I took a trip today to my FLGS (Friendly Local Game Shop) which for me is Yotta Quest in Hamilton, Ohio to pick up the new D&D DM Screen. DM screens seem to have lost favor in recent years, maybe due to the uptick in more cooperative based story-games were they can been seen as a barrier between the DM and players. Personally I’m a fan of them and was happy to pick it up. I wanted to share some pictures and thoughts of the newest edition DM Screen.
The cover, or the side the players would be looking at, is comprised of 4 panels
L – R they look like this:
The art looks great, but I’ll admit i’m a little under-whelmed at the imagery. It is consistent with some the previous art we’ve seen on the covers of the PHB, MM and DM but I would have rather had a Dragon (in a Dungeon) on the DMG, MM or PHB and then something else on the Screen. It’s a minor quibble.
Now for the meat n potatoes: What’s on the inside? Here are the four panels that you as the DM would be seeing
This panel contains 5 random charts that all revolve around creating NPC’s. You can roll for a NPC’s Characteristics, NPC’s Ideals, Bonds, Flaws and lastly there’s a 3 step process for creating names on the fly. For me, this is likely going to be the most valuable part of this screen. I love to run my games with a heavy Improv bent, but I am TERRIBLE at creating NPC names on the fly and these Characteristics and Ideals, Bonds, & Flaw charts will help me create more fully fleshed out NPC’s as well. Panel 1 – Big fan
This panel contains the first 2 of 3 total column dedicated to the Conditions a PC or NPC/Monster might suffer in a game (Such as: Blinded, Grappled, Paralyzed, etc. . .,). The little art pieces around it are a nice touch and I think conditions are a good thing to have on here (I know i’ve already had to look several of these up in-game ) but I think they easily could have saved some real estate and condensed all 3 columns into one panel and then had more room for other things later on. Panel 2 – like, but not love
This panel contains the remaining conditions and a chart overview of Exhaustion. After that we have 5 charts
1. Setting a DC with ranges of Easy (5) to Nearly Impossible (30) – Super handy!
2. Cover. Since this doesn’t exactly follow the normal Advantage / Disadvantage mechanic it’s a handy chart
3. Obscured Areas – An okay selection, but not one I had to have
4. Light – shows difference sources of light and their light radius and duration – I could do without
5. Skills and associated Abilities. I think this is a biggie. I’ve seen dozens of questions one Reddit or other forums about abilities and skills (although this DOESN’T explain how Proficiency works with abilities to make skills it’s still super handy for the screen) – Big fan.
Panel 3 – mixed bag
The last Panel contains another 5 charts
1. Travel Pace: shows distance traveled at the three exploration speeds (fast, normal, slow) how far you can travel at each speed, and any effects that pace has on your group
2. Encounter distance: Would be helpful to know when a party might have an encounter in various terrains. For my style of game not useful, for a highly combat and tactical game probably good to have around
3. Damage by Level and Severity: Great addition for the Improv DM (like me). So when you are busy just making stuff up and need to know how much damage that trap you just thought up would do you can quickly see that based on the level of the party as good range of damage to make it balanced.
4. Something Happens! noticed a lull in your game? People drifting off or checking their phones? Roll a d20 and see what just happened: might be a Meteor flashes across the sky, or A tremor shakes the ground, maybe all the lights go out or someone gets a sense of dread or foreboding. Great chart to help keep the story going
5. Quick Finds. Did your party decide to break into the house next to the house where the bad guys are? And then they decided to poke around before they set up their ambush? well, now you have a handy d12 chart to help figure out what they may have found when you didn’t think before hand of what they might find. Things like a Body, or a Letter, maybe a Secret Message or A mysterious Insignia. This chart has you covered.
Panel 4 is my second favorite panel
To close, the 4 panels jump between two types of DM’s (IMO) they have charts to help Improv DM’s quickly come up with details that make it harder for your PC’s to know that you are just making it up on the fly and charts that help the Prep heavy DM’s manage their games more efficiently. I think overall it’s a good accessory and I’m glad I got a copy. I’ll be using it soon.
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