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Building a Rules Light Tabletop Game

In this class we’ll explore minimalistic “rules light” rulesets for tabletop games. See how they can quickly shape players sense of a world and focus the kind of stories being told then build our own.

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Course Goals


In this class we’ll explore minimalistic or “rules light” rulesets for roleplaying games that can quickly shape players sense of a world and help focus the kind of stories being told. We’ll use example one page systems to explore what elements are core to interactive storytelling and what can/should be only suggested to the player and then create our own one page systems.

I hope to explore the following questions in this class…

  • How does game design effect narrative and the stories told within those games?
  • How can we guide player experience while still letting them make interesting and fun choices?

Length / Commitment

  • 8-10 students
  • 1.5 hour sessions for 5 weeks with one longer scheduled session of 2 to 3 hours sometime during the course.
  • 1 to 3 hours of additional work/reading between sessions.

Syllabus / Schedule

  • Lesson 1: Introduction
    • (30m) A brief overview of the history of roleplaying and story games along with an explanation of one page systems specifically.
    • (45m) Group introductions along with preliminary game ideas from everybody.
    • (15m) A quick look at two one page RPG systems, Lasers & Feelings and Crash Pandas.
    • DURING THE WEEK: Find a one page RPG system to bring in for the next class.
  • Lesson 2: Exploration
    • (60m) Go around the room and have quick (5-6 minute) looks at the one page systems everybody picked out.
    • (10m) Reflect on themes we notice. How do systems reflect their tone or genre in their rules? What details do the systems include and what do they leave out?
    • (20m) Quick popcorn around the room to share what base systems or mechanics we’re thinking of using for our own one page RPGs.
    • During the next two weeks: Write up a one page RPG of your own. You can use an existing system you feel meshes well with your idea as your base or if you feel like going for (non-existant) extra credit design a system of your own.
  • Lesson 3: Play
    • (120-180m) Scheduled play session of a one page RPG.
  • Lesson 4: Refinement
    • (60m) Everyone will share a first draft of their systems. We’ll also critique every concept and provide ideas for how to make it stronger!
    • (30m) Reflect on what we all learned during this class and discuss next steps to either publish or refine your systems.
  • Lesson 5: Next Steps
    • (30m) Quick updates from anybody who’d like to share on changes they made since last week’s session
    • (60m) Brief discussion of Discord, Itch.io and other places to post your games then a general wrap up on how you canshare your game and to continue to get involved in the one page RPG/tabletop community.


By the end of the course students should have their own one page tabletop system that they've either "hacked" from an existing system or created from an original "storytelling mechanic" that they can play and/or publish.

Who Should Sign Up

Anyone interested in interactive or collaborative storytelling. Though experience with tabletop or online roleplaying can be helpful for the course no previous experience is required.

5 weeksUp to 10 learners

Will need a Google account to work on shared Google Docs/Sheets. An Itch.io account is helpful but not required.

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