Review of the 5e DM Screen

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The DM Screen is glossy, full-color (on both sides), with 4 panels. Each panel is about 8.5″ x 11″ and in a landscape orientation.

The following is a quick review, but I won’t explain every single table on the screen (not sure if I’d get in trouble with WotC?).

The 1st panel has a bunch of tables for quick n’ dirty NPC creation. Very basic, tags for things like Ideals, Bonds, Flaws and a name generator. That last part allows name creation with 2 or 3 syllables. Pretty neat: could be used to come up with names of places, magic items and geographical features. However, if your campaign isn’t set in a generic fantasy world, it won’t be that handy. In that case, I’d grab a sticky-note with a Name table from something like Stars Without Number and cover that part with more relevant material. The bottom left corner of this panel is devoted to some artwork. This can be used for inspiration or it’s space for your own sticky-notes. Either way I’m happy.

The 2nd panel outlines Conditions. These are just like the ones in the Player’s Handbook (cute sketches included). Very handy: I love conditions.

The 3rd panel has a few more Conditions, just like the 2nd panel, and the rest has a bunch of catch all useful tables for things like Cover, a Skill list and setting DCs. Not bad, generally it’s all useful info.

The last panel has tables for travel, encounters and basic guidelines for suitable damage ranges for different character levels. Again, useful generic stuff. Although my peers were not impressed with the Something Happens! and Quick Finds tables, I love them. Sure, there’s some cliché stuff in them, but they could help a DM when they’re uninspired or stuck. Like the 1st panel, the last one has a chunk of artwork on it (almost a third of the panel is art). Again, I like it because it’s inspiring (images of giant monsters smashing towns always are for me) and because it’s room for my own notes and campaign-relevant tables. Room for more sticky notes!

Overall I’m very pleased with this product. It has hit all the right notes for me:

  • Elegance (breathing room: it isn’t too crowded)
  • Utility (I can see myself frequently checking all of these tables)
  • Customizability (the extra empty space can be filled with my own material)

For DMs wanting margin-to-margin tables for just about everything: skip this one. Make your own.

For more casual or improvisational DMs who care less about rules-minutiae, I’d suggest googling some photos of this product and see if it might be for you. I won’t post any images here in case of some sort of copyright law.

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