Sunday, July 22, 2012

Game Master Screens

We talked about screens a short while ago, but I just want to throw out some ideas on making your own. Now a days with such easy access to scanners and copiers, anyone can so easily craft their own screens. As much as we feel that LQ does not require screens (because the rules are pretty simple: Attribute x 10% + Skill Level x 5% = Percentage Chance of Success), there are charts that you’ll want in front of you. Clearly this is also true of other games. Plus, you need to keep those maps and die rolls hidden from the players. You do need to make certain that the screens to do not serve to hide their rolls from you, because there will always be that temptation to cheat. OK, that was darker than this light little blog post was supposed to be, so on to other things. Screens are as easy as taping copies of charts onto cardboard. While you could use a cereal box (with the top and bottoms cut off), I prefer to use sturdier cardboard. Anything will do, but my favorite is to use the backs of legal pads. When you’re done with the pad, just cut off the stapled part at the top and the bottom is not only 8.5”x11” (perfect size for storing), but it is fairly sturdy cardboard. The cardboard they use to support most calendars is stronger and bigger, but tougher to transport to a game. Just duct tape the “pages” together. Duct tape is strong and will endure the constant folding and unfolding of your screens. While most published screens are three “pages” I prefer two page ones. They fold up easier. They adjust their size easier, and in my experience they just last longer. So go for three pairs of two pages. Get two binder clips, so you can hold them together and there is far less chance of them falling down. The binder clips let you change the size of the three screens, because you can have one screen completely block another if you’re squeezed for space. Plus, if you need to hang your map or something vital to the game session (but not the game as a whole), you can clip it up and in front of you without cluttering up your work space. Does it sound like we put too much thought into screens? OK, maybe we do. But what charts? The ones on the outside (facing the players) should be for the players. Usually this is character building/improving charts, but you might also want to put a gear costs charts. (The most frequent and thus annoying question from players is “How much does _____ cost?”) Meanwhile, the really juicy stuff like damage tables and critical tables can go on the inside where they are all yours. As silly as it sounds, decorate them. Find little illustrations and put them in here or there. We’re not talking about wasting two panels with a picture of a dragon or an army marching; we’re talking about heraldry shields, tiny dragons, and pictures of weapons. These tiny additions break up the monotony of tables and charts and prevent your game table from becoming boring. Boring is NEVER good!

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