Next month my Alpha Omega campaign begins. I am excited to try a new system and world and have studied the rule book carefully. I believe I understand the key elements of the game well enough to run a session without referring to the book too much. However, there are several charts that will see a lot of use. Rather than become a bookworm during my game session, I decided to use a GM screen.
Sadly, Mind Storm Labs does not have a GM out for the game yet. They do have a downloadable Alpha Omega GM screen, but you need to print it out and build a backing setup yourself. Never one to shirk from botching an art project, I decided to build my own Alpha Omega GM screen.
Materials were my first consideration. I built GM screens in the past with cardboard, but they tended fail quickly and they were not water-proof. Floods happen at game tables more often than the Nile River Delta. I needed something to defend against the deluge.
Above all, I did not want to put a lot of hours or money into fabrication. A quick check of my garage turned up some useful items; paper-covered foam backing board for mounting photographs or art work. I have a good size chunk of this leftover from an photography mounting project last year. Although covered in water-vulnerable paper, it had a foam core and was quite stiff. It is about 3mm think and I picked it up at a local craft store. The same project also used aerosol glue. This glue sprays in a fine mist and is perfect for mounting paper on a backing.
I cut the foam into four sections of equal size. Here is a shot of one piece with a section of GM screen setting on top for measurement purposes. Note the rough edges from my clumsy cutting job.
I should point out that Mind Storm Labs released the GM screen in two formats, landscape and portrait. I went with landscape because it was shorter and would not block my view of the battlemat carnage.
I decided to use duct tape as my hinge system, due to cost and ease of installation. I found some black duct tape (called “midnight”) at the local craft store and went with that, mostly because it matched the foam I already had. I also ran a strip around the edge of the foam to give it increased resistance to damage, but to also stop the foam from flaking off. It is strong, but at the cut edges it tended to shed black foam.
The Alpha Omega GM screen has four pages to it, so I wanted a folding GM screen for easy transport.
Once each section was duct taped, I applied a piece of tape as a hinge. This took a bit of planning to prevent locking the hinge in the open position. The solution is to apply the outside hinge when the two section are closed. Then you open it to the extent you would like it to open on the table and apply the interior hinge. This allows it to fold freely and still have a maximum open position that will stay put at the game table.
Once I had it together, I sprayed one side with adhesive and applied the GM screen printouts. It took a couple of hours to fully dry, but I could handle it after 20 minutes.
Here is the final result.
Here is a shot with the screen folded up. The WOTC miniature is there for scale.
I did learn some things that I would like to pass on.
1. Get the foam cut at the craft store by someone with the correct tools. I used a utility knife and a metal ruler. It worked, but it was a bit rough in areas and a bit annoying to do. Better tools would make for cleaner cuts.
2. Do not get the adhesive on the duct tape. It takes forever to dry
3. Find a way to precisely cut the duct tape. If I had a glass table, I could cut the tape on that for a cleaner look. My duct tape joints were a bit rough.
4. The center joint is too tight and does not bend back far enough. I would have preferred it coming to a point, rather than the flat setup I have now. I may cut it loose and rebuild this section if it is an issue.
I am the first to admit that my Alpha Omega GM screen is rough and honestly not very pretty. It will get the job done and if the players complain about how it looks, bad things will happen to them.
If anyone else gives building a DM screen a try, drop me a comment. I am interested to see how it works out.
Trask, The Last Tyromancer