• Wyrd Science

ZINE MONTH 2022 - PART 3

And we're back for week three of our Zine Month coverage with another selection of titles to check out from standalone RPGs set in supernatural submarines through to map making games, punk cosmic horror and a lot of solo games...


It's week three of Zine Month 2022 and we're back with another selection from the frankly mind boggling 173 titles currently listed on the Zine Month site (if you're in catch up mode you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here). As we've mentioned before one of the key goals of this campaign was to not just provide a platform for creators looking to publish their zines but also to help provide the tools they'd need to do it.


This week then we'd like to give a special mention to Goblin Archives, who has curated The Annotated Archive of Game Design Resources, an incredibly useful collection of tools, tips and tricks for anyone looking to get into game design and publishing. Covering everything from accessibility through to layout and design, print, publishing, marketing and more there's an abundance of incredibly useful information available here from some of the best names in indie games.


It's also worth keeping in mind that this Friday (17th Feb) is another Creator's Day on Itch.io, where the platform will be waiving their cut of all sales, so if any of the titles below funding there catch your eye keep that in mind (it'd also be a great day to pick up a magazine or two...).


Right, on to this week's tips...

 

CRUSH DEPTH APPARITION


That we know more about space than we do the dark abyssal depths of our oceans is one of those lines that gets trotted out fairly regularly and honestly is probably a load of old nonsense. Still it is fair to say that the inky blackness of the briney void is still a truly strange place, a stygian domain populated by weird alien creatures and haunted by the wrecks of ships. All in all it's a ripe location for a horror game.


Crush Depth Apparition then is a standalone game set on board an experimental submarine that is experiencing all kinds of paranormal problems, not least the fact that it seems to be exhibiting a strange determination to park its buns on the seabed whilst its interior has decided to ignore generally useful things like the laws of euclidian geometry.


Let's face it submarines are hardly the nicest place at the best of times but with the air running out, the pressure building and things getting increasingly weird this looks to be a nerve wrecking exercise in psychological horror, and what better way to spend an evening with friends is there than that?


Find it on... NERVES

 

FOR SMALL CREATURES


Full disclosure here, Anna Blackwell - creator of For Small Creatures - is one of our writers but seeing as I hired Anna because I was so impressed by her games, and because no one is paying me to do this so I can do what I want, I have zero problems saying you should definitely check out her new game.


Like Anna's previous titles, such as the very good Delve and Apothecaria, For Small Creatures is a solo game that just requires a deck of cards and journal to play, this time putting you in the captain's chair of a star-faring vessel.


Inspired by Becky Chambers' Wayfarers series, For Small Creatures is a game of exploration and discovery as you follow prompts to create your ship, alien crew and the strange fauna and flora of the alien planets that you visit and do you best to keep this intergalactic motley crew alive and happy.


Find it on... KICKSTARTER


 

13 HUNTERS


It's fair to say that whilst they might often occupy a somewhat morally grey area, bounty hunters do seem to have a special place in popular culture. Just look at Boba Fett, a character who despite speaking around five words in the original Star Wars films before firing himself face first down a Sarlacc's cakehole still managed to build up a sizeable personality cult.


13 Hunters then is a system neutral zine featuring, you guessed it, 13 different outlaw chasing bounty hunters, mercenaries and soldiers of fortune gathered from across the dimensions to drop into your games, whether sci-fi or fantasy.


With each hunter fully specced out with art, characteristics and back stories to bring them to life, they're lock, loaded and ready to be dropped into your games and be set to work, whether hunting alongside or more likely for your players...


Find it on... GAMEFOUND

 

THE ROYAL CARTOGRAPHER


It is a self evident truth that any book is improved by the addition of a map or two to pore over, something that to this day it baffles me that literary fiction hasn't figured out. Anyway, if looking at maps of strange and fabulous lands is a good way to waste an hour or two then actually making your own is Vince McMahon head rolled back levels of fun.


The Royal Cartographer then is a world building/mapmaking RPG that can either be played in a group of 2 to 4 people or in a solo mode, and comes in a fancy red envelope complete with rules book, selection of pre-drawn maps, by artists such as sometime Wyrd Science illustrator Dungeon Baker, and a set of stickers with which to populate said maps.


You can of course just draw your own but either way with dice and a deck of cards you'll be tasked with filling in the blanks, giving meaning to the land and ensuring your competing vision wins out when the Royal Cartographer arrives to compare notes and tidy things up.


Find it on... KICKSTARTER

 

NOW IS THE TIME


Set in Britain of the 2040's Now is the Time sees you play environmental activists in a world where magic has returned and society is edging ever closer to breakdown. Funnily enough a large part of me thinks that between being able to cast spells and the United Kingdom still existing in 20 years, it's the latter that seems most unbelievable...


Anyway, if you like the idea of playing militant druids fighting the man then this could be the game for you. With just how climate change is going to drastically shape the lives of everyone over the coming decades, I think it's fair to assume that we're going to see more and more games focussed on these themes in the coming years. Bleak but there we are.


Existential environmental horror aside Now Is The Time is powered by Rook & Decard's Resistance System, which considering how well regarded the likes of Spire and Heart are I'm baffled doesn't get seen more often. So there you go, a cool system and an interesting theme, check it out...


Find it on... ITCH

 

LONE EONS


You wait for ages for one ecologically themed RPG to come along and suddenly there's two in the space of minutes... Anyway I've had my eye on the rather tasty looking "solarpunk" RPG Lost Eons boxed set for a while but for now I'll have to make do with this slimmed down solo version that creator David Blandy has produced in time for Zine Month.


Developed by Blandy in partnership with the Cambridge Biomedical Campus community over the course of a series of workshops through lockdown, Lost Eons is set in a far-future, post-environmental collapse Cambridge, and looks at what both humanity and the world around us will look like as we start to claw back from the abyss (spoiler: quite possibly crabs).


Lone Eons then repurposes the game for solo play, and armed with just your journal, dice and cards you can set off on your own adventure to chart this posthuman landscape and encounter the strange inhabitants of this brave new world, and crabs.


Find it on... ITCH

 

NO FUTURE / PUNK'S NOT DEAD


Speaking of anti-establishment double bills, here's not one but two RPGs with a punk theme, think of it like a AA 7" riot of 3 chord fun.


First up we have No Future, a Lovecraft inspired zine for those who are tired of playing turn of the century antiquarians and instead what to get their tentacular fun on in the phlegm covered arse end of 70s Britain.


There's 2 issues available right now, each one featuring a scenario revolving around the punk scene designed for Cthulhu Dark, you can pick them up in a bundle for half price and help them fund a print run.


Find it on... ITCH


Punk's Not Dead meanwhile is a 3 stat, rules lite game of multiversal mayhem as you play punks, obviously, who must pull on their 10 hole DMs and travel across all space and time and save the world, or maybe just hang out in Camden and pose for photos with tourists.


Find it on... ITCH

 

PILGRIMAGE OF THE SUN GUARD


Another solo journaling game that has caught my eye is Amanda P.'s Pilgrimage of the Sun Guard.


Inspired by the tales of questing Arthurian knights this game will send you, notebook in hand, out from the safety of your castle into the wilds to do great deeds, face trials and stick to the path of your code before the snows set in and you must return home.


Of course like any knightly tale the perils on the road are as much to your virtue and honour as they are your physical well being, and you're as likely to be tempted by beautiful strangers as you are waylaid by ancient pagan gods of the woods.


The game is available to download right away, and hopefully it will do well enough for Amanda to consider a print run, as that cover would look absolutely gorgeous on thick uncoated stock.


Find it on... ITCH




 

THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS


This week's top tip for Mothership wardens is Tim Obermueller's The House Always Wins, a scenario that treads that well worn, if always fun, path of dumping your players into a corporate sponsored televised murder maze and watching them to scrabble to survive and just maybe win a glorious prize from their oligarchic overlords.


Throw in corporate intrigue as the show's sponsors all have their own agendas, handy cloning technology to ensure that a painful death is only a temporary release and the wholly unnecessary presence of, and I quote, an "acid-spitting spider-goat hybrid" and you have all you need for a good session or two's worth of bleakly satirical murder mayhem.


Find it on... ITCH








 

If you need more inspiration for new games to check out and play why not subscribe to our newsletter or download our first two issues for free from Itch.io and DriveThruRPG

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