Foster Leathercraft Leather Wallet Game Screen

The Idea

A while back I had an inspiration for a portable magnetic game screen to use for tabletop gaming. Since this idea was more for a game master on the go than a home-based gamer. What I would need was as a screen for keeping a few notes and to roll dice behind nothing more. But I still wanted it to be as functional as possible while looking great on the table.

Bringing the Game Screen To Life

I turned to Foster Leathercraft for the assist in bringing my idea to reality. The Result was this beautify crafted Leather wallet style game screen with magnetic backing and index card Inserts. I honestly could not be more impressed with the finished product. It was an absolute treat watching its development take place. Over the course of a few months, Foster Leathercraft and I discussed the progress and hurdles of the game screens creation. The idea was simple enough, economically bringing it to life would prove to be more difficult than expected. We soon learned to cut and insert the sturdy panels for the game screen proved to be the most complicated portion of the design. Cutting the steel inserts to size proved both quiet time consuming and costly. After many broken blades, Foster devised a process to affordably cut the steel inserts. Once this was overcome he had a prototype crafted in short order.

Finished Product

The game screen itself is nothing short of a work of art. The craftsmanship is top-notch. Its appearance will only get better with use as the leather ages. Taking on the character of the sessions, months and years of gaming it will see. The artwork is in the style of the first edition of D&D core books. This also complements the art on the Dice Cups that he crafts as well. This will make a nice looking set at the table of any game session. The screen itself measures just over 16 inches long and shy of 5 inches high. Making it large for some pockets but in reality, is only slightly bigger than my iPhone plus when folded. Thus making it perfect for travel for me. I use a couple of disk magnets to keep it game screen securely closed when not in use. It turned out looking amazing but a bit smaller than my first plan. I had originally wanted the screen sized for 4×6 inch index cards. But with the finished wallet in hand, I now think that it would have been too large.

At The Table

When it comes to gameplay, space is not at a premium by design. That said, with the use of flat disk rare earth magnets that I keep my wallet game screen closed. I can place twenty, three by five index cards in the wallet and still securely close it without issue.

How Will I Use It?

I break my sessions into three Acts. Each act has a number of index cards with notes for how things will play out in the game. I keep things sorted by placing each of these Acts in their respective panel from left to right in the game wallet. With this method between my notes and my phone or my iPad, I can run anything I need during the game.

I also discovered that with the magnets. I also have the ability to snap my Paizo face cards to the game screen for added depth of role play. Allowing my players to add faces to the NPC’s they meet. This is a huge benefit when traveling. In a convention setting your players will need all the help, they can get to remember who they encounter. I am looking forward to this year’s upcoming MACE convention to show this awesome wallet game screen off to my friends and fellow gamers. If you think this is as nice a portable screen as I do and you would like one of your own. Give a shout out to my friend Fosters Leathercraft and let him know that this is a must-have for you as well!

Hands on look at the D&D 5E GM Screen Reincarnated

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I know I’m a little late to the party in my review of the 5e reincarnated DM screen. So let’s get right into it and take a look at what we got. Personally Even with much of the cover art is pretty blank the picture is beautiful. I much prefer the Dungeons and Dragons logo as well as ampersand compared to that of the old 5e symbol on the original GM screen.

So for this review, I’ll be looking at the panels from left to right for my review. The left panel has the most changes overall this product. The tables for NPC characteristics, NPC ideas, NPC flaws and bonds and the Name Generator all have been removed.

In their place, we have a Actions in Combat table that describes in detail everything that a player can do in a combat round. This table covers Attack, Cast Spells, Dash, Dodge, Help, Hide and Ready Actions as well as Search, Use A Magic Item, Use an Object and Use a Special Ability actions.

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We are also given a table with some rules that are not always easy to remember and will save you time looking things up like Long and High Jump, Suffocation and the easiest of all to remember Concentration. As easy as the concentration check is to remember it’s still good to have it here. Additionally, they managed to squeeze in one more little section on this panel for things that you can do in a turn listing everything that a player can do as a little quick reminder.

This panel does have one piece of art and I like it! The art is straight out of the player’s handbook and it is the of “Points of Origin” of Area Spell Effects. I really like this because one of my biggest criticisms of the old GM screen was the art wasn’t helpful and it took up to much real estate on the screen. By comparison, this art doesn’t take up a lot of space and it’s very helpful for a GM.

Myself I actually used these tables fairly often and will be sad to see them go. That said overall the replacement tables that they have put in this panel are a far better choice and if I myself had to make the choice to decide which of these panels to keep I would have gone with the new panels in the reincarnated GM screen as well.

The 2nd panel covers Conditions and is exactly the same as the old GM screen right down to the artwork. Again my complaint on the conditions panel is much the same as it was before. Granted conditions are likely the main thing we will be looking up as a GM’s during a game. I just feel that a panel and a half of the GM screen is just too much real estate for this information. Simply by sacrificing the artwork for the conditions table, they could have condensed a panel a half worth of information into one panel. This would have remained just as effective and we would have gotten more space for use out of this GM screen.

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The new and old GM screen third panels are very similar. The last half of the Conditions Table and the Exhaustion Chart are exactly the same on both of these panels. The only tables remaining the same are the Skills And Ability Table and the Setting A DC table. The tables of Light Obscured Areas and Cover we’re moved to the fourth panel on the new GM screen. In their place, the tables of Damage By Level of Severity, Object Hit Points, Object Armor Class, Setting A DC and Tracking DC’s tables have now taken their place.

Lastly, the fourth panel has changed quite a bit. Gone is my much-disliked artwork of the Tarrasque. This has been replaced by another piece of art comparing the sizes of creatures from tiny, small, medium, large, huge and gargantuan creatures.

The Something Happens table that I really wasn’t a fan of his now gone as well as the Quick Finds table. In my opinion, it is an improvement that they have been removed. The Travel Pace table and Encounter Distance tables have remained. Lastly, we’ve been given two new tables that I think are an excellent addition to the D5e DM Reincarnated screen. These tables are Food Drink and Lodging And Services both of these tables I think will see a lot of use in most players games.

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Runkle’s Ranking

The last GM screen I gave it abysmal 6 to even though I came back earlier and had given an almost to 7, All Things Considered, there’s not a whole lot been changed in this GM screen but it is far more useful I will give this screen a rating of a 13. It’s landscape, it’s useful, it has many tables now that it didn’t have before that will be helpful for a GM. The artwork has been reduced and its overall an improvement over its predecessor. D20 #11-14

So what keeps up with such a low ranking for me? The simple fact that it doesn’t have inserts. it’s only useful for one thing and that is base generic 5e. With Gale Force 9 producing a GM screen for every new campaign setting that comes out. A much-improved GM screen reincarnated would have been a landscape GM screen with insertable sheets. Then we could customize each screen, and every time we ran a particular campaign we could pick and choose the tables and maps that we would wish to add to your particular screen.

Final thoughts

If you already own a GM screen you will be able to make do without this product. If you do not have one this is a better choice over the old one. If you are willing to make your own screen then I would suggest a GM screen with inserts that you can customise.

If you want to pick up one of these hit up your FLGS and grab one or head on over to Amazon to get yours.

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Or if you prefer to pick up a customisable screen you can get one at your FLGS as well or grab one off Amazon as well. I recommend the landscape screen by Hammerdog, You can also pick up a non-landscape version if you prefer or the screen that I use. The Hammerdog Mini.

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Finding Inspiration & Note Taking.

Today I wanted to talk about the importance of note taking at the table as a game master. For years I did not take notes. I just ran my games and a day or two later I would sit down and pencil in the high points mentally and carry on with my game. I am not sure if it was my youth that kept me sharper or that we were gaming nightly, Likely a combination of both. As I became more experienced, older and game far less frequently over the years I have come to understand the importance of note taking.

I am not suggesting that you should be running game with your head down scribbling away at every little thing that your players are saying or doing. I am talking about jotting things down in shorthand or recording your session and going back to the audio later to take notes. I know some GMs that record their games and go back over their sessions later. Myself I have never done this.  I do take more and more shorthand notes during my session. One thing that you will quickly begin to realize after a little bit of doing this is that your players will provide you with tons of thoughts and content for you to expand on between games.

Personally these days I take more and more shorthand notes during my session. One thing that you will quickly begin to realize after a little bit of doing this is that your players will provide you with tons of thoughts and content for you to expand on between games. Taking notes is also extremely helpful when your party takes that inevitable hard right turn off the rails of your planned storyline.

So as I said, I am not encouraging you to go into a ton of detail. Actually, I am suggesting that you to write as little as possible so that you can easily maintain focus on the game you are running. So only focus on what is Important. So what is Important.

  • Names, Race, Disposition/Connection to party or players.
  • Locations of discovered interest to detail later.
  • Game Notes from players players
  • Random stuff

Here is an example of my own notes from my recent Star Wars FFG game. Before the start of the game, I knew my players would meet the crew of a starship that might be their way off the planet. But I also know my players may have found other ways off worlds so my notes looked like this before the start of game.

Ship Hanger
Cs Comet Light Freighter.
Captian Zhane Human.
Crew
Twilek
Gamorian
Ithorian
Note: Ship Shields down from Imp Encounter

Starward Light Freighter
Captian Drall the parts dealer
Crew
none

Nebula Light Freighter
Captian Vance Yanish
Crew
None
Note: On Safari

I knew what was going to go on that night that my players were going to HAVE to get off the world. So I penned in a few ships that were in the port and left it at that. Because I had no idea what ship they were going to take. In the end, the way the story unfolded they took a quick shine to the Comets crew for being shady about their damage shields and that was the ship they ended up taking off the world. Minus the crew that came down with a bad case of Imperial Blaster fire.

After that session even with the crew dead, I detailed the crew a bit since they are part of the history of the vessel. Also, this might come back to haunt the players. So my notes from before became:

Ship Hanger
Cs Comet Light Freighter.
Captian Zhane Ordo Human Spice Dealer/Smuggler. 
( one paragraph of backstory)
+3 contacts Names/Planet they reside
Crew
Jae Yovv Twilek Starship Tech
( one paragraph of backstory)
+3 contacts Names/Planet they reside
Gralbacc Gamorian *classified*
( one paragraph of backstory)
+3 contacts Names/Planet they reside
Forrannnish Ithorian Scout
( one paragraph of backstory)
+3 contacts Names/Planet they reside

Note: Ship Shields down from Imp Encounter
2 paragraphs on the history of the ship. Because it will be with the players for a long time.

Now just from my expanded notes on the ship alone I can gather tons of side quests and options as the players maybe seek out the contacts of the former crew while they try and make contacts of their own.

Now if I were running a game and my players ran off the rails and into any generic location I would not take the time to make a note of it. It is unlikely your players will care about the power fixture salesman ten min let a lot ten sessions from now. Don’t waste your time detailing him.

NPC’s that I will note down often are in places I had not expected my players to arrive at or I had not planned to introduce yet. Ie The Sherif, A Mayor or anyone in a position of power. If the players do this I jot down something like this.

Alex Gateway Sherif, Landover.
Walks with a limp.
Players got on his nerves.

This is enough to let me remember him between games and fill out more detail about him when I need to. Or play him as is when the group revisits him out of the blue in 6 sessions for their own reasons. Other notes I might make might be.

PLOT
PC’s Suspect Sherif ?

In this case, it is a short side note to remind me to think on away from the table. Like I said your players will hand you Tons of plot ideas if you just take a moment to listen as well as write them down.

So all this is good but where will you put your notes or write them down on ? Pen and Paper this works fine but at the game table, I find that Index cards are the best for a quick note. That or either Evernote or OneNote. Personal I use a combination of Onenote and Index cards. The nice thing about Evernote and OneNote is that both of these products can store your notes on the cloud and you can even check them from your phone. Giving you the ability to look over your game ideas from your phone.