What should be behind every GM Screen


Advice


Hi!

I would like to know what you guys think every GM should have at hand behind his GM Screen (besides the standard information within the GM Screen you can buy). Here is my list.

Random Encounter Lists
2-3 NPC's
Dices *g
Device to manage background sound
2-3 Traps
2-3 Diseases


Playboy

Shadow Lodge

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Whiskey.


12 people marked this as a favorite.

A Gm


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I don't use a screen.

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

A decent human being

I was lucky enough to get several of those actually ;-P

Lantern Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I try to pre-roll and pre-prepare random encounters just as if they were part of the adventure. For me, to make it truly random means a lot of unnecessary slow down during play and I am bound to play the encounter sub-optimally if I have to read/remember everything right on the spot.

Scratch Paper
Dice
Pencil
Notes


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Demogorgon.


My GM’s screen is my laptop which I have Hero Lab loaded on. Since Hero Lab has a built in dice roller I really don’t need anything else. I have the characters and encounters already setup in the program. I have word and excel files with notes and other game related information. Since I have PDF’s of many of the books those are also on it. When I run I sit at the end of the table so none of the players can see what is on the screen unless I turn the laptop towards them.

I never liked using a physical screen because they often block my view of the players and the battle map. The laptop is easier to see around and if needed I can close the lid and see everything.

It also makes keeping track of thing easier. Since all my records are on it all I have to do is to save the files I am working with and it is easy to pick back up. There are never any lost papers, or searching for the sheet with the information I need. To me it is a lot easier to organize the files on a computer than to sort through a stack of papers. Even If the laptop breaks or is stolen all my data files are being automatically backup to my network.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

1) Beverage of choice (e.g. Mountain Dew). You're gonna talk a good bit, best to have a means to wet your whistle right there.

2) Snack of choice. Something to munch on while the PCs deliberate, pontificate, and decimate stuff.

3) Dice. Something to make rolls with, not to mention induce paranoia in players.

4) Your notes and adventure. Sometimes...it's just blank paper.

5) Yourself. Kinda hard to have stuff behind a GM's screen if there is no GM.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I don't use a screen, but I do keep some things handy. My laptop is generally off to the side where it doesn't obstruct my view. Mostly used to look up a spell or a monster ability. I keep a character folio on hand for the skill dc's in it, particularly Diplomacy. I've got a box of minis, dice, pens, the scenario, condition cards, and a bunch of sliced agates, about 3 or 4 inch across and 1/8" to 1/4" thick. And yes, often some fruit juice to stay hydrated.

Why a bunch of rocks? Well, I generally roll my maps and keep them under the table until use. The agates are excellent map anchors because they're heavy but thin, so they don't obstruct the view. And this way we don't have to scramble for phones, dice bags, etc to try and anchor the map.

And if need be, it's a huge to gargantuan size nebulous blob creature.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Each PC's Perception and Sense Motive bonuses in case you need to make a secret check.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

The list of skill DC difficulties by level from the Skill Challenge Handbook. Seriously, that's stupid handy as a quick guide when people surprise you. XD


A dash of insanity.

Because the whole point is escaping the real world for a few hours with your friends.


J4RH34D wrote:
A Gm

Good guess, but no.


TOZ wrote:
Whiskey.

Was gonna say "vodak", but close enough.


The wheel. Keeping one hand on it is optional.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I play behind a computer monitor as I use a TV table top and behind my monitor is a pin laden voodoo doll of the most optimized character at the table...


I use a screen about half the time. More often I have my laptop open with several tabs linked to www.d20pfsrd.com. I use it too look up things I may not have at hand. I buy the hardbacks and read them, but if a rule question arises it's much faster than looking through a stack of books to find the answer. That's the reason I support them through Patreon.


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One of those machines that let you process credit cards.

People just don't carry cash for bribing the GM anymore.

The times, they are a' changin'


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

A screen? Any GM who rolls behind his screen cheats his players! And any GM who says otherwise is a no-good stinkin' liar!

Honest GMs roll their dice out in the open, like me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a game to run.

*Rolls a loaded die out onto the table*

;D


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

ALL the milk.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Enough alcohol to help you fake it until you make it.


Serghar Cromwell wrote:
Each PC's Perception and Sense Motive bonuses in case you need to make a secret check.

As a player... I feel that I should be rolling all of my own dice.


I have a fortress of screens I hide behind. I use two Pathfinder screens because one just isn't big enough to cover all of the, ah, junk I have behind them.

1) Printed custom combat sheet in Word with PC details such as name, race, class and archetype, max hit points, AC, stats, Perception, and any outstanding notes (such as status effects). It gets heavily marked up over the course of an adventure, so I reprint it fairly regularly.

2) Dice, lots of 'em. And I don't even put out all of the dice I have. I only use a fraction of the dice that I actually own. No idea why I have accumulated so many of them!

3) Beverage of choice.

4) Pencil and eraser.

5) Hard copy source book (if using one) such as module or adventure path.

6) Miniatures for the monsters I expect the PCs to encounter. Sometimes I print out custom pictures of cool NPCs or enemies and I keep them handy for when I need them.

7) Notes and scrap paper. My notes generally include the planned encounters and I pre-roll their initiatives. If I need any custom monster sheets I have those premade as well.

I don't list my hard copy rulebooks as those stay on a shelf next to the end of the table I sit at. All in all I have a lot of stuff close at hand. Oh, and I have even more stuff not close at hand that I dash off to rummage through as the need arises. It's crazy.


*Thelith wrote:
As a player... I feel that I should be rolling all of my own dice.

Do you enjoy having the DM interrupt play for frequent perception checks?

When I DM, if I ask for players to roll perception checks, it gives away plot developments that need perception checks.

To mask those actual perception checks, for a while I simply asked for perception checks about every 10 minutes. The players never knew whether it was just me creating fog or whether there was really a threat for them to notice.

It slowed play considerably, since they became very cautious and careful after each request. Mostly for naught, since the rolls weren't actually needed.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
*Thelith wrote:
Serghar Cromwell wrote:
Each PC's Perception and Sense Motive bonuses in case you need to make a secret check.
As a player... I feel that I should be rolling all of my own dice.

There are legitimate scenarios in which the GM should for these, chiefly to heighten tension or make a scene more dramatic. Examples:

1) Traps. If the player rolls a Perception check to check for traps, and rolls a natural 1, then they know that their check wasn't very good -- and so do all the other players at the table. So even if the player herself is good at ignoring that knowledge, chances are good that one of the other players will intervene and say "Hey, let me check for traps too."

At that point, the game you're playing is "keep rolling dice until someone gets a high number." It means that virtually every trap will be discovered and disarmed to no effect. Which in turn discourages the GM from ever using traps -- why bother taking the time to invent a trap which is going to have zero effect on gameplay other than a couple of skill checks? That encourages the GM to either invent traps which are impossible to detect/disarm, or else stop using traps altogether. In either case, the rogue's signature ability Trapfinding becomes pointless.

Having the GM roll that perception check in secret heightens the tension. You may have been told that that door looks clear of traps, but the only way to really find out is pull it open. Of course, having the GM roll also requires you to trust that your GM will not screw you over for giggles. But honestly, if you can't trust your GM -- why are you playing at their table?

2) Ambushes. If the GM asks you for a Perception check, that invariably means that there is something to perceive. Many players find it difficult not to act on that metagame knowledge. For example, maybe everyone at the table rolls a natural 1 on a perception check, and then decide to pull out their weapons anyway, just in case.

In a scene that I plan to run soon -- probably this weekend -- my PCs will be pounced on by a dragon under the effects of an Invisibility spell. I plan to roll Perception checks for them in advance to hear the beat of its wings or to notice the pattern of displaced snow in the air (it'll be snowing). I will also roll their initiatives in advance.

At the table, I'm going to hand each player a slip of paper, folded over. They'll have to open them simultaneously. The paper will contain their initiative, the details of anything the see or hear, and whether or not they get to act in the surprise round. Them we'll go immediately into initiative, with players acting only on the info they have from the paper, until it comes to the dragon's turn and I plop this on the map.

What I'm trying for is a sense of immediacy. In most combats no one is surprised, and the first thing that happens is everyone rolls initiative -- which is to say, they have to spend time doing math, and the GM has to arrange the combat list, all of which gives the players several minutes to consider their actions carefully, even if their PCs would have nothing but a split second in which to react. I don't do this sort of thing often, but once in a while it's good to decrease the "time dilation" effect that the initiative system imposes.

So yes, sometimes the GM should do the rolling for the PCs. Not often; but there are legitimate scenarios in which it can and should be used.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

What is a GM screen? Is Chevy making computers now? Surely GMs don't bother hiding stuff from the players anymore - "Come and see!"


Rolling perception doesn't interrupt the game...it is(part of) the game, at least it is to me.

If you want future rolls just ask for a few d20s and a couple modifiers. I would not appreciate dice being rolled for me, initiative, perception, attack rolls, doesn't matter.. my character my rolls.


...common sense...

*ESPECIALLY* if the players violate it.


*Thelith wrote:

Rolling perception doesn't interrupt the game...it is(part of) the game, at least it is to me.

If you want future rolls just ask for a few d20s and a couple modifiers. I would not appreciate dice being rolled for me, initiative, perception, attack rolls, doesn't matter.. my character my rolls.

The CRB specifically calls for the GM to roll certain rolls in secret. If you don't trust your GM to make fair rolls, the problem is a lot larger.


It's not a trust issue. It's a "I want to have control of my character" issue. If I get thrashed in a surprise round because I rolled badly that's life... If the same happens because the GM rolled badly I would feel that I could have rolled better... I wouldn't think that the GM is cheating me or wasn't being fair just that I would want to have had the chance..

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

The dice will roll just as badly for you as for the GM.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
The dice will roll just as badly for you as for the GM.

Not true in my experience.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

That's what you call confirmation bias. But you'd be more than welcome to roll your own dice ahead of time and have me use those die rolls as the secret rolls.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
That's what you call confirmation bias. But you'd be more than welcome to roll your own dice ahead of time and have me use those die rolls as the secret rolls.

Whatever you want to call it, it makes me feel better to roll my own dice. And it's less fun to not roll my own... And I'm here to have fun...

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Never said otherwise. Just that your feelings of fun don't actually change how the dice roll.


A lifting belt. I'm partial to the Rogue Echo myself, but I know some GMs who swear by the Schiek Lever.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

*Thelith, I had a game session last weekend with a new player joining us. That player had never heard of or considered the DM rolling certain checks or saves for the Players and the results being roleplayed out vs. just knowing all dice rolls immediately.

Like you, he worried about player agency and was hesitant, but came around.

He decided at the end of the game that he is incorporating this into his DMing now, that the play is more descriptive, immersive has more of an element of mystery to it, and saw it as more logical to not have the pass/fail meta-knowledge right in the open in many cases.

Not saying, "Therefore you should like it," just saying don't dismiss it so readily.

Quite possibly there are others who played this way and it ended horribly with no one having fun - it all depends on the DM and group.


I realize it _can_ be more immersive during roleplay to not require any roll play...but I don't want my roll play taken away just like others don't want their role play taken away by a murder hobo. I would never play online because their is zero dice rolling... And that part is part of the fun.. for me.

Edit: I do love good role play and that is a big part of the fun too, I'd complain equally if the GM started role playing for my character...

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Let's NOT drag this into a roll/role-play debate, please?

That isn't needed behind a GM screen. In fact, it'd probably be very frustrating and distracting for a GM.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

No one is suggesting "taking away roll play". I do rolls for my players occasionally, but it's not that common. A few times a year, at most. The vast majority of the time they're handling everything.

Obviously you don't like the idea, and that's fine. One of the nice things about this hobby is that there is no One True Way. When you get down to it, the game happens at a table between a group of friends who are fully entitled to do whatever they want in the course of having fun. Everything is down to what your group wants to do.

It might be a good idea to let your GM or GMs know that you strongly dislike having the GM handle any PC rolls, if they don't already know. Communicating things like that before they come up at the table helps to avoid unpleasant surprises for everyone involved.

On a final note, online play involves lots of dice rolling! They're just not physical dice. If the physicality is important to you, you're right to avoid it. But if you think that online play consists entirely of narrative and no crunch, I'm here to tell you that there are lots of people who play it just the same as if they were all at the same table.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I recommend a water spray bottle, for when players start misbehaving.
It's either for players or cats, I can't remember which, but I'm pretty sure it's players.


The physical action of rolling dice is to what I was referring.

But to contribute to the thread... A mini of a monster that the party has no chance of defeating at their current level... Just to keep them on their toes.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Returning to the original topic of the thread:

Behind the screen, the GM should have a mini of each creature that the baddies might summon and/or turn into during the course of a fight.

PC druids and summoners should provide their own minis for alternate forms and/or minions.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder RPG / Advice / What should be behind every GM Screen All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.