Dungeon World: What's In a Name

UPDATE (5/31/2016): Didn't think I'd ever have to update this again, but RPG Pundit started a thread on his site in which he goes over the advice he gave me following Paul "Ettin" derailing a Kickstarter thread I started on rpg.net last year

I mentioned that someone told me that there's a forum where someone said that they'd never buy anything that had my name one it (their loss). They didn't say where, and I didn't ask, but someone managed to I think find it and bring it to my attention (of course it's on Something Awful).

You gotta scroll down to near the bottom, but you can see Jacob Randolph (ie, gnome7), being a whiny, disingenuous, lying (again), whiny SJW bitch. He started this "beef" by getting pissy that Melissa wrote a witch, and lying on his safe space about how we "copied" him, which anyone can see is bullshit by merely looking at the class previews.

Also, I only wrote three-ish reviews for Inverse World, including the one for Inverse World Accelerated (more like accelerated out the door well before it was ready amirite?). I wrote the second one to provide more evidence, because Jacob's ass kissers gotta kiss ass; I'd like to point out that to this day neither Jacob nor any of his cronies have attempted to refute anything I said in those reviews.

Of course Jacob states that he'd like it if people wouldn't buy our stuff because we pointed out his lies and told the truth (hey, SJW's gotta SJW) but, well, to put it mildly it didn't work. That, or the amount of people boycotting us because they've aligned themselves with a lazy hack isn't enough for us to notice.

UPDATE (2/21/2015): Using this post to keep track of all the whiny bullshit that gets sent my way, so at least I can have a record in one convenient post.

Back in July of last year, Melissa and I published The Witch (which hit Best Silver Seller last month, and is on sale throughout this month!).

Like The Pirate that came a month before it, Melissa put a lot of time and effort into researching witches. She initially wrote something like 30 moves, which we had to pare down before we did an open call for feedback and criticism (some of which made it in the Director's Cut of the digest-pdf that comes with it).

Anywho, in the same day the product was posted we received this little, uh, "gem":

That comment contains a link to Jacob Randolph's witch playbook. If you don't know who that is, he's the one responsible for the very late, very anemic, and very derivative Inverse World.

The next day someone else piped in that since our product had 21 more pages than his, it was probably a safe bet that they were different. And they are: ours not only more closely represents I guess what you'd call an "actual" witch, it includes a character sheet with custom graphics, additional moves that we couldn't fit on the character sheet, new gear, a bunch of new magic items, and an expanded explanation of some of the moves.

In other words, par for the course for almost all of our playbooks. As one reviewer put it:

"I just bought 6 Dungeon World-related class books from 6 different publishers. It seems the trend is to throw together a 3 page class playbook with little thought put into it and to charge me $1 per page. The only purchase of the 6 that has not been a disappointment was The Witch by Awful Good Games. Do not fret, the poor reviews for the other 5 products are coming, but I wanted to praise this product first."

Fast-foward to January of this year. We've just published another magic item volume and class, and Melissa and I decide to shake things up and have people vote on which class we should tackle next. I forget what the exact list was, but it included a cultist because I'm a huge fan of Lovecraftian horror. We let it run for a few days, and in the end the cultist won just ahead of all things the oni. Three weeks later, our completed cultist is now up on Drivethrurpg...

...along with another, less passive-aggressive comment from good ol' Jake:

At least this time I think it took him longer to make a comment.
I'm really not sure what his problem is. Well, except that he probably doesn't like my vocal dissatisfaction in regards to Inverse World (and I'm far from the only one). 

Does he think that if you push out a product first, that no one else is permitted to produce something with the same name and/or concept (even if the final product, as in the case of the witch, differs substantially)? Not that the cultist or witch are exactly rare archetypes, but his cultist came out just over two years ago (before we even started publishing game content), so it's not like we're just watching what he's doing and following suit.

The funny thing is that Melissa actually checked out his cultist preview, and his claim that our dark ritual moves are "90% identical" is more than 90% inaccurate.

Here's his move:

When you draw on a place of power to create a magical effect, tell the GM what you’re trying to achieve. Ritual effects are always possible, but the GM will give you one to four of the following conditions:

  • It can only be performed at a certain time on a certain date
  • It will require extensive setup
  • It will require a blood sacrifice from someone
  • The ritual will forward a Dark Portent
  • The ritual's methods are twisted and cruel
  • The best you can do is a twisted version, unreliable and strange
  • Something will use the ritual as a gateway

And here's ours: 

When you flip through your spellbook for a magical effect or how to craft a magical item, tell the GM what you want to do or create, and the GM will tell you:

  • What you will need.
  • How long it will take.
  • How long the spell or effects of the magic item will last.
  • Any restrictions or limitations (specific time or place, must be used or activated in a specific way, etc).
  • Any side effects (it will attract the attention of something, it will cause a plague or some calamity).

His is basically a reskin of the wizard's ritual move with some extra conditions, while our is lifted almost whole cloth from our witch class, I just added in the possible side effect and changed the Director's Cut explanation to better fit with the Lovecraftian theme.

Just for fun, here are some other differences:

  • No custom sheet.
  • d4 for damage.
  • 4 + Constitution HP.
  • The alignments are the same, but the way you fulfill them differs.
  • All of the starting moves are different, except for dark ritual, and that's really only in name.
  • We use backgrounds instead of race.
  • Our cults have stats and problems (functioning more like the hardholder from Apocalypse World), and moves for expanding your cult and defending it from outsiders.

Since the preview doesn't include advanced moves I have no idea how those differ, though I assume it's about as much, if not more.

Overall it seems that—again, like The Witch—our cultist has a different focus (and better art and meatier content). His is more about having lots of followers running around with you, while ours lets you, for starters, complete tasks for your cult in exchange for XP, perform rituals, and summon eldritch horrors. It doesn't have anything to do with hirelings unless you take the Priest and High Priest advanced moves.

I'm honestly surprised that he hasn't tried accusing us of copying Inverse World (not that it includes anything noteworthy or different from other hollow world settings) with A Sundered World (despite it being something I conceived damn near four years ago).

Update: Aaand someone pointed this out:

Hoooly shit. I'd again point out that we held a vote on this, the timeframe of two years, that a cultist isn't an uncommon archetype, that our cultist is way different in content quality and quantity, and my Lovecraft love, but you just can't reason with this degree of paranoia and pretension. 

Another Update: And it just keeps on going.

Frankly you shouldn't feel flattered, because neither you nor anything you have done influenced our cultist in any way. Again, we held a vote on G+ (over several posts) and everyone but me (and Melissa) decided on it. Get over yourself. I'm going to be very charitable and state that I'm not trying to "out do" you, and I'm certainly not going to bother copying you.

Yet Another Update (2/16/2015) 
Of course Jake's buddy Paul "Ettin" buys into his narrative. Not because any of it's actually true, but because those SJWs gotta stick together in their little hugboxes.

I love how he says that I stalk him and copy his work, especially since Jake is the one that opens with the whiny comments and can't actually point out anything that I've "copied" from him. I'll point out again that Melissa was the one who wrote The Witch, and everyone else voted on The Cultist.

See, if I really wanted to copy Jake's work I'd just half ass some moves, scribble up a shitty cover, and roll it out the door at an inflated cost. Sorry, but not really: I can't help it that I like to produce quality things.

Your review was blatantly dishonest so, yeah, it's an example of journalistic corruption, cronyism, nepotism, or whatever you want to call it. I know you SJWs can't stand to hear negative criticism (or even disagreement), but the alternative is to be honest and at least somewhat objective, and either of those are apparently anathema to your ilk.

02/21/2015 Update:

Of course he's just referring to The Cultist. I'd ask him which page out of the 30-something pages differ from Jake's version, but that'd ruin his narrative that someone is "stealing his friend's totally original ideas" (like, you know, a hollow world with a sun in the center).

What Paul really means to say is that he's pissed that his buddy is pissed because someone is more creative and more talented than he is, and like honesty, integrity, and criticism those are things that SJWs can't stand.

I'm starting to see a pattern here: when you want to be called a game designer because it sounds cool but lack the necessary qualities, you just go full-SJW and blame your shortcomings on everyone else!

February Sale
Throughout the entire month of February we're putting both The Witch and The Bard on sale.

We've also modified their prices in our Awfully Big Playbook and All of the Playbooks bundles, making them just that much more tantalizing than they already are: $20 nets you eleven new classes, which come with design notes and clarifications, custom character sheets, additional moves, magic items, and even compendium classes.


  1. I tried to engage him over twitter over the weekend to point out that a similar name is not copying. Not sure if it helped or not, but just trying to point out there is room for more than one type of witch or cultist.

    1. @Timothy: The really bizarre thing is that he actually claimed that the Dark Ritual moves were 90% identical. I mean, you can glance at both and see that's objectively not the case.

      I agree about more than one type of witch or cultist (and, well, pretty much any other class). I said before over on G+ I think, that there are probably people that don't like either of our witches (or parts of it).

      If someone else makes a witch and/or cultist? Good for them. Maybe they'll do something better, or different in a way that neither of us thought of.

    2. Some people cant just handle someone doing something better than they can and so start claiming they have been copied. Both classes are clearly different but he continues to argue they aren't and besides, isn't Dungeon World and anything released under it ruled by the Creative Commons license?

    3. @Victor: Which is the MO for every SJW I've had the misfortune of dealing with.

      Anyone can look at the previews for both classes and see that aside from the name (which follows the naming conventions of all the other DW class-creators) they are NOTHING alike.

  2. I am with you, David. It's sad to see this kind of comments about your work, that is a work of love. Also, you are always very open to discuss the playbooks, thru playtests, reviews, etc. I did a lot of comments and suggestions about other works of yours, and I can attest that lot of moves and objects were heavily changed while the projects are in progress, 'cause you make a good use of our playtesting and commenting phases. So absolutely no copy/paste or steal, here.

  3. @Ishmadrad: We really appreciate everyone that takes the time to look at our stuff and tell us like it is. It's nice to hear what we did right, but it's better to hear what we did WRONG. As a quick aside, even though we hand out freebies to those that contribute, we're always willing to return the favor and look your stuff over!

    It's thanks to you and others not pulling your punches that we've improved by leaps and bounds over the past year: the psion took about 4 hours to complete (not counting art), the cultist took a few days (lotta research, compendium class, and cult rules), no one seems to have any problems with our oni (took a few hours), and the DW Mythoard adventure is basically done, and that took four evenings (counting the art and suggested changes, like detailing maps, adding more monsters, a page on a god, and a Silent Hill-esque puzzle).

    If we'd been too close-minded, full of ourselves, or whatever, we'd probably just be cranking out 3-page, $3 classes. I'm glad we don't and am reminded of this bit from one of your many 5-star reviews:

    "I just bought 6 Dungeon World-related class books from 6 different publishers. It seems the trend is to throw together a 3 page class playbook with little thought put into it and to charge me $1 per page. The only purchase of the 6 that has not been a disappointment was The Witch by Awful Good Games. Do not fret, the poor reviews for the other 5 products are coming, but I wanted to praise this product first."

  4. God... I wish I'd read your reviews before I bought Inverse World. I thought it looked like Eberron and I got excited. :/

  5. @Tasuret: Yeah, I should have asked for a refund on KS back when it was merely months late without an update. I know neither Jacob or his cronies will believe me, but I honestly wanted it to be good so I'd have a solid example to look to when writing A Sundered World.

    Other people have showed me/complained to me about the classes he's written, so I basically don't buy anything with his name on it. Not because he's lied about me or treats his supporters like crap, but because it's just plain BAD.

    Only thing I can say is to leave an honest review or rating, to serve as a warning to others that might be mislead. :-/

  6. Was looking for reviews on inverse world as I'm always willing to hear criticism about things. Your comments about lack of content and length were useful, but I tuned out once you started whinging about "sjws". It's a meaningless word that's always the sign of a boring mind looking for boogeymen.

    1. @Anon: And what is it a sign of when someone "tunes out" merely because someone else used a very useful and apt term that they for whatever reason don't like?

    2. Overdose of the eyerolls.


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