Resource Review: The Green Screen (Lukearl): 3 Stars
What First Drew Me?
While looking for my next product to review, I wanted something that was a resource or mechanic, rather than a module. Though I haven’t had the opportunity to play in person much, I have been slowly assembling my own DM Screen, so The Green Screen caught my eye. It is Pay What You Want (PWYW) on Dmsguild, so there was no downside to taking the risk on it.
The 3-page (or 4 page, if you go landscape) screen is in a simple, non-distracting grey color with abstract designs in the background. The “bubbles” for the text sections are smooth and arranged well. There is a lot of content on the pages, which means less looking at the rules, and more quick references and rulings directly from the screen. As far as appearance goes, this screen gets an A-. It is really good, but not “breathtaking”.
What follows is a detailed review of the first page, and an overview of the others. Want to see the whole thing? Head over to DMsguild and download it!
Perhaps the first thing you notice on the screen is the rollable (2d6) weather table. I was very excited because I’ve been wanting to include more weather in my campaigns, and at first glance, this table seemed more randomized than the DMG one. But it is more confusing. If you roll a 12, for example, I think the outcome is “Angry or Silence”, or a on 3 its “Giddy or Precipitation”. Perhaps I’m missing an obvious point, but the table is confusing and definitely not what I’m looking for in a weather generator. The overview on the DMsguild site says its about a weather god’s mood–while unique it doesn’t provide the function I need. Rating: D
Another box on the first page highlights exhaustion rules in a clear and concise manner. Like everything on the screen, it also gives reference to the PHB (or DMG) pages on which the rules can be found. This box was well done. The only thing I would have done differently is to put it on the page with the other conditions. Rating: A
Immediately next to the exhaustion section is one for travel. Here it lists the distance one can travel at slow (stealthy) and fast pace by minute, hour and day. This is a mostly good representation of the PHB table, except that it’s missing the most important aspect: the distance a party travels at normal speed. I would take out the “per minute” and “per hour” sections (you can get those easily with some simple math), and add in the normal speed traveled per day, as well as on horseback, boat, and other common vehicles. Rating: B
The NPC table gives a basic overview of DC rolls for convincing a friendly vs. hostile NPC to do something based on their general disposition to you. It is well-done and useful. Rating: A+
Jumping and Cover
Jumping rules are one of those things that a DM should have memorized, but which you always seem to have to look up. Here it is, on the first page of the screen in just enough detail to give you what you need. The “Cover” rules are also nice to have immediately accessible. Ratings: A+
Here is another small, yet useful table that gives DCs for tracking a target over different types of ground for extended periods of time. Rating: A+
This table is suppose to tell you how much CR you have to spend on encounters based on “Total Party Level” and number of creatures. It doesn’t say for how many players (I assume 4) and it’s a simplified (though probably relatively accurate) version of the DMG/XGtE rules. I personally don’t find this useful, and if you have any more or less than 4 players, its going to make this table problematic (See Authors Comments at the end). Rating: B+
The random encounter table is an interesting take on how an encounter might start. You roll either 3d6 (for a possible “nothing of consequence”), or a 2d6 (for a definite encounter) and it’ll tell you what *kind* of encounter, but not give a specific idea. You’ll have to roll on a different table for that. While the idea of this is cool, some of the suggestions are ambiguous. For example, what is a “tangential encounter”? Other suggestions like a “puzzle or enigma” or a “local event” are rather self explanatory and could be fun, but if the DM rolls on the table for an idea, they probably want something a bit more specific. Rating: C
This is a simplified, yet useful, version of the DMG suggestions to build monsters by CR. While not extremely accurate (though CR seldom is) it is a useful tool for any DM that finds it necessary to come up with the basics of a quick, on-the-fly, monster for that unexpected encounter. Rating: A
A wonderful way to generate treasure in a relatively simple way, this table is a great way to generate money and other mundane items like gems, art, etc. (though you’ll have to roll on a different table again if you want specifics for any of those items). Rating: A-
A nice visual representation of each coin as it relates to a gold piece. It’s beautifully drawn but not very useful. Rating: B
A very useful table of how many hit points certain objects would have. It also includes hit points and AC of doors and walls depending on the materials with which they’re made. Rating: A+
Lifestyle, Services, Expenses
A series of three small tables, these outline the cost of various lifestyles (wretched, modest, wealthy, etc.), services, and other expenses. They don’t take up a lot of space, and are some of those things that are annoying to look up, and nice to have on a screen. Rating: A+
The other pages are filled with both good and “not-so-good” elements. Among some of the more awesome components are the visual representation of distances in “theater of the mind” style, and the drawing showing various light sources and their projection of light. Though, I must admit while the latter is cool, its also slightly confusing.
Some of the elements that didn’t work for me were the XP bar showing how much experience until next level (not really needed, in my personal opinion), the mob attack table (how often do people actually use those rules?), and the drawing of gems within the weapon damage graphics. In this last one, maybe there’s a greater point I’m missing (as they seem to connect to different weapons), but the meaning is lost on me without further exploration.
The “Purchasing Magical Items” table is extremely useful, but only available if you download the 4-page Landscape version, something that I don’t think would work with the set up of most DM screens. Perhaps with a little re-arranging it could fit with the other things, but that would risk getting rid of some of the beautiful artwork.
I am looking forward to using this as my own DM screen, even if just for the beautiful artwork. While some of the tables I don’t find very necessary, overall its very useful. I give this 3 stars, mostly because I think the overall selection of what’s included could be trimmed down and condensed to make sure it’s 3 pages in portrait as well.
I believe in supporting the creators, even if something is Pay What You Want. What would I pay for this? Probably $1, for now, with the potential to increase the value if some of the issues were fixed. Buy it here!
Authors Comments (Added 9/8/18)
After talking with the author, he had the following brief comments:
The weather table idea was that the weather would remain the same, eg. warm and sunny, but the feel of it would change based on temperament of the god, eg. angry could mean ‘close and claustrophobic’. If a double is rolled, the weather type changes based on a second roll on the right side of the table.
The CR budgets roughly work for a party of any size since it uses the party’s total level score as a basis. I wrote a blog post about how I arrived at those numbers here:
The gems on the weapon table are meant to be the damage dice for each weapon. Have had other comments about this so it’s certainly not obvious enough yet.