Game: Random Megacore DM Screen 2002
Publisher: Random Megacore
Review Dated: 29th, May 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
For an age, it seems, the most popular download on RPG Hoard has been a downloadable DM screen. It’s actually had over 15,000 downloads. You may ask, “What on earth is a downloadable DM screen?” and I may very well reply, “It’s a special electronic format which you save to your hard drive and then watch as electrons rise up, pour out from your floppy disk slot and slowly congeal together to form a solid DM screen,” but then, I’d be pulling your leg. You download a zipped up PDF file, print it out and then stick the pages onto cardboard you’ve found yourself. That’s how my very first GM screen came to life. It is easy enough to collect the backing cardboard from pads of A4 paper.
This popular DM screen has just gone professional. It’s been updated, enhanced, improved and put on sale at RPG Now for a mere $5. Sure, I can do the maths, $5 is more expensive than free but the new edition has full colour artwork and eight pages packed with player and DM information.
That last point was the first bit of lateral thinking that impressed me. I guess, in my cynicism, I’ve become used to the big RPG companies sticking average quality artwork onto the player’s side of the screen. Have you ever tried to run a darkly political Dungeons and Dragons game while the players were stuck facing the fantasy melee on the official screen? I can assure you that it’s not wildly conducive to the mood and atmosphere you’re trying to build up. If you can’t find a DM screen that suits the mood of your game then a much better idea would be to leave the players facing neutral text, better still, useful text. The front panel depicts a subtle icescape but the left and right player side panels contain printed information. Actually, it’s a four panel wide DM screen so I suppose only one of the two front panels will have the picture but the other three continue with the neutral winter-land in the background.
It’s a full colour screen. My printer is only black and white – although I’ll admit that in this day and age more and more of us have colour printers. This does affect the screen; it’s not nearly so pretty as a black and white entity as it is with colour. More importantly, though, is that the text is still readable when you print it off in black and white.
There are actually some new rules on the screen. You’ll find suggestions for critical hits and misses for weapon and magical attacks. It’s a nice touch but I’m not sure it would be my first choice as the information that faces the players.
The DM’s side of the screen is packed with information but not overcrowded. I’ve found everything from the hardness of different types of doors to the psionics chart. The Difficulty Challenges listed on the screen actually reach all the way up to 120 in some cases – just for Epic Level characters.
This version of the DM screen is an improvement on the free version. I’ve not found a solo (as opposed to one bundled in with another RPG supplement) DM screen from the usual publishing crowd; they’ve been too expensive for too little. You can’t really accuse Random Megacore’s screen of being too expensive but I’m not sure how many of those gamers who find a DM screen critical to their game will swop their usual screen for a downloaded one. Mind you, at only $5 for a copy, I imagine a fair few will take a look at their options.
Very interesting review. Personally, I’ve always found the bought dm screens to be somewhat flimsy in quality in the past, so resorted to making my own from cardboard box panels. I then customised all player related panels on the exterior with information and charts they required, and similar on the inside for myself, the dm.Still going strong after fifteen years.