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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Tabletop Role-Playing Game Design Through a Pattern Language Software Model

  • Author(s): Mayben, Alexander Montgomery
  • Advisor(s): Wardrip-Fruin, Noah
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY-SA' version 4.0 license

Currently, barriers to access are high for new or inexperienced designers in the fields of tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) design. TTRPGs remain a relatively unexplored design space, to the detriment of designers and system homebrewers– those who wish to modify existing TTRPG systems, rather than write new ones. A useful solution to this issue is to compose a pattern language representative of these systems. A pattern language provides a useful blueprint for designers of complex design systems, simplifying the TTRPG design process. In this thesis, we create a conceptual language which presents a simple-to-understand method of developing a TTRPG’s core elements alongside a set of pre-defined options and goals. This pattern language will then be simulated by an application developed within the JavaScript engine Blockly, as both a demonstration and as a tool with which designers can write systems. This tool, which we have named Assemble, will demonstrate how designers could benefit from utilizing pattern languages in computer-aided design contexts for TTRPG systems.

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