The TTRPG Publishing Process

The tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) industry has grown significantly, with more independent creators entering the field than ever before. If you're considering publishing your own TTRPG, this guide will outline the key steps in taking your TTRPG from concept to customers.


Step 1: Conceptualization and Design

Develop Your Game Concept

Your journey begins with an idea. What unique experience do you want to provide with your TTRPG? Consider mechanics, themes, and what sets your game apart from existing ones.

When I set out to create a new module for Lewd Dungeon Adventures, the very first thing I do is outline the adventure. This is usually just a list of Scenarios and Areas in the game, and what maps, obstacles, and monsters will be in each Area.


Write and Design Your Game

Create a draft of your game's rules, setting, and any other content you plan to include. This step can be complex and time-consuming, as it involves writing, designing, and iterating your game's components to ensure they are fun, balanced, and clear.

For Lewd Dungeon Adventures, I flesh everything out and write a first draft. This is usually pretty clean, and the only questions I’ll have when I’m done are whether the monsters and obstacles are balanced and whether the Special Scenarios are fun and not overly long or complicated. For this first write-up, I don’t care too much about editing. The goal is really just to get the adventure ready for playtesting, which brings us to the next step.


Step 2: Playtesting

Initial Playtesting

Once you have a working prototype of your game, it's time to test it. Gather a group of players and run playtest sessions to gather feedback on game mechanics, storytelling, and overall enjoyment.



Based on playtest feedback, make necessary revisions to your game. If your game has more complicated mechanics, this process may cycle multiple times before you reach a version of the game that you're satisfied with.

I can usually tell in one play-through if a monster’s difficulty needs to be lowered or raised, if certain spells need to be axed, or if the time spent on Special Scenarios needs to be reduced or the activities need to be swapped out for something else.

Once these fixes are made, the text part of the game gets its final edit. After that’s done, I’ll typically post the text version on Patreon for our Early Access patrons.


Step 3: Artwork and Graphic Design

Commissioning Artwork

A TTRPG's artwork is often what first catches a potential player's eye. Commission artists to bring the visual elements of your game to life, ensuring that the art style aligns with the tone and setting of your game. Depending on how large your game is, this will likely require hiring multiple artists to work on it if you want it produced in a timely manner. I have no fewer than three artists working on every module of Lewd Dungeon Adventures.

Artwork is the biggest expense in creating a TTRPG, and it typically takes a long time to have it all commissioned. If this is your first project and you don’t have a lot of initial funds and are wanting to crowdfund the creation of your game, you could either use stock photos or AI artwork for your initial mockup. I know that people rip on AI artwork, but I do believe there's a place for it in the industry, especially where new creators are concerned.

Just to give you an idea of the expense and time it takes to create artwork, the covers for Lewd Dungeon Adventures cost anywhere between $650 and $1,000 each and take a month to illustrate. Before I switched to AI artwork for the scenic art inside our modules, it took about two weeks each to design a half-page to one-page piece of artwork. The small illustrations done by our artists take around a week each. Our maps also take about a week each to be designed.

When I plan a Kickstarter, I figure out how much artwork I’m going to need for the book, then I double that time when I create my estimated delivery date.



Once you get your artwork in, it’s time to do the layout of your game. I personally use InDesign and start by pasting all of the text into my template first and formatting that. Then I add the artwork. I know that other TTRPG designers do things a bit differently, but this is my process.


Step 4: Building an Audience

Marketing and Community Building

Start marketing early to build anticipation for your game. Use social media, TTRPG forums and groups, and advertising (if you can afford it) to grow your community and keep them engaged.

Honestly, if you’re just starting out, the best thing you can do to gain interest in your game is to build a mailing list. For the first installment of Lewd Dungeon Adventures, I gave away a bare-bones version of our Core Rulebook & Starter Adventure, without all the artwork because it hadn’t been commissioned yet, to anyone who signed up for my mailing list. I did use Facebook ads to build it quickly, but you can also post the link to your mailing list sign-up in various Facebook and Reddit groups to see if you can get people to sign up and try your game. This will get you better results than anything else you could possibly do to pre-launch your game. It is a well-proven strategy that works across multiple industries and has been effective for years. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel.

I recommend doing this for at least a month before you launch your game if you can afford advertising, and probably about three months before launching if you’re doing guerrilla marketing, which is without putting money towards ads.



Many TTRPG creators turn to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to fund their publishing efforts. This can also serve as a marketing tool and a way to gauge interest in your game.

If you want to make creating TTRPGs a career and not just a hobby, I highly highly HIGHLY recommend Kickstarting your game. Not only will you make way more money than you could with a direct launch, but it will also tell you if your game has market viability. People speak with their dollars. If your game has a successful crowdfunding campaign, you will know if you can make a true business out it.


Step 5: Distribution

Digital Distribution

At the very least, you will want to have your game up on DriveThruRPG. This is the largest digital distributor of TTRPGs, and you will make more money there than you could anywhere else. You can also publish on Amazon and other ebook retailers, but they have limitations on what they can do graphically, so keep in mind that you will have to create a version of your game with different formatting to go that route. If your Kickstarter is successful, I would also recommend building your own website with Shopify and selling digital copies directly through it.


Physical Distribution

Research and select a printing service that suits your quality requirements and budget. DriveThruRPG will be your best option for this as well. I also use IngramSpark for wider distribution of print copies of my games. DriveThruRPG actually uses IngramSpark as their printer, so all the files are the same, which makes things much easier when uploading directly to them. In addition, I do publish a paperback copy of Lewd Dungeon Adventures directly on Amazon, though their formatting requirements are a little bit different, which requires a different file. I only do this because Amazon tends to not link the IngramSpark version of physical books to their digital versions, so the fastest and easiest way to get it done is to just create a physical version specifically for Amazon. Keep in mind, though, the more places you have physical versions, the more places you’ll have to order proof copies of because you definitely want a proof copy of your book from all physical avenues before you set it to live.  


Step 6: Post-Publishing Support

Customer Service

Be prepared to handle customer inquiries and issues with orders. Good customer service can lead to a strong reputation within the community. I check my emails once a day, seven days a week, typically in the mornings and try to get customer issues resolved as quickly as possible. It’s incredibly rare that I take a day off from doing this. That is not saying that’s what you have to do. Honestly, I probably work too much.



If errors are found or balance changes are needed after publishing, release updates to your customers. I think it’s pretty rare that a perfect game is ever published. Since the release of the original Core Rulebook for Lewd Dungeon Adventures, I’ve published probably three major updates to the game and several very minor ones.

DriveThruRPG lets you email customers whenever you make an update, and everyone who previously purchased the game before will have access to the new updated version. They also provide a space for you to tell customers what you updated, which is super useful so that people aren’t having to flip through the book and try to figure it out on their own.

Unfortunately, no other platform has this feature, so if you do make updates, it’s also a great idea to email your mailing list and post the update on social media, which is something that I admittedly often forget to do and need to get better at.


Expansions and Sequels

If your game is successful, consider developing expansions or sequels to keep the community engaged and expand the game universe. There’s a reason why there’s a billion episodes of One Piece. If your first initial launch was a big hit, the best thing you can do for yourself financially is keep writing in that world and expand, expand, expand. This is how businesses are made. This is how empires are built. If you want to make this a full-time career, don’t pivot when something has steam. Get on that train and ride it into the sunset.



Publishing a TTRPG is a multifaceted endeavor that requires creativity, organization, and perseverance. From the initial concept to the final product in the hands of players, each step is crucial in creating a successful game. By understanding and carefully navigating the TTRPG publishing process, you can turn your vision into a reality and contribute to the rich and diverse world of tabletop gaming.

If you have any questions about the publishing process, drop them in the comments below. I do pull from the comments section to make this content.

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