If you’re a new Dungeon Master looking for a DM toolkit then the new D&D Wilderness Kit DM Screen could be the answer. It contains all the elements you might need for running a wilderness-based adventure, following long journeys, monitoring supplies, and tracking initiative.
Usually, with each new D&D campaign that WotC releases, they follow-up the main book with a DM screen that includes specific rules, useful information, and helpful tables to enhance the DMing experience and improve that specific campaign. This was particularly successful for Dragon Heist and Descent into Avernus, where the tables and facts included really added to the gaming experience and helped DMs build their worlds using the details and features on the reverse of the DM screen. This time, however, WotC has decided to deviate from the pattern and, instead of releasing a screen that accompanies a particular campaign, they’ve developed one which will suit any campaign.
This isn’t the first time they’ve done this for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons—see the DM Screen Reincarnated or the Of Ships and The Sea DM Screen—however this is one of the more polished and refined DM screens to come out so far, and I can already see it replacing my old classic DM screen in games to come.
The outside (player’s view) of the screen features some great wilderness-style artwork. There are mountains and dragons, a kraken, and some wrecked, long-forgotten ships. It’s made of solid durable cardboard and seems like it will last the course of a few good campaigns.
Inside the screen (DM’s view) there are the rules for various status effects in the game, so you can see at a glance how being paralyzed, grappled, or stunned works. It also features the rules for exhaustion and suffocation—both of which you don’t need often, but can be tricky to find in the Player’s Handbook under pressure whilst playing, so hopefully this screen lets you avoid slowing the game down simply by glancing at the chart. It also details useful, if slightly tricky elements such as rules for cover, light sources, and so on.
Unlike some of the other screens, there are no random encounter tables or loot/treasure suggestions, and it doesn’t feature the random tavern name generator like the Waterdeep screen, but it does have details on setting a DC for an ability check, the rules for jumping and concentration, foraging, travel pace, and prices for food/drink and services. All are super useful and likely to save Dungeon Masters a lot of time and effort and prevent the kind of mistakes that I often make—”Yeah, a pint of ale does cost 15 gold pieces…”
There is some really great stuff that comes with this new DM toolkit and screen, which shows how much time and effort WotC have put into this product. It’s got a great set of laminated sheets with a hex map, ration and supply trackers, wilderness chases and chase rules, and actions in combat. The jewels of this crown are the hex map and wilderness chase sheets. The hex map features a grid of 100 numbered hexes that can be used to represent an area for your players to explore. The heroes go from hex-to-hex investigating what they find therein, and searching for treasure and adventure—or just running away from huge monsters. If you use this hex map with the wilderness chase sheet and the wilderness encounters table from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, you can set up a sequence of cool jungle, desert, or ocean exploration encounters that might bring something new to your game—this would work really well if you’re planning on running Rime of the Frostmaiden or Tomb of Annihilation.
The final sheet you get with this DM’s toolkit is a pack of condition cards, initiative cards, and a fancy little box to store them in. This is a charming little addition to the set and as any DM will know, condition cards are super useful items to give your players whenever they’ve fallen under the sway of a particular effect—from charmed to petrified, they’re all here and you’ll never again have to hear a player ask, “If I’m exhausted, am I at disadvantage on attacks? Or is it just saving throws?”
I am impressed with this new DM toolkit and, for what it’s designed to do, it really ticks all the boxes. I am already planning an exciting hex-crawl (it’s what true adventurers call it) through the wilderness for my next campaign, and the screen, cards, and laminated reference sheets that come with the new DM Screen Wilderness Kit are sure to help make that an adventure to remember.
Disclaimer: Geekdad received a copy of the Wilderness DM Toolkit for review purposes.
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