Jonathan Tweet

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Jonathan Tweet
Jonathan Tweet.jpg
Jonathan Tweet at his home in Seattle, Washington - 2015
Born 1965-1966
Rock Island, Illinois
Alma mater St. Olaf College
Occupation Writer
Known for game designer, author, blogger
Children Tessa Tweet
Parent(s) Roald Tweet, Margaret Tweet
recorded in July 2015

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Jonathan Tweet is an American game designer from Rock Island, Illinois who has been involved in the development of the role-playing games Ars Magica, Everway, Over the Edge, Talislanta, the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons and 13th Age, as well as the Collectible Miniatures Game Dreamblade. In 2015 Tweet released Grandmother Fish a full-color, full-sized book about Evolution aimed at pre-schoolers.

Early life[edit]

Native to Rock Island, Illinois, Tweet is the son of Roald Tweet, Augustana College professor emeritus and a popular local historian,[1] and Margaret Tweet.[2] Jonathan Tweet started playing D&D in the 1970s, when his father gave him his first Dungeons & Dragons game. He briefly played with a group of college students, although he says, "but the DM killed me off... because he didn't want a twelve-year-old in his group". Tweet then formed his own gaming group by recruiting classmates.[3] Tweet graduated from Rock Island High School class valedictorian in 1983. He majored in psychology and sociology at his parents' alma mater, St. Olaf College in Minnesota.[1]


Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein-Hagen founded Lion Rampant in 1987, while students at St. Olaf College where they also met Lisa Stevens who later joined the company.[4]:232 His article "Egyptian Magic for Call of Cthulhu” appeared in Different Worlds #47 (Fall 1987), the magazine's final issue.[4]:84 In 1987, Tweet and Rein•Hagen designed the game Ars Magica, a game centered around wizards in the Middle Ages.[3][4]:232–233 Tweet left Lion Rampant and the RPG industry in 1989 to start a new career.[4]:234 Tweet wrote Festival of the Damned (1991), an adventure published by Atlas Games for Ars Magica.[4]:252 Tweet continued to run a game for a group in Rock Island, Illinois, and wrote about the game "Al Amarja" in Alarums and Excursions; when John Nephew saw these A&E articles he wanted to publish the game, and the result was Over the Edge (1992), the first original game from Atlas Games.[4]:253 His design on Over the Edge notably involved free-form rules and a subjective approach.[3] Lisa Stevens suggested that Tweet revise the Talislanta rules for Wizards of the Coast and write its first new adventure; this resulted in a revision of the Talislanta Guidebook (1992), which was soon followed by his adventure The Scent of the Beast (1992).[4]:277 Tweet wrote the adventure Apocalypse (1993) for Mayfair Games' Role Aids line.[4]:169 Nephew and Tweet also designed On the Edge (1994), a collectible card game based on Over the Edge.[4]:253 Tweet became a full-time employee of Wizards of the Coast in June 1994, and heralded in new lines from Wizards, the first of which was Ars Magica, recently acquired at Tweet's suggestion.[4]:279 Tweet designed Everway, which was first published by Wizards of the Coast in 1995.[4]:254, 280 After Wizards of the Coast moved away from role-playing games, Tweet worked on Portal, a Magic: The Gathering set designed to help new players learn the game.

Tweet was lead designer on the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons.[4]:286[5] Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams all contributed to the 3rd edition Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual, and then each designer wrote one of the books based on those contributions.[6] Tweet oversaw the team designing the Chainmail Miniatures Game, while Skaff Elias did the main design work and Chris Pramas designed the world.[4]:289 Tweet became the head of the miniatures group, and the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game (2003) was primarily the work of Tweet, Rob Heinsoo, and Skaff Elias.[4]:292 On December 2, 2008 Tweet was laid off from Wizards of the Coast.[7][8]

13th Age a d20 System RPG, designed by Heinsoo and Tweet was published by Pelgrane Press on August 3, 2013.[9] The pre-release version was a nominee for the RPG Geek RPG of the Year 2013.[10]

Grandmother Fish[edit]

Inspired by his adult daughter, Tessa,[1] Tweet in June 2014 announced plans on Kickstarter to publish the first evolution book aimed at pre-schoolers. In an interview with Derek Colanduno on the Skepticality podcast he stated, "Creationists have all sorts of books about Adam and Eve... creation makes perfects sense to a pre-schooler". He felt that it is time for parents to have a resource that teaches evolution to the very young. After talking to science educators he decided that an interactive, rhythmic approach was best to involve the child. Children can "wiggle like a fish - hoot like a ape ...[it] makes [learning about] evolution personal".[11] The majority of the book is full-colored illustrations and text, the last few pages of the book has "hard science" aimed at adults who will be better able to give context to the story.[12]

The Kickstarter campaign initially asked for $12,000 to publish the book as a hard-cover and ended up fully funded with $36,500 in July 2014. Science educator Greg Laden was one of the people Tweet reached out to make sure his science was sound. Laden states, "I had a comment or two, but really, he already had his ducks in a row and the book, with the notes, was in good shape. It had evolved, as a project ... I recommend the book, strongly."[13] The anti-evolution website Answers in Genesis calls its text and illustrations "engaging" and stated, "I’m sure this book will find its way into many ...libraries." They suggest sending creationist books to libraries instead, they have "vast resources for children" to choose from.[14] Science podcaster Fraser Cain writes that Tweet's book "makes evolution adorable."[15] Daniel Dennett[16] and Hemant Mehta[17] have come out in support for the book. Eric Meikle from the National Center for Science Education states "How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!".[18] Tweet explains to interviewer Colanduno, "Naturally we had to simplify it, but there is a lot of good science in there".[11] The book follows the lineage "of a fish, a reptile, a mammal, an ape, and a human" he hopes this will help with the common misconception that "all living things led to humans ... Evolution is going in a million directions at once, and we're just one of them."[1]

Religious views[edit]

An atheist since grade school,[19] Tweet has devoted much of his personal website to his views on religion,[20][21] in particular on the historical Jesus.[22] He also blogs about religion on the Atheist Sunday School blog.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Tweet and his wife Tracy moved to Seattle, Washington in 1994. Tracy died from multiple sclerosis in 2008.[1] He continues to live in the Seattle area with his daughter.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d e Turner, Jonathan (June 28, 2014). "RI native raising money for kids' book on evolution". QConline. 
  2. ^ Tweet, Margaret. "Margaret Tweet Birthday". QConline. 
  3. ^ a b c Kenson, Stephen (August 2000). "ProFiles: Jonathan Tweet". Dragon (Renton, Washington: Wizards of the Coast) (#274): 10, 12, 14. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  5. ^ "Wizards of the Coast: Player’s Handbook Exclusive Preview!". 
  6. ^ "Profiles: Monte Cook". Dragon (Renton, Washington: Wizards of the Coast) (#275): 10, 12, 14. September 2000. 
  7. ^ "The Wizards Community". The Wizards Community. 
  8. ^ "The Wizards Community". The Wizards Community. 
  9. ^ "Pelgrane Press Ltd  » Blog Archive  » Through the Scrying Glass: 13th Age Released". Pelgrane Press Ltd. 
  10. ^ "13th Age". 
  11. ^ a b Colanduno, Derek. "Evolution: Pre-School to High School". Skepticality. The Skeptic Society. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Tweet, Jonathan. "Grandmother Fish ● The Kickstarter Video". Vimeo. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  13. ^ Laden, Greg. "Evolution Book For Young Children: Grandmother Fish". Science Blogs. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Is Your Grandmother a Fish?". Answers in Genesis. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  15. ^ Cain, Fraser. "Grandmother Fish - An Evolution Book for Preschoolers". Google. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  16. ^ Daniel, Dennett. "Tweet about Grandmother Fish". Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  17. ^ Mehta, Hemant. "Grandmother Fish: A Book to Teach Evolution to Preschoolers". Patheos. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  18. ^ Meikle, Eric. "Granny, What a Big Extended Family You Have!". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  19. ^ Tweet, Jonathan. "Hell and Sunday School". Jonathan Tweet's Personal Blog. Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  20. ^ Tweet, Jonathan. " Religion Hub". Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  21. ^ Tweet, Jonathan. " figment hub". Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  22. ^ Tweet, Jonathan. "Jesus Mortal". Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  23. ^ Tweet, Jonathan. "Atheist Sunday School". Retrieved July 12, 2015. 
  24. ^ Hell and Sunday School December 2006

External links[edit]