Review – Dungeon Master’s Screen: Dungeon Kit

The Dungeon Master’s Screen: Dungeon Kit is the latest specialized version of the excellent (and inexpensive) Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated. The Dungeon Kit provides an alternative for the DM who is specifically interested in random dungeons.

With that in mind, the most distinctive features of the Dungeon Kit are the modest modifications to the DM screen itself and the included ‘geomorph’ cards. Most of the material included on the DM side of the screen is the same as on the Reincarnated screen. The primary addition is a half a panel devoted to two tables for randomly generating the state of decay of the ruins being explored and the severity of a random encounter. Like other specialized DM screens (such as the Wilderness Kit screen), the primary elimination to make space for new material is the ‘actions in combat’ table (this information is then moved to a handout, so you can provide it to the player who’s having trouble thinking of what to do). The other side of that handout is a grid map, but it’s only 10×10, so it’s not really useful for drawing out a dungeon. Maybe there are some small fights that would fit on a map of that size, but it’s of pretty limited utility.

The geomorph cards are random dungeon layout generators. There are 36 of them – nine each from four pages (like all of the ‘cards’ in these kits, they’re sturdier than just paper but nothing like you would normally label as a gaming card). Each card has a fairly expansive depiction of a dungeon area, about 28×21 map squares. Depending on the card this might be mostly one big room, a seemingly random array of small rooms, or rooms with a more purposive feel (like a semicircle with smaller chambers coming off of it). Each card has ‘exits’ on all four sides, so they can all be put together in pretty much any combination.

In addition to the geomorph cards, the Dungeon Kit also has the same array of initiative cards and condition cards that are featured in other specialty DM screen kits. Although they aren’t amazing quality or anything, I think that condition cards are always very useful, as the exact effects of conditions are easily forgotten and the cards let the DM just hand them out to the players to look at exactly what the effects on their characters are. You might already have a set of these (they are, for example, included in the Essentials Kit), but if you don’t it’s a handy pickup.

The initiative cards are OK, allowing tracking of initiative for up to nine combatants, but a lot of finds go past that number pretty quickly. There’s a foldable box to hold all of these cards, but it’s made out of the same flimsy material as the cards themselves.

Finally, there’s the player side of the DM screen, which is mostly a subjective question of how much one likes the art. Personally, I’m not a fan here. The art – which mostly depicts an underground scene – is just too dark. It looks fine close up, but a player across the table isn’t going to be able to make out much detail.

So, as with the other specialty screens, if you have the Dungeon Master’s Screen Reincarnated already, there’s probably not enough in this kit to make it worth buying another one. There just isn’t enough different about the actual screen, and that’s the primary focus of this product. Of course, if you don’t have a DM screen, then I highly recommend one, which begs the question of which one. The Dungeon Kit is probably an option only for a DM who wants to use random dungeons, and that means that the reason to go for the Dungeon Kit is those geomorph cards (although the condition cards are nice too, if you don’t have them). This leaves the Dungeon Kit as something of a middle ground product. It’s not a necessity, but with the lower quality of the cards included, it can hardly be labeled as a luxury accessory either.

 

Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy. Strange Assembly may earn commissions from affiliate links.

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