Building the Ultimate Dungeon Master Screen

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Building the Ultimate Dungeon Master Screen


Anyone who’s played Dungeons & Dragons, or another roleplaying game, and used an official Dungeon Master (DM) screen knows how flimsy the commercial screens can be. Even the ones made of thick board not card stock, while being sturdier, are not very exciting and the information printed on them is fixed.

This past Christmas, Dave Henning and his gaming group did a holiday gift exchange. Dave wanted to create something truly special for his recipient, so he constructed a DM screen that would even make the gods of The Forgotten Realms jealous.


David’s DM Screen is made almost entirely of foam board. He says he used three pieces of 2′ x 2′ board for the project. The castle-themed screen that he ended up with has a bunch of special features, including lit dice storage shelves, a place to hang DM reference material, a dice tower, and a place to store non-playing character (NPC) minis. There is also a place for pencils, sharpeners, and erasers.

15732542_10202535393343412_4620653886235404147_oTo create the bricks, David first drew them out onto the foam board and then used a FloraCraft Styro Wonder Cutter Plus to etch all of the bricks out.

15724977_10202535394583443_8191124563836354433_oTo create the disks that he used to build the three castle towers, he used the plastic mug seen here. It has a 12-sided bottom that he used as his template. Each tower has 12 1-inch disks and 3 more on top for the platform and crenelations.

15676088_10202535390103331_8387164159825141900_oTo create texture on the brickwork, David used a ball of aluminum foil to distress the foam and then followed that up with some added chipping and battle damage using a hobby knife.

15723664_10202535387623269_8092959581341573304_oTo turn one of the castle towers into a dice tower (where the DM can roll dice in a controlled space), David had to hollow out the disks using the lid of a spray can as his guide. He says the process was long and tedious.

15676577_10202535387103256_1265324957121714603_oBuilding the dice tower. Hot glue was used in assembling all of the foam pieces.

15676405_10202535399303561_3352216265884239699_oTo light the dice display, David used LED lights he got at Walmart for a buck. The lights had a metal housing so he installed magnets into the back wall of the display area to make a removable mount for them. Besides helping to see what dice are available, the illumination also provides a reading light for the campaign and reference materials that the DM is using.

15776625_10202535388143282_5806011605383878749_oPopsicle sticks were used to create the front castle door and trap door for the dice tower.

15723345_10202535392103381_6723188268826131902_oTo finish the piece, David primed everything black and then painted all of the stone work in pewter gray, dark gray, light gray, black wash, gray wash, green wash, and finally, a titanium white dry brush to bring out all of the edge details.

15676352_10202535401343612_7378741005830316901_oAll set up and ready to send bands of hapless adventurers to their doom in the deep dark dungeons of the realm.

David makes and sells dice towers and dice bags on Etsy. You can access his store here.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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