usability test and DM screen

I’m putting together a new GM screen because I found out that AC7-1 (that came with my Italian D&D Companion set) is kinda useless to me and my players as all the tables on it are either used when a new level is gained (so they can be in a manual, as they don’t need to be referred to more than once every few games) or are not used due to rules revision (percentile thieving skill scores).

As I usually run hexcrawls or dungeons, mostly improvised (as my players manage to derail even a sandbox), I made a list of the the bits I referred to more often. In randomish order:

  • NPC reactions (B24, Moldway Basic)
  • death’s door (homebrewed version of Jeff Rients‘s)
  • dungeon stock and unguarded treasure (a riff on B52 and Sham‘s)
  • treasure tables (B45)
  • wandering monsters, level 1-3 (B53-54), but could do with a better selection
  • missile fire ranges (B27)
  • character movement (homebrewed variant of B27, integrating armours, AC and encumbrance)
  • overland movement and trasportation (Expert set, sadly not integrated yet with above table)
  • campaign and dungeon maps
  • monster stats (but could do with a short summary)

Players often referred to:

  • armor, weapons and equipment lists (B12)
  • their campaign map, dungeon maps and other handouts
  • the Expert set fortification shopping list, mostly for drooling 😉

This gave me the idea of having a three panel screen with a panel devoted to “dungeon improvisation”, panel that can be covered by a one-page-dungeon or by the campaign map (with a paperclip) as it’s not going to be used much during overland travel or while going through a “pre-made” dungeon. The idea of adding a fourth panel with town/npc improvisation tables, to be maybe covered with random encounters or features specific to the current (non city) locale (mirroring the dungeon improvisation panel usage) seems also a good idea.

On the players’ side, their maps and handouts can be paperclipped to the screen, covering what they don’t need.

Do you use a screen? Do you have any advice? Any table or content I should include on any side of the screen? Please leave a comment. 🙂