, despite knowing all of the other criterion.

I want the spell list to be filterable, so that a player may be able to easily find what spells are available. There is one little problem: some spells have multiple values for Effect and/or Subject.

For the moment, I have the relevant values alphabetically sorted within their cell as a comma-delimited list. For example, "Cloak of Bats" has Effect: "Animate, Combine, Separate" and Subject: "Animal, Construct". This setup helps to reduce redundancies in the filter dropdown list (the game book does not sort the effects/subjects alphabetically), but I still have more checkboxes than I'd like in these two columns.

I want my Effect filter to have only 9 checkboxes: "Select All" and the 8 different Effects in the game (as opposed to the 26 that are currently there). If I select Animate, Combine, and Separate, then Cloak of Bats will show up; if I deselect Separate, Cloak of Bats will disappear. Similarly, I only want 20 checkboxes in my Subjects filter, rather than the 53 that currently appear.

If possible, I'd like to accomplish this task without VB, but I understand that may not be feasible. If VB is the only option for this problem, that's fine.


I want this:

Effect filter-current

To look like this:

Effect filter-desired

Without changing my data set.

Changing "Effect" into three separate columns (or four, in the case of Subject), is not a useful solution to me. Compare for example the cases of "Animate, Forge, Modify," "Animate, Modify," "Forge, Modify," and "Modify, Reveal." In almost all cases, I would be forced to repeat the same filters on three or four different columns.

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  • A screenshot would be helpful. I think if you separate the comma delimited column into 3 columns this will be much easier – user222864 Sep 9 '13 at 7:32
  • Added images. Hopefully that makes my intent more clear. – Brian S Sep 9 '13 at 12:41
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    this is not possible even using VBA. This isn't a functionality that excel supports. – user222864 Sep 9 '13 at 12:43
  • @mehow Are you sure it's not possible to like... create a custom filter dropdown in VBA? There might be some very long and complicated way =P I personally would go for MSAccess and create a form with checkboxes for each effect then run a SQL query against the data, outputting in a subform. Maybe even make it live select based on what is being checked and unchecked for increased interaction. – Jerry Sep 9 '13 at 17:58
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    Nothing is impossible with excel. Do you have a sample of the workbook we could work with? – Raystafarian Sep 10 '13 at 11:19

I feel like a simpler solution would be to just use the Text Filters as you can see in your screenshot. I understand this might be more time consuming for the player than the ideal solution which you want.

So, the alternative is to use VBA. This is unfortunate given your initial reservation to it, but I don't see any other way if you want the checkbox functionality

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