provoked thoughts: screens vs. sheets
Here’s a great thought-provoking post on the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Screen from James Maliszewski at Grognardia. ‘Tis a timely subject; I’ve been putting together some reference sheets for S&W Zhontaar, and thinking about maybe DIY-ing a referee’s screen, largely so I could pimp some of Pete Mullen’s awesome art gracing Mythmere Games’ products… Truth be told though (and James’ post reminded me of this), is that no matter how cool a screen’s art and layout is, I probably won’t use it as such. DM screens are cool in theory but I haven’t stood one up on the table for years, for various reasons.
If I’m sitting, the screen blocks my access to minis, dry-erase mats, snacks, and other stuff at the center of the table. I certainly don’t need the screen for secrecy’s sake, as I keep my bare-bones maps and notes on a clipboard on my lap. Most of my die rolls are done in full view of the players; those that I do need to make secretly are handled on said lap-clipboard (lap-board?). The rules I prefer are pretty minimalist, and for the stuff I don’t know offhand I have reference sheets. Scratch another reason for the screen.
Nothing against DM screens or those who use them, obviously. My needs are perfectly well-met by reference sheets, so I’ll pass on the extra work needed to construct a custom screen and use that time to develop adventure hooks and dungeon levels. Thanks James, for the timely words.