Posted by : David Guyll August 29, 2015

(Note: I meant to post this a few months ago, but forgot about it until recently. Better late than never and all that.)

Back when I started working on a GM Screen for Dungeon World, I remember being pretty surprised that no one else had tried their hand at making even a semi-professional looking one (no, not even the game's actual creators).

Yeah, Dungeon World is a pretty simple game, but I still don't have all the basic moves, special moves, monster stats, random treasure table, tags, hirelings, and so on memorized. Ditto for my players, even the ones that don't even really play other games.

So I went through the book looking for sections that I commonly ended up referencing and laid them out in InDesign, trying to make sure that related information was on the same panel. For panels that weren't mostly covered up by the tables, I also whipped up some background art to spruce them up.

(Said background art was then made available in our second art pack.)

I pretty much only announce on G+ when I'm working on something, and ask for feedback, criticism, suggestions, etc, because that's almost always resulted in a better product (and has improved our baseline quality and speed over time). Each time I mentioned that I was working on the GM Screen, I always got positive responses. When I posted the completed product? Again, still positive.

Now, I don't use reddit very much. I already have a hard enough time juggling G+, Facebook, and Twitter. I know some people other there don't like me, what with me calling out certain voices in the Dungeon World community on their shit, but I've made posts showcasing our classes without many if any issues. This is why, when I made a post for our GM Screen, I was a bit surprised at the negative reception.

One person balked at the price, which is just under half the price of the core book. I haven't seen him criticize any of the other reddit threads on third-party classes (including our class announcements), which generally charge anywhere from a fifth to nearly a third of the core game, despite being almost always two pages (not ours: we like to give you something in the 20-30 page-range).

Another poster was curious as to why I priced it at just under five. Whole. Dollars.

The answer to that is simple: I based it off of the prices of other GM Screens on DriveThruRPG, which ranged around $2-10. Mine gets you the screen in both portrait and landscape, color and black and white, and with and without background art. So, those of you wanting to print at home can save on ink, while still having the option to take it to a Kinkos or whatever later. I'm legitimately curious how many other GM Screens give you essentially full customization.

You can also get the physical sheets in both landscape and portrait orientation, and in either case you still get all of the aforementioned pdfs.

A third person was clearly upset that I'd taken the time to layout a screen, illustrate it, and then have the, I dunno, audacity to charge people money for it. He made sure to post links to several of his Google Docs, all the while emphasizing that they're free: being little more than walls of 6-point text that he claimed to use for his "Dungeon World" "GM Screen", they were prime examples of getting what you pay for.

I write both Dungeon World and GM Screen in quotes, because the one titled rumors was in reality a list of adventure ideas of dubious quality and originality, obviously intended for 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, what with little "gems" like:

"75. The tarrasque is wreaking havoc on the countryside and the party (lvl 10ish) must slow it down until the champions can arrive, but the tarrasque is actually a simulacrum (cr 10) sent by an outsider/caster/etc and not the real thing"

This isn't something you'd use on a DM Screen. This is something you'd maybe find in a very poor quality DM Guide.

The other two were actually labeled correctly, as NPCs and curious items. The NPCs doc was sparse on details and only marginally more useful than just having a list of names, but ultimately much less useful than the Instant NPCs section on page 392 of the Dungeon World book (which has thousands of possible instinct-knack combinations).

The curious items doc, while containing some items of merit, isn't something I'd use as-is: I prefer to write up thematic lists of items for a given area/culture, and that one is all over the map. Still, I'll give it an honorable mention as the one Google Doc likely to actually bring something useful to the table.

In the end I'm left scratching my head at the negativity.

I've seen one other person make a GM Screen for free, so maybe the "issue" was that that I was charging money for mine? It's not like I just lifted the text and left it at that: I spent a lot of time actually making it look nice. Something that you'd want to bother printing on cardstock to help make it last. It's also not overpriced (again, based on other third-party products, especially GM screens).

I'll say this: if you take the time to make something, as long as you aren't infringing on any copyrights/are adhering to any licenses and restrictions, you should feel entitled to charge something for your effort. I see a lot of people making free maps, conversions, monsters, and so on. Some good, some bad, some in-between. That's all well and good, but that's no reason to expect free shit from hard-working people.

Announcements
After only a couple hours of design and writing, The Swordmage is good to go. If you want a solid fighter/wizard hybrid with twenty-five advanced moves to choose from (in addition to some other extras), pick it up.

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

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