If you’re into tabletop roleplaying, you may already be familiar with Dog Might Games. They’ve been custom crafting gaming accessories for both players and game masters since their launch in 2013. I’ve been looking at their wares on their website for awhile now, but recently I had a chance to examine one of their Valhalla GM Screens in person.
Dog Might Games has several screens ready to ship at any time on their website, but for the purposes of this review, we would be starting from scratch to experience the process of getting a custom GM screen.
You can choose either a 3-panel or 4-panel screen, with multiple designs available in both engraved (as seen above) and sculpted styles. Dog Might can also create completely custom screens if you’re so inclined. There are also several wood and finish options. Prices will vary widely depending on the options you select.
I made my selections, and Dog Might’s artisans got to work. With most companies, you place an order, then wait for an email letting you know your product has shipped. Dog Might Games, however, keeps you actively involved with every step of the process. They do this through what they call the SCRY system.
The SCRY System
SCRY stands for
“See Crafting Results Yourself.” It is an automated system by which Dog Might Games keeps customers abreast of every phase of the crafting of their screens and accessories.
I received regular emails whenever my order was updated, and could go to the website to see the progress made in realtime, as well as who was working on my Valhalla Screen and accessories.
Additionally, if you’re curious you can click on each stage, for a detailed description of the process. Here’s what I saw when I clicked on “Stage 2 Finishing”:
All in all, the SCRY system keeps you fully engaged in the production of your GM screen and accessories in a satisfying fashion.
My Valhalla GM Screen Arrives
Of course, the day came when production ended, and my screen shipped. It took about 6 weeks from the time my order was placed to when my screen and accessories were on their way to me. Unpacking the box (there was a LOT of bubble wrap), here’s what arrived:
Dog Might Games also included a few other items. Inside the box were an enamel pin and a set of dog tags.
There was also a “thank you” letter, which arrived rolled up like a scroll you might hand out to your players at the game table:
The Valhalla GM Screen
I had ordered a 4-panel design. Mine was made from maple, and each panel measures 12″ x 9″.
Each panel has embedded magnets, to hold the included Plexiglass panels, or separately purchasable accessories.
There are also ball bearings included, which can be used to pin maps, notes, and other papers onto your board.
The metal rods work with the magnets embedded in the sides of the wooden panels to create a kind of hinge.
This allows you to rotate the panels, allowing you to set up the screen at the angles you like on your gaming table.
The last bit of kit that comes with a Valhalla GM Screen are 6 Plexiglass markers, which insert in grooves at the top of the screen. These can be used for tracking player initiative in combat.
Dry erase markers will easily wipe clean from the Plexiglass.
What you read above is what you get with any Valhalla GM Screen. Dogmight Games also produces several accessories designed for use with the screen, and sent some of them along to me. As with the Valhalla GM Screens, the price of the accessories will vary based on the options you select. All of them are magnetized to attach to the panels.
While this dice tower is designed to look like a dragon, there are several other designs available. You can also work with the Dog Might Games design team to custom design your tower.
The dice tower is connected by magnets in its two halves. This allows for easy access, should dice ever get stuck inside.
Like the dice tower, the pen holder and dice rack both attach magnetically to the GM Screen.
These shelves are convenient for holding miniatures, but can also hold dice, initiative trackers, or many other items.
Finally, Dog Might Games sent along an assortment of 4 maple inspiration tokens. In case you didn’t know, in Dungeons & Dragons, inspiration is granted to players when they make an inspired roleplaying choice. The inspiration may later be cashed in, to give them an advantage on a die roll.
And yes, your eyes don’t deceive you. Dog Might Games surprised me with a custom GeekDad inspiration token! The GM side of one of the wooden screen panels is also engraved with the GeekDad logo:
Why I Love the Valhalla GM Screen…and Why You Will Too
Most of us are familiar with the cardboard dungeon master screens that you can purchase for games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. If you’re a player, you’re often staring at a piece of artwork pulled from one of the rulebooks. Meanwhile, on the dungeon master’s side, you have a static collection of tables and information that have been selected by the creators of the screen.
With the Valhalla GM Screen, you get a melding of beauty and functionality. The pictures of the gorgeous design and finishing work on the screen speaks for itself. But importantly, once you get past the wow factor of the Valhalla GM Screen, you’ll be impressed by the modular design. Using the strong magnets built into the screen and accessories, you’re able to customize the screen for the exact way that you want to organize your game materials. Here are just a few examples of how I was able to set up my Valhalla:
Even if you were to use the screen without any of the optional accessories, the included Plexiglass panels and ball bearings allow you plenty of flexibility for arranging all the info that you feel is important to have at your fingertips for each of your gaming sessions. And rest assured, the magnets are very strong and will hold everything your attach to the screen.
I do have a minor nitpick, and hopefully one that Dog Might Games will consider rectifying in the future. The Valhalla GM Screen only comes with 6 of the Plexiglass initiative trackers. While this is generally enough to cover the player characters, I find that I often run encounters that have several NPC’s with varying initiative. I would love to see the screens ship with 12 initiative trackers. This number won’t cover every combat encounter, but it will certainly cover most.
I was originally going to note that Dog Might Games could use a storage and transport solution for the Valhalla GM Screen. But then I looked at their website and quickly saw their Gaming Backpack, which is designed to carry your screen, accessories, and rulebooks, and keep them protected.
Before I wrap things up, many of you may have noticed that I spoke about how the cost of purchasing a Valhalla GM Screen depended on a number of factors. Let me be clear: this is a custom-built gaming accessory, created by multiple craftspeople, and crafted from fine wood. So, it’s going to cost just a bit more than one of those mass-produced cardboard GM screens. At this time, the least expensive screen you can get is on some of the in-stock Valhalla Screens. Those are on sale for $185.25, a savings of 25% off what would be their usual price. Should you work with the artisans on an entirely unique design, and want your screen made of an exotic wood, you could find the price rising as high as $840. You’ll find that the vast majority of Valhalla GM Screens fall solidly in the middle of those two figures.
Getting a Valhalla GM Screen is certainly a major purchase, but it’s also something that you’ll be using every time that you run a roleplaying session. It has amazing presence on your table, elevating your games from those beloved but low rent days of playing D&D in your parents’ basement on a folding card table. It may not be for everyone, but if you like to spend your nights weaving tales of high fantasy and adventure, then you’re sure to be happy doing it behind a Valhalla GM Screen.
For more information on the Valhalla GM Screen or any of their other products, visit the Dog Might Games website.
To subscribe to GeekDad’s tabletop gaming coverage, please copy this link and add it to your RSS reader.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this product for review purposes.