The classic gold-colored Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Screen went through 6 printings before transitioning over to the Easley-cover style in 1985.
The Acaeum has been my go-to D&D reference for years. I can never remember the little details that distinguish the various DM Screen printings. It still takes me too long to nail down the printing reading through the notes. (And, yes, I feel compelled to look up every screen I sell!)
So I’m making this visual guide as much for myself as for anybody else. This post is only possible due to the painstaking work over at The Acaeum’s DM Screens page.
I’ve got a bunch of Screen 1s, been sitting in my Boneyard for many years. The intent was always to find Screen 2s to match and sell, but Screen 2s are more scarce, particularly with the earlier printings. Decided to let go of them today (27 Feb 2021), put them up for sale in the shop. But first I took pics for this post, and combined them with photos from my archives.
This is the one that catches non-collectors by surprise: The early prints were 2-panel and 4-panel screens.
Front cover has no art. (In the 2nd printing the Erol Otus pic would fill that blank panel)
1st printing (and 2nd) were of a very thin paperboard stock. Here’s a 1st print (l) and a 3rd print (r) for contrast.
More about the 1st prt at my earlier post: RARE 1ST PRINT: AD&D DM Screen set
Same thin paperboard; still 2+4 panels. Erol Otus Art now on the front panel. Also I believe the 2nd printing was glossy on the interiors, not only the exteriors, as seen in the 1st print.
Paperboard is now thicker; still 2+4 panels. Interior tables are printed on sheets, which are glued to the screen.
Photo above shows a 4th print on top of a 3rd print.
4th printing added language “This second edition of the DM Screen”. Also smaller in size, something I’d never noticed before.
4th print went to the familiar 3-panel (x2) format. Graphics and tables printed directly on the screens (no longer pasted sheets inside).
5th & 6th printings
Photo above: 4th print (l), 6th print (r).
Cover graphics noticeably changed between the 4th and 5th prints: Title font, “For Advanced D&D Game” yellow banner, and the TSR “face” logo.
There is little difference between 5th and 6th prints, just coding in the bottom left corner.
Here you have the distinguishing elements (top to bottom): 5th, 5th+, and 6th print.
7th printing and beyond
The Easley cover AD&D rulebooks released in 1983. I call them “Revised” to differentiate them from the classic cover editions. But the change is only skin-deep, as the books are essentially identical inside to the earlier core books.
Not so with the DM Screen set (1985), which are now titled – grammatically-correct – “Dungeon Master’s Screen“. They have the same Easley art from the DMG and PHB. Unlike the rulebooks, this new version of the DM Screen is very different from its predecessor.
It’s not clear to me why the Acaeum considers this screen a subsequent printing of the gold screens, except perhaps to maintain symmetry with its rulebook reference pages. [Ah, just noticed, they have this set listed twice. It’s also placed with its REF-coded brothers here. Interesting.]
A few tables are in the same place, and there are two screens, but that’s where the similarity ends
TSR product code changed: 9146 vs 9024… The rulebooks did not change codes when the Easley covers were released. There’s a two-panel paper cover sleeve with a summary of character class requirements and abilities inside. The DM Screen roughly corresponds to Gold Screen 2, with attack matrix by class, saving throws, and cleric turning; the remainder is new. The Players Reference Screen faintly echoes Gold Screen 1 in repeating the Grenade-like Missiles table. Otherwise, it’s all new. The Assassin’s table and Psionics were dropped, leaving a lot of space for handy weapon and equipment tables and lists.