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D&D Dungeon Master's Screen (D&D Accessory) Hardcover – January 20, 2015
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Secondly, its 4 freaking high quality hardback book covers stuck together. This ain't your printed poster stock screens from 2nd edition, this is GLOSSY and thick. It makes me wonder if at $11 its a loss leader for WoTC.
As a new DM, I'd say about 3/4 of the info is actually useful. A lot of these commenters complain about lack of usefull information, but I think they are being overly picky. You can never have all the information you need in one screen (everyone is different, plays different, runs different encounters), but this screen gets you at least 80% there. Based on a recommendation from one of the commenters, I added a photocopy of the weapons table, which is something that I use every game. Not for damage, but every game a question comes up on whether a weapon is finesse or versatile, weapon ranges, and even weapon weights, since we are all new to 5E.
Its pretty obvious that the designers decided to go with a less cluttered view, and giving some attention to role playing with the NPC random generator panel. While I don't think I would actually roll on those tables, they provide a great inspiration to me as a new DM. So many times players want to engage in negotiations with NPC's and villians and then I am always asking myself "What IS this characters motivation?" Now I have a menu to chose from.
Here is my setup: I use small binder clips to hold up the weapons table on one side, and have a small version of the dungeon map with room numbers on the other for use with a campaign module on the other, On a center flap I have spreadsheet of the players basic info: name, race, class, archetype, background, alignment, skill proficiency, AC, and HP. It helps me remember names, gets a picture of the character in my head, and track HP counters so I know how close everyone is to death. The most useful thing I have found is by putting the skills up there it reminds me to remind the players when they can use their skills in any given situation (i.e. you can roll Insight to see that he speaks the truth, or you can roll Arcana to remember an old tale you heard involving that type of monster).
Anyway, get this beautiful and functional reference and piece of artwork, print yourself out a spreadsheet that works for YOU, and have fun with your friends.
Don't get me wrong, I love some good art. I just don't want it on the DM side of the DM screen. When I'm running a game, I need data. The screen consists of 4 panels. Each panel is about the size of a 8.5x11 piece of paper (landscape orientation). If all the art was grouped together, I'd estimate that about 2/3 of a panel is taken up. Then there are the margins. They're huge! There's so much space that could have been used to hold more information. For instance, I would have loved to have baseline monster stats handy for those times that I need to improvise an enemy. Some prices for a night at an inn and such? I could have used that too. Such things could have fit if they weren't concerned about the DM side of the screen looking pretty.
Now with all of that said, the DM screen isn't AWFUL. It does contain some useful information. Here's what you're getting:
- Panel 1: NPC Generation. Tables you can use to roll quick personalities, ideals, flaws, names, etc.
- Panel 2: Conditions (Part 1). If you happen to forget how invisibility works or the penalties for blindness, this is where you look.
- Panel 3: Conditions (Part 2), Cover, Light, and difficulties. Half of this panel finishes off explaining the 14-15 conditions a player may have. (Yes, it took 1.5 panels for this.) Then the other half covers some useful information like cover, obscured vision, difficulty class numbers, and which skills belong to which abilities.
- Panel 4: More miscellaneous information. Travel pace, distances of sight and sound, a random event table you can roll if you need a random event, some basic guidelines for damage by level tier (1-4, 5-10, etc.), etc.
This screen isn't BAD. It just isn't all that GOOD. If you need a screen, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have this at the table. It just won't cut it for my own quick-reference needs. I'll continue to have to have some papers and bookmarked books nearby at all times. Compared to the 4th edition DM screen, this one is a disappointment.