GM’s Screen – Portrait vs Landscape – who would win?

screenThere has been talk on our social media channels about the orientation of the 13th Age GM’s Screen. It’s going to be portrait, and I wanted to talk about that choice.

Our Keeper’s Screen for Trail of Cthulhu is three-fold and portrait-oriented. We’ve just reprinted it. Strangely, I have never had any push back or comments on the portrait vs landscape version Keeper’s Screen since it was released many years ago, so the comments were unexpected.

The first thing to say is that there are strong arguments for both – in fact, it’s purely a matter of taste. However, it’s a binary choice so it’s literally impossible for us to please both groups without doing two screens.

I chose vertical for the Keeper’s Screen because the primary purpose of a Keeper’s Screen is to hide the Keeper’s notes. Portrait screens do that job better. They have the downside of hiding more of the GM, but I don’t think that’s enough of a reason to make them landscape. From an aesthetic point of view, I think the potrait oriented screen has a more pleasing aspect ratio, closer to traditional triptychstriptych.

The same reasoning applies to the 13th Age GM’s screen.

This did lead me to wonder – am I in a minority? So, I contacted Danny O’Neill of Hammerdog Games, who produces the World’s Greatest Screen who offers both a landscape and a portrait version and has no skin the game.

He told me that portrait screens sell marginally better than landscape screens, but there’s not much in it. It’s a truly even split.

So what can you hardened Landscapers do? Well, one of our forum members has created a landscape-oriented screen you can print out here. And who knows, we might do a landscape version in future.

Now, with that dealt with, I’m waiting for the four-fold crowd to kick off.

9 Responses to “GM’s Screen – Portrait vs Landscape – who would win?”

  1. Michael M. says:

    …I certainly wouldn’t be OPPOSED to a 4-fold GM screen. :P

    (Personally, I’m cool with whatever. I GM standing up so the issue doesn’t particularly both me.)

    My question is whether the monster creation charts will be on the GM’s side screen because those are REALLY useful!

    (And is it safe to assume that Glorantha material won’t be on the screen?)

  2. Jefferson Dunlap says:

    Yay – Portrait for the win!

    Now about four-fold – MAKE MINE 4! ;)

    I kid. I’m happy with three

  3. Dee says:

    I understand, but it’s of course sad ;-) I use the linked landsacpe screen and it is good. Saves money. My personal reasons for landscape:

    1. Not that high. Don’t hide yourself. You don’t have to use the fly or levitate spell to get your on the battlemap. You don’t have to stand up to take a look at it. That’s something trail of cthulhu has no need of, so it’s not fully comparable.

    2. It hides thing actually better. Because it’s wider. Three fold portrait hides what? An open book plus notes plus space for dice? Not really. Player’s don’t look over it but past it to the right and left.

    Hiding is not important to me but point 1. is crucial for me.

    my2cents ;-)

  4. AndrewTBP says:

    I bought the Trail of Cthulhu GMs screen, but I’ve never used the screen, so whether it’s portrait or landscape is irrelevant to me. I’ll also buy the 13th Age GMs screen, and I’ll never use that either. In both cases, it’s the included book that I am interested in and use (and will use) regularly.

  5. RR says:


    I vote for landscape for the same reasons August 15, 2015 at 11:30 pm did. Elric!’s screen was a paradigm shift for me.

    My 2 coppers…

  6. Benjamin Brown says:

    This is all well and good, portrait/landscape is a happy debate. I love GM screens and have a few for games I don’t even play. But where is the Night’s Black Agents screen? I end up with so many conspiracy sandbox notes that it’d be great to have a screen to hide my chaos behind, with all kinds of helpful tables just a glance away. Portrait vs Landscape doesn’t matter to me, I always put the screen to the side, so I can see into it but it doesn’t block my interaction with the players.

    • RR says:

      Pelgranes, hark Benji!

      Where’s the NBA’s Handler screen? Don’t say it’s “top secret” when it should be “director’s Eyes Only”!

  7. Nefal says:

    Hi! Landscape for the win. Actually I think that the landscape GM screen is a kind of civilization progress ;)

Leave a Reply