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  • Writer's pictureWyrd Science


Stock up on torches and grab your ten foot pole, it's week 2 of our Zine Month coverage and this week there's a distinctly old school flavour to proceedings as we explore several strange new settings, discover wild new magics and probably get killed, a lot...

Art by Helkarava from Côme Martin's Feathered Adventures

And so we enter week two of Zine Month, the new initiative set up this year to both replace and go beyond Kickstarter's ZineQuest, opening up the month to projects across myriad different platforms and both digital as well as physical and also providing support, resources and help to those taking their first steps into the sometimes baffling, oftentimes expensive world of RPG publishing. If you missed it you can find our first round-up here, and all the games featured are, to the best of my knowledge still funding, so check them out as there's some interesting titles there.

With the latter in mind we want to once again give Tony Vasinda of Plus One Exp a mention as he continues to do the pantheon's work over on his YouTube channel, lots of great videos there that are worth checking out if you want to give publishing a zine a go and there's also some interesting chats and APs with some of the creators who are taking part in this year's inaugural ZiMo.

Right, on that note we'll get right on with the latest zines that have caught our eyes this week...



We're big fans of W.F. Smith's blog Prismatic Wasteland so we were excited to what he'd come up with here and it looks like that excitement is justified. Barkeep on the Borderlands that after years of hex- and point-crawls gives us the bar crawl we've all been crying out for.

A distant keep, an annual festival, a dying monarch and a mystery to solve with 20 different inns, taverns, watering holes and other such establishments to investigate marks this out as an inventive and ambitious project.

With multiple factions to get mixed up with and a constantly advancing timeline to deal with the players will need to keep their wits about them, not so easy when the game comes complete with it's own rules for drinking and getting drunk.

It's system neutral, though I'd say it probably leans more into the OSR vibe and alongside W.F.Smith features a roll call of the great and good from indie gaming, recognisable names such as Sam Mameli, L.F. OSR, Chris McDowall, Zedeck Siew and loads more, seriously this thing's credits go on for days. Well worth checking out...

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



Loot The Room's Chris Bissette is involved in two campaigns running at the moment, a fun looking zine that acts as a prequel of sorts for the occult murder mystery RPG Brindlewood Bay and the one we've chose to highlight here, their Mörk Borg zine, In The Bluelight. Chris has previous with Mork Borg, their sewer-crawl Treasures of the Troll King was, I think, released as part of last year's ZineQuest and one of our favourite releases from that campaign, whilst more recently they've been writing for the upcoming Cy_Borg RPG, so they know their way around a good misery.

They've also decided to fund this particular zine on their own website, which is a big part of the ethos behind ZiMo, encouraging people to develop funding approaches that are not reliant on large platforms and so more sustainable in the long time.

Anyway In The Bluelight takes us deep under the frosted wastes of Kergüs, into a glacial dungeon where treasure and death are both waiting for us with cold, open arms. Within these shifting ice caverns you'll find NPCs, weird encounters and maybe even an ancient artefact that may could stave off the ever encroaching doom that hangs over everyone in these cursed lands, though this being Mörk Borg I wouldn't hold out much hope.

Find it on... LOOT THE ROOM



Title of the week surely goes to Neo-Triassic Shoreline Regression Syndrome, a -and I quote- "system-agnostic solarpunk investigative survival horror TTRPG module" set in a future ruined London, it's glass spires the last signs of its former glory as they poke through the deep brackish waters that have consumed the land.

Written by Barney Dicker of the Loco Ludus podcast it looks like a deeply strange and compelling adventure, as the players much battle through the environmental devastation in search of their colleagues and battle psychic ills that threaten to overwhelm them.

Quatermass meets Extinction Rebellion with a hint of Jeff VandaMeer perhaps, anyway Barney is another creator looking to achieve escape velocity from Kickstarter's gravity well and has chosen to fund the print edition of this zine, complete wit removable dust jacket/GM screen and map, via their Ko-Fi page, so head over there now and see what you think.

Find it on... KO-FI



We tipped Cairn as one of the breakout systems of this year's ZiMo campaign and this week Dank Dungeon's Sea of Mur, designed for the system, caught our eye with its promise of wondrous magic and alien geography, as swashbuckling types venture from island to island in search of gold and glory. Yep, it's pirate time again, a state of affairs which we're never likely to turn our noses up at.

Within the zine you'll find an assortment of plundered riches from variant rules, backgrounds and tools and trinkets to properly trick out your buccaneers alongside treasure map, adventure, sailing and weather generators, a selection of suitably salty monsters to throw at the players and art from Alain Gruetter. So if you fancy playing as a Brine Shepard or aquatic goblin, with a stiff sea breeze in your face and grog on your breath then this could be just the thing you're looking for.

Find it on... ITCH.IO



Heading back over to Kickstarter we have Irish game designer The Lazy Litch's The Toxic Wood, a strange and spiteful sylvan setting for the brilliant Old School Essentials. Within its dark bowers you'll find mutated horrors, bloodthirsty red caps, insectoid witches and all other manner of dark and twisted creatures that have crawled, dripping in blood and sap, from the pages of folklore and fairytale alike.

Complete with new monsters to kill and be killed by, rules for surviving in this mordant landscape, NPCs, hooks and rumours for when your players want to engage in something other than melee, a hex map with 14 keyed locations to explore and a timeline to structure your sessions around.

All in all it looks like a fascinating setting, and a kind of dark mirror to OSE creator Gavin Norman's own, much loved, Dolmenwood setting, which will always be a good thing in our books.

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



Sticking with Old School Essentials issue 3 of Planar Compass is now up on Kickstarter which, of time of writing just 5 days left to run. If you've missed previous issues, and you're into OSE, then you need to fix that immediately and go check it out as having explored both dungeons, weird and wonderful, and the Astral Sea in issues 1 and 2 we now kick open the doors of perception and head off into the multiverse for some truly mind expanding adventures.

With a new, magical dimension to explore in the shape of Ordo - the plane of Law & Time, the zine includes new classes to try out, chronomantic spells to fling and monsters to fling them at, Planar Compass is fast establishing itself as one of the best resources out there for those that like their B/X style adventures to head off into even even weirder, more cosmic dimensions.

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



Another ongoing zine series for Old School Essentials that is steadily expanding the scope and scale of its world is Brewkessel, a serial numbers filed off Hogwarts set in a magical school which dissapeared off the face of the earth several decades ago and now has reappeared in a puff of smoke. Naturally this has attracted the attention of many an avaricious and curious adventurer and each issue of the zine provides several floors of the school to explore, rival parties to contend with and the ongoing mystery of what happened all those years ago to unravel.

I'll be honest I've never had much love for Harry Potter, even before Rowling's recent shenanigans. Working in a bookshop at the height of Pottermaina whilst letting several, now painfully expensive, first editions slip through your hands tends to sour one's outlook on these things. Still magical academies have a long and sometimes noble history from the devilish Scholomance through to the likes of Strixhaven so there's clearly demand for this kind of thing, and by all accounts this looks like a well designed setting for those looking to revisit their school days, just this time with the ability to launch fireballs at people, something that I'm sure most of us would agree would have improved our own school days no end.

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



Our final stop on the OSE train is the Axian Library from Italian creators Giuseppe Rotondo and Igor Piccirillo. Bringing together 4 zines, Wondrous Weavings Warped and Weird, Mysteriously Missing and Merrily Met, Notable Novices and Notorious Newcomers and Pious Prayers and Powerful Prodigies in one hardback book this is one for fans of both old style B/X adventuring and obviously alliteration.

From new magic systems based on Vancian stories, folklore and fairy tales, to a set of tools for explaining player absences or quickly establishing a new PC in a party (highly useful in games where death is never more than a poor saving throw away) and ways of beefing up the involvement of both wrathful and beneficent deities in your game this looks like another great grab bag of resources for your old school games.

Find it on... KICKSTARTER



One of the things ZineQuest has done over the past few years has been to stretch the dictionary definition of zine to breaking point, and it looks like ZiMo is carrying on that fine tradition, with Feathered Adventures, clocking in at a mighty 92 full colour pages looking for all the world like a pretty substantial book to us. Then again we still peddle the line that Wyrd Science is just a zine with delusions of grandeur so who are we to judge. Well, as it happens we're the owners of this site so judge we shall, and in the case we find the defendant guilt of producing something that we can't wait to get our hands on.

Created by game designer Côme Martin, Feathered Adventures is an incredibly, and indeed wonderfully French looking RPG with its own diceless system, the game can be played with or without a GM and puts you into the wings of a group of anthropomorphic avians enjoying their best bird lives and getting mixed up in all kinds of pulp adventures.

Alongside Côme the game's crew includes artists Alain Gruetter (see also Sea of Mur, above) and Helkarava, designer Nicolas Folliot (responsible for the brilliant Adventures on a Single Page, seriously go now and check these out), and writes/game designers and translators Vivien Féasson and Melville Tilh-Pluñvenn. Funding on Game On Tabletop, another platform looking to steal Kickstarter's crown the game will be available in both French and English and looks like all kinds of feathered fun.

Find it on... GAME ON TABLETOP



Matthew Morris AKA ManaRampMatt is no stranger to creating content for the frankly brilliant RPG Mausritter, with his Bernpyle zine essential reading for fans of swords & whiskers roleplaying. For this year's ZiMo he's looking to produce Lilliputian: Adventure on the Open Seas, which uses the system, if not the setting of everyone's favourite rodent based OSR adjacent game and rather than playing mice sees you exploring the high seas as small people in search of fun and adventure, new lands and strange horizons.

Full of rules for ocean hexcrawls, naval combat, shipbuilding and sea monsters to then wreck those ships there's a lot to love here, and when you see the names that Morris has press-ganged into service here including several Wyrd Science favourites such as Nate Treme, Gnarled Monster and Hairic just to name three, you'll know you're in for a good time.

If that's not all enough the zine also comes with the tools to convert your game of tiny seafarers into Skyship captains of tomorrow for use in Into The Odd and Electronic Bastionland, or grizzled peg legged pirates for Cairn. Wonderful stuff!

Find it on... ITCH.IO



Last but by no means least this week we have The Archon Ruins from Brazilian artist and games designer Gnarled Monster. We've long been fans of Alex and his boldly coloured art and when we commissioned a feature on the emerging RPGLATAM scene in issue 2 he was top of our list to illustrate it.

So anyway The Archon Ruins follows in the footsteps of his previous, and essential we should add, Beyond the Borderland zines as is a self-described system neutral 'micro-setting' complete with desert map, 6 isometric dungeons, illustrated bestiary, NPCs, magic items and a random generator of Potkins, no idea what that last thing is but it apparently deserved two exclamation marks, so we'll assume it's good.

Ah apparently they're living creatures made of clay in the shape of pots, obviously really. Anyway that should tell you pretty much all you need to know about both the tone and style of this setting. Alex is one of our favourite artists working in the RPG scene today with a fevered imagination to match his art style and we can't wait to see the finished version of this zine and explore its ruined civilisation and trove of arcane crystals in our games.

Find it on... ITCH.IO


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