Jun 23, 2010

DM Tools: The Screen's the Thing

It's been a while since I did a Tools article, but during the last game session, it struck me how often I rely on this simple, but very handy device for bits of data at my fingertips.

When I first started DMing, I only used the screen for it's most common function, to hide the adventure notes and roll dice. Now I find myself relying just as much for the information available on the screen as well.

And right now, my favorite screen is the 3.5 DM screen from Goodman Games. What I find more surprising is that while I'm running a Dragonlance Campaign, I rely more on the Goodman Games screen than I do on the official Dragonlance 3.5 Screen. I've even tried the 3.5 screen from a Paizo-produced Dragon magazine.

Interestingly, I never tried the office 3.5 screen from WotC, I never liked the idea of the panels being on their side, especially since I usually tilt the darn thing to read what's at the bottom on most screens. I actually wish screens were taller than their current height, not shorter as the WotC screen tried.

Maybe it's the layout, or how wide it can be--since it's actually two 4 panel screens, the whole thing can stretch wide enough to take over an entire end of a table (at least most tables I've played at), but I find that whatever info I'm looking for, I can easily find on this version of the screen. Not only does it list what actions are move or standard (and which can provide an attack of opportunity), but also what the penalties for various effects are. When the mage cast a spell that "dazzled" the hobgoblin, the Goodman Games screen detailed what that meant in game terms. That's mighty handy to me in the middle of a game, especially in the middle of a combat.

So, for all the DMs out there, are you just as devoted to one screen over another, or is this just another form of my OCD rearing it's head?