Ultimate GM Screen of Paperrrrr!
by Fat Dragon Games
Have Fun Forming the Castle
Recycling is hip these days.
Unless you live in Charlotte, in which case it is not uncommon to see someone trying to cram multiple corrugated cardboard boxes into their huge waste receptacle while their tiny little recycle bin sits with an empty can of malt liquor and a crushed 2-liter bottle of Cheerwine, which is a cherry flavored drink that Gamer Bling had never heard of before traveling (see? Gamer Bling said “traveling,” which means he still has pathetic hope of moving back to Seattle) to the South, and has now become his favorite soft drink, in part because it is locally made but in even larger part because Winchester Root Beer has apparently gone out of business and thus left the proverbial hill open for a new king. And the king needs a castle, which is the point of this review, but Gamer Bling is not done pontificating yet. Oh, no, not by a long shot.
Recycling has gone from “a pain in the butt” (which it was when Gamer Bling was in grade school using chalk and slate to do his sums, and there was a glass recycling station by the neighborhood grocery store, which was made out of plywood—the recycling collection station, not the store—and we all had to carry our glass bottles down there, sort them by color and place them in the recycling area, then the junior high punks would sneak out at night and smash them all around, so that there was always a field of multicolored broken glass in that corner of the parking lot, thereby creating both a mess and an excuse for Gamer Bling to write a 115-word parenthetical aside) to “something that will save the planet” along with breathing less and giving cows Beano to stop their flatulence and eating at The Rainforest Café.
Recycling is used in cinema (Saw, Rocky, Star Trek), music (where it is called “sampling”), Gamer Bling humor, and necromancy. Really, zombies are nothing more than 100% post consumer consumer. Or, to avoid redundancy, 100% “post” consumer.
And, of course, post consumers are always trying to crawl back out of the garbage cans that you’ve stuffed them into, which gets very annoying and seems kind of contrary to the whole recycling thing.
We do all this recycling in the name of saving the planet and avoiding global warming. Of course, as everyone should know, the most common greenhouse gas in our atmosphere is not carbon dioxide, nor methane from cows’ butts, nor chlorofluorocarbons (Freon and the like), nor even all the hot air coming from pandemic political pontificating, but… wait for it… water vapor. So if we are truly concerned about global warming, we should cover the oceans with a thin layer of oil to keep the salt water from evaporating.
Likewise, if we want to keep CO2 from infiltrating our atmosphere, we owe it to future generations to bind that CO2 into a form that cannot readily be made gaseous. The less carbon there is, the harder it is for CO2 to form, n’est ce pas?
Fortunately, in this week’s review, The Fat Dragon provides an excellent opportunity to do just that, while also making for a cooler gaming surface. Think of it: not only do you prevent global warming, but you also accent local coolification! It’s a doubled-down temperature swing!
Of course, the very act of doing any of the above, or even of reading any of the above, accelerates the inescapable heat death of the universe—terminal galactic warming—so perhaps the point is moot. But if the point is moot, then there’s no reason not to have some fun and do this anyway. Then sell your house and play RPGs and wait for the inevitable end. In the meantime, though, send Gamer Bling the proceeds from your house sale. Or at least make a little contribution to this site by using the handy Donate button at the top of the sidebar.
The subject of today’s lesson in the incremental destruction of the universe as we know it fun gamer stuff is the Ultimate GM Screen of Dooooom!
You will notice that Gamer Bling’s prognostications were in fact once again correct: note this sentence from this review published ten months ago:
This is the front of the now-famous Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom! And it will likely always remain the Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom! because, if Gamer Bling recalls correctly, WotC has a trademark on dungeon master and DM, thus anything better would be made by someone else and therefore known as the Ultimate GM Screen of Dooooom!
So Gamer Bling was right. Again. But enough self-aggrandizement. Let’s aggrandize Fat Dragon, shall we?
The Ultimate GM Screen of Dooooom! is, pound for pound, the most expensive gaming accessory you will buy, because all you’re buying is electrons. Well, that’s not even entirely accurate; you’re buying the arrangement of electrons, and the electrons you’re arranging are on your own computer, so in a sense you’re buying nothing! And any expense divided by zero unit equals infinite cost, so the Ultimate GM Screen of Dooooom! better darned well be infinitely cool.
And it’s not… not infinitely, that is.
But it’s hard to imagine what would be. Except well-oiled supermodels with chain mail bikinis playing strip 4e while giving you footrubs and backrubs and feeding you pizza. Which is beyond the reach of pretty much everyone except, apparently, Hugh Hefner and Tiger Woods. Because apparently Tiger likes to have good-looking women shag his balls. By which Gamer Bling of course means find his golf balls when he slices into the rough.
Gamer Bling must here take a moment to scratch his head at why a Swedish bikini model isn’t hawt enough to stay faithful to.
Anyway, the concept is simple: You pay Fat Dragon Games to rearrange your electrons in a manner that (a) creates files that you wish, and (b) shortens the lifespan of the universe by a small but probably measurable amount.
So what exactly is the Ultimate GM Screen of Dooooom!? By cutting, pasting, and editing the description from the previously mentioned review, we arrive at this explanation: It’s a two-and-a-half-dimensional screen that you cast yourself in cardstock via your color printer (or printed in black and white and thereafter tinted with pens or crayons) and hand-assemble for penultimate coolness. It’s designed in five pieces for all the flexibility of a Russian contortionist and includes shelves for miniatures, two dice towers (literally), and just all-around accessible-to-the-masses bling.
In short, it says that although you, the intrepid GM, could not lay your hands on the Ultimate DM Screen of Dooooom!, you are still way too macho power-trippy not to have your own castle, and even if it is something built by a strange hybrid of the second and third little pigs, it’s still way more awesome and durable than those wimpy character sheets the people on the outside of the screen have.
Who knows? If the dollar tanks, taking the global economy with it, cardboard houses may be all any of us can afford, and when that happens, you can laugh behind the impenetrable walls of your cardboard castle and start a new generation of postapocalyptic raubritter evilness.
Now about the construction: Once you’ve printed off the components needed, creating the GM screen requires something called “effort.”
Specifically, this “effort” requires a good cutting blade, a good straight edge, a good cutting surface, some good paper glue, and, most important, some good attention.
At this point, Gamer Bling will point out that he has the templates for The Ultimate GM Screen, also known as the Original White Box GM Screen. This is in contrast to Fat Dragon’s even newer offering, The Ultimate GM Screen II, also known as The Even More Ultimate than the Last One We Called Ultimate GM Screen of Dooooom! The EMULOWCUGSDooooom! features some improvements, or so they say. Gamer Bling remains suspicious. Mainly because he likes cool octagonal towers, not wimpy square towers.
Gamer Bling thinks a major hint might be found in this secret code pulled sneakily from Fat Dragon’s website, which Gamer Bling posts here in flagrant defiance of copyright (although still cleverly concealed behind the aegis of Fair Use): “We’ve incorperated user feedback from our first GM screen to create this masterpiece.”
Ignoring the clearly deliberate misspelling of “incorporate,” what appears to be the case here is that many of Fat Dragon’s customers were unwilling to put forth this “effort,” and thus Fat Dragon made the towers easier to build. They also made it expandable, but hey, Gamer Bling’s waistline has been shown to be expandable, and that’s no improvement. Just ask the Gamer Bling Official Companion.
Now a word as to the “effort” required to make this collection of printed papers become a real GM screen.
It’s not that hard.
And the engineering is excellent.
Specifically, Gamer Bling had no fear of creating walls or shelves or even octagonal towers. In contrast, he was rather, um, skeptical about fitting the dice tubes into the octagonal towers. After all, the dice tubes were long, angled pieces that needed to be glued on four tabs at the entrance and exit of the dice tower. The catch, of course, is that the dice towers needed to be assembled before sliding the tubes into them. This means he needed to attach tabs onto the interior of a dice tube the diameter of which was far more slender than the hands of Gamer Bling or the Gamer Bling Official Companion or even (these days) Gamer Bling Expansion #1. Gamer Bling Expansion #2 would be able to fit his hands in—he having a slender build, unlike his father—but trusting the internal stability of a dice tower to a young boy is not exactly within the parameters of what Gamer Bling considers a successful plan.
So you could color Gamer Bling surprised when the dice tube slid neatly and snugly into the tower, practically gluing itself into place. No wobble. Just solid build. Gamer Bling was impressed. And lo! a dice tower was created.
Everything else was cookie cutter (pardon the pun). Flat walls, square shelves, heck, those are easy!
Well, first and foremost, one must pay attention to the assembly. Which is to say that assembling two identical towers while also playing D&D is a pretty good way to end up with two non-identical towers. Which happened to Gamer Bling… verily, he is shamed to admit it. A tower is supposed to have pieces ABCD attached together like so, and he ended up with one tower having ABCCD and one tower having ABD. D’oh!
Second, portability could be an issue. Yes, the cardstock materials are light, but they are also crunchable, and cannot be transported in a backpack. At least not if RPG books also share space in said bag of holding.
Third, if you’re a klutz, you’ll have to bribe one of your crafty friends to do it.
Fourth, the interior of the GM Screen has no charts or tables. This is not a problem if you play 4e, but if you’re a 3e knuckledragger like Gamer Bling’s friend who plays Larz the shifter pincushion of flaming axe fame, this could be a problem.
Finally, although it’s only ten bucks, you have to pay for glue, and X-Acto blades, and paper, and a cutting board. But those costs get spread out further and further the more stuff you buy from Fat Dragon. Which is kind of the idea.
The Bottom Line
It’s only ten bucks. That’s cheap. Ten bucks and a couple hours’ “effort” and you’ll have the coolest GM screen on the block.
Bling Factor: 6
Quality: 9 (or less, if you’re hobby challenged)
Price: $9.99 plus ammunition costs.
You need: One.
Well, the only way to help destroy the universe get one of these is online. Go to Fat Dragon Games, and tell them Gamer Bling sent you. Your humble reviewer gets no affiliate moneys, but he may get more files to play with review in the future.
Gamer Bling supposes it’s only inevitable that we receive a version III. Even More Ultimate than the Last One that We Said Was More Ultimate Because This Has Even More Ultimateness, or somesuch.