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Year Zero Mini

Phone PDF

The preview has the full PDF of the dark phone PDF version if you would like to try before you buy.

UPDATE FEB 2023: YZM will be getting an update (planned in the second half of 2023) including a commissioned logo by Harry Boddice, some changes to the ruleset to reflect the past years of play and feedback, and some additional content. Once this update goes live, the cost will be going up to $4.00.


Like other rules-light games, Year Zero Mini (YZM) is designed to provide a light framework to allow you to quickly jump into your favourite setting. Where other rules-light games might emphasise action or heroics, YZM is a little more down to earth - telling stories of a more gritty and relatable nature.


Using the Year Zero Engine, this game uses a pool of standard six-sided dice, and success is measured by any 6s showing up in a roll. You won't find target numbers, complicated mechanics, or funky dice here. This game is designed to be as accessible as possible!


While YZM is best experienced in one-shots, convention games, or short campaigns (around a dozen sessions), it's also perfectly suitable for longer-term play, with characters advancing through failure.


YZM is inspired by a whole host of games. Whilst its core is based on the award-winning Tales From the Loop, it is also sprinkled with a little bit of Burning Wheel, Conan 2d20, Maze Rats, FATE Core, and Alas for the Awful Sea (an awesome PBTA game). This heady mix is then smoothed out to create an extremely light & story-driven framework.


Condensed down to only a half-dozen A4 pages (plus title page, character sheet, and OGL), YZM is a quick read, designed to help you hit the ground running! It is likewise free from large pieces of art and backgrounds, intended to be printed out. Inside you'll find:

• Page 1 covers character creation.
• Page 2 contains the core rules.
• Page 3 contains rules on conflict & chases.
• Page 4 contains GM advice.
• Page 5 contains adventure sparks.
• Page 6 contains advice on tweaking YZM to your setting.


YZM Sample Page


In addition to the 6 page PDF, two Phone PDFs are included, designed for seemless vertical scrolling on phones. One version is light and one dark. The PDF previews show the dark version.


Printable character sheets are included in A4 and Letter formats, and you'll also find a link to a Google Sheets character sheet for online play.

YZM Character Sheet


There are community groups for YZM on Discord, Facebook, and Reddit. You can find links for them on the title page of this document, plus a link to the website where you can find a newsletter signup.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (4)
Discussions (4)
Customer avatar
Shawn M December 04, 2021 4:47 am UTC
How much “gritty” is baked into the system? Could you dial it towards a heroic/pulp genre?
Customer avatar
Shawn M December 04, 2021 5:00 am UTC
I guess on second thought pretty much all of the YZE games have some grit baked into them so it is probably a bad idea to dial it away from that.
Customer avatar
Matt K December 04, 2021 9:05 pm UTC
While the engine is absolutely designed for gritty games, I've run games of Year Zero Mini with my 6 year old that are absolutely heroic (Star Wars and Mausritter hacks). It's actually not too hard to do with only a few changes (no penalties with trauma, quicker healing, more attributes for PCs, etc).
Customer avatar
Shawn M December 06, 2021 9:56 pm UTC
Thanks for the follow up!
Customer avatar
Lionel RUDLING T March 01, 2021 4:17 pm UTC
Good going Matt. Clearly written and flexible. The light/dark phone version is a nice touch. Plans to give an epub a try with some clever CSS?
Customer avatar
Matt K March 07, 2021 4:16 pm UTC
Hi Lionel, it's on my to-do list, yes, but probably some ways off as I'm a visual designer and not a programmer, so it's much easier for me to work with DTP programs than programming languages. But I would like to tackle it one day!
Customer avatar
Sean J February 28, 2021 5:21 pm UTC
Matt has put together an awesome rules set that you can run either as a pick up game, or something with a little more longevity. Simple, player facing dice pool system with consequences; this is not your swingy murder hobo system. It's setting neutral so you can import any genre you like. Actually running a Karl Edward Wagner's Kane story line in my game. Great product, and great support in the community. Buy it, love it, and encourage Matt to finish Year Zero Lite!
Customer avatar
Matt K March 01, 2021 12:30 am UTC
Thanks very much, Sean! Looking forward to hearing how the Kane game goes... ;)
Customer avatar
Jeff M February 24, 2021 10:27 pm UTC
Hello, what are the difference between this version and the free one ?
Customer avatar
Matt K February 24, 2021 10:32 pm UTC
Hi, in addition to everything from the free listing, this listing has 2 flavours of phone PDFs. And that's it - the free game has everything you need. Think of this listing as a way to donate and get a little something extra as a thank you.
Customer avatar
Jeff M February 25, 2021 4:59 am UTC
Awesome, thanks a lot.
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Product Information
Electrum seller
Rule System(s)
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on February 24, 2021.