I love my GM screen.
It’s eight glorious pages of densely-packed GURPS goodness, with at least 90% of anything I need to run any game, any time. I often say I haven’t had to crack an actual book at the table in years, and it’s true. At this point, I don’t even use it as a screen most of the time! It’s much more useful as a one-stop font of all GURPS knowledge I keep off to the side for instant reference (I use a lower, landscape-oriented version when I need an actual screen).
I get asked about it quite a bit, so this week I thought I would post the definitive guide to My GM Screen (sort of a companion piece to the exhaustive look at My GM Kit; also note that there is a new, clearer version of this screen available in this post).
For obvious reason, I can’t simply upload or share the entire screen — it is literally nothing but copyrighted material copied, pasted, organized, and tweaked. What I can do, though, is let you know exactly what I’ve put on there, and where, so if you want to put together your own, you can (or at least use it as a thorough base for customizing your own version).
First, a couple of general points.
- The layout is done with an older version of QuarkXPress, saved as a single eight-page PDF and uploaded to my Dropbox so I can reach it from anywhere.
- The font is Tahoma, 10-point for headers, 7-point for body text. That is literally the smallest I could make it before it was too hard to read (at least, while sitting on the table as a screen… now that I use it as more of a ‘book,’ the font size is a non-issue.)
- At the moment, the pages are printed on 30-pound Ivory resume paper, though paper quality isn’t really an issue for something sitting inside a screen sleeve.
- Those pages are dropped into one of Hammerdog’s portrait-oriented “World’s Greatest Screens.” Admittedly, $30 for a GM screen is on the high side, but the quality on these is great. I have one of each size/orientation (portrait, landscape, index card), plus a second portrait one nearly 8 years old, and all four are still in great shape with no appreciable wearing out. I also like that the 8.5″ x 11″ screens both have eight panels… a lot of other generic screens seem to stick to six.
Which brings us to the official GURPS GM Screen. It’s a damn good product, but the physical version has been out of print for some time. Luckily, the PDF version is always available, and is only 5 bucks. For most GMs, using that with a Hammerdog or your own do-it-yourself screen is probably a lot easier than making the one here.
Here’s an overview of the two:
- Page 1: Artwork
- Page 2: Task Difficulty, Cover DR Table, Skill Modifiers, Critical Success/Failure, SM and Reach
- Page 3: Tables: Critical Hit, Critical Head Blow, Critical Miss, Unarmed Critical Miss, Damage From Thrown Objects
- Page 4: Melee Attack Modifiers, Active Defense Modifiers, Hit Location Table
- Page 5: Ranged Attack Modifiers, Size and Speed/Range Table, Firearm Malfunctions
- Page 6: Fright Check Table, Critical Spell Failure Table, Long-Distance Modifiers, Probability of Success, Posture Table
- Page 7: Quick Reaction Table, Lost Hit Points, Lost Fatigue Points, Throwing Distance, Maneuver Table, Damage Table
- Page 8: Artwork
- Page 1: Tables: Critical Hit, Critical Head Blow, Critical Miss, Unarmed Critical Miss, Attribute/Skill Levels, Damage From Thrown Objects, Throwing Distance, Cover DR
- Page 2: Hit Location Table (very expanded), Wounds (Shock, Knockback, Major Wound, Knockdown and Stunning, Effects of Stun, Crippling Injury, Mortal Wounds, Bleeding)
- Page 3: Melee Attack Modifiers, Active Defense Modifiers, Lost Hit Points, Lost Fatigue Points, Criticals, Rule of 14, Rule of 16, Rule of 20
- Page 4: Ranged Attack Modifiers, Size and Speed/Range Table, Dodge/Block/Parry, Wounding Modifiers, First Aid, Natural Recovery of HP, Unconsciousness
- Page 5: Maneuver Table (expanded, including Extra Effort options), Posture Table
- Page 6: Skill Modifiers, Damage Table, Combat (Flexible Armor/Blunt Trauma, Rapid Fire, Hurting Yourself), Close Combat (Evade, Slam), Unarmed Combat (Grabbing, Grappling, Takedown, Pin, Strangle), Vision Hex Diagram
- Page 7: Afflictions, Posture and Hit Locations
- Page 8: Tables: Fright Checks, Awe and Confusion, Falling and Collisions, Quick Reaction
My screen includes everything from the official version except for the Task Difficulty (pp. 345-346) and the Probability of Success (p. 171) tables, which I don’t really need. In addition to expanding some of that information, it also adds notes for the following:
Wounds (Shock, Knockback, Major Wound, Knockdown and Stunning, Effects of Stun, Crippling Injury, Mortal Wounds, Bleeding), Rule of 14, 16, 20, Dodge/Block/Parry, Wounding Modifiers, First Aid, Natural Recovery of HP, Unconsciousness, Attribute/Skill Levels, Combat (Flexible Armor/Blunt Trauma, Rapid Fire, Hurting Yourself), Close Combat (Evade, Slam), Unarmed Combat (Grabbing, Grappling, Takedown, Pin, Strangle), Vision Hex Diagram, Awe and Confusion, Falling and Collisions, Afflictions, Posture and Hit Locations
Below is the page-by-page breakdown (or you can view a PDF version of all eight pages). Note that the blurring of the redacted sections lowered the overall quality of the images — they are not representative of the printed out sheets (which are crisp and legible).
Critical Head Blow Table, p. 556
Critical Miss Table, p. 556
Unarmed Critical Miss Table, p. 557
Attribute/Skill Levels, forum posts
Damage From Thrown Objects, p. 355
Throwing Distance, p. 355
Cover DR, p. 559
Shock, p. 419
Knockback, p. 378
Major Wound, p. 420
Knockdown and Stunning, p. 420
Effects of Stun, p. 420
Crippling Injury, p. 421
Mortal Wounds, p. 423
Bleeding, p. 420
Active Defense Modifiers, pp. 548-549
Lost Hit Points, p. 419
Lost Fatigue Points, p. 426
Criticals, pp. 381-382, 556
Rule of 14, p. 360
Rule of 16, p. 349
Rule of 20, p. 344
Size and Speed/Range Table, p. 550
Dodge/Block/Parry, pp. 376-377; Martial Arts, pp. 121-123 (cumulative penalties for multiple defenses)
Wounding Modifiers, p. 379
First Aid, p. 424
Natural Recovery of HP, p. 424
Unconsciousness, p. 423
Posture Table, p. 551
Skill Modifiers: Tech Level, p. 168; Familiarity, p. 169; Physiology, p. 181; Time Spent, p. 346; Geographical/Temporal Scope, p. 176; Equipment, p. 345; Language, p. 24; Long-Distance Modifiers, p. 241
Damage Table, p. 16
Flexible Armor and Blunt Trauma, p. 379
Rapid Fire, pp. 373-375
Hurting Yourself, p. 379
Close Combat, p. 391; Evading, p. 368; Slams, pp. 371-372
Unarmed Combat (Grabbing, Grappling, Takedown, Pin, Strangle), pp. 370-371
Vision Hex Diagram, modified from forum post
Posture and Hit Locations, Martial Arts, p. 99
Awe and Confusion, Powers, p. 85
Falling and Collisions, pp. 430-432
Quick Reaction Table, pp. 560-561; Social Engineering, p. 74 (note: the page reference on the pictured sheet is incorrect)
Since the 8-panel Hammerdog screen folds up accordion style, I have pages 2 and 5 in the outermost sleeves when it’s all closed up; that is, the Maneuvers and Hit Locations are the most easily accessible, since they come up the most often. If I open the screen like a book, the two facing sheets are pages 3 and 4, listing all the Melee and Ranged modifiers (as well as a lot of other useful stuff).
If I flip the screen over, I can open two more “books” of lesser-used items. One shows pages 6 and 8, Fright Checks and Awe and Confusion, and Skill Modifiers and Close/Unarmed Combat. The final pair is pages 1 and 7, various Criticals tables and the list of Afflictions.
It’s a beast, took a while to tweak until I felt like I was done, but the end result is extremely useful while GMing.
I’d love to hear what others are using on their own screens! There has to be useful info that I’ve overlooked, and I’m always happy to make changes to improve.
But, for now… it is my precious.
:: wanders away, petting his screen and muttering to himself ::