GM Screens vs Playmats

Over the years, I’ve talked with a growing number of GMs who prefer playing without GM screens for one reason or another. The most interesting one (personally) is how it makes them feel separate from the players rather than part of the group. For your more adversarial RPGs, sure. But story games or others where GMs are encouraged to be fans of the players, a screen doesn’t feel like a good fit.

Anyone here a fan of using playmats instead of GM screens? And for which games?

I made one for High Plains Samurai during the Kickstarter and have thought about making others for other games.


I’ve started doing something like a mat. Given that my screens are usually just sheets I’ve made for reference, inserted in a DIY GM screen (I use Hammerdog’s GM screen), I’d just stared laying those things down in front.

I’ve been a big fan of GM Screens that have player reference handouts with them, instead of the obligatory “what do we pack in with this this thing so we’re not just selling a screen.”

Star Trek Adventures and the various Green Ronin AGE screens have had rules summary handouts that you can circulate to players, and I’m a big fan of that.

The common GM advice to be “fans of the players” applies to all RPGs, even those where GMs use screens.

I reject the idea that screens are prima facie indicative of adversarial GMs.

There are a LOT of things going on behind my screen: Terrain, Minis, Handouts, Monster Stat Blocks, Adventure Notes - in short: SPOILERS!

It’s not just a dice tray and reference sheets…

Nice play mat, BTW.

Oh, and there are these Player Screens (by Shawn Sunday):

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