“As a designer, your work enables new experiences in play for others. If you are doing it exceptionally well, you are inventing new game genres and new play styles; that is, entirely new methods, styles, and systems of play. You use technology, art, and your own vision of what it means to play to create that new game.”
—Wolfgang Baur, “What is Design?”
The Kobold Guide to Game Design Vol. III: Tools & Techniques is the newest release in our best-selling series, and it begins with an exploration of what defines game design. It’s funny to think that the most basic question of all—what is design?—is introduced in the third volume in a series on game design. But it’s a big question, and one that’s best answered after years of doing it and thinking hard about it.
The essay also sets the tone for the ones that follow: veterans and innovators such as Rob Heinsoo, Ed Greenwood, Monte Cook, and videogame/tabletop designer Colin McComb go deep into the business of rules and story here. Forgotten Realms designer Jeff Grubb summed it up nicely in the quote he gave us for the book’s cover: “The Kobold sets a wonderful table and welcomes the best and the brightest of the industry to come and share their knowledge of game design.”
For example, Colin’s essay “Basic Combat Systems for Tabletop Games”… walks you through the creation of an RPG combat system in detail. Wolfgang’s essay on “Non-Linear and Event-Driven Design” examines the methods a good designer will use to build necessary structure into a seemingly wide-open sandbox campaign.
But the guide isn’t just for professionals (current or aspiring). This series is for anyone who is interested in gaining a better understanding and appreciation of how their favorite games tick.
What’s really encouraging to all of us at Kobold Quarterly is how many people are interested. The phrase “best-selling” wasn’t intended as marketing-speak. The guides are indeed some of our best-selling products. This is great because it means there are a lot of GMs and designers out there who are passionate enough about the hobby to learn about how RPGs work, and spend time, care, and effort in creating their own play experiences.
If that describes you, I hope you’ll visit the Kobold Store and pick up a copy!