Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Behind my GM screen

After the Freeport game last week, I cleaned up the table a bit and took some photos of my area. I was inspired by this great post on Gnome Stew from two weeks ago, and I thought I would take some time to point out how I set up my own gaming tools. I fell into the routine of setting up this way after the first few sessions. It helps me feel prepared by having everything in its place.

Going from left to right:
  • The big stack of sourcebooks (more on that later).
  • A small dry-erase board. Useful for quick maps, sketches, or combat stats.
  • The stack of initiative cards.
  • My hand-drawn map of the Southern Ocean (nice quality version coming soon...).
  • A folder with my NPC name/place lists, fan-produced True20 cheat sheets and panels for the Narrator's Screen of Doom.
  • A clock.
  • A pile for the players: printed copies of the rulebook and various Companions, player cheat sheets, and the Pocket Player's Guide.
  • My planning notebook: a graph-paper-lined legal pad where I write all of the prep for upcoming sessions. You would also find my version of the triad sheet for the session in here.
  • A fistful of d20s.
  • My session notebook: a yellow lined legal pad where I record the events of the current session. I also record combat information and any other during-the-session notes here.
On the table proper is my Chessex mat, minis-scale ship plans, scratch pads and pencils. Not seen in this picture is my MP3 player and portable speaker, both strapped under the table, randomly shuffling pirate-themed soundtrack music.
You'll notice that, despite the title of this post, there isn't a GM screen on the table. I've been running screenless for some time -- possibly since the zombie/Cthulhu game in 2000? -- after seeing how it has worked for Edige. I've found that, for me, a screen creates an artificial psychological barrier between me and the other players. I love the idea of a screen, and I like having all the necessary charts in one easy-to-use place. I don't want to create the illusion of secrecy, or the impression of GM tyranny that a screen implied in the days of D&D Past. If I use one now, it would be off to one side and not directly in front of me.

The big stack of Freeport sourcebooks... not including Broadsides! and Corsair.

1 comment:

Lori said...

To screen or not to screen-that is the question! :) The information you provided will help future and current GMs set up their spaces.

Have you thought of turning this into an article? Like all of your posts, this is a great one! :)