GAME MASTERS KIT: LEVEL UP YOUR SETUP
Written by Attic Arcana Dice
Following on from the player's kit, I'm here to tell you all about levelling up your game space if you're the one behind the GM screen. This piece will go over some essentials, and some luxuries, for those of you running the games! Speaking of GM screens...
Dungeon Master’s Screens
Most RPGs boast the use of a GM Screen, which acts as a barrier between the game master and the player for the GM to keep notes, dice rolls, minis, and other surprises hidden until it’s time to reveal them. While two standing manilla folders work just fine, having a bit of “wall space” on a screen is a huge benefit to reference notes, rules, and more.
Wizards of the Coast carries a variety of 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s screens that have 5th Edition rules, conditions, and some campaign-specific reference points. However, plenty of GM screens go above and beyond. This incredible Travel DM Screen from Harps Corp includes a dice tower and storage compartments. It also includes my favourite GM’s Screen feature, magnets! GM Screens with magnets allow the GM to hang up any notes or relevant information for the session, which can be switched out at any time.
Wet Erase Overlay and Battlemaps
The ecosystem of battlemaps has expanded heavily since even 2019. My standard go-to is the classic Chessex Wet-Erase battlemaps. which you can likely find in your local friendly game store. If you’re a newbie DM, and you plan on using miniatures in your games, this pairing is a must-have - these are the simplest way you can create custom dungeon maps, battlemaps, or recreate battlemaps from pre-published modules. The squares measure 30mm, which is the standard for tabletop minis.
If you’re looking to expand your battlemap game beyond simple minis, consider employing terrain and effects! DungeonTokens provides acrylic spell templates to be used on battlemaps to display the effects of casted spell effects. If you’re looking to up your battlemat game, one of my favourite contributions is this Battle-Towel by Jodie’s Dice Farm, which functions as both a to-scale battlemap AND a hand towel!
Get yourself some sticky tabs. For your notes, your books, whatever. Get some stickies, get them in colours you like, and just do it. Go wherever your local stickies are sold. I promise you, massive game-changer.
My stickies of choice are by Stalogy.
Miniature Storage Cases
I am a miniature fiend, and I need my miniatures to go somewhere. If you have found that miniatures are an extension hobby for you as they are for me, don’t just shove them all in a shoebox and call it a day. They can break, scratch, ruin your paint jobs, and more. I have a few of the Chessex miniature cases, which fit the majority of my purchased minis just fine. However, if you become a 3D printing aficionado, many miniatures print too large for the Chessex cases! Once again, Enhance comes to my rescue by making a Portable Miniature Figure Case that holds 108 minis with no problem, and the compartments are large enough for most of my prints! (Once again, not sponsored).
Dungeon Tiles, Terrain, and Location Props
Want to put out more than just minis onto the battlemap? I’ve recently begun acquiring laser-cut and assembled shops for my tabletop game, made by LittlEmpire, which add to the ambience of the table. There are tons of places to find 3D prints that fulfil a similar role, and you can even use the Hub directory to find creators that offer these kinds of terrain!
If you have the storage space, you can look into getting 3D dungeon tiles such as the WarLock system, which removes the need for battlemaps and is great for improvising Dungeon spaces!
Adding 3D terrain to your experience can help your players visualise the space and allow them to make epic decisions based on the environment created. Of course, expanding into this level of battlemap is for the serious dungeon crawler, so know what kind of game you like to run before diving in!
A General Conclusion - Shopping Mindfully and Shopping Small
The world of gaming accessories is growing rapidly, especially with the growth of the tabletop gaming hobby. The list curated here is expansive as is, and we cannot hope to cover everything! As I mentioned in the opener, none of these items are absolute essentials to having a wonderful game. Having a gaming group you enjoy hanging out with and a story you love is the most important thing. But if you can and want to jazz up your setup, this is a great starting point!
That being said, if you do see something you like, consider buying from a small business rather than a large one! Tabletop gaming began and continues to be a community-oriented activity, and many makers and independent designers, writers, artists, and freelancers contributed heavily to the popularity of tabletop gaming and its growing reputation. If you saw something you liked here from a small business, try to get it from a small business!
If you enjoyed this post, and want to read more - why not try our guide to session 0's? Or if you're looking for new games to run with your intrepid adventurers, try our guide to alternatives that still use the full polyhedral dice set here!