Lewis Pulsipher

Dragon, White Dwarf, Fiend Folio
Lewis Pulsipher
Worlds of Design: Creativity and the Game Designer
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What part does creativity play in game design? Novice game designers often have a confused idea that game design is all about creativity, which is very far from the truth. Creativity is important...
Worlds of Design: More Human Than Human
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30-some years ago I wrote an article "My Life as a Werebear" (in White Dwarf #17) that provided rules for player character monster species such as blink dog packs and giants. Nowadays we take...
Worlds of Design: Shooting Magic Missiles from Silly Places
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A GM once described a game that was going along the way he wanted until one of the players asked if he could shoot his magic missiles from his groin! According to the GM, the game collapsed into...
Worlds of Design: A Question of Balance
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Some people think that every character class must be equally balanced with every other class, but why is that necessary? Are they competing with the other players in a co-operative game?
Worlds of Design: Monster Workshop Part II
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I've been talking about good ways to devise RPG monsters for tabletop games (See "Just Say No to Boss Monsters"). In the previous installment we covered the unknown, unusual characteristics...
Worlds of Design: Monster Workshop Part I
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Many people try to design really tough monsters for RPGs, but that’s often a consequence of the boss monster mentality, suitable for computers, not tabletop. I like to focus on surprising the...
Worlds of Design: The Case of the Accidental Artifact
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At a recent “GMs meeting” someone posed this question: What do you do if you’ve allowed a player to acquire something that way overbalances the campaign?
Worlds of Design: "Your Character Wouldn't Do That"
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The Mighty Jingles (on YouTube) described what he really disliked about Far Cry 5 New Dawn (video game). The game took away player control at vital junctures. I wonder how often this happens in...
Worlds of Design: Chaotic Neutral is the Worst
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In my articles from the early 1980s I often characterized the typical D&Der as a hoodlum (hood). You may know them by many other names: ruffian, bully boy, bully, bandit, mugger, gangster...
Worlds of Design: Gun vs. Sword
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Lanchester’s Power [Linear and Square] Laws mean that combat in science fiction RPGs will usually be fundamentally different than combat in fantasy RPGs. Or the designer will have to somehow...
Worlds of Design: Who Needs Spellcasters Anyway?
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The most widespread (by far) RPG has been Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), though in quite different forms. And Dungeons & Dragons tends to be dominated by magic users, or more broadly, spell casters...
Worlds of Design: The Tyranny and Freedom of Player Agency
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“Player agency” refers to the player being allowed by the game to do things in the game that have real consequences to the long-term course, and especially the result, not just for succeeding or failing. Some campaigns offer a lot, some only a little. Are players just following the script or do they have the opportunity to make decisions that cause their long-term results to be significantly different from another player’s?
Worlds of Design: The Many Shades of RPG Play
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I’m a categorizer and always have been. Categorization leads to illumination, but the danger in categorizing is that every play style might seem to fit only the extremes of each category. In this article, I try to categorize the various RPG styles of play in a logical manner.
Worlds of Design: A Time for Change
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J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Silmarilion set a fashion for fictional civilizations lasting many millennia without much technological or social change. This worked for the literature, but rarely makes sense for games.

Worlds of Design: The Core of the Adventure

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I was editing an old (1984) adventure I’d written, in order to include it in reprints of my articles from back then, when it occurred to me that adventures often have particular cores, a particular “something” that makes them go. The idea is to build the adventure around the core. It’s “the star of the show” in other words.

Worlds of Design: Citing Your Sources

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In the early 1980s I wrote a column in Dragon Magazine called “The Role of Books.” I described nonfiction books so that Dragon readers could decide whether to read them as a source of ideas. But people have changed how they their ideas and inspiration.

Worlds of Design: RPGs in Just Six Words

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How much detail do you need to know to run a particular setting in FRPG? Some settings have about the detail level of comic books, some are more detailed such as Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novels or Lord of the Rings (LOTR), some have settings as detailed as the Game of Thrones show. Can you explain your RPG setting in just six words?

Worlds of Design: Why Would Anyone Write a RPG?

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Commercial RPGs have existed for some 45 years. Where RPG ideas are concerned, there's not much new under the sun. Then why do people keep writing new RPGs? It's a LOT of work, even if you don't do it well. I think of composer Sir William Walton's remark after writing his only opera: "don't write an opera. Too many notes." Change that to "RPG" and "words" and you have my point of view. We're also going to try something different, and offer a reader’s poll.

Worlds of Design: What's Your Style?

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You may benefit, as a GM, from understanding where your players stand in the spectrum from Romantic to Classical game player. The terms derive from music and philosophy. I discussed one point of view about game playing styles in an earlier column ("Different look at playing styles"). This one is much older in origin.

Worlds of Design: What Game Designers Need to Know About IP

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It is virtually impossible to protect game ideas, but virtually no idea is new. On rare occasions someone deliberately copies someone else’s game, but game designers cannot worry about this: they have to talk to publishers, funding sources, and other people about their games.

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