12 June 2021

On Crafty Players & Homemade DM Screens

Grace of the vaccine roll-out here my home campaign managed to get a face to face game in for the first time in months and my players presented me with a Christmas birthday gift of a new custom made DM screen.

Dragon artwork by the Bard

This was immediately pressed into use. Here you can see the terrace with my bodged-together DM screen - hacked together out of book packaging - and mostly used as a display surface for the campaign maps - realm, city and region.

And mid-game - the new screen.

Simply by aesthetics, we have a definite improvement - but wait, there is more! The crafty players plumbed the depths of metal-workshops across the nation and backed it with sheet metal. So now this, along with a handful of magnets gives a universal sticking surface. In addition, they worked up a packet of things to go on the back - spell cards, character quick-looks, and a weapons reference. I ported across the one thing I had stuck to the back of the old screen, an NPC list and tacked that on with magnets too.

This is very cunning stuff, I need to think some more on what I keep looking for in my notes and get it out of my notes pile and onto the inside of my screen. I polled some of my old play group and their ideas for things to go on the back of the screen included:
1. A mini dartboard with my characters heads
2. The discarded character sheets of the PC's I have killed
3. The exhaustion rules
4. A doom clock

I think what might be helpful are more mid-term events - the calendar with major campaign events to answer "how many days has it been since..." and a little weather report to keep note of the days weather. Another might be a list of the major NPCs currently around where the PCs are. These are things that remain constant for multiple sessions but change sufficiently often that I keep needing to check them.

One thing I definitely plan to do is the 'initiative tracker along the top of the screen' trick. Not sure where it originated, my first time seeing it live was my local Adventurers League - though I have seen it on The Chain. I am going to have to fully explore what I can do with a screen that is weighty enough it does not tip over after. Further testing required.

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