My Player’s DM Screen

Adriaen Brouwer - Feeling (1635)

So, I realized sometime upon the early release of D&D 5th Edition, I really don’t like DM screens. No scratch that… I hate them. We all know screens are artificial walls between you (the DM) and your players. That has been stated countless times, I know.

Sure, DM screens can let you fudge attack and damage rolls when “needed”, as double and triple-crits can and do happen. You can make certain hidden skill rolls for players, if you are into that sort of thing. Screens have the famous inner facing sides of instant reference and roll tables at a glance.  Even your players usually have slightly motivational pictures on the outward facing sides as game prompts.

Well mea culpa friends. Truth be told, I haven’t rolled from behind a screen for quite a long time.  I have always rolled out in the open from the left side of a screen, being left-handed and all.  I never pulled punches rolling dice.  It is part of the social contract between me and my players. My players know I will not hesitate to kill their characters if the dice roll that way, but their deaths will always be an important part of the story. My players want honesty over story convenience.

No, the real reason I am casting DM screens away is this current version of D&D. 5th Edition is so much more simplified and empowering, that I just don’t need all that table data staring at me any longer.  My players never cared about the artwork after the first session.  I never roll anything for my players… ever.

I will admit, I do miss an occasional specialized roll table.  But now I just include that in my session outline.  It just works for me.

I have mentioned in the past that I provide a character binder to each player that includes not only their character sheets, but a “Rules Reference”.  Much of the information on the players rule’s reference is similar to what is on a DM screen.  In a way, I have delegated all that DM information to the players.

Here is what my Player’s Rules Reference contains:

Reference - Players Rules Reference Page 1Reference - Players Rules Reference Page 2 Reference - Players Rules Reference Page 3Reference - Players Rules Reference Page 4 Reference - Players Rules Reference Page 5Reference - Players Rules Reference Page 6

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