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D&D 5E What's really useful on a DM screen?


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Because I’m only playing online right now, I haven’t used a physical DM screen in ages. But I can say that it would have been really handy to have had cover rules at my fingertips in last nights game. Fortunately one of my players is a rules encyclopedia. I agree with conditions being helpful as well.
 



Lyxen

Great Old One
When you buy a DM screen, what info do you find really useful?
Nothing actually, I never look up anything there, remembering is enough in most cases, otherwise it's deep enough that a search enging gives me the answer quicker.

I still have them mostly for the ambiance and because they look nice...
 

Esbee

Dungeon Master at large.
I bought a 'blank' DM screen so I could put custo panels for my 1e game, it has things like encounter reactions, morale adjustments, Weapon type vs AC. Things I use but (at the time) hadn't quite memorized.

I have the 5e screen that came with the box set, which I find handy as I'm not as well versed with 5e, so having conditions and such right in front of me makes it easier, even though my newly minted 5e campaign is online. The screen is also low enough as to not obstruct my monitor. :D
 


Retreater

Legend
It really depends on the system. If we're talking AD&D, things like THAC0 charts, weapon speed modifiers, saving throws are useful.
If we're talking D&D 5e or PF2, things like condition descriptions, DC charts, descriptions of skills. If there are special properties for weapons/armor, that is useful. Range bands for ranged weapons.
What's never useful to me are things like random NPC charts, rolling for random events. That's stuff I do before the game, and if I need that during the game, the DM Screen won't have enough information to do it correctly anyway.
 



When you buy a DM screen, what info do you find really useful?
Content is relative/subjective, I think it shouldn't be difficult for a 5e game designer to determine what's must see info; but you're not going to please everyone. There are other things as important to me as content. It needs to have font and formatting that's easy to read. I prefer a 3 panel portrait format with tables on front and back. If it were up to me, absolutely no art which to me IMO is wasted space. Perhaps some option for customization but don't necessarily have a suggestion of how. Needs to be sturdy and durable. I'd be willing to pay a decent price $25-$30 as long as I was able to see a full preview of what content is on it.
 

TheSword

Legend
The most useful things for me…

Conditions
Weapon & armour table (as DM I’m always looking those things up)
Skills and which stats they link to (if you’ve played other games)
List of random names and surnames (though campaign specific)
Spell progression chart
Wealth per level and random treasure tables.
XP per CR creature table
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
On the outside - art. None of my players ever use it for a reference, and never have in my experience.

On the inside, tables I may have to look up while playing so nothing about XPs, or wealth and treasure generation because I do that sort of thing between sessions and don’t need the quick lookup.
So I want conditions, DC tables, tracking and other defined skill DCs, the social interaction table, object ACs and hit points, travel rates, improvised damage table, mob attacks.
 

On the outside - art. None of my players ever use it for a reference, and never have in my experience.

On the inside, tables I may have to look up while playing so nothing about XPs, or wealth and treasure generation because I do that sort of thing between sessions and don’t need the quick lookup.
So I want conditions, DC tables, tracking and other defined skill DCs, the social interaction table, object ACs and hit points, travel rates, improvised damage table, mob attacks.
This is a pretty good summation. I disagree with art only as it allows for more info at perhaps a somewhat larger font than what would appear on a single sided screen. Contanier capacities, light, thrown weapon direction tables were always useful for me too. IDC what edition it is bring back the 2E fighting/wrestling table.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
For a Level Up screen here's a list of things I'd want:

1) Conditions
2) Strife and Fatigue values
3) Page Number Chart for Journey Activities, Region Types, and Weather
4) A rollable table for Journey Hazards and Rewards
5) Travel Rates
6) Rules for Bulk Items
7) Renown Information for ease of tracking the party's fame
8) Expertise Dice Size Increase Reference
9) Initiative tracker (Just a set of numbers from 24 down to -2 where I can slide a paperclip down the side of the Screen or put paperclips to mark different people's initiatives)
10) A Banner across the inside top of the screen that says, in bright pink or red letters, "Remember to give out Inspiration liberally"
 



toucanbuzz

Legend
I use the Stratagem customizable DM screen (4 pockets on each side, all dry erase compatible). It was built high quality (e.g. after years of play, none of the sleeves have torn or given way). It came with default sheets for 5E (albeit with an error on a condition) and Pathfinder.

Need:
  • Conditions & Exhaustion. These get referenced all the time.
  • Player Tracker. Thanks to dry erase, I can change these. Names, passive perception, passive insight, misc section (e.g. profession or a RP note I don't want to forget), maybe an initiative tracker (though I find it faster to use paper).
  • Random Names. Because these vary from campaign, I find an insert much better than trying to guess ethnic flavor.
  • Sayings, Customs, Swears. Again an insert, but flavor to make my campaign come alive. The last 2 wouldn't work in a preset screen.
Useful:
  • Ability checks with examples or actual rules for each one. Likely 2 pages small print to make this work.
  • Combat cheat sheet. Possible actions and 1 line rules for things like Shove.
Outside Screen:

Exterior art is nice, but players aren't going to be spending their time staring at my DM screen. In my campaign, I have an insert spot for (1) map of the area, (2) homebrew rules, and (3) free spot for anything I want, such as major NPC art portrait.
 


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