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Kobold Guides

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View products$12.99$22.49
View products$12.99$22.49
View products$12.99$24.99
View products$12.99$24.99
View products$12.99$22.49
View products$12.99$22.49
View products$12.99$22.49
View products$12.99$24.99
View products$12.99$24.99

Product Stats

Weight 2 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 9 × 1 in
Audience

Everyone

Format

Softcover

Description

Open a Trove of Tabletop Secrets

The multiple ENnie- and Origins-award-winning series from Kobold Press is here, collecting wisdom and practical tips and tricks for tabletop home brewers and gamemasters — and for players and board gamers as well!

These Kobold Guides, include insights and guidance by gaming luminaries including Richard Garfield, Veronica Roth, David “Zeb” Cook, Gail Simone, Mike Stackpole, Margaret Weis, Wolfgang Baur, Keith Baker, Erin Roberts, Ed Greenwood, and dozens more. You get:

  1. Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding
  2. Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding Volume 2
  3. Kobold Guide to Board Game Design
  4. Kobold Guide to Gamemastering
  5. Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design, 2nd Edition
  6. Kobold Guide to Combat
  7. Kobold Guide to Magic
  8. Kobold Guide to Monsters
  9. Kobold Guide to Plots & Campaigns
  10. Kobold Guide to Dungeons
  11. Kobold Guide to Roleplaying

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Reviews

  1. Megan Robertson

    In his Foreword, lead author Mike Selinker tells a tale about a rather hot Thai curry, and thus gives an insight into how his mind works. You may or may not like your curry hot, but reading this book will give you an insight into how a whole bunch of successful game designers go about designing games that people will buy and play. If you want to turn inchoate ideas into workable – and saleable – board games, or just want to know a bit more about how your favourite games came to be, and about the underlying concepts that make good games, read on.

    The book is made up of four sections, and a mastery of ALL of them is necessary to create a successful game. Some fortunate souls may manage that for themselves, others need to develop the ability to find others who can fill in the gaps. First is actually coming up with a concept, which then has to be designed, developed, and finally presented: first to a publisher and then to the paying gamer public. Each section contains several essays by the people who made some of the games that sit on your shelves and which you enjoy playing.

    Part 1: Concepting is all about what sort of games you might want to make, and who is actually going to play them. First, a board and card game designer called James Ernest (think Kill Doctor Lucky) draws the important distinction between a game and its rules. However vital they may be, a game’s rules are just one part of what makes up the whole; and if the whole package isn’t fun, that game won’t get played. Moreover, although you can break down a game into its component parts, and even take its ruleset apart to see how it works, that probably won’t help you design a different game – you need components for the game you are thinking of, and whilst you may well be inspired by something that works well elsewhere, you cannot guarantee that it will be as good with the concept you are kicking around. Right at the beginning you need a child-like imagination of what sort of game you want to play and why… but that needs to be the real reason. Some games make the players feel smart, some make you laugh, others let you imagine that you are something that you are not, some are familiar and comfortable because you don’t need to worry how to play them.

    Next, Richard Garfield (Magic: The Gathering) states that the best way to understand games so as to design your own is to play loads and loads of other games, thinking about what works, and why, as you do so. And don’t just play the sort of game you’d like to make, play any sort you can get your hands on, watch game shows and more. Inspiration can come from the strangest and most unlikely places! (My family complain that I seem to reduce everything to ‘How would this work in a game?’…) Then Jeff Tidball muses on how each game tells a story, and gives guidance on how to develop it, drawing on classical influences. One thing that’s been mentioned is how game design has not been as subject to critical analysis and study as has music or literature. To understand and appreciate game design, you need a measure of such an academic approach. This is followed by Matt Forbeck comparing mechanics and metaphor, showing how both are important; and Mike Selinker discussing game ownership. This may sound woefully dull, the sort of class you might doze through, but it’s not. Each essay is well-written and entertaining as well as informative and thought-provoking.

    Part 2: Design moves on from these underpinning but quite general comments to look at the methods of deciding how a given game is actually going to work (and how to determine if it actually does as intended!). It opens with Andrew Looney (Fluxx) describing his own thought processes, how he goes about that strange activity of designing a game. Oddly, it sounds a bit like what goes on in my head, then it turns out that he’s also a software designer which is one of the things I’ve done in real life… Fascinating stuff, though, even if your mind doesn’t work this way. Next up, Rob Daviau talks about intuitive design, how with many of the best games it’s just plain obvious how to play – even if you spend the rest of your life figuring out how to play it really well! Lisa Steenson next contributes a piece about ‘gateway’ games – the ones that sucker people into the hobby of game playing – and how to make them. Mike Selinker is next with a look at some of the all-out show-stopping game mechanics, a fine tour of what’s outstanding in gaming. It’s noticeable that most contributors (except Lisa Steenson) tend to spread their net wide and talk about other people’s games as much as they do about those they’ve written themselves. This is followed by James Ernest again, talking about strategy, skill and luck within your game mechanics; closely followed by a second piece from the same pen about decision-making in gambling games… which are not all to be found in the casino!

    In some ways, Part 3: Development, is where it gets tough. Coming up with ideas, working out mechanics and testing them, those are fun activities and because we like them, we are reading this book. But this section looks at the grunt-work that takes something that’s fun and turns it into a robust game that’s ready for the final step to take it to the marketplace, the hard work that turns ‘good’ into ‘great’ and is why most ideas for games stay just that: ideas. Dale Yu kicks off by looking at the development of the game Dominion, for which he was part of the development team, and extrapolating from that to discuss the very essential role of ‘development – the honing of the original design – in the creation of games people will want to buy and play. Fascinating reading, as in the next piece by Paul Peterson about balance – and the creative uses of the lack thereof – in collectable card games. It is these details that make all the difference between something that is fun with your friends and something that can be sold to, and played by, gamers worldwide. Then Dave Howell focusses on the vitally-important point that must not get lost amidst the search for game perfection: it must remain FUN to play! He looks at some of the pitfalls that can spoil the game for at least some of the players. Delving deeper, Mike Selinker writes on the topic of writing precise rules: the sort that make sense at the first reading, and still do after hours of gameplay and a few beers. They don’t only need to be clear, they also have to enable the game to be played with minimal effort – you’re not there to apply rules, you’re there to play a game! Teeuwynn Woodruff finishes this section, with a look at playtesting and how to make sure it’s done to good effect.

    Finally, we come to Part 4: Presentation. This is all about coverting your fun, playable game into a saleable commodity, and then selling it. It opens with Steve Jackson (of GURPS and Steve Jackson Games fame) on the trials of prototyping. Your prototype is what you tout around publishers in the hope they’ll want to take your game on. Steve goes through some of the awful mistakes he’s seen in a long and profitable career, in the hopes that we’ll avoid them. Next, Dale Yu is back with some of the things that you should do with your prototype. So, with your nice prototype getting potential publishers slavering, read Richard Levy’s piece on pitching and turn the interest into an actual sale. Finally, Michelle Nephew writes on the processes involved in getting your game from proposal to print, all the tough (and expensive) things that it is far better for a game designer to have his publisher do for him. Stick to what you know and are good at, and let others contribute the things that they do well.

    Even if you never design a game, you will look at every game that you play in a different light. If you really absorb the wisdom herein and apply it to your killer game idea… your game will be welcome on my review pile!

  1. Aidan

    I bought it today, and having skim read it once, it’s one of the best books I’ve read on the topic in a long time. I’ve recommended it to my friends

  2. Wes

    I’ve been running games longer than many young players have been alive. I started with 1E AD&D and from their expanded to several different systems. But you are never to experienced to learn something new, sharpen a skill or expand your thinking of story telling. This book does a great job at getting you to think about what the areas you can improve on and areas that need work or that you didn’t even think about. I highly recommend it no matter what your skill level is as a GM.

  1. GORDON E GRAY

    I’ve been playing D&D since 1979. This is one of the best books on the “art” of being a DM/GM for any game I’ve ever read. Essays on tone, pace, setting, you name it. It’s a quick read and a brilliant one.

  2. Brent Jans

    If I were going to offer a university degree in tabletop games, the Kobold Guides would be the text books for an entire stream of courses. Each volume contains a number of essays from experts and veterans in the field, writing about the things they love and know. Besides doing the thing, I can’t think of a better way of learning about a subject than to absorb the words of people who are better at it than you. The Kobold Guide to Plots & Campaigns is like taking a master-class in designing a role-playing campaign. The essays collected here are by some true masters of the craft. You need this book, now.

  1. Michael

    I found this excellent. I purchased it first as an Audible audiobook. I’m now purchasing it in print, so I can quickly reference some of the ideas.
    This is NOT a book of quick ‘insert-into-a-dungeon’ encounters, tricks, items……. IT IS a fantastic book that provides DMs with extremely helpful concepts and frameworks for how to make meaningful and engaging dungeons. Each chapter provides another excellent way of thinking about how to do this. It provides the framework – you can then fill in your version of implementing it. I am immediately seeing how I can significantly improve what I put together.
    Thank you!

  2. Hannes Rupp

    Just bought the PDF and skimmed through. Honestly, pretty disapointing. I was hoping for some practical game mechanics or ideas for riddles etc. It’s pretty light on those kind of things. Mostly it’s just a more or less pseudo-philosophical discussion about the purpose and the history of TTRPG dungeons. Which is kinda nice if you have never DM’ed anything before. In other case it feels like just 90% of skippable “preable”. Anytime a text builds up to something more concrete it ends in the same subtext: do your own research, lol…
    Well, I definitley misunderstood the desciption -maybe my own fault- but for me it was a big waste of money. Espescially disapointing since I usually really like the Kobold Press stuff.

  1. Rafael Ruiz Dávila

    Another volume in the magnificent “Kobold Guides” collection, this one dedicated to the art of storytelling is like the rest: a heterogeneous collection of 21 essays written by very different people, from role-playing authors (B. Dave Walters) to influencers (Ginny Di), and even storytellers from other disciplines, like Gail Simone. All of them have contributed their particular and personal knowledge to very diverse topics in the interpretation and development of the GM’s work. The books in this collection never disappoint. Its chapters are small essays or articles, short texts that can be read in a few minutes and contain elements, ideas and sparks that you can adapt to your own narrative. As always, a great purchase.

  2. Frederic Vinhage

    The Kobold Guide to Roleplaying is a little anthology of essays focused on the element of roleplaying and how it relates to our favorite roleplaying games and life in general. Its not intended to be a rulebook, but more of a thought out exploration of the realm of roleplaying in our games. With Twenty-one authors, many of who are recognized icons in the D&D social Media sphere.
    Many of the essays are great primers for the new roleplayer to understand some of the finer points of a roleplaying experience. However some of the essays feel forced or ‘mechanical.’ What I mean by that is they feel like they were assignments that the author had to write and they reached for the subject. Not every essay feels like something from the heart.
    It is a good collection to read through and find the essays that as a Dungeon Master, perhaps you share with the new player, or the player that needs help with a concept. Or it helps to inspire you as a DM to better your own game concepts.
    Some of the essays are intentionally agnostic to the roleplaying games that they are informing, while others lean into the rulebooks for single system, using quotes as the basis of an argument to varying level of success. One piece I was extremely interested in by title turned out to be less than 1,500 words and mostly dressing rather than a dive on the subject with only the last paragraph touching on the subject in the title that drew my interest to the essay.
    I really wanted to love this anthology, unfortunately it is about half great well thought out articles and half not so great with either lack of content or mistaking essay for rulebook.
    Don’t count it completely out, but read it, and take from it the ones that resonate, but understand, like any collections of writing, you likely will find some articles that you love and want to use as a compass for your roleplaying, and some that will not vibe with you and you will forget pretty quickly. It is worth a look and read, perhaps a great resources for a group of players to peruse between sessions so each person can find the piece that they align with.

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