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  • Writer's pictureWyrd Science


With ZineQuest postponed until later in the year the new platform agnostic ZineMonth has stepped into the breach with dozens of new and veteran game designers taking part and throughout February we'll be spotlighting just a few of the titles that have caught our eye...

Whilst it's fair to say that linear time stopped making sense a while ago my computer seems fairly sure it's February which, in the world of RPGs at least, would normally mean ZineQuest. Unfortunately, as the eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed, ZineQuest is not in fact happening right now.

Adding to the crowdfunding behemoth's recent bad behaviour (anti-Union shenanigans, teasing in a ridiculously unhelpful way that they were hopping on board the grift train that is blockchain, the tone deaf response to said announcement, etc etc) Kickstarter announced, with just a couple of week's notice, that 2022's ZineQuest would now take place in August instead.

Whilst there's definitely a long overdue conversation to be had about the indie game community's dependence on Kickstarter and the need to diversify the platforms people rely upon and build more sustainable practices, it's fair to say that having the rug pulled with just a couple of week's notice was a less than ideal way of starting it. Still the indie game community are a resourceful bunch and with no official ZineQuest banner to rally around, a more inclusive ZineMonth has blossomed in its absence.

Organised by Feral Indie Studios, ZineMonth has set out to not only be a much needed focus point for RPG creators, whether they're funding print or digital editions of their zines, but also provide more than just promotional support, encouraging people to share their experience and knowledge to help designers produce and promote their publications (the ZIMO tutorial videos by Tony from Plus One XP for example are essential viewing).

Importantly Zine Month is also platform agnostic and is open to creators working on a wide host of platforms from Itch, Patreon, IndieGoGo, their own sites to, for this year at least, Kickstarter. It would certainly be quite something if one of Kickstarter's stated goals in embracing blockchain technology, to decentralise crowdfunding, was accelerated by them encouraging people to explore other platforms.

Still this shift will take time, as this informative thread shows Kickstarter remains the number one place for those looking to raise money and so whilst we delayed and have, for now, abandoned plans to fund Wyrd Science 3 through the site we can't blame those who, for now, are sticking with what still remains the number one crowdfunding site around.

Anyway with well over a hundred titles already featured in the site, and more launching up every day, the inaugural ZineMonth is off to a great start and throughout February we'll be spotlighting just a few of the titles that have caught our eye, starting with these...



Seeing as he's one of the driving figures behind ZineMonth it's only fair to kick off our round up with Charles Ferguson-Avery's As The Gods Demand, a system agnostic zine that aims to put a little more spiritual meat on the bones of deity-mortal relationships in your games.

Including a new level-less magic system to plug in to your system of choice, an eight fold pantheon to explore along with a set of heavenly creatures to encounter, rules for entering the afterlife and a path way to godhood itself, this looks like just the thing to make gods seem more like the terrifyingly omnipotent beings they should be rather than a kind of spiritual HR department.

Find it on... ITCH.IO



One of the interesting bonuses of ZineQuest has always been seeing the popularity of different systems rise and fall, at least with game designers. It would take a brave person to bet against Mork Borg & Mothership holding their position at the top of the tree this year but I would not be at all surprised to see Yochai Gal's Cairn (or at least derivatives of it) make a pretty decent run at it either.

Technically Evlyn Moreau's The Potato King is for the Liminal Horror system but as that's a hack of Cairn (which if we're getting into it is a kind of mash up of Into The Odd and Knave and so on and so on, cue Xzibit meme) we're counting it and almost certainly backing it too, as who doesn't like, and I quote, "the grotesque story of an elder god being fried and served to the people of a small town through the greasy fast food stand of the Potato King".

Aren't games great...

Find it on... ITCH.IO



As mentioned you should expect to see a lot of Mörk Borg and Mothership titles show up this year. With their generous open licenses both games have fostered vibrant communities around them showing a way forward for small studios with limited resources to keep their games in the public eye as the core team focus on larger projects.

Thousand Empty Light by Alfred Valley looks set to be one of the bigger titles this month, tapping into both the ever hungry crowd for Mothership adventures and also the increasingly popularity of solo RPGs, it just helps that it also looks brilliant.

Descend beneath the watery surface of an alien planet in the pay of an amoral corporation in this experimental approach to game design that looks set to be as much immersive art project as game with the entire zine presented as 'in-universe' texts and documents.

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



Sticking with Mothership, The Bloodfields At Blackstar Station by Christian Sorrell, is a "battle royale hexcrawl and black market space station setting" with 19 unique sectors in which to fight to the death, or perhaps ally with though lets be honest more likely fight to the death, 19 other unwilling contestants in this futuristic blood sport.

It's a great concept that can be easily folded into any existing campaign and will no doubt also be great practice for the years to come when this kind of thing becomes Just part and parcel of our day to day life.

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



Now as anyone who has read our second issue should know we're big fans of Kevin Rahman's Forbidden Psalm. A highlight of last year's ZineQuest, Forbidden Psalm combined everyone's favourite Swedish blackened art-punk RPG with the wonderful world of miniature wargames to gory effect.

The Last War looks to build upon that updating the setting to a kind of somehow-even-more-apocalyptic Great War with all the industrial horrors of war that the 20th century unleashed, just made even worse by the existence of foul and pestilent magics and supernatural horrors.

Incidentally, unrelated to this campaign though perhaps nudged by the success of Forbidden Psalm, the Mörk Borg team have also just announced a partnership with Westfalia Miniatures for a range of 32mm scale models based on the game, so the indie wargames revolution continues apace!

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



Another title that's caught our eye in the Mörk Borg corner is Roland Boshnack's Mech Borg, which you will hopefully not be too surprised to discover adds giant suits of power armoured doom to everyone's favourite game of medieval fantasy misery.

Why beat scvm to death with a broken femur when you can pop their skulls like watermelons in your big metal fists (or what, disturbingly, looks like some kind of industrial powercock in one picture) in a combat arena and take on Kaiju sized mechs?

That's a rhetorical question of course

Find it on... ITCH.IO



Right, if all that Mörk Borging understandably sounds just a bit too bleak then point your browser toward Gem Room Games 9 Lives to Valhalla, in which you play death metal viking cats doing what after sleeping cats do best, waging merciless war on the world.

The aim of the game is simple enough, spread carnage across the land and earn your way into Valhalla with the blood and skulls of worthy enemies, from rival viking cats and dog sorcerers to mouse knights.

Gem Room Games caught my attention last year with the brilliant Dukk Börg and this follow up, with its own unique system, looks set to carry on in that madcap, high octane manner, so definitely check this one out...

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



One of ZineQuest's original goals was to encourage more game designers to publish their first titles and it's good to see lots of new names appearing this month. One name that is new to me this year is Raphael Falk whose Lucid Sea of Dreams is a standalone game "inspired by dreams, nightmares, Jewish folklore."

Adventuring in the dreamlands has long been a staple of both fantasy gaming and literature and Falk's zine features 8 locations with the 'sea of dreams' to explore along with a selection of beings native to this land, plus tools for creating characters and encounters, a scenario to get you going and tips for switching your game between the waking and dream worlds.

We love the concept here, especially the exploration of Jewish folklore, something we don't see enough of in games, and the art by Doan Trang is great, so back this so we get more of it!

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



From Conan and He-Man to the guy who plays the saxophone at the beginning of The Lost Boys, we all love a big hearted himbo, their mighty thews glistening with an oily sheen as they conquer all and save the day (or you know, play a mean solo).

Well rejoice for at long last we have a high camp, OSR adjacent RPG entirely dedicated to playing big and beefy battlers of all genders, shapes and sizes in the well developed shape of Max Lander's Himbos of Myth & Mettle.

Whether you started life as a simple, rough hewn farmhand or sprung fully formed from the swole thighs of a god Himbos of Myth & Mettle has everything you need to head out into the wide world and embrace your destiny as a handsome, if perhaps somewhat simple minded, hero and set out to put the world to rights one flex of the arm at a time.

Just don't skip leg day...

Find it on... ITCH.IO



Taking a slightly different approach to crowdfunding is Jim Hall of Booklet Games who is raising money for a his game, Vortex Isles, via Patreon. Designed with D&D and Cairn in mind, Vortex Isles is pirate filled swashbuckling point-crawl, a series of lawless islands trapped within the vortex of a giant abyssal whirlpool within which lies the plundered booty of the legendary Captain Lolligo.

I'm always slightly amazed that more adventures don't revolve around piratical shenanigans, perhaps the cloying noughties success of Pirates of the Caribbean has

somewhat dampened our collective enthusiasm for the genre.

Still hopefully that's all set to change and along with the setting, the zine comes complete with suitably buccaneering encounters, pirate creation tables and magical booty, everything you might need to start shivering those timbers.

Find it on... PATREON



Finally for this week we have Kyle Tam's Moriah, a stand-alone game in which the players must take on the role of villagers who live at the foot of a holy mountain and must scale its heights to appease their gods, prove their worth and maybe even join their ranks.

On the way you'll be set tasks and forced to make sacrifices, perhaps part of yourself, perhaps those with you and is at heart a game of simple mechanics and difficult ethical decisions.

Of all the titles this week this is the one that I have the least idea of how it might actually play at the table and feels like a genuinely novel, if somewhat melancholy, concept. Definitely worth keeping an eye on if you're up for trying something a little different, which after all was always one of the main attractions for me of the original ZineQuest.

Find it on... ITCH.IO


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