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Wolfgang Baur, "Kobold in Chief" for Kobold Press, has been writing, editing, and designing professionally since 1991. He was editor at Dragon magazine and an assistant at Dungeon magazine. His work appeared in many places, including the Al-Qadim and Planescape settings for TSR, and his own Midgard Campaign Setting more recently.

Ten years ago, he started Kobold Press. As publisher, Baur's Kobold Press has won readers and accolades. In 2008, he was a co-winner of the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming for incorporating the patronage model into the industry. He holds tight to a fistful of ENnie Awards for Kobold Guides, adventures, blog writing, the, and the Southlands Campaign Setting, among others. He lives in a trap-filled warren in Kirkland, WA.

Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design by Wolfgang Baur

Got Questions About RPG Design?

Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Mike Stackpole, and other industry veterans have the answers you asked for…and the advice you need!

You'll learn how to create great new adventures, monsters and magic for your RPG campaign, and maybe even design your own game!

The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design offers 240 pages of in-depth essays on what makes RPGs tick. Get time-tested advice from the top designers in the industry. This compilation includes all three volumes of our Kobold Guide to Game Design series—now with all-new material by Wolfgang Baur, Mike Stackpole, and others!

From core rules and magic systems to fantasy adventures, monster design, playtesting, and much more, these 40 essays cover every aspect of RPG design in clear, accessible language, to show you what it takes.

Pick up the Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design today, and starting designing your RPG tonight!

Winner, 2012 Gold ENnie Award for Best RPG-Related AccessoryGot Questions About RPG Design?

Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Mike Stackpole, and other industry veterans have the answers you asked for…and the advice you need!

You'll learn how to create great new adventures, monsters and magic for your RPG campaign, and maybe even design your own game!

The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design offers 240 pages of in-depth essays on what makes RPGs tick. Get time-tested advice from the top designers in the industry. This compilation includes all three volumes of our Kobold Guide to Game Design series—now with all-new material by Wolfgang Baur, Mike Stackpole, and others!

From core rules and magic systems to fantasy adventures, monster design, playtesting, and much more, these 40 essays cover every aspect of RPG design in clear, accessible language, to show you what it takes.

The City Book Review called it "highly recommended for gaming nerds everywhere"!

Pick up the Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design today, and starting designing your RPG tonight!

Winner, 2012 Gold ENnie Award for Best RPG-Related Accessory

Got Questions About RPG Design?

Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Mike Stackpole, and other industry veterans have the answers you asked for…and the advice you need!

You'll learn how to create great new adventures, monsters and magic for your RPG campaign, and maybe even design your own game!

The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design offers 240 pages of in-depth essays on what makes RPGs tick. Get time-tested advice from the top designers in the industry. This compilation includes all three volumes of our Kobold Guide to Game Design series—now with all-new material by Wolfgang Baur, Mike Stackpole, and others!

From core rules and magic systems to fantasy adventures, monster design, playtesting, and much more, these 40 essays cover every aspect of RPG design in clear, accessible language, to show you what it takes.

The City Book Review called it "highly recommended for gaming nerds everywhere"!

Pick up the Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design today, and starting designing your RPG tonight!

Winner, 2012 Gold ENnie Award for Best RPG-Related Accessory

Got Questions About RPG Design?

Wolfgang Baur, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Mike Stackpole, and other industry veterans have the answers you asked for…and the advice you need!

You'll learn how to create great new adventures, monsters and magic for your RPG campaign, and maybe even design your own game!

The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design offers 240 pages of in-depth essays on what makes RPGs tick. Get time-tested advice from the top designers in the industry. This compilation includes all three volumes of our Kobold Guide to Game Design series—now with all-new material by Wolfgang Baur, Mike Stackpole, and others!

From core rules and magic systems to fantasy adventures, monster design, playtesting, and much more, these 40 essays cover every aspect of RPG design in clear, accessible language, to show you what it takes.

The City Book Review called it "highly recommended for gaming nerds everywhere"!

Pick up the Complete KOBOLD Guide to Game Design today, and starting designing your RPG tonight!

Winner, 2012 Gold ENnie Award for Best RPG-Related Accessory

CURATOR'S NOTE

"The Kobold Guides continue to assemble a dream team of paper RPG designers, and this particular one - actually three entire volumes in one - does a great job of practical tips and guides on creating the perfect role-playing game." – Simon Carless

 

REVIEWS

  • "pretty damn awesome"..."must-own for RPG designers and adventure writers." – Robot Viking
  • “highly recommended for gaming nerds everywhere” – City Book Review
  • "One of the most interesting "how to" books that I have read in a while is the Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design, by Wolfgang Baur and including essays from such Role Playing Game Design superstars as Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, Michael A. Stackpole, Keith Baker and others. But despite all the luminaries in the volume, it is Wolfgang Baur's own essays that stand out for me as the most useful, applicable advice of the book. I have read a great many books on creativity and writing across the years and very few of them offer much of lasting value. The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design sets in a place of honor amid this very select list."

    – Novelist Lou Anders
 

BOOK PREVIEW

Excerpt

Design is a Bit Like Mind Control

Design is the conscious work done to manipulate the behavior of the game's players. Th is sounds worse than it is. You're trying to design choices and how those choices are presented to the players. A more realistic wording might be that game design is a function of human attention: getting it, directing it, and keeping it. A well-designed game commands the player's attention at frequent intervals, directs that attention to turns or events, and keeps that attention through various means such as social reinforcement, reward systems such as experience points (XP) and leveling, and even the timely appearance of in-game resources and materials (spawning for video games, the return of daily powers in 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons).

Th e better you understand the mindset of players and DMs, the easier it is for them to engage with your design. Th e more esoteric or niche your design, in other words, the less players will react as your design might expect them to. This is the nature of niche RPGs: they tickle the fancy of a minority of gamers, but they still scratch an itch that goes deep into the human id, to the reptilian drive to conquer, control, and master the world around us, to derive status and overcome enemies, to find food and resources for our tribe and family. Killing things and taking their treasure is—to my mind—a gaming variation on the hunter-gatherer culture that defined human existence for 99 percent of our species' existence. No wonder it's so compelling; it is bred in the bone.