Tabletop Role-Playing Game Design 101

Lewis Pulsipher, Game designer, Teacher, Author

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11 Videos (1h 18m)
    • 10 "Need to Knows" about RPG design part 1

    • 10 "Need to Knows" about RPG design part 2

    • RPGs - what do they really amount to, Part 1

    • RPGs - what do they really amount to, Part 2

    • Are you a Game Designer or a Fiction Writer?

    • 10 "Need to Knows" about writing clear rules part 1

    • 10 "Need to Knows" about writing clear rules part 2

    • RPG Business vs hobby and human opposition

    • 10 "Need to Knows" about freelancing

    • Prisoners of Capitalism part 1

    • Prisoners of Captalism part 2


About This Class

This is a longish class for Skillshare (well over an hour)

While I say it's for tabletop design, much if not most of it applies to video game RPG design as well. Video RPGs excel at combat, but lack flexibility; tabletop RPGs provide maximum flexibility through the "neutral" referee ("DM").






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Lewis Pulsipher

Game designer, Teacher, Author

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher (Wikipedia: "Lewis Pulsipher"; "Britannia (board game)"; "Archomental" ) is the designer of half a dozen commercially published boardgames. His game "Britannia" is described in an Armchair General review "as one of the great titles in the world of games." Britannia was also one of the 100 games highlighted in the book "Hobby Games: the 100 Best". He has over 17,000 classroom hours of teaching experience including teaching video game design and production, and over 20 years of part-time graduate teaching experience.

His book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish" (McFarland) focuses on practical advice for beginning game designers, about how you actually create and complete game designs. He also contributed to the books "Tabletop: Analog Game Design," "Hobby Games: the 100 Best," "Family Games: the 100 Best." His game design blog has been active since 2004, and he is a contributor and "expert blogger" on, the #1 site for professional video game developers.

His latest published game is the 2015 "Sea Kings", a Viking adventure game. Three new versions of Britannia, including a 90-120 minute version and a diceless version, are forthcoming.

Lew has a Ph.D. in military and diplomatic history from Duke University, from ancient days when degrees in media, computer networking, or game design did not exist--nor did IBM PCs. In 2012 he was a speaker at the East Coast Game Conference, PrezCon, Origins Game Fair, and World Boardgaming Championships. Long ago he was contributing editor for White Dwarf and Dragon magazines, and publisher of various game fanzines.

Game design blog: and
Teach game design blog:
"Expert blogger", Gamasutra:
former contributing editor, White Dwarf, Dragon, Space Gamer, etc.

Recent Interviews with Lew:

Boardgame University #27 (with Tom Vasel, audio): 

Designer Spotlight (with Jason Levine, video)):

RPG Review (with Lev Lafayette, text):

Gaming Role-playing Games RPG Design