One of the most essential yet overlooked pieces of dungeon master gear is the DM screen. While many publishers now offer great screens with beautiful art exteriors and useful information on the interior, upgrading your screen can give you a great opportunity to personalize and customize your gaming experience. While a starter DIY screen is functional, upgrading your screen can help elevating the gaming experience for all involved.
Here are some DIY solutions (of varying ease) to customizing and upgrading your DM screen.
Use A Pair of Presentation Binders
One of the best and easiest ways to set up a great DM screen is to use a pair of presentation binders. These binders have clear pockets on the outside of the binder (look for the ones with poly sleeves on both the front and back covers). You can put all sorts of great player-oriented information, or scene-setting art inside the pockets for players. You can also put useful information for yourself on the inside, as well as use some cut-and-stick whiteboard on the binders to track things like initiative while you’re using the screen. Need ideas? This is a great example information that’s useful for both DMs & players.
The additional benefit is that you can provide players with poly sleeves so you can keep their character sheets for them, as well as put in your campaign information inside the binder so everything is both protected and transportable when you’re not gaming.
Customize A Mini Trifold
If you’d like something that folds down flat, you can do some fantastic customization with a cardboard mini-presentation trifold. You can find one about 14″ tall, that opens up to be 22″ wide, and folds down to 14″ x 11″. Cut it down to size or if you’re feeling especially creative, cut a design into the top to make it resemble a castle wall, or whatever else you might fancy. You can find stencils and other cool cutout shapes online, like this dragon head. Just be careful with the exacto knife.
Since it’s corrugated, you can easily print and glue all sorts of reference information or custom art on both the outside and inside of the screen, with the added bonus of being able to pin information to display as it becomes pertinent. You can also use the exterior to flex your creative muscles and paint it up with designs, backdrops, or whatever else might inspire your players.
Build Yourself A DM Fortress
It’s pretty remarkable what you can do with some basic craft supplies. In terms of materials, you can probably do it for less than $20 of foam board, styrofoam, and paint. It doesn’t have to be that complicated, either. Here’s a 10-second video of how to assemble a great base for a DM screen using foam board and poster tubes:
With that said, if you want to really have a luxurious and fantastic screen, here’s one to inspire you:
Check out this pretty fabulous DM screen made by Paul Weber. It took him 14 working hours to build the screen, which is not only stunning but also offers 2 functional dice towers built in. Paul used plaster (and a mold from Hirst Arts), foam board, popsicle sticks, balsa wood, glue, and cheap acrylic paint, with accessories painted up from the dollar store (like the dragon statue). Even the banner is simply an image printed in colour on cardstock. You can peer behind the plaster and paint veneer and see the bones of the screen. Once you break down the basic shapes, you can see it’s not terribly complex, however labour-consuming it was to build.
So roll up your sleeves and get crafting! Don’t forget to send up photos of your cleverly constructed DM screens after you do.
What sorts of tips and tricks have you used to upgrade your DM screen? Let us know in the comments!
Featured Image Credit: Paul Weber (with permission)
Image Credits: Paul Weber (with permission), Elmers (Fair Use)
Teri Litorco is a YouTuber, past Geek & Sundry Vlogger, and all-around tabletop gaming geek. She’s often mistaken for a real-life gnome due to her diminutive stature, good nature, and perchant for tinkering and crafting. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She loves seeing your photos of your geeky projects!