Category Archives: 0 Hunters

The PAX demo: Putting theory to practice

This article will walk you through the demo I ran at PAX this weekend. It should give a clear impression of how 0 Hunters works. Well a bit clearer then my silly theory articles have anyway.

Check out this attractive box! While I never put much thought into a box when pitching to publishers, presentation counts with the public. I also wanted the box to double as a sign for the table I would demo at.

These rules cards were a last minuet addition to the demo kit and boy were they worth the effort. The cards are not the full rules but rather quick outlines to reinforce learning at the table. I will use them to teach you the game with this in blog demo!

The first card was the beta test disclaimer. This made sure people at the table knew this game was incomplete and to expect a few bugs. I tend to dress up my prototypes a little too much, they look too finished for where I am in the development process. This is because when I intend to self publish, I like to test presentation at the same time as rules. I throwaway a lot of work with this process but I think a refined finished product is worth it.

This card describes the first stage of character creation. Players pick a Body card (lets say “Big”) and a mind card (maybe “caring”) these two cards combine to give the character a unique stat line. These cards function to give players a quick way to visualize their character’s looks and personality.

Body & mind condense stat generation into two easy choices. A popular method for stat generation is “point buy” for new player’s investing 10-100 points into abilities and skills with a usual RPG is an abstract experience if they are not sure about how each stat relates to play. By tying sets of stats to descriptors like “Big” “tall” “fit” “petite” or “sneaky” “idealist” “realist” “caring” the choices and results are no longer abstract but easy to understand, but there are still plenty of potential characters.

This gives me as a designer massive control and insight over what numerical resources players are likely to have. While I will not know the precise distributions of stats among individual characters I will know the totals of each stat across the whole party.

The next step is to choose a character type. Character types are about the role your character plays in the story. “comic relief” “hero” and “brigand” are good examples. These cards give your character motivation for when you narrate your actions. Motivations are written like this:

“As the brigand I work to make the story interesting. Acting in self-interest or simply bucking the norm earns me a free die.”

Meeting your motivation gives player’s an opportunity to reward you with special “free dice” these can help you with future dice rolls. Motivations provide an incentive and inspiration for each player in the group to narrate their actions. This is a true narrative challenge judged by the other players at the table.

At this point players have made 3 choices, body, mind, and type. An example character could be a “big, caring, hero”, or a “petite, sneaky, comic relief”, its neat how just a few words can start to inspire a character in your mind. It’s it’s at this point when players are asked to name their characters and describe them to the group.

PICK, ROLL, TELL, is the basic process for playing the game. card three spells this process out in big bold letters, this helps players understand what is expected of them. It also drives home when they will be expected to meet their motivations.

Card four outlines the process of playing a short opening scene or “hook”. This scene is about the players fighting over who gets to eat the last steak in the fridge. It walks players through an example of the PICK, ROLL, TELL sequence to help reinforce the points learned on the last card. The scene it’s self is played like this.

Players and the gm (playing as a stowaway creature aboard the ship) pick a listed action by throwing rock paper scissors, this does not end the challenge it provides extra dice if your action counters another player’s. After claiming extra dice players roll the stat listed with their action choice.

Once all players are finished rolling the player with the lowest roll starts the scene by describing how their character tries to get the last steak. They are interrupted by the next highest roll who then tells about how they try to get the steak, this repeats until the highest roll actually eats the steak.

When player’s start narration, the outcome of the game has already been determined. What is unknown is if players will be able to meet their character motivation. The predetermined outcome gives players free rein to tell the story the way they want to without worrying about gm approval or understanding what specific rules to use. The character motivation provides a focus and reward for this unique narrative challenge. motivations are quite literally a player’s motivation for story telling.

It’s as this point that the short demo ends (usually about 15 min). I briefly describe the elements of the game not shown in the demo, like the unique plot card and how it drives play, the extended scenes called challenges, the character traits and item cards. If the player’s have more time or wanted to play more at this point I would walk them through cards five and six that go over how an actual plot is played. I will cover these cards at a later point.

CHOOSE, ROLL, TELL, the nitty bitty gritty of “rules inspire story”

When I sit down to playtest with an experienced role player there is something I need to explain clearly, this is how actions are choosen and resolved while playing SEED RPG. There are some foundational changes to this process because of how the game uses rules to inspire a story.

A usual rpg follows the TELL, CHOOSE, ROLL sequence. The player will TELL the GM what they want to accomplish, the GM will CHOOSE what rules are in effect and then the player will ROLL to find the outcome of the story.

SEED RPG changes this sequence to this, the player CHOOSES a game play option, ROLLS to find the outcome and TELLS a story that reflects the outcome of the action. For example take a look at the actions available during a fight on this card.

If it’s your turn you will usually have access to these four actions as well as actions provided by your items or traits. The name of each action is clearly displayed in the black bar, along with it’s action and die type (action type is the circle, die type is the square) . Under the black bar are the possible effects the action may provide.

Lets say it’s the start of a fight task. The GM’s character will act first and choose the “move it” action, he rolls the character’s dice indicated by the action (agility and sense) and his roll is successful enough to get the “Run away” effect, this gives him one point of advantage and the effect listed. after applying the efect he would tell the story of what happened, something like “The bounty head is relaxing in the crowded pavilion, as you approach he catches a glimpse of your rifle and can tell your on the hunt so he bolts, shoving his way into a crowd of people”

Now it’s your turn, the effect attached to “Run away” means the bounty head is immune to “close” action types (that’s what the funny symbol is for), so logical y actions like “hand to hand” have no effect against a target that is running away. You could choose to perform the “taunt” action, or try “moving it” yourself. But like I said you have a rifle.

You pick the aim and shoot option and your dice roll well enough to get the “frighten” effect. It’s 4 damage to the target’s advantage. You could then narrate your turn like this “I see him run into the crowd so I take out my rifle and fire a shot into the air and yell “get down or get shot people, we’re bounty hunters!” the pedestrians drop down, leaving a clear line for me to take a few shots in the bounty head’s direction. One knocks off his hat making causing him to hesitate and trip over a cowering pedestrian” This cycle of “choose, roll, tell” continues to build the scene, until one side loses their advantage points.

With “choose, roll, tell” the story is built around rules and effects. To accommodate this the rules do not try and model a particular time scale or realism, the rules are based around exciting character choices, and a system that models how stories are told. This is one way rules inspire a story with seed rpg.

Hug party,


What’s the plan?

Start this blog to talk about what I’m doing with 0 hunters & seed RPG.

I am going to Pax to playtest the game and hand out this postcard to promote

Near the end of September I will start a pre-order on that will last for two months.

By the end of these two months I will have produced over 40 pieces of artwork and be near to completing the game.

If the kick starter works I will make a production run of the game, if the kick starter fails I will use print on demand services to build up interest until I feel a production run is worth the risk.

Regardless by April of next year I will have finished copies of 0 hunters ready for sale at Sakura Con and will make it to as many anime and game conventions as I possibly can.

That’s the plan