If Wizards of the Coast limits its Dungeons & Dragons output to a steady flow of products, the Dungeon Masters Guild amounts to a constantly rushing fire hose. Gamers can find a wealth of polished products on the DMs Guild, many of which feature original art and pro-quality design. But a newcomer might just as easily drown in generic and amateurish material. For M.T. Black, an Australia-based DMs Guild bestselling creator, the search for quality material on the guild pays serious dividends, especially for fans who get antsy waiting months for the next official release.
"[Wizards of the Coast] are putting out very high quality products these days, so if people have adopted a 'WOTC only' policy, I can understand that," Black said in an interview via email. "But WotC are also only putting out three books a year, and many people want more content than that."
That’s a hole the DMs Guild fills easily, with fresh products appearing around the clock. Wizards launched the guild in early 2016 so the community could share original 5th Edition content. Creators can upload products they designed themselves, so long as they conform to a few rules set by Wizards. Authors can make their products available for free or set a price and keep half the royalties they earn.
A search for works by M.T. Black brings up about 30 products. His body of work includes a range of adventures, along with the odd collection of player options and setting supplements. His most recent release, The Secret of Skyhold Tower is a module for 5th - 7th level adventurers who must save Neverwinter when a magical tower plummets from the sky.
Black began playing Dungeons & Dragons at 11 years old with the classic "Keep on the Borderlands," which continues to inform his work. "I still revisit Gygax quite often for guidance and inspiration; there is an economy of style in his early adventures especially that we can all learn from," he said.
His Dungeon Masters Guild offerings range in price from free and "pay what you want" to $9.95 for a bundle of 14 adventures published last year, currently listed as No. 1 on the guild’s top-100 products. Black said he tries to judge what the market will bear when determining prices. Customers are willing to pay more once a creator has established a track record, he said.
Black offered advice for new creators establishing themselves on the guild. He said he tried to keep layouts as simple and as clean as possible in his earliest attempts. He also scoured RPGNow and Shutterstock for cheap art and made use of public domain images as well. And as for "pay what you want" products, Black found a different strategy worked best.
"I think you are better off giving away a small, quality product for free, and using it to promote your more substantial, priced, product," he said.