Thursday, March 03, 2011

GM Screen discussion

Well, the other day I broke down and actually bought my first GM screen. Granted, I only paid about five bucks for it, and four of those were for shipping and handling, but it's still a milestone. As I mentioned in a previous post, that hardly means that I don't have any GM screens; this will bring my total to over half a dozen, I think. I've just never bought one before; I've had them given to me or I inherited them as GMs I knew bought new ones themselves. I am, however, still unsure where to go on my own homemade GM screen project. I started making up some tables on my laptop, but rather quickly decided that I was spending too much work recreating something that I already had, when scanned sections of screens I already own, cut and replaced in a new layout, would be a much "smarter" way to go about the work I wanted to do.

I also came up with another plan for a lot of my campaign specific material. Rather than putting text boxes full of names, I have spreadsheets with names, columns for male, female and family names (or others, as necessary), and separate tabs for different languages. While it means a little bit more to carry around, realistically if I'm running a game, of course I'm going to have a few sheets of stuff around in a folder anyway, so it's not really "baggage" in the sense that I'm going to struggle to figure out how to deal with these lists when I need names on the quick.

This has left me wondering what, exactly, I should put on my screen for campaign specific items. That was always the most useful to me in the past, but now I have another avenue to get names on the quick without looking at the screen. I've almost decided that it doesn't really matter that much what I have on the inner surface of the screen, as long as it's at least marginally useful, and that the screen is more about having an attractive bit of artwork on the front side to give me players something to look at while we're playing. So, for that, at least, the screen I ordered, the Eberron Deluxe Dungeon Master's Screen delivers; it's got a very long "mural" style piece of artwork by Wayne Reynolds (of course) and the whole thing was worth buying for the big poster sized map of Eberron alone (although I almost never run someone else's campaign, I still love looking at a good map anyway.) I'm almost thinking of just paperclipping or blue stickying a few personalized tabs on the GM side of the screen rather than attempting to create an all new one from scratch.
Speaking of Wayne Reynolds art, I've decided that I'm interested in Paizo's Inner City World Guide book that'll be coming out in pdf form in about two or three weeks, partly just so I can nab the cover illustration. At first I was not impressed with the concept; reprinting with minor updates a setting book that I already own, just to get me from 3.5 to Pathfinder rules. But, once again, Paizo have made the pdf version of the product attractively enough priced that I'd buy it for the art alone, even if I have little interest in the text. Other than that, the upcoming Ustalav book, and the Undead Revisited title may tempt me, even though I'm otherwise cooling on my excitement about Paizo (or any other RPG product, for that matter) stuff to buy. I still love reading through some of my other setting material and thinking about how I'd steal and adapt their better ideas--and I'm always on the lookout for a good map I can adapt, especially city maps.

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