Indie RPG Layout contest

The Indie RPG scene has a tradition of contests, especially game design contests. They tend to be high energy affairs, and some have produces amazing games like Polaris, The Mountain Witch and 3:16. And, there are hundreds of other games, many hosted at

Some of the design contests take a simple list of “ingredients” in the form of cool words like “horse” or “island” or “fire” and so on. Other variations have included inspiring artwork that designers incorporate into the game. And, a few of the contests have evaluated the presentation of the games with rushed-but-cool layouts.

I’m about to launch a new contest. It’s a layout contest. I want to see people’s creativity as it relates to information design, typography, art direction and layout.

I’ve got a text picked out. It’s Keith Senkowski’s Conspiracy of Shadows: Dirty Hands. I’m editing the text currently, and it’s a really interesting game. It also has some heft — it weighs in over 42,000 words. I’ll likely whittle that down to make it a bit more manageable, but one aspect of the contest is creating a layout that appreciates some of the nitty gritty work book designers have to do to make a layout work.

The trick will be doing it so that doesn’t drive away participation. So, I’ve got to settle on some happy medium.

I’ll be judging the contest along with at least one or two other layout-savvy pals. The winner will get an actual prize or two — actual RPG books that the judges think are well designed. Everyone will get at least some commentary and notes back from the judges on their layout.

It’s going to take several more days to assemble the text, get artwork, write the rules and launch the contest. It will likely run for about 3 weeks.

The end result will be several usable PDF layouts of a very cool and under-rated game in Conspiracy of Shadows: Dirty Hands. And, another result will be a fun way to help others improve their layout skills.

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