18 June 2015

Player's shields? WTF?

The GM's evil lair.
Along time ago, in a marketing department far far away...

I will tell you right up front, I really do not care much for game master screens. For me, role-playing is a social event, and putting a shield between the GM and the player interrupts the sociability. It got a little better when landscaped shields came on the scene, and even better when Pinnacle Inc. made their GM screens really short. For me, all I want is something to block the dice I roll and notes on statuses in combat, and to get miniatures ready for the next ambush. The tables are the added bonus.

Tell me the truth. You want one.
When the Dungeon Master screens for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1e hit the shelves in 1979, they sold fast. After that, AD&D was always four to six players and the top of the DM's head poking over the screen as he rolls dice and manically laughs. To be fully seen you had to stand up, and when I played AD&D the only reason to stand up was to get a new can of Mountain Dew. So popular was the product that TSR Hobbies released screens for B/X D&D, AD&D 2e, Mystara, and Spelljammer. Today the product is alive and well, and for many different games, not just D&D.

That's when the brain trusts in marketing decided to take the next step, creating module AC7: Master Player's Screen in 1985. Finally, everyone can be just the top of his head bobbing above the screen. It had a few useful tables, but it was just so so wrong otherwise. Why? To hide players dice rolls? To hide their character sheet? Talk about sociability disappearing, you never could make eye contact unless two of you were going for the Mountain Dew.

The product was short lived.  No others were made, but I cannot help looking back and laughing at it.

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