Zine Quest: Week Three
So, I had this post ready to press go and I deleted the entire thing instead. I am livid. Anyway, let's try again, as fast as I can because I have real life stuff to do today!
This week's Zine Quest is going to be a little different. I am going to append ***BOLD FACE and asterisks to titles which have around a week (or less) remaining, meaning they will not appear in next week's final Zine Quest post. Any zine with that bold face type and leading trio of asterisks will be gone in under a week. Consider this your last chance to hop aboard those Kickstarter campaigns! I highly, highly recommend double-checking each of those campaigns and making sure you're a backer if you had possible interest earlier. Additionally, I will continue to identify which projects I've backed for transparency and disclosure purposes. I'm not sure how it's important but maybe it is to someone out there and I've come this far with it, so we may as well keep going that way.
Okay, on with the list of zines I think OSR nerds would potentially want:
NEW THIS WEEK
- The Old World Zine - A mostly system-agnostic zine built around playing in the sort of "grim and perilous" worlds of WHFRP 1e, Zweihander, and also playing in those worlds using PbtA. A little borderline for this list, but there's a significant crossover of WHFRP/Zweihander nerds with OSR nerds, so here we are.
- Strange New World Gazetteer - Billing itself as "weird colonial roleplaying", this is an OSR framework for a bizarro version of 1600s-1700s America where witches are real, strange monsters lurk in the endless dark woods, and gouts of hellfire burst up through seams in the earth itself. The creators state this is strictly OSR and compatible with S&W, BECMI, B/X, and AD&D - but, unsurprisingly for this sort of era and content, their home system is LotFP. Tons of content look to be included: new world witchcraft, monster hunters, weird Appalachia, new races, you name it. I backed this one at the $5 mark initially, but upgraded to the $10 mark later.
- Desert Dwellers - Does what it says on the tin: a small, inexpensive desert monster bestiary for OSR games. Comes with S&W statblocks. For every $100 above its very modest funding goal, this Kickstarter will add a new monster. There is only one reward tier. I backed this.
- Ghostlike Crime - This is a strange one. It's for DCC, but takes place in a modern dystopia full of cryptids and weird paranormal technology. Not your average DCC! I'm not sure how I missed this before, but I did. My bad. It's here now!
- For Glory #1: The Hexanomicon - A zine to generate a hexcrawl for DCC. This is a big one. I was immediately taken in by the stickers (you use stickers on a blank hex map to generate the finished hex map) and I love the depth of the generators. This creates zones, hex contents, even monsters! It's got a breadth of generation tables to keep things interesting. I backed this at the $18 level because I want those stickers.
- Temple of the Blood Moth - An OSR dungeoncrawl zine. This has it all: mutants, blood-fueled machinery, evil cults, dead gods, new monsters, and of course a 31-room dungeon spread across four areas. Simple, classic content. Weird, dark art. I backed this immediately at the $8 print level.
- The Bridge of the Damned - A Torchbearer zine that I, again, shamefully missed previously. It isn't tied to Zine Quest and it doesnt show up under searches for OSR Zine or RPG Zine, so, good job Kickstarter. I did stumble upon it anyway. This provides a setting toolkit/complete module in zine format for Torchbearer, and is run by Luke Crane and a popular Torchbearer blogger/content creator with a number of credits under his belt.
RETURNING FROM PAST WEEKS:
- Beneath the Canals - What, you didn't think I'd start here?
I'm the current stretch goal being unlocked!Backers unlocked my contribution on my birthday, and the one after me just a few days later. We're now most of the way to a living dungeon crawl by Zedeck Siew! I am unbelievably hype for that. If you're wondering what it's all about, I wrote an entire article about it! 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. Fiona Maeve Geist was recently announced as the $2000 stretch goal; we're over half way to her and it's very much within sight. It's a super cool project 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
mappingLAYOUT (corrected 17 Feb 2019 @ 1602CST) for this project. I have backed this project at the $12 level.
- ***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.
Okay. There. I rewrote the damn blog post and redid all the links and the text formatting and so on. That was deeply unfortunate. I apologize sincerely for the delay. I'll see you next week for the final Zine Quest installment, and I'll make sure I do not delete the post when I go to publish it!