We’re hot off the heels of one of the most anticipated releases from Wizards of the Coast. No, not Tomb of Annihilation, the Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated! Since the release (and disappointment) of the first DM Screen for 5e, fans have been clamoring for an upgrade with more relevant information to use.
Of course, many DMs make their own screen or buy a customizable one, filling them with homemade or downloaded charts and rules references. But for those who like the official screens or just like the layout (4 landscape panels is amazing), this “reincarnated” DM screen may be just what you’re looking for.
You can watch the above video for a quick tour of the differences between the old and new 5e screens, or keep reading below for pictures and what I think about the changes.
The older screen features an awesome scene of heroes taking on a red dragon while being flanked by kobolds. It’s a great “action” shot that inspires heroism, and quite frankly one of my favorite designs I’ve seen.
The new screen features an ancient red dragon flying away, poor soul in its grasp, from a burning city, red smoke rising high into the sky. While I enjoy both, I do actually prefer to older design, but there is something to be said about a change of pace, and hopefully my players can appreciate that, too.
Without a doubt, this is where the most change comes in. They completely gutted what was here, which to be entirely honest, was never useful to me. Originally this section featured tables for generated NPCs on the fly, including characteristics, ideals, flaws, bonds (sound familiar?), and a 3 part name generator. I can see this potentially having been good for a new DM who either 1) isn’t comfortable just thinking up a name on the fly or 2) one who hasn’t yet found the wonder on online name generators.
However, the new left panel is quite possibly the most useful panel to any DM. It features the nice little graphic from the Magic section in the Player’s Handbook that shows the shape and point of origin of the different spell shapes. It lists out every action in combat (including the oft-forgot Dodge and Help actions, a good reminder for DMs that minions can be giving your BBEG advantage against the heroes). It gives you the rules for jumping, long and high, as well as suffocating and concentration. As someone who wants to include more drowning scenarios and always forgets to ask for concentration checks, this is a godsend. Lastly, the panel is finished off with a quick box explaining what a character can do on their turn. Overall, this is a relevant panel for new and old DMs and will be helping me out a lot at the table.
The middle section, comprised of the entire mid-left panel and half of the mid-right panel, is the same. It has the images taken straight of the PHB concerning conditions and exhaustion. Still as useful as ever, though I still believe they could have condensed this information and squeezed even more on here.
The right section takes the rest of the mid-right panel and the entire right panel, and shows a reorganizing of old tables, removal of some random generators, and the addition of some very nice information. Since it’s a bit of a cluster to talk about where they moved everything, I’ll mention what was removed, retained, and added.
As far as removal goes, they got rid of two random generators and a very nice picture of the Tarrasque terrorizing a city. The generators were a ‘Something Happens!’ table, where you would roll a d20 for a random event. This would be anything from ‘a door opens’ to ‘the lights go out’ to ‘someone glimpses the future’. All things that could almost happen anywhere, and are vague enough to give a push. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have this covered up with my players’ stats I printed up. The second one is a d12 table for quicks finds; different treasure such as artwork, jewelry, maps, letters, etc. Again, not awful, but I retain my own tables for such things.
As far as what remains and was moved around, we have: rules for cover, obscured areas, light sources, skills and associated abilities, DC setting, travel pace, encounter distance (for terrain, audible and visibility), and damage by level and severity.
And for additions, they added tracking DCs (based on the ground surface and some modifiers), object hit points and armor class, the cost of services and food, drink, and lodgings, and the nice size comparison chart that shows from Tiny to Gargantuan creatures visually. These are all helpful things to have at a glance as some things like the object information is a bit obscure and the costs of services are things I often forget and make up, often ruining the economy in the process.
I would say the new DM Screen Reincarnated is a much needed replacement for anyone still rocking the original DM Screen, and if you’re out to buy your first… well, it’s going to be hard to find the original now anyway, so you might as well by the new one. The new information is invaluable, more so than any random table will ever be.
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