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Back in the day, long ages past, when Open Design was founded (better known as 2006), I had a problem. And that problem was this: How would I keep patrons entertained while I waited to see if gamers would chip in to fund the project? I mean, I wanted them coming back to the Open Design blog every now and then, because, hey, the project could start up at any time. I was worried that people would wander off because fundraising is inherently boring.

So what to do? I wrote a few things I called design essays, describing some of the tricks of game design that I know and love. And lo and behold, those essays were met with some acclaim. Most designers don’t walk around spilling their guts about how they work, but it seemed like the right thing to do for a project called Open Design.

But the essays were transient, freebies, available to patrons only while the real show of designing was waiting in the wings. It was, to stretch a point, the opening band in my mind. When the next project came along, I expected they would no longer be necessary.

As usual, I was wrong. The design essays were popular and I kept at it, one a month or more for each project. WotC picked up a few of them for the Adventure Builder series. A few others were updated as Dungeoncraft. And all the rest are now available in public as well, as the Kobold Guide to Game Design.

The collection of 15 essays includes material by Ed Greenwood, Nicolas Logue, and Keith Baker, and it’s a good start for anyone who’s looking to design and write professionally, or who wants to bring some new tricks to the screenjockey position at the next weekly game.

Please give it a look, won’t you?

Table of Contents

  1. The Three Audiences
  2. Shorter, Faster, Harder, Less
  3. Why Writers Get Paid
  4. Fantasy Realism
  5. Worldbuilding
  6. Pacing
  7. Using and Abusing Misdirection
  8. Monster Hordes: Epic Heroism vs. Smooth Skirmishing
  9. Stagecraft: The Play is the Thing
  10. On the Street Where Heroes Live
  11. City Adventures
  12. What Makes a Night Arabian?
  13. Hardboiled Adventures: Make Your Noir Campaigns Work
  14. The Underdark
  15. Fire and Sword: Inspiration and Discipline in Design

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