Well, I guess I’m back again to bring a summary of the past week of activity on Kickstarter’s ZINEQUEST event. If you’re just catching up, that’s fine too – the first half of the month went by very quickly and there’s certainly been quite a bit of important upheaval elsewhere to focus on. To bring you up to speed: Zine Quest is a Kickstarter initiative to encourage RPG designers to create or collaborate on zines, small-format softcover books with a somewhat informal approach that has always been extremely fertile soil for the scene to produce amazing things. Each week, I am spotlighting those zines which I believe are of interest specifically to the dungeon-crawling old-school audience that I largely interact with. As always, I have marked my contributions for disclosure purposes.
Let’s take a look at what’s new:
NEW THIS PAST WEEK:
- Beneath the Canals – What, you didn’t think I’d start here? I’m the current stretch goal being unlocked! Of course I am going to put this one at the top! I wrote an entire article about it! But really, this project is really about pushing information density to its (fun) limits and making as much gameable info available to DMs as possible within very strict constraints. So many community folks over on Twitter ended up interested that it’s become a whole Kickstarter. Zedeck Siew (and maybe a few other surprises, too!) is also on the way as a stretch goal contributor, so this is not to be missed. It’s super cool and I am absolutely certain people who like underground catacombs rife with magic horrors will appreciate it. System-agnostic but very much designed with old-school games as the default assumption. Go back it for as little as a dollar – even I put $7 towards my own damn thing.
- Master of the Rogue Spire – Lemme hit you with this pitch: three booklets like the old Gygax white box, a complete RPG and setting built in, sweet black and white artwork that blends 1970s fantasy art and 1980s JRPG style, designed to play a lot like high-stakes old-school gaming, in an incredibly slick package – and a suite of digital VTT assets and tokens. This has to be one of the most put-together (but also, most expensive!) products of the month. Frankly, it barely counts as a zine and I think they know they’re pushing the line here because it’s absolutely a much bigger deal than that. But they’re funded already, so you can get in on this and unlock the few remaining stretch goals and have yourself what looks to be a pretty cool game! I have not yet backed this.
- The Isle of the Amazons – A setting zine for OSR games designed by BAMFsies Award winner Eric Bloat, as well as author Michele Lee. Most of the art is by Dan Smith, but some of the art is by James V. West, who I adore, and cartography is by Dyson Logos, who I adore. The project is based around – you guessed it – a dangerous island full of Amazons. The package includes seven new Amazon-based player classes for OSR games, a full description of the Amazon capital city and culture, and so on. The project is exclusive to Kickstarter and will supposedly never be released again. I have not backed this yet.
- Terror of the Stratosfiend – A sort of DOOM-like module for Dungeon Crawl Classics, this is a supplement designed to pit players armed with horrible living shotguns, satellite bombardment spellcasting, and laser chainsaws against portals spewing gigantic demonic aliens all over the surface of the world. It looks to have lovely art by 2-headed giant (that is a person, a pseudonym) and it appears to be going to Goodman Games for final approval shortly, with production otherwise already well underway. Glynn Seal, of the Midderlands, is doing the mapping LAYOUT (corrected 17 Feb 2019 @ 1602CST) for this project. I have backed this project at the $12 level.
STILL OPEN FROM LAST WEEK:
- The Lesser Key to the Celestial Legion – Donn Stroud, who you probably know as the genius behind the Dead Planet module for Mothership or possibly as the guy on the Drink Spin Run podcast, is also the mind behind this awesome DCC zine for clerics, religious orders, deities, and arcane spiritual secrets. I backed this at the $19 mark pretty much the same minute it went live. (edit: I looked, and I am shamefully backer #91 here. I’m sorry, Donn.)
- GMDK’s Demon Collective – Four horror adventures (suitable for OSR D&D if you like) written, illustrated, and edited by transgender and nonbinary creators including two of my favorite people in DIY RPG stuff right now, Fiona Maeve Geist and Mabel Harper. Mabel is a pretty big chunk of why I even decided to talk about RPG stuff on the internet; her Blog Full Of Demons is one of my favorite things on the internet and she says it’s gonna come out of hibernation soon. I am backer #4 on this, at the $12 level, so I literally backed this the minute it went live.
- Mothership: A Pound of Flesh – This campaign is for the new Mothership module by Sean McCoy, Chance Phillips, and Donn Stroud (alphabetically listed, sorry Donn). Mothership is one of the best things to come out of RPGs in the last few years. I have reviews coming, but in the meantime, don’t worry about it and just buy this so you can see what visual design should be like. I am backer #8 on this at the $21 level so you know exactly how I feel about it.
- TOME – This campaign is actually for two zines, and you can pick one, the other, or both. I sided with TOME because it seemed more immediately useful to me even though the other zine looks stunningly pretty. TOME has got a little bit of everything for fantasy D&D, including NPCs, magic items, worldbuilding roll tables, dungeon and overworld maps, etc. Can’t beat that; with some imagination it could be a campaign all by itself. I am backer #28, at the $15 level, on this one.
- Silver Swords RPG Fanzine – This one is a little out of the scope of the OSR, but it might be curious for some. Though it is covering 5E and Hero Kids – and, thanks to stretch goals, at least some OSR-compatible monsters – it is attempting to do so in the style of Alarums and Excursions and other old-school amateur zines that shaped the early landscape of RPGs. Possibly good for your nostalgia. I haven’t backed this one yet.
- The Grind – “A Wicked Dope Torchbearer RPG Zine” is a pretty great self-description from Mordite Press. The pledge levels are pretty steep – no cheap PDF option – but the quality and style look great. I haven’t backed this as I don’t play Torchbearer and I need that $10 minimum backing pledge for all the stuff I do play.
- What Happened At Wyvern Rock – This is wild. A zine about incorporating classic spacemen from distant stars (the Greys, for example) into your fantasy worlds. The author is hewing towards d20-ish system agnostic with tips and instructions for reskinning or other incorporation into whatever you play. Pretty cute. I have not backed this one yet.
- Patchwork World RPG Zine Set – Step into an alternate campaign for D&D based on Baroque-Romantic aesthetics. It’s a collection of several zines which combine into being a complete campaign setting, where the world has ended and broken apart (again, through the lens of a Baroque-Romantic folkloric fantasy story) and now is an amalgam of chunks combined together by a princess. It has an interesting outer-space-but-not vibe. I haven’t backed this one yet.
- A Rasp of Sand – This bills itself as a “roguelike tabletop RPG experience” and is based on Ben Milton’s OSR-adjacent Knave ruleset. As Knave is more-or-less compatible with OSR stuff without much tinkering, you can plug this into your preferred B/X clone or whatever it is you play without effort. It’s got a sizeable bestiary of 50+ monsters, several pregenerated rooms, numerous items, and rules for becoming a horrific sea mutant. Pretty neat! I backed this at the $5 PDF level.
- The Compleat Beastman – This author likes beastmen. A lot. This author is super stoked on centaurs, minotaurs, you name it. The first issue – purely about centaurs and their immediate cousins like the donkeytaur – is ready to go, according to the campaign text, and is looking for art funding. But why stop there? The author also gives us several stretch goals for additional issues. There is a long, very imaginative list of other beastmen that the zine may incorporate as it gets funded, which I encourage you to browse if only for the sheer inspiration of it. Constrictormen! Meroctopodes! Tapirtaurs! I have not backed this one yet.
- Harrowings from the Rime – This is attempting to be OSR-compatible (though they say they’re also including their own rules-lite system The Epic of Dreams) and focuses on arctic fantasy horror. It aims to include a bestiary of the arctic wastes, fiction, a boss monster/villain character, a treasure table of some kind, a hexmap survival scenario for OSR games, an ice labyrinth adventure borrowed from an unreleased space fantasy setting for OSR games, and a mummy’s keep adventure based on random tables for OSR games. They mention the OSR a lot in this campaign, alongside the words storytelling and drama and also their own rules-lite system, so it’s hard to figure out what’s-what, exactly. I have not backed this yet.
That’s about it for this week, everyone. I’ll be back again next weekend for the third installment, but hopefully this week’s very interesting new additions manage to get your attention until then – some big names involved in a few of this week’s new offerings!
PS: Back Beneath the Canals so I can do my secret project for it, okay?