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.


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