State of the project

I figure if your nice enough to be paying me attention you deserve a little more information. 0 Hunters and Seed RPG are fantastic projects that are very close to my hart. I have worked on them as full time projects for quite a while and I am very happy with where they are today. The problem is I need to start earning money again and luckily enough I had some progress in that area last month with my successful kickstarter project, I still have much to do on re-launching but I am loving the work.

For the last month 0 Hunters has not been my full time project, and I doubt it will earn the whole of my attention for a few more months yet. But this is fine, everything I am doing now will help me tackle the shear beast that Seed RPG will hopefully become. I have learned so much about kickstarter and I am learning even more about how to manage the business end of creative projects.

Thank you for caring about this project and for your patience

Tyler Tinsley

Jamie Fristrom’s play test feedback

I got the chance to play 0 Hunters with Jamie Fristrom at PAX he is a fellow indie game designer and video game dev (check out his blog here

Also in the game was Artist Tod Wills who drew a picture of his character along with the creature stowed away on their ship. find his work at

Jamie was nice enough to send some feedback and I thought our conversation would be a fun thing to share, given that so few people have actually played the game maybe you can live vicariously through Jamie.


Hey Tyler,

I owe you some feedback – I enjoyed the game and Todd mentioned to me later that it was his favorite session that day.  The char-gen is great;  Danger Patrol cubed. It’s neat how you fit a fairly complex rpg (*8* stats! Buffs & debuffs! Burning wheelish duel-of-wits! Gear and character advancement!) all onto a deck of cards. It’s nice that a session plays quick (we were done in 2 hours, right?) – and the setting and tone were cool. The void blade, for example, is the sort of unique detail that really makes the setting pop – but I didn’t have the oppressive feeling that I get with Vampire or WH40K that there’s a ton of setting material I’m supposed to know. (Like Apocalypse World, it mostly felt up to us.)  It felt great to be able to say, “Oh yeah, these are sea-landing spaceships” or “I’ve got an aqua-suit” and to just go with that.
The personality keys (I forget what you called them) were also … key. For me, they were what really made it a role-playing game rather than a more mechanical story-generating parlor game – they made what we narrated in our scenes important.  Bickering over which faction we took a mission from was great too.
Some minor things you could tweak – instead of having to announce which key you’re hitting, make it honor system and anyone can grab a die when they feel they’ve hit a key. Generally that’s how I run Lady Blackbird – sort of honor system but everyone’s watching – and I’ve never seen it abused. And maybe increase the difficulty some, so we’re pushed to use up our resources and hit those keys a lot…
In one way it wasn’t really my cup of tea – and that was that everything felt on rails. Compare & contrast with Apocalypse World or Lady Blackbird, which are much freer “here’s a situation; what do you do.” Though I don’t know if you should change that. It feels like it is the game it wants to be. It’s probably better to finish this game and ship it then to revamp something that fundamental to it. (You know the metaphor of the pots? Actually, I need to follow that advice myself with That’s Drama.)
Great work!  Take care!
I replied
Hi Jamie,

Thanks! this is encouraging because you listed most of my goals.

This set’s included plot line is tightly structured as I kind of see bounty hunters as characters that are subject to their environment and circumstance, future sets may appeal more to you as they will have more self directed player characters and more open plot structures that play something like simple board games.
That said the game actually has off plot play built right into the system. scene cards have advice on when narration should trigger a scene type and then a menu of stakes that can be picked from to fit the situation, things like macguffins, money, and permanent stat changes. I guess it’s more of a traditional role play idea but it’s there if people want to venture off the plot line.
Hitting motivations (keys) has been honor system in the past, and it works. I think there is something different about it. Like the diffidence between repeating an affirmation to yourself and getting a compliment. Swapping is clunky for the first game when every one is learning the cards but once the cards have artwork and stands they will work as little signs clearly showing people what your trying to do.
Thanks for playing and for the feedback, lots of people have said they enjoyed playing but it’s nice to know why. I actually think these e-mails would be a cool thing to share on my blog are you ok with me posting them?
High Five,
Thanks to Jamie for letting me share this.

Play 0 hunters and other fantastic indie games at PAX room 306

Want to experience 0 hunters for yourself? Then come play it at PAX 2011 in room 306. i will be devoting most of satuday to playing indie games and demoing 0hunters, only steping out to watch the DnD acquisitions incorporated live performance.

also at the show i will have my first physically published board game and paper toy

They will be for sale at the GammaRay games booth 6112 on floor 6 of the convention hall. Quantities are limited!

genre development: RPGs are not different

According to some theorems It was not so long ago that the game of Go was a mystic pursuit. It’s board and pieces perhaps used as tools of divination, and from this ethereal realm developed one of the greatest abstract board games of human history. What did Go look like before it developed into the structure of a game? How did the activity travel between groups. How strange, unique and difficult was it for people to understand what a board game was. I ponder this now after understanding what RPGs are.

It was only a few years ago that I thought “RPGs are different” I had been making board & card games for years and just started the project that would become Seed RPG. At that time I felt rpgs were different then board or card games, a less structured play that required players to actively try and make it work and that it required talent to play a satisfying game. RPGS were not as rugged and broke more easily then board games, they were a swirl of ether, a practice that could only be learned through experience and that is why they struggled so hard compared to the success of board and card games. I was not wrong, RPG are those things I listed. However RPGS could develop into something else.

Boardgames have had millenniums to develop into the tightly structured form of play we know today. Who played mancala before there was a victory condition? When it was just a simple system to distribute seeds into holes, the pure joy of watching a systematic behavior iterate. That history is lost to us, it’s conjecture. We no longer remember how our forms of play developed.

If something happens during a board game a game designer can likely give you a reason, development methods are advanced If something goes wrong in a game we quite naturally blame the game. Not so for RPGS, RPG culture tends to blame the player. There are not games that allow min/max play, there are munchkins. There are not boring rpgs, there are bad game masters. I could go on and on. Every time you hear about a problematic type of RPG player you could just as easily turn the tables and blame the game.

This inability to blame the game speaks volumes to where RPG development is. Rpgs are where board games were so many thousands of years ago, a young genre of play. An informal activity waiting to be structured into a game. They are not special, they are not different, they are here and I’m going to work at advancing them.

Eat that cake!


I’m talking about RPGs over here for a bit

Vincent Baker is an Rpg Designer and has a nice blog. he collected a series he wrote a few years ago and i’m commenting on them. If you like to read comments about rpg theory with near impenetrable verbiage and concepts check it out.

Oh I highly encourage you to read the cloud and box series, it’s good stuff.

new interview at Mini Ent

Check out Mini Ent an entertainment blog for an interview with me talking about 0 hunters.   (fixed the link)

Scene framing and the “I want to” moment

An interesting difference in table top rpgs* and story games** is their accessibility. To be clear I don’t think either style is more accessible, but each one is accessible and inaccessible in different ways.

Continue reading

Diagrams! Easy as 1,2,3… 4

Diagrams are important, however they can be hard to make. This one has been through quite a few iterations.

Seed RPG has always had a diagram explaining the basic structure of an action, this is the latest. I’m quite happy with it, though it could use a little embellishment.

The Area Card: Setting information

Setting information in an rpg is a strange thing. If you have too much and desire to stick to it, setting can get in the way of story telling at the table. If you have too little the game becomes very demanding on player creativity. I think a game needs just enough to fire a player’s imagination. With that balance in mind I designed the “Area” card for seed rpg, take a look. (click for higher rez)

The front describes a general area, in this case a city. The back describes four individual locations in that area. Each location has two scene cues along with NPC profiles players may encounter there.

The descriptions are short and written to inspire the player’s actions. The scene cues help a game master think of appropriate challenges for the location and link to NPCs provided by the game. After the sessions at game storm last weekend I’m convinced these little cards have the perfect balance of information. Every group may start with the same quick descriptions but i’m sure each one will discover a unique world.

Setting information is not just limited to area cards the game also includes cards that cover entire planets or even whole galaxies, in this way setting information will scale, helping player’s tell stories as large or as small as they wish.

Play 0Hunters at gamestorm!

I am a guest at gamestorm and will be running two sessions of 0Hunters! Check out for details about the show.