Welcome to Lightspress Media

At Lightspress Media, we take a lo-fi approach to roleplaying. Our focus is on the utility and value of the content, rather than flashy production. Visual elements are employed strategically to amplify the message conveyed by the text. This aesthetic choice allows us to create powerful and affordable toolkits. Remember, the true essence of the roleplaying experience lies not within the pages of a book, but in the creativity and collaboration fostered around your tabletop.

What We Do

We specialize in crafting tabletop roleplaying toolkits and systems, focusing on a diverse range of immersive scenarios, from contemporary genres often overlooked to the classic realms of fantasy. Our guiding philosophy prioritizes storytelling and character evolution, favoring rich narratives and intricate character development over complex rule systems. Our experiences encourage player engagement through dynamic interactions and creative problem-solving, steering away from excessive combat-centric play. Dive into our worlds, where the art of narrative reigns supreme, and embark on unforgettable journeys where your choices shape the story.

Read More

  • DoubleZero: Modern Roleplaying - An easy-to-learn, simple to adapt system designed for contemporary genres like mystery, thriller, romance, horror, and even science fiction.

  • Foragers Guild Guides - System-neutral fantasy toolkits covering character development, worldbuilding, guild factions, adventures, and more!

  • Fantasy Manifesto - Traditional fantasy roleplaying tropes meet storytelling and character development in this robust yet streamlined system.

  • Project Opera - A series of complete, limited-run scenarios with mechanics, characters, settings, factions, and adventures.

  • System Neutral Toolkits - Toolkits for any system, setting, or genre to bring greater storytelling to your favorite roleplaying experience.

  • Dice & Discontent - An irregular punk ethos roleplaying zine offering alternate perspectives on our favorite hobby.

  • Lightspress Manifesto - Our free weekly newsletter with articles, opinions, new release announcements, and more.

How We Do It

Roleplaying is a collaborative and imaginative endeavor, where the power lies in adding your unique ideas to the mix. Our approach is that of a toolkit rather than an intricately detailed sourcebook, granting you the space to unleash your imagination. We firmly believe that a manual should never confine or restrict you. Our objective is to provide you with the necessary tools to begin your adventure and then step back, empowering you to craft the roleplaying experience your group desires.

Read More

  • What Is Lo-Fi Publishing? - An expanded explanation of our approach to creating and publishing systems and toolkits.

  • The Black Box Manifesto - A declaration of principles that shaped us, including the ideals behind our aesthetic choices and pricing.

Why We Do It

We embrace the idea that the most popular path is not the sole, nor necessarily the superior route. Our philosophy rejects the notion of corporations reigning over creativity and the instruments of creation. We firmly assert that our distinctive values and interests, though divergent from the mainstream, possess equal validity compared to the prevailing trends in the market. Our mission is to offer an alternative for those who share our ideals and passions, creating a space where like-minded individuals can explore an unconventional, yet profoundly meaningful journey.

Read More

  • Open Manifesto - What we beleive to be true about roleplaying and its community, and how that influences our creative and business choices.

Who We Are

In his seminal work Art As Experience, John Dewey posited that art remains incomplete until it is experienced by someone other than the artist. Roleplaying, being an immersive and cooperative endeavor, aligns with this philosophy, where the essence lies not in the source material but in the vibrant tapestry woven around the table. Other than being paid fairly for our work and meeting legal requirements for copyright and trademark, who we are doesn't matter. It's you, the players, that take center stage in this narrative. We are but inconspicuous collaborators, facilitating your journey. The significance of these toolkits emerges from your actions and imagination, transcending the roles we play in this shared experience.

Where To Find Us

  • All of our toolkits, sourcebooks, and systems are available at DriveThruRPG.

  • Select products are also available at Amazon, Ko-Fi, and Gumroad.

  • Official merchandise is available through Spring.

  • Lightspress Manifesto on Substack is our weekly newsletter and where you can read about new releases.

Lo-Fi Publishing

The manifesto of lo-fi publishing draws its inspiration from the rebellious spirit of the punk DIY movement and the underground zine culture. In this realm, the emphasis lies not in the pursuit of perfection but in the act of creation itself, getting our work done and out into the world.Lo-fi publishing, as its name suggests, draws parallels with the ethos of lo-fi music. We firmly believe that the creation of meaningful content should not be bound by fancy equipment, slick production values, or an excess of resources. Instead, it thrives on the raw, unfiltered, and authentic expressions of its creators.Embrace Imperfection: We reject the notion that everything must be polished and flawless. Lo-fi publishing celebrates the beauty found in imperfections, the authenticity of raw creativity, and the courage to put imperfect work out into the world.DIY Spirit: Just as the punk DIY movement champions self-reliance and individual expression, lo-fi publishing empowers creators to take matters into their own hands. We create for the sheer joy of creation, free from the constraints of mainstream expectations.Accessible to All: We believe that meaningful content should be accessible to all, regardless of their access to high-end tools or extensive resources. It's about the message, not the medium.Community and Collaboration: Lo-fi publishing fosters a tight-knit community of like-minded creators who support and collaborate with one another. We understand that the strength of our collective creativity is greater than the sum of its parts.Unfiltered Expression: Our work is an unapologetic reflection of who we are, what we believe, and what we stand for. It's not about conforming to trends or catering to mass appeal; it's about speaking our truths.Challenge the Status Quo: Like punk rock challenging the music industry, lo-fi publishing challenges the established norms of publishing. We subvert the traditional publishing landscape, creating a space where diversity, authenticity, and individuality thrive.Action Over Perfection: The world is hungry for fresh perspectives and authentic voices. Lo-fi publishing prioritizes action over perfection. We create, we share, and we make our mark on the world without waiting for someone else's approval.Keep It DIY: Lo-fi publishing is a movement that refuses to be co-opted by commercial interests. We remain committed to keeping it DIY, preserving the essence of grassroots creativity.Resilience and Tenacity: We acknowledge that the path of lo-fi publishing may be challenging, but we embrace the journey with resilience and tenacity. We are a testament to the power of determination and passion.Freedom of Expression: Lo-fi publishing is a sanctuary for free expression. It is a realm where creativity knows no bounds, and where every voice has the potential to resonate with others, sparking change and connection.In the spirit of lo-fi publishing, we invite all creators to join us in this vibrant, unapologetic, and inclusive movement. Together, we will continue to challenge the status quo, break down barriers, and make meaningful contributions to the world of publishing, one raw and authentic creation at a time.

Open Manifesto

As enthusiasts of the tabletop roleplaying hobby, we believe in the power of individual creativity and the ability to create game material, including characters, worlds, adventures, and systems, in your own unique way.We believe that the freedom to create one's own material is a fundamental element of the hobby and allows players to have ownership and agency over the game.We believe that the freedom to create one's own material is essential, as it allows players to explore their interests, personalize the experience, and address their group's needs and preferences.We believe that the freedom to create one's own material allows for the exploration of diverse themes, settings, and perspectives, which enriches the hobby and brings new experiences to all players.We believe that creating your own material is a powerful tool for personal and social growth, as players can explore difficult themes and ideas and learn and grow from these experiences.We believe that creating your own material can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for players, as they have the opportunity to bring their own unique visions and ideas to life.We believe that the game is not and has never been found in any book. Tabletop roleplaying is and has always been the product of the unique creativity and collaboration between the players. Without people expressing their ideas and imaginations, there is no hobby.

Black Box Manifesto

Roleplaying games were originally introduced over forty years ago with simple rules that bridged tabletop miniature gaming with a kind of improvisational theater. They were produced as black-and-white paper pamphlets containing a few pieces of line art, and sold for a fairly affordable price. Over time they have evolved into intricate and extensive rules sets contained in full-sized, full-color, artwork-heavy books with glossy pages and lavish production values sold at high prices in order to offset the expense of the design work poured into them. There are exceptions, of course, but this does describe the majority of the tabletop roleplaying game market.That model has created issues that affect my enjoyment of roleplaying games. As a hobbyist, books with page counts in the hundreds virtually guarantee that I won’t have time to read and process them. As a consumer, I often struggle to justify the expense. As a creator, the model places unfair expectations on the form and content of a game’s design, as well as on the resources needed to deliver a finished product.I propose a new paradigm.The Dogme95 film movement, the black box theatre movement, and the Art Brut movement all demanded a renewed focus on creative work itself, rather than on the technical elements of their respective mediums. Inspired by those creators and their ideals, as well as by the aesthetics of minimalism, I propose a similar set of rules for the creation, development, and sale of roleplaying games. These rules are meant to hearken back to the origin of the hobby, a “theater of the mind” style of play, and the simplicity and utility of boxed sets. This is the Black Box Manifesto.These rules were created for my own use, to provide myself creative and practical boundaries. The intention is to force myself not to rely on what is considered the norm, but to create a new set of expectations as to how roleplaying games are designed, produced, and presented. In the spirit of community, the Black Box Manifesto is being released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License so that other creators can explore its possibilities. There will be no centralized gatekeeping, no checking whether a work meets all the rules, and no declarations as to whether a work meets the criteria, instead relying on each creator’s honesty and interpretation of the spirit of the rules. It is my hope that this new paradigm inspires a surge in creativity in roleplaying games.My heartfelt gratitude to Berin Kinsman for his help in reading, refining, and inspiring this work. I could not have had a better partner in creating this movement.The Black Box Manifesto Rules:

  • The work must be a self-contained whole, able to provide a complete entertainment experience by itself. If using an open licensed system, the work must contain all material necessary to be of use, referencing other works only as required by the open license.

  • Artwork may be used on the front cover only. No interior artwork is allowed. The use of fonts and layout to distinguish parts of the work is acceptable. Maps and diagrams may be used if they are absolutely necessary, and must be printed on the inside covers.

  • The work must make use of a unified task/conflict resolution system. Only one subsystem branching off the unified resolution system is allowed.

  • Setting material included in the work must be restricted to the most immediate area relevant to the work.

  • The work must be pamphlet-sized, either half-fold (8.5″ x 5.5″) or 6″ x 9″, with no more than 96 pages front and back, not including the cover. All pages must include content essential to the work, although a couple blank pages are acceptable if needed for printing layout purposes. No Ads.

  • Price for an electronic version of the work may not exceed $10 USD (or equivalent). Price for a print version of the work may not exceed the cost of the electronic version plus base print cost.

  • The focus of the work must be on the elements that promote human interaction in the shared creation of a story, not extravagant production values, winning awards, or gaining status.

Creative Commons License
The Black Box Manifesto by Daniel M. Perez and Berin Kinsman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why I Choose Not to Include Bibliographies in My WorkDespite the assumption that my rapid content creation pace might lead me to skip bibliographies due to time constraints, the truth is quite different. I engage in extensive research and maintain meticulous notes during my writing process, but I deliberately opt not to share these notes for several reasons:Some readers already perceive my lo-fi books as resembling textbooks, with an occasionally dry, faux-academic tone. Adding a bibliography in APA citation format would only amplify this perception.Most readers who purchase my books are already familiar with the genre and the themes I explore, making bibliographies somewhat redundant. The page count is better used for material that I feel adds value.With resources like Google readily available, readers can easily find additional information if needed. You can establish your own reference. This is part of the toolkit philosophy; it’s your roleplaying experience, not mine.Including citations and references establishes expectations, limiting our (yours and my) creative freedom to offer a unique perspective. I wish to avoid situations where readers may be disappointed that my work doesn't align with the cited sources.Addressing the influence of potentially problematic creators poses a challenge. For instance, if I were to create a bibliography for a cosmic horror book, omitting influential figures like Lovecraft would be difficult. However, acknowledging his deeply troubling racist, misogynistic, and fascist views would necessitate a disclaimer. This not only consumes valuable space in the book but also opens the door to potential criticism, including:Some readers might object to mentioning Lovecraft at all, preferring that he fade into obscurity rather than attempting the delicate feat of separating the art from the artist.Others might take issue with the disclaimer itself for various reasons, i.e., if I have to hear "woke" used as a derogatory term for advocating basic human dignity and respect one more time, my response won’t be productive.Lovecraft enthusiasts could challenge my characterization of his well-documented beliefs and slurs, i.e. he eventually renounced Hitler, he was married to a Jewish woman, and so on.This predicament extends beyond known figures, as beloved creators today may be exposed for reprehensible actions tomorrow, putting me in a precarious position for merely referencing their work as an influence.My primary goal is to write books in peace, without getting involved in meaningless, disingenuous online disputes with those who thrive on internet drama. If I believed that including a bibliography would genuinely enhance my work, I would certainly include one. However, considering the overall balance between the effort required and the potential benefits, I choose to omit it.