After prepping for the session to the exclusion of almost any other free time activity, game called on account of to few players.
On the other hand, I did pick up a copy of the new D&D 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Screen. My views on it are mixed.
1 – I love the construction of the screen. It’s manufactured as if it were four hard back book covers linked on the short edge to make a very nice feeling, and from the player side, looking DM screen.
2 – The artwork is wonderful.
3 – Two or three of the tables on the screen could be quite useful, especially for DMs who wing their sessions a lot.
1 – There are very few of the tables I’d expect to see on a DM screen. Most of what’s there are non essential information: The first panel is entirely filled with five NPC generation tables. The only one truly useful in my view is the Random Name Generator. The NPC characteristics tables, which are roughly equivalent to the random PC Background tables really don’t serve any purpose as far as I can see.
Panel two is filled with a very large, and space wasting pair of boxes with pictures showing the various Conditions that characters can find themselves in; poisoned, stunned, etc. I suppose this could be there because, if you happen to be one of those DMs who use the initiative tents on the screen, then nothing important gets blocked.
Panel three starts with yet another of the boxes from panel two. Then you get a roughly two inch wide gap with nothing, until the bottom two inches of the screen, then you get what may arguably be the most important table on the thing. A very small table showing DC difficulty numbers. You then get a table detailing cover bonuses, obscured areas, how far light sources provide light, and a table where it shows the skills and what attribute they belong to.
Panel four likewise has a blank section (well artwork) covering the final 3rd of the panel, thus wasting more space. Here you get a table showing travel speeds, encounter distances, the distance sound is hearable, and a damage by level and severity. The final two tables again cater to the DM who makes stuff up on the fly; Something Happens! followed by a table of things to have the characters find.
2 – Because of point 1, there is almost nothing really worth while on the DM side of the screen. I’ve had several DM/GM screens over the years, and they’re usually crammed with important tables and charts, stuff that will likely come up in a session and should save you time looking them up in the books. This has almost none of that, like it’s simply a screen to hide your notes.
Conclusion: If you like having a DM screen for the tables on it, it’s really not worth the $19.95 cover price. If you don’t mind the tables being lacking, it’s solidly constructed, probably the nicest screen I’ve seen in that regard. I got it on a discount so, I’m not to upset with it, but could have been happier.