Gale Force 9 have been producing a range of accessories for D&D for a while now. Their early 5E releases weren’t always well received, but, with their two main Curse of Strahd accessories – the Tarokka deck and the Curse of Strahd DM Screen – they’ve managed to put out a couple of products I really like.
The player’s side of the DM Screen features four pieces of art that each feature one aspect of Strahd – you’ve likely seen a lot of them floating around the web in various promotional pieces, although the vampiric Strahd piece wasn’t familiar to me, and properly displays his true nature. They’re excellent pieces of artwork, although the inclusion of the wolf attack somewhat disrupts the otherwise consistent colour scheme.
However, it’s the DM side that is what I’ll actually be looking at. And that side is excellent.
Back when I was first playing D&D, adventures came with a thin cardboard cover containing the maps which wasn’t attached to the rest of the adventure. We often used it as a DM screen – despite, in AD&D, the official DM screen containing a bunch of tables you actually needed to reference. (I have very good memories of doing this with Pharaoh). Being able to see the maps this way was a great advantage. Now, guess what’s on the Curse of Strahd screen? Yes, two maps you’ll use extensively throughout the adventure: the Barovian wilderness map and the Castle Ravenloft map.
It’s a little difficult to distinguish the hexes on the wilderness map, but I also have trouble reading those in the book. (They’re only really clear on the poster map). I’ve been making estimates of distances, but that’s a minor problem compared to the utility of having the map in front of me all the time.
The screen also possesses the wilderness key and – in a burst of utter genius – includes the page numbers for each encounter area. This is a great time-saver. No such key exists for the Castle Ravenloft map, but it isn’t quite as necessary (and would be too long to include).
Sets of Random Encounter tables are presented for both the Wilderness and the Castle. Once again, page numbers are listed so you can quickly find the full description of the encounters in the book.
Finally, the screen lists a number of sample Barovian names, which are greatly useful for any DM quickly trying to think of names for their NPCs. It doesn’t list all the possibilities (space requirements!), but – once again – gives a page reference.
The screen is printed on sturdy cardboard, of an equivalent thickness to the official Wizards Deluxe DM Screen.
This is an excellent screen, and one that I consider incredibly useful for anyone running Curse of Strahd. As I’m currently running two campaigns of the adventure, it’s something that will see a lot of use at my table. Highly recommended.