Mike Mearls half-heartedly fulfilling his assignment to gush about the new D&D DM screen:
When Bart Carroll asked me to handle a Design & Development column on the new Deluxe Dungeon Master’s Screen, I wasn’t quite sure where to start. For my money, a DM’s screen needs the following key traits:
Opacity: A DM’s screen can’t screen anything if the players can simply look through it. Screen-Like Shape: The screen should be shaped like a screen, in that it is rather flat, narrow, and capable of standing immobile. Other shapes simply won’t do. For example, a spherical screen has the potential to roll around the table and perhaps crush the smaller sort of D&D player. Tall, But Not Too Tall: The ideal screen height blocks easy access to the DM’s notes (or lack thereof; the best screens make both the well-prepared and the “I’m completely making this up as I go” DMs indistinguishable). Too short, and the players keep finding all those secret doors and ambushes the DM set up. Too tall, and the DM is trapped behind, using finger puppets to portray the action. Probably Some Art and Tables: I say probably because while a lack of these features doesn’t speak to the actual utility of a screen in terms of hiding stuff from the players, it makes the difference between an actual DM’s screen and a flattened cardboard box.
It’s hard to be funny while you’re selling something. I think there’s a reason why Mike Mearls is the current D&D designer with a Cult of Personality.