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Friday, February 3, 2012

Mini Review: The Secret Fire GM Screen - Keeper of the Unknown

I don't believe I've ever reviewed a GM / DM Screen before, let alone one available in PDF (you insert it into a blank GM screen available in fine hobby shops everywhere).  The Secret Fire - Keeper of the Unknown is my first attempt to do so.

It has 6 sides / pages, so even if you just printed it out for reference as the gaming table, the charts themselves should help expedite play.  It does not, however, list which pages should face the PC and which should face the GM.  My assumption is pages 1, 2 and 4 should face the players and 3, 5 and 6 should face the GM (as such I am is disagreement with the official lay out - sue me ;).  Kinda quirky, they should have been grouped together in my opinion.

The Energy Point Special Effects Cost Charts for Weapon Attacks, Spells and Exploration are on page 2, and are almost with the price on their own.  I suspect these charts are the most referenced in The Secret Fire, and will suffer wear similar to those that the Combat Tables suffered in the AD&D 1E Dungeon Masters Guide.

The rest of the included charts are used for movement, lighting, stat bonuses and penalties, combat and battle sequence and the aptly named Revenge of the Elder Gods.  Hmm, maybe I missed a few bits n' pieces, but you get the main idea.  The most commonly used charts are put at your finger tips, which is as it should be.

Do you need this to run The Secret Fire?  Of course not.  If you've been running the game since release, you have at least 6 months of campaigning behind you, and you survived without it.  Will it make it easier for you to run a campaign or game session?  Definitely.  It's a tool you don't absolutely need, but you will want.

Later on down the line there should be a physical GM Screen for The Secret Fire, but for now a print out of the PDF should serve you fine.

From the blurb:

This 6-page, printable screen for THE SECRET FIRE enables Master Creators to keep the secrets of the game hidden from the players and provides a quick reference to commonly needed material for both MCs and players alike:
The Players' Side features:
• Energy Point Special Effects for Weapon Attacks, Prayers & Spells, and Exploration
• Light source areas of illumination and durations
• "Revenge of the Elder God" tables for Critical Failures
• Effects of all States (Blind, Deaf, Pinned, Vulnerable, etc.)

The MC's Side features:
• Attack Matrix
• Ability scores and their associated Adjustments and Descriptors
• List of Skills and Difficulty Levels
• Daily, Exploration, and Battle Sequences
• Common attack adjustments
• The Montage System
• Wound Effects
• Damage description table
• Effects of all States (Blind, Deaf, Pinned, Vulnerable, etc.)

Note that the PDF is large (approximately 100 mg) to retain the highest print-quality possible. Pages can be printed out and inserted into generic game master screens available at local and online hobby stores or clipped to screens from other RPGs for use during SECRET FIRE game sessions. You can also save each of the six pages as a 72 dpi jpeg for use on iPads, iPhones, or other tablet or mobile devices.  In addition, the file was created for full-page bleed, so depending on your printer, you may have to shrink it to around 95%. (The file was created this way since a printed version of the screen will be released later in 2012.)

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