A complete library of the best rpg design resources (that aren't Explorers) from around the world—including the best rpg blogs, shows, designer tools and learning resources for 2023.
Here Be Dragons
Most of these sections highlight resources found off the traditional roleplaying map. They're relevant to rpgs but not specific to them. This is on purpose. By extending our reach, we diversify our influences and create better work.
Plus One Exp. Previews, reviews, and actual plays of roleplaying games. Too many to count. Tony & team are among the best hosts for conversations between designers, players, and more. The range and diversity in games and designers may be unmatched.
Matthew Colville. The legend behind MCDM drills under the bedrock of D&D and extracts deeper knowledge from its influences. His Running the Game series is an incredible resource for structuring stories beyond just the traditional norms of fantasy.
Game Developers Conference. Video games are a fantastic resource for learning about game theory. The annual developers conference is especially helpful. It takes the best and brightest of the industry, and platforms its best practices into highly polished panels and video essays.
Shut Up & Sit Down. Never mind the name, these brits investigate tabletop games in a way that’s unique among commercial reviewers—they examine how they make us feel. They’re the best journalists in tabletop. Kind, critical, and forever self-examining.
Questing Beast. Ben Milton has an idiosyncratic approach to RPGs around usability, playstyle, and purpose. It’s engrossing to see him review zines as a populist medium. While his standards aren't shared by everyone, they're always consistent.
Fear of a Black Dragon. The Gauntlet produces a lot of podcasts, but this deep dive into different old school games teaches us a lot about good writing, illustrations, and play culture.
Lost Bay Podcast. A show about and with indie tabletop role-playing game creators, their sources of inspiration, creative processes, and business strategies. It's in the running for the most succinct and highly polished rpg design podcast available.
Brain Trust Podcast. Indie tabletop designers Adam Vass and Will Jobst make roleplaying games, chat theory, and go off the rails. Great inspiration.
Vintage RPG Podcast. Vintage RPG is an exploration of the world of tabletop roleplaying games from the swamps of New Jersey. This show casually explores the history and evolution of our hobby's beloved "dinosaurs" (and the dinosaur-themed).
RPG Design Panelcast. It might sound like it was recorded with a soup can, but that’s the price for an ear inside the world’s best RPG design conference: Metatopia. You'll hear episodes on everything from running a business to crafting an experience.
Design Games. It may have ended in 2016, but ND Paoletta and Will Hindmarch’s show has 50 of the best episodes on tabletop RPG game design.
Wyrd Science. Interviews, critiques, and industry chatter can be found in any issue of Wyrd Science. It helps that the design is nice and clean, too.
Codex Magazine. The Guantlet produces one of the industries few good magazines. Each issue is a burst of micro rpgs and ideas based on a central theme.
Knock!. The best compilation of blogs and ideas from the "OSR" movement in print. These magazines are thick, lovingly illustrated, and packed to the gills with different ideas.
Arcadia. If fantasy adventure like D&D is more your fare, Arcadia by the MCDM is the perfect magazine. It's the spiritual successor to the dead giants that were Dungeon and Dragon.
Creative Market. Creative Market is a little like an Amazon but for graphic designers. You'll find everything from templates, to tools, to graphics. Made by creatives for creatives.
Envato Market. Similar to the Creative Market, Envato offers a little bit of everything. It provides an unlimited plan, too, which can be cost-effective for creative sprints.
True Grit Texture Supply. True Grit Texture Supply's goal is simple; build the best digital texture tools money can buy. We think they might have succeeded.
Retro Supply Co. Retro's products include brushes, textures, and fonts specifically designed for Procreate, Photoshop, Illustrator, Affinity, and Clip Studio Paint.
Noun Project. UI icons and more for download. This location is especially useful for digital designers who need the perfect UX component for their websites.
Unsplash. High-quality photography from still life to portraits.
Old Book Illustrations. What it says on the tin. Lots of wood prints.
Raw Pixel Public Domain. A collection of art and images in the public domain.
British Library’s Collection. High-resolution scans of prints, art, and more.
New York Public Library. High-resolution scans and recordings.
The Met's Open Collection. Fine art in the creative commons from New York.
Paris Musées Collection. Fine art in the public domain from the Paris Museum.
Communication Arts. The US's quarterly magazine for professional creatives. Each issue covers a different kind of visual art.
Eye Magazine. A beautiful magazine that highlights designers of all stripes across multiple industries. Eye issues are often collected for their design.
Monocle. Design doesn't happen in a vacuum. Monocle covers everything from design and art to current affairs. It's regular publications are thick, too.
Elephant. Elephant celebrates creativity and the visual arts by focusing on emerging artists, designers and photographers.
Explorers Pinterest. A well-trained algorithm will guide you well. The Explorer Design pinterest over 4000 different logos, illustrations, packages, and more to get you started.
Designspiration. Think Pinterest but exclusively for designers. We don't recommending paying for a pro account, but you can explore quite a bit on the free plan.
Dribbble. A portfolio website for designers. Very trendy for good or ill. Check out the trending section to get an idea of what the freelance world is up to.
D&AD. London’s most prestigious show for designers. Check the archives.
Print Awards. Award-winning designs from analog designers (not just games).
Game Design Archive. Rpg-centric design articles curated by Goblin Archives.
Medium. Essays and articles on everything—including design. Check out the UX Collective for an especially good resource.
Laws of UX. The original curator of UX and design principles in one place (with some incredible design, naturally).
Fontspring. A distributor of typefaces that sells fonts with easy-to-understand licenses with a "try it before you buy it" approach. It's catalog is full of different type designers work.
Lost Type Co-Op. Perhaps the first pay-what-you-want foundry to exist. Lost Type features pulpy typefaces from over 50 different global contributors.
Adobe Fonts. Previously "Typekit," if you have a Creative Cloud subscription, you have access to this massive database. It automatically syncs with your programs, updates fonts, and allows you to use them seamlessly.
MyFonts. A massive online store for fonts. Maybe the largest. It's owned by the industry giant, Monotype. They own most of the major storefronts online.
FontShop. Part of the Monotype hivemind. It's got a slightly funkier vibe and some overlap with the other font databases.
Fonts.com. Exactly what it says on the tin. Fonts for web use, print, and more. Owned by, you guessed it, Monotype.
Google Fonts. Free, high-quality, web-friendly typefaces that have been vetted for their quality by the great big leviathan itself. Be mindful using them for covers. The fonts get heavy use.
League of Movable Type. Free, high-quality, and pioneering typefaces that open source. The League's typefaces are thick and instantly iconic. A favorite.
Etcetera Type. They may have gone solo and pushed their work onto Google Fonts, but this website offers a far more stylistic portal to view the kitschy and fun work.
Dirty Line. Dirtyline Studio is a digital type foundry out of Banda Aceh, Indonesia. They offer fantastic script and marker fonts.
Collectivo. Collectivo designs and distributes open-source typefaces. The website is minimal and easy to use. The fonts are solid.
Cat Fonts. Nothing will prepare you for this time machine. Dozens of free typefaces from a website blissfully moored in 1999.
Velvetyne Type Foundry. Wild and untamed typefaces that straddle the line between art and gonzo. Lovingly crafted and arbitrary. Useful and useless.
Omnibus-Type. Lots of variable typefaces with classic shape and style. All open-source.
Atipo Foundry. Free, pay-what-you-want, and pay-with-a-share, typefaces for students and graphic designers. Lots of diverse options here.
Tunera Foundry. An international foundry with easy to browse typefaces with clean attributions and rules right on the name.
Note: Websites like DaFont, Font Squirrel, and 1001 Fonts are notorious for plagiarization and theft. We recommend you look at the above alternatives.
Pangram Foundry. A sleek design studio with affordable, modern, and techy typefaces.
House Industries. Masters of kitsch and Americana. House Industries is a design studio that makes fonts rooted in 20th century methods. Their work is often described as warm and funky.
Village. A kind of co-op full of indie type foundries from around the world. Because it's a collective of independent creatives, the styles can vary widely from each other.
OhNo. A hyper-expressive type foundry started by one guy with one hell of a personal style. The typefaces can be appropriately expensive. Some of them are on Adobe Fonts.
Dalton Maag. An independent type design studio with massive clients like Google and Nokia. Their work is highly polished. Highly engineered. Priced accordingly.
Colophon. A London-based type agency with giant clients and a reputation for precisely engineered typefaces. They're priced appropriately. Good for the giants.
Explorers Pinterest. Over 500 different type examples picked just for RPG design. Get inspired by the entire type world in one big scroll.
Incredible Types. A curation collection and showcase of typefaces from around the world. The dropdown menu has a multitude of tags to help you filter the list.
Friends of Type. Super original typography and lettering by four superstar designers. They've worked a long time together, but it's fun to try and pick out which visuals belong to who.
Typeverything. This type foundry's work is laid out like one big lookbook. Perfect for pulling inspiration in one big sweep across the typographic map.
Fonts In Use. This website's a favorite among rpg designers because it showcases fonts in their natural habitat: books. Vintage and retro books to be more precise.
NYC Type. There's a whole world of type and you'll see lots of it in New York City. Fom deli signs to back alley murals, if you're making an RPG seated in a city, crib from the best.
Type Directors Club. The TDC is one of typography's biggest organizations. Their annual award show spotlights the best and newest work.
TypeWolf. The world's best source on typography, its use, and how to pair it. Typewolf's "checklist" is the best document on type we've ever come across. Full stop.
Butterick's Practical Typography. Think: typography textbook, but 100% online and free. We should all donate for the 10-minute guide alone.
Playtype's Glossary. All the parts, pieces, and categories of type—illustrated, defined, and presented concisely.