As is traditional in an RPG release schedule, one of the early releases is a GMs kit, containing a GMs screen and some additional content to entice us to hand over our money.
Not ones to break tradition, Privateer Press's second release in the Iron Kingdoms line is a Games Masters toolkit to aid all those hard working GMs in running their games.
The main component of the kit is the 4 pane games masters’ screen. With the panes orientated landscape, the screen is low enough that a GM can comfortably look over while sitting, but will hide notes and dice rolls from players. With a double sized centre panel, you have plenty of width to work with, and don't feel cramped with a pile of notes.
The screen is made from tough card, like the cover to the Iron Kingdoms core book. This means that it will easily stay standing on its own, and even absorb dice impacts without moving. This isn't a 1990's White Wolf screen here!
The outer screen graphics are up to the normal excellent standards of Privateer Press. The double sized pane gives a great opportunity for some metal mangling action, and it doesn't disappoint. You can’t get much more of a representative view of the Iron Kingdoms than a heavy warjack fighting a bionic pig man over a crashed steam engine.
On the inner screen is the real meat of the product, with useful tables and charts for reference in game. While I haven’t road tested the screen, it contains everything I would need to reference quickly during a game. It also includes page references for sections if you want to look at the full rules, which is really handy. The text is a reasonable size, and laid out well, making it easy to read. Use of bold text and inverted text colour for headings means that you can quickly find what you are looking for.
Onto the extras. These vary from company to company, some offering an adventure, others a small booklet of GM related material that didn't make the cut into the core book. In this case there are couple of gaming aids to help run your game.
To start us off, there is a pad of 25 full colour character sheets, like the ones found in the core book. Next, there is a pad of 25 full colour encounter sheets, again like the ones found in the core book. There are also 10 laminated Character health trackers and 10 laminated initiative trackers.
For me, while gorgeous quality, I'm unlikely to ever use the character or encounter sheets. Not that there is anything wrong with them, but I tend to find character sheets get used and abused in a way that doesn’t warrant using better than a black and white printout. Also, the paper is slightly gloss, and I'd imagine writing in pencil may be more difficult, leading to problems when changes needed to be made. It would also make the encounter sheets only usable once. That being said, there is nothing wrong with them, just a matter of personal preference.
The laminated health and initiative trackers though, I will be making use of. The health tracker gives the player an easy way to track life or damage (in the case of a warjack) and their current Feat Points, without having to keep rubbing out a section of the character sheet. The Initiative Tracker card, not only gives the GM a place to record individual initiative scores, but also a character's stats and current Armour and Defense, so they don't need to refer back to the player as often. While not vital to running a game, it certainly makes tracking things much easier.
Finally, perhaps the more difficult aspect is the product’s value for money. At $27.99 rrp, it is actually more expensive than Urban Adventures, and is likely to see less use. Looking at previous GMs screens I’ve bought, it is certainly much better than the screens I have for the FFG 40K RPGs, and just as good as my Eclipse Phase screen. For me, the additional items don’t quite have as much worth as the adventures/GMs books that the other screens provided, but I’m willing to let that go.
If you intend to run a game of Iron Kingdoms, you can’t go wrong by picking up the screen. The information it provides alone makes it a must have, saving time leafing through the rule book. Consider it an investment if nothing else.
|Iron Kingdoms Games Masters Tool Kit Contents|