Aardevarque Comment: DMs Screen & Master Index (2nd ed., Revised)
Date Reviewed: 11/02/1995

Rating Scale:
1 Orc Piss -- Don't waste your money
2 American Beer  -- OK if you're into that sort of thing, or a completist
3 English Ale -- Get it if you have the spare change
4 Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster -- A worthwhile purchase
5 Nectar of the Gods -- What, you don't have this already?

These two are bundled together (so you can't buy them separately unless
it's on a "used gaming supplies" rack), but I'll review & rate them
separarely, then together.

Master Index
by: Jim Butler
Design & Editing: Jim Butler
Cover Illus.: Jeff Easley
and some other people

Rating: 4.1

Not much to say here.  If you've picked up all of the 2nd, Revised books and
the three Options books, and happen to have the ToM and BoA hanging around,
then this is for you.  One giant index of all 7 books, and a master
spell index of the PH, ToM, & HLC.

  Easy to read listings, and the symbol chart for which symbol equals
which book is on every page.  For people who are just starting AD&D, this
will be a boon of unmeasurable worth.  For those that have picked up the
Options books, it's a single place to start looking for info, instead of
dragging down all three books and flipping through three separate indices.
The spell index is in the same format as the alphabetical index in the PH
(name, P/W, level, reversible/wild magic/true dweomer, page #).
  It's not a lame module with the word "Tragidore" in the title.

  If there was an error in the indices of the original books, it's an
error in here (for example: Overbearing is on p. 129-130 of the PH2R, not
p. 128-129 as listed in the PH2R & DMG2R indices, and is reproduced here,
as well). This is not a major thing, as if its going to be off, it seems to
only be a page one side or the other; this happened once or twice in the
original PH2 & DMG2 as well (and the PH1 & DMG1, too); indices are hell
to error-check.
  The Master Index says "Dungeon Master Screen & Master Index" on the
cover, but on the inside only says "Master Index".  Since the DM's Screen is
clearly separate, I really do not see the need to inlude it on the cover of
the index.  On the paper wrap (there's gotta be a better term than that),
yes.  On the index itself?  No.
  There isn't a by-level index or a by-school index, which is a shame (but
isn't too large a loss); however, these are supposedly coming in the sequel
to Encyclopedia Magica.
  Also, this is pretty pointless for those who haven't bought the revised
2nd ed. core books; the only pages that will be correct and/or of any value
will be those that refer to the ToM & BoA, though having a master spell
index (even without using the page numbers) can be handy if you know the
spell name and can't remember class/level/reversible/wild, etc.

  The cover art is the same as on the Screen as well as the paper wrapping
that keeps it all together on the store shelf.  I like Easley's work as
much as the next guy, but using the same painting three times on the same
product irks me a little.  However, it's understandable to a certain
extent--the paper wrap is designed to be thrown away, and screen with the
art is not the primary DM's screen (more on that later).  It's irksome, but
doesn't really detract significantly from any enjoyment or usability factor.
  Also, and this is just a generic comment, the dragon is still not back in
the ampersand of "AD&D". [grumble, grumble]

  If you are newer to the game and actually have the books that are indexed
(or have some and are considering getting others), this is definitely a
good purchase.  If you have the original PH2 & DMG2, you may want to think
twice, but it won't be a total waste (and if you have to replace your books,
then it'll be perfect.  If you're a 1st edition player, forget it.  Don't
waste your money.

DM's Screen
credits: ibid., as far as I can tell.

Rating: 4.2

Listed in the cover blurb as "two screens of six panels each", what it is is
two screens of three folding leaves each.  One screen has the tables needed
from the PH & DMG, and the other has the tables needed from the three
Options books.

First, the generic DM's screen:

  The "generic" screen is not revision-specific; it can be used with the
original 2nd ed. books. (there are a few references to the books, but they
a) are not of enough consequence to worry about, b) reference table #, not
page # (and even if the table #'s have changed, it's still easy to find, for
example, the poison table).
  The item saving throw table is now on the *inside*, where the DM can see
  All six sides are pretty much covered with tables.  Removing the "cover
art" from the screen freed up a lot of important space.
  Information on Grenade-like missiles has been added, as have tables on
attacks per round per level for warriors & specialists, information on
avoiding gaze attacks, time required for noncombat activities and what a
character can do in a round, gem types, shield types, and a chart of
capacities of many and various containers.
  The equipment, armor, and weapons tables include weight, as does the
capacity table.  Much easier for players to calculate how much stuff their
characters are carrying.
  The layout is good, and the color coordination makes the information easy
to read.  Many of the tables have been condensed somewhat from the original
2nd ed. screen, but it's for the better in all the cases I found.

  The miscellaneous equipment chart is on the players' side, with prices
intact.  This blows a DM's chances to haggle and change prices by area.
However, it's on one of the side leaves, so the DM can still reference the
chart, at least.  This isn't too serious, and may actually aid many
campaigns where the DM doesn't want to have to worry about things like
inflation or haggling.
  The weapons charts (missile & non-missle) are on the players side only (no
prices, though, at least). However, it, too is on one of the side leaves, so
it can still be easily referenced.  And since players will be using this
chart almost as much as DMs in come cases, this isn't too bad, either.
  The AC chart on the players' side (it's one of the few on both sides)
includes prices for various armors.  Once again, this makes it difficult for
the DM to alter prices.  ("But it says on the screen that plate mail is only
600gp!")  However, like for the misc. equipment, this isn't *too* bad.
  The Gem chart lists the base values of each stone.  This isn't too bad, as
gems have a greater natural variance than, say, equipment (and a variance
that is not easy to detect), and it is easier to mistake a topaz for a
diamond than it is a lantern for a water clock; but it does mean that that
INT 3 fighter who finds a sparkly stone is going to know immediately as soon
as he finds out what kind of stone it is about how much $$ he's hanging on

  The chart of the outer planes from the DMG is reproduced in all it's
colorful glory--and on the players' side, to boot.  Was this trip *really*
necessary?  I guess, if you're playing a Planescape campaign, it could come
in handy, but still...

Players/DM's Options screen:

  All 3 Crit Hit charts reproduced (though one ends up on the players'
side, it's on a side leaf so the DM can get at it, as well).
  All sorts of fun tables that the DM would otherwise be constantly pawing
through several books to find.
  Doesn't require, for the most part, that you actually *own* the books in
question; very few things (mainly Psionics & dueling) can't be figured
out or fudged from the material present on the screen.
  The "5 basic steps of combat" list.  Good way to prevent a) arguments, b)
precious time looking up details.
  Initiative penalties for various actions list.

  One page is taken out by artwork.  However, this is typical for a DM's
screen, so it doesn't detract much...

  ...But it's the same painting as that on the Index. [sigh]

I don't profess to be an expert on what is needed for campaigns that include
material from the various Options books, but this seems to cover all the
important points actually needed for gameplay.

Overall rating for : 3.9

A very good product, I definitely recommend it to anyone who's
invested in any of the newer books.  People who haven't bothered to do this
at all probably would be wasting money to get this, but it might be
worthwhile (in other words, definitely consider it) for those who have, say,
bought the Options books but not the revised core books.  However, you can't
buy them separately.  If you are perfectly happy with one of the previous
DM's screens, and just want the index, then you're out of luck.  The lack of
much backward-compatibility and the inability to purchase these separately
drop the overall rating down.

Final note:  If you think you might actually use the index and the screens,
even if you don't already have the Options books, definitely consider
picking these up, even if you're perfectly happy with what you already have;
I definitely recommend it.  It is well worth the $9.95 for everything it
comes with (rather than $9.95 each the price'd most likely be if they'd been
shipped separately...). If you haven't bought anything new from TSR in a
year or so, then don't bother starting now.

Aardy R. DeVarque
Feudalism: Serf & Turf

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