Often, as I near the end of an adventure role-playing game, I postpone the final battle until everything else has been exhausted. If a player is here to play in the world, but the hero is here to save it (ending the experience), how do we resolve the gap as designers? I’ll be using my experiences with The Legend of Zelda here: Specifically Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.

An Adventurous Spirit

There are a few reasons I play the Zelda games, but the big one is this: I want to see the world. I want to live it. It isn’t enough to just be Link, the Hero, and fight off monsters and defeat darkness. I want to step into a fantasy and see it all, soak everything up. I came here to care, and I’m looking for any excuse to get invested.

When it came to single-player games, my brother and I would often play them together. We took turns (and fought) on shared save files, or alternated between our own…


A follow-up to “So You Want to Be a Dungeon Master?”

And now that we’ve talked about NPCs, it’s time to talk about what all this looks like in real life. Stick with me and I’ll show the kinds of things you can do when your characters feel like people, when your story is heavy and present and real. First I’ll tell you how the story happened at the table. After that, well, I’ll show you what goes on behind the DM screen.

Setting the Scene


I’m new to tabletop role-playing games or I’ve never been a DM before — how do I start my own campaign and run it well?

So you’ve played in a tabletop campaign before, but never run one yourself. Or you’ve seen an episode of Critical Role or Acquisitions, Inc. and wondered how they do it. Or you’ve heard tales of a game like Dungeons and Dragons and never got the chance to play, but the idea has caught you. You may feel lost about how to get started, but worry not! I am here to help.

To provide some context…


How do the ways in which a game frames moral actions and responds to player choice influence the moral and philosophical underpinnings of the work?

In this article, I will look at three examples that I think represent differing schools of moral philosophy, and I’ll explore some ways in which their mechanics define their respective moral bases.

Adventure Quest Worlds and the Contractarianism of Faction Allegiance

Adventure Quest Worlds is an MMORPG where you play a hero (or villain) who fights off existential threats to Lore, the world the game is set in. One of its central mechanics, and perhaps the one most relevant to its story, is the…


Maps as Crutches, Fast Travel, and the Magic of Exploration

In this article, I discuss how we can create a more enjoyable and immersive gaming experience by separating world design from map design.

“A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.”

— Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity, p. 58.

The Map vs The World

Let’s start by discussing what an in-game world is, what a map is, and how they relate to each other.

Dan Saad

Game Designer, Storyteller, Dungeon Master, Artist, Engineer

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