website statistics





Support Us










Apply Now

Worlds in Conversation: Tabletop Storytelling Games

Everest Pipkin, Caro Asercion, Rufus "Weaver" Walker
Section 1: June 12, 2024 to August 14, 2024
Section 2: June 15, 2024 to August 17, 2024

(10 classes)
Section 1: Wednesdays, 1-4pm ET Section 2: Saturdays, 1-4pm ET
Online (Zoom)
$1200 Scholarships available learn more...
Applications closed on April 15, 2024

Apply Now


What compels us to play within fictional worlds? How do we construct meaningful cultural, social, and natural environments to learn about our past, present, and future? ,Worlds In Conversation: Tabletop Storytelling Games, considers the theoretical and practical underpinnings of worldbuilding through the lens of tabletop role-playing games. Through a survey of existing work in the field, hands-on play, and independent and collaborative experimentation, this class offers an understanding of why–and how–we tell stories set in worlds other than our own.

Course of Study

  • Week 1 - Introductions: Hello! Who are we / who are you? What is this class? What are tabletop games, why are we interested in them? And what do we mean when we say worldbuilding? Plus, our past work in the field.
  • Week 2 - Worldbuilding: Why do we worldbuild? What utility does worldbuilding serve? What futures are we imagining, and what histories are we drawing on? What gets remembered?
  • Week 3 - Lyric games: Poem games, lyric games, instructions artwork, walking games. The skeletons of structure as play.
  • Week 4 - Prompts, questions, tables, tools: Into the nitty gritty - the tools and levers that people use to design games. Looking at design goals, structure, breadth vs specificity, prompts, leading questions, dice tables, random chance, and other techniques for building something from nothing.
  • Week 5 - Journaling games: Solo games, drawing games, diary play, journaling as a world building practice. How to play games with and for yourself.
  • Week 6 - Playtesting as practice & collaborative design: Introduce the idea of playtests, the role of playtesting, how to run a good playtest, how to see what are games like in motion. Also discuss the role of collaboration inside of development and writing, and some modes in which collaboration can be fruitful.
  • Week 7 - Summary week: Pulling in various threads so far, and also discussing going deeper or bigger. Looking at longer games, games with complex mechanics that create specific kinds of play, games with pre-built settings, or games with specific verbs and actions.
  • Week 8 - Games can be anything: Looking at the expanded field of games in conversation– considering tools (discord bots, roll20,, miro, google docs, zoom) and alternative tools (the postal service, bulletin boards, custom software). Discussing the where of games– from tables, to larps, to MMO worlds, to phone calls.
  • Week 9 - Layout, design & distribution: Discussing presentation, visual information, readability, clarity of information, editing, and language, as well as network of distribution for small and independent games. Professional practices week.
  • Week 10 - Conclusions & presentations: A chance to discuss, share, work, play and celebrate.


Time & Workload
  • During class, participants can expect a mix of discussion, lecture, and practical exploration — including playing tabletop games. Outside of class, participants can expect short weekly readings or assignments. Participants should expect to spend a few hours a week outside of class on deliverables, with less time spent in the beginning and more towards the end of the course. The course will result in a printed book including work produced in class.
  • No specific materials (other than an internet connection) are required for this class, but students may appreciate having physical or digital dice, cards, and writing materials of choice.
Learning Outcomes
  • By the end of this course, participants will imagine, design, and iterate to create their own short tabletop game (as well as some smaller experiments). They will also leave with a strong theoretical and practical understanding of the process of designing towards worldbuilding.

Is this class for me?

This class may be for you if:

  • You tell stories about arcs of history or cultural trends, big or small.
  • You wish you could talk to videogame NPCs about what they had for breakfast.
  • You catch yourself flipping to the back of the fantasy novel to look at the map again.
  • You always read the Wikipedia.
  • You want to practice speaking, playing, and imagining with others.
  • You are a writer interested in tools for building out universes.
  • You are a game designer interested in conversational or prompt-based mechanics.
  • You are a poet who poses questions in your poems.
  • You are simply a person who finds the complexity of it all fascinating.
  • You believe that a different world will rise out of this one.

This class may NOT be for you if:

  • You are more interested in exploring specific characters than the world they live in.
  • You are not interested in conversational or collaborative play.
  • You feel like history is over, or that culture is static.
  • You want to make an improved version of Dungeons and Dragons.

Meet the Teachers


Everest Pipkin

Everest Pipkin is a game developer, writer, and artist from central Texas who lives and works on a sheep farm in southern New Mexico. Their work both in the studio and in the garden follows themes of ecology, tool making, and collective care during collapse. When not at the computer in the heat of the day, you can find them in the hills spending time with their neighbors— both human and non-human.

they/them · website · twitter · instagram


Caro Asercion

Caro Asercion is an interdisciplinary artist working at the intersection of theatre, visual art, and analog games. Their design practice centers on expansive storytelling with an eye toward collaborative structure and form. As a theatre practitioner, Caro works as a dramaturg and artistic producer with a concentration in new works.

they/them · website · twitter


Rufus "Weaver" Walker

Weaver Walker is an outsider artist, philosopher, and storyteller. His work attempts to illuminate paths for the radical reinterpretations of knowledge, history, and complex symbolic systems wherever they might occur. He currently lives in Washington, DC where he is both a union and gay liberation organizer.

he/him · website

How do I apply?

Apply Now

Applications open until Applications closed on April 15, 2024.

You can expect to hear back from us about the status of your application on . Please email us at with any questions you have.

How much does it cost to attend?

For 10 classes, it costs $1200 + processing fees, for a one-time payment. We also offer payment plans. Participants can schedule weekly or monthly payments of the same amount. First and last payments must be made before the start and end of class. *Processing fees apply for each payment.

SFPC processes all payments via Withfriends and Stripe. Please email if these payment options don't work for you.

Applicant FAQ

For more information about what we look for in applicants, scholarships, and other frequently asked questions, please visit our applicant FAQ.

Interested in more learning opportunities at the School for Poetic Computation? Join our newsletter to stay up to date on future sessions and events, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Support our programming through scholarships. Get in touch over email.