317 GM Screens

Being recorded 11.2.2020

Rumor is the boy are going to talk about GM screens.


Here’s the answer. Episode over, you’re welcome.


also, since @Fafhrd forgets what’s in his GM screens, here’s a good one. It has EVERYTHING in it, since it’s like 20 pages, and works with both wet and dry erase, as well as a pizza matrix to figure out what toppings will best satisfy the whole group!


That is awesome!!

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Excellent find! Thank you, Sir!

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Patrons, you’re welcome. BS’ers, tomorrow at noon!

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I totally understand where Brett is coming from. For some reason, when I’ve tried to use laptops at the table, face to face, it creates a greater cognitive load for me than just running from books and my notes. But running games online, I’m way better at running from PDFs and various references on screen.

As far as “virtual” screens go, when I was running Storm King’s Thunder, I actually would have my 5e screen up in front of me. I agree, conditions are great to reference on a screen.

Running D&D 5e now, as well as Star Trek Adventures, I’ve actually been running with panels from screens printed out next to me. The Star Trek Adventures Screen is too big to put up in front of me wth my monitor, but I have the PDF of the screen, and I printed those out and have them sitting out next to me.

On top of that, I used a PDF editor to fuse some commonly used books together, so I can do searches all in one PDF. So all of my “Quadrant” books are in one document, and all of my “Division” books are in another PDF. I did this because sometimes I can’t remember if a ship or a species is in one book or another, and this makes that process of searching a little more efficient.

I do love how easy it is to reference core monsters in D&D Beyond. I love my non-core monsters in Kobold Press books, for example, but at least some of the more “standard” monsters are super quick to reference, and D&D Beyond makes using their spell-like abilities so much easier.

One other thing that has been great about running online, drifting a bit from the GM Screen/GM Refernce topic, is that I can share Google Docs and Google sheets for the group to reference, and it’s been so much nicer to refer players to those links.


Sidebar to Sean’s digression about PDFs.
I don’t have it in front of me, but there’s research out there about how much better the brain works on real books, vs PDF/ screens. If I recall, the dominant hypothesis is regarding the human brain and geography, where when you read on paper, you can frequently recall where on the page, which (left vs right) page it was on, which column, etc, vs poorer recall with screens, presumed due to their nature of being one continuous flow. It’s not a HUGE change, I want to say in the neighborhood of 7-8% change in recall, but that’s not nothing.


There’s also tactile memory - touching a specific book versus touching the same tablet. At least, that’s the excuse I use.


I use a GM screen at work as an indicator to my groups that what I am about to say is important to the whole party.

In this instance the screen reinforces my role as the GM as well as the provider of the info required to play the game.

We have a social contract that when the GM screen is up, players shut their pie holes and listen. When the GM screen is down, it is time to discuss strategy and ideas with each other.

This is bolstered by the use of a “talking stick”, which is either Cutethulu (a plushy Cthulhu) or a plushy dragon. When a player needs to speak and the table needs to listen, they hold one of these.

This is especially helpful with young players and players with ASD or ADHD.

Another table tool I use is my plushy octopus. It is a reversible toy. One side is yellow and happy, invert it and it is red and angry.

If I have a participant that gets angry when they get frustrated, bringing attention to it in front of the party will only make them feel worse.

So I make a secret pact with them. If they begin to get frustrated, I casually invert the octopus to the angry side. This draws their attention and helps them regulate themselves. Once calm, I revert the octopus back to the happy side which they have been told means how awesome they are for keeping control.

Because none of the other players at the table are aware of this agreement, the player still gets the prompts required without feeling called out in front of their peers.

On the surface these things may seem childish … But I use it with adults too. :smiley:

The table may see me as a big kid playing with toys, but for those that need help being reminded to control reactions and emotions in a social setting … These are greatly appreciated.


I think this is great. And I don’t find it childish at all.

Remember, this WHOLE forum is literally about “adults” playing pretend with their buddies.


Your use of plushy toys is super interesting! I’m thinking of DMing for local kids at the library when it actually becomes possible so the “talking stick” idea might be useful.

Thanks for sharing!