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GM Screens: Good or Bad?


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#1 Hal

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 12:19 PM

Hey folks,

 

I saw this article online - The DM's Screen: Benefit or Burden and thought that it might be a nice jumping off point for a conversation.

 

I know a lot of you play online these days and that kind of removes the whole need for a screen but when you play at the table do you (or does your GM) play with a screen or not? What do you think are the good and bad things about using a screen?

 

Personally, even though I have one the most amazing GM screens on the face of the earth, I don't like to use a screen. I feel that it disconnects me too much from the players. Also - I tend to roll on the open rather than hiding things and fudge rolls in the calculation when necessary :)

 

I tend to keep my notes in a book in front of me and everything else off the side on a side table and access it as I need it.

 

Go forth and discus...

 

Hal :hal:


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#2 thad

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 12:41 PM

One of the most useful things about a GM screen is not the screen itself, but that it contains a good set of tables that everyone usually needs to access... (or for the rules player type characters to access for the GM when they can't be bothered).


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#3 Lucky_Strike

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 01:21 PM

I am not a fan of the screen. I've used them for reference once or twice but never as a set up divider on the table.

When I was younger I never wanted to spend the money on them.

I suspect I've tended to play on smaller tables also. In many games I would have really cut down on table space claiming as much as a four panel screen covers.

I like a clipboard, notebook, or three ring binder and a stack of books. Then a play area with a central map for PCs to argue plans over.
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#4 BigJackBrass

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 02:17 PM

For me it's the reference side of things that makes a screen worthwhile, because I'm absolutely horrendous when it comes to remembering the bloody rules. The portrait-style screens do block the players out, though, particularly if you're all seated. Tri Tac worked around that by having a large notch in the middle of their screen, but I think that the landscape-orientated screens we've seen come along in the last few years are a better solution. Blocking notes and maps from players can be handy, although my own style of play means that they chiefly serve to hide the fact that I don't have anything written and mapped out... 

 

cavitysearch-smiley.gif

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#5 Balgin

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 02:42 PM

As with Big Jack, I find the reference and tables on screens to be quite useful. Additionally, if I need to keep a map or some notes out of sight I might tend to sling 'em behind a screen just so players will know it would not be polite to take a peek. It's not going to stop a determined nosey parker but it should help reduce the chance of someone inadvertently spotting something that they shouldn't.

 

Regardless of whether I use a screen I tend to roll dice in sight of the players. Sometimes it can be a bit awkward to stand up and lean across the screen to roll in front of it. If I really need to hide a dice roll then I tend to just roll it behind my hand.

 

I have heard tell of one cunning GM who used a screen for one thing and that one thing only. He used the screen to roll dice behind it for the sound that they made (and the way the players would react to knowing that he'd rolled something but hadn't revealed the results yet). He actually ignored the numbers that came up on the dice. Just rolled them to mess with his players' heads as he continued to run his game the way he wanted to.


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#6 Hal

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 03:05 PM

I mentioned in my post that I already had the best GM Screen in the world... here is a bad picture :)

 

post-8805-0-78307600-1422392699.jpg

 

It is truly massive and even has little windows with stained glass and stuff :)

 

Hal :hal:

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#7 Hal

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 03:07 PM

I also found a GIF of @Lindsay from last year - lets see how long before she comes by and finds it :P

 

post-8805-0-18658200-1422392830.gif

 

Hal :hal:

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#8 BigJackBrass

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 03:17 PM

I'll guess that when she does find it, someone is going to suffer :D
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#9 Hal

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 03:55 PM

Google made it automatically - I had nothing to do with it :)

 

Hal :hal:


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#10 BigJackBrass

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 04:18 PM

That's it, best to practice your defence ;)
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#11 Tulty

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 06:31 PM

I haven't GMed an in-person game for quite some time, but I tend to make firm use of DM Screens. Firstly, it just lends a session that classic feel to it. I don't know, the very first time I played D&D, my friend's dad used a screen and I hadn't seen anything like it before. I also agree with the other chaps who advocate the reference screens; they're insanely useful. To this day I rely on my Pathfinder screen for my Spellcraft DCs. 

 

I am gonna be a bit controversial, and say that my preferred method of rolling is actually out of sight of the players. I think my players trust me enough as a GM to be mindful of the enjoyment-factor of the game we're playing (I hope), and to that end I am not above fudging rolls, either for or against my players, if the situation calls for it. Rolling in view of your players is definitely a great way to do things, but it's not currently my way of doing things. Even when I use Roll20, I make all my rolls secretly.  


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#12 Slartibartfast

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Posted 27 January 2015 - 06:49 PM

I usually make my own cheat sheets so I have the rules I need with me so don't need a screen for that. They do look pretty fancy though...


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#13 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 28 January 2015 - 03:50 AM


cavitysearch-smiley.gif

Source of the GM's brilliant ideas


Looks like that emoticon needs to be added to the site collection, for all future DMing discussions. :)

I have heard tell of one cunning GM who used a screen for one thing and that one thing only. He used the screen to roll dice behind it for the sound that they made (and the way the players would react to knowing that he'd rolled something but hadn't revealed the results yet). He actually ignored the numbers that came up on the dice. Just rolled them to mess with his players' heads as he continued to run his game the way he wanted to.


Classic DMing tactics. :)

tumblr_mp87v4Xjf61s97jmdo1_500.gif
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#14 Hafwit 2.0

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 08:53 AM

I'm not a fan of screens (though Hal's is very nice!) I prefer a cheat sheet for quick rules reference. I pretty much always roll in the open.

 

grumpy-cat-game-master-550x550.jpg


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#15 BigJackBrass

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 10:16 AM

I prefer a cheat sheet for quick rules reference.

 

The advantage a screen has is in conserving table space. We often seemed to play with too many people for the available surface area :D


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#16 Hafwit 2.0

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 02:10 PM

Good point.  :) When we game face-to-face we usually have a decent-sized table or several smaller ones. The cheat sheet can be tucked in behind the character sheet. 


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#17 PaulofCthulhu

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 08:24 AM

I made a modification to my own GM screen recently that seemed to work out fairly well.

 

http://www.yog-sotho...dc-super-screen

 

d2a25d45e1d0e4dba707cbf863c8d673.jpg


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#18 Pencil-Monkey

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 08:48 AM

Is that glory hole large enough that Cthulhu can deliver his tentacular lovin' through it, though? :)
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#19 Tulty

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 08:58 AM

In Cthulu, the hills, quite literally, have eyes...
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#20 PaulofCthulhu

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 09:05 AM

In Cthulu, the hills, quite literally, have eyes...

 
Too true. :-)
 

The great hill hung close over the old town,
A precipice against the main street's end;
Green, tall, and wooded, looking darkly down
Upon the steeple at the highway bend.
Two hundred years the whispers had been heard
About what happened on the man-shunned slope -
Tales of an oddly mangled deer or bird,
Or of lost boys whose kin had ceased to hope.

One day the mail-man found no village there,
Nor were its folk or houses seen again;
People came out from Aylesbury to stare -
Yet they all told the mail-man it was plain
That he was mad for saying he had spied
The great hill's gluttonous eyes, and jaws stretched wide.


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