What is DesignCamp?
You’re a gamemaster. You’ve been doing this for a while now, and you’ve always had great ideas– your group has loved your last three campaigns, and you’re always making your own stuff. So why not do it, you think? Why not start making gaming material– adventures, mechanics, monsters– PDFs to sell online, maybe even to Kickstart or write a book?
The answer is “You can!” but it’s important to know the process of creating products ready for the online marketplace or physical store shelf is different from the process you use to prepare for your weekly game. Sure, there are duplicated elements between each one, but very rare few just jump straight into making RPG supplements and create professional looking results. Then, there are the rest of us.
Who are we?
At DesignCamp, we walk you through the process of creation, from pitch, to brainstorming, to outline, to rough manuscript, to playtesting, to art briefs, to editing, and a bit about the creator’s side of publishing on places like RPGNow and others, trying to help you learn the steps necessary to make something other people will read, use, and enjoy at their gaming tables. We’ve got 35+ years of combined design experience in multiple systems, over 100s of projects from fanzines to single page monsters to 48 page adventures to 350 page campaign settings. We’ve worked with big companies, like Paizo Publishing, Wizards of the Coast, or Atlas Games, and we’ve worked with nimble independents, like Kobold Press, Metalweave Games, Rite Publishing, and Legendary Games. We’ve won a half dozen Ennie awards for Best Adventure, Best Setting, Best Electronic Book Best Aid/Accessory, and Judge’s Choice.
More than projects or awards, this is a process that’s in our blood. We’re all alumni of Kobold Press’ and Rite Publishing’s patron projects– endeavors that brought game design to the crowd long before Kickstarter made it a pledge option. Colin McComb called Kobold Press’ OpenDesign, “the guerrilla masterclass in game design,” and we’re all graduates. We’ve worked on or led over 20 audience-engaged projects since 2007, and we know how to show you the ropes and share our expertise with you.
And we know we can’t do it alone– we reach out to our friends and collaborators in the industry to join the DesignCamp experience, and share their insights, knowledge, and anecdotes with campers throughout the project with AMA-style chat sessions. We’ve brought seasoned veterans like Sean K. Reynolds (TSR, WotC, Paizo, MCG), RPG Superstars like Monica Marlowe (2015), and rising designers like Dan Dillon (WotC, Dungeon of the Mad Mage); then we make those transcripts available to you.
How does DesignCamp work?
We interact with backers through a Basecamp site on the internet (basecamp.com), using that site’s infrastructure to chat, email, host files and communicate.
You’ll have a chance to pitch your own design elements during the process, and vote on submitted elements. If your element wins, you can work with designers to implement it, if you want, or you can leave it to us to make those proverbial donuts.
We work hard to make sure our process is fairly transparent and responsive to backers and their questions. In the end, we want you to understand and feel comfortable with the process of RPG design. Working with our patrons, our first project was The Celestial Host, a collection of Arthurian, Celtic, and Norse mythologies for Pathfinder RPG 1st Edition, and our second was The Silver Box, an adventure converted and expanded from D&D 3E to both Pathfinder 1E and D&D 5E. We teach through doing, offering anonymous crowd-voted pitch rounds, and opportunities for paid contributions and volunteer playtesting. In the end, you’ll receive more than just a PDF written, tested, edited, and published through a time-tested method. You’ll be gaining the 12+ week experience of seeing and participating in game design up close, and as involved as you’re willing to become.
You can do this. We know, because we got our start sitting where you’re sitting, and thirteen years later, we’re still designing, publishing, and winning awards. RPGs are for everyone. Designing them can be, too. Hold my dice, I got this. 😉
Ennie-award Winning Author and Designer Ben McFarland fences saber, brews beer, cooks chinese food, writes and plays a lot of board games and RPGs with his wife, two kids and friends– though he does none of these things as much as he likes.