ZINEQUEST 4 - WEEK 3
And we're into the back half of this year's ZineQuest campaign with nine new campaigns for you that we think are worth bleeding out in a derelict spaceship for (perhaps)...
Well after a quiet first two weeks things have definitely started picking up and this week we have a bumper crop of zines for you to check out that run from the cheerful & cheerfully odd, right through to the bleakly terrifying and then back again. Games, eh!
ACTION FIGURE RESCUE SQUAD
Ok, fair warning the middle section of this week's round up is a little heavy on the death, horror and bleakness of both our present reality and the grim dark future ahead of us, so we thought we'd start with a couple of campaigns that offer up something a little more light hearted, and first up to the plate is Joel Salda's Action Figure Rescue Squad.
Yes, it's Toy Story the RPG, as you must form a team of up to 6 plastic PCs and head out into the world to rescue any of your owner's toys that have gone missing, broken down or otherwise got themselves into bother. Basically this looks like it ws an excuse for Salda to go to town researching and recreating a load of classic toy packaging and seeing as I just spent half an hour debating whether or not to buy an 1980s Castle Grayskull on eBay who are we to judge.
Originally designed to play with milk caps/pogs the zine now has a simple D12 mechanic too, comes complete with all manner of tables to generate adventures and encounters for our pint sized heroes to overcome and honestly just looks like lots of fun for children of all ages.
So, we all likes mechs right. But, and hear me out, what if instead of grizzled veterans of interstellar wars they were instead piloted by goldfish? Well if that description has you thrusting a wedge of bank notes at the screen then you're in luck as that is 100% the premise of new RPG GunPlaya.
Published by Red Oak Creative and using their own SpiralsRPG system (try that now for free here), GunPlaya sees you form a team of eco-freedom fighters / goldfish who are fighting back against fresh water thieving, evil scientist The Mantopus.
Did I ever imagine that I would trade in my day job to spend my life writing sentences like that? No, no I did not.
Anyway, you can only respect such ridiculousness and so we suggest that you go check it out for yourselves, if only to witness what I can only describe as a worryingly penis shaped pirate fish. No, really.
Something that often confuses people is why scam emails are always so badly written. Full of typos, ludicrous assertions and weird ugly formatting. The truth is that they're often made that way on purpose, the idea being it filters out anyone with any common sense. The more obvious and ridiculous a scam seems, the more that it will only tempt the ideal marks, the truly greedy, stupid or desperate.
So, anyway that neatly segues us onto NFTs, or at least Fungiable, a new solo game from Thom Owen that makes use of the Wretched & Alone system to explore themes of gambling, addiction, poverty and just what people will convince themselves to do when their backs are right up against it.
If that all sounds a bit bleak, well then yes it almost certainly is, but it can't all be goldfish riding around in massive robots y'know, and the game looks laced with black humour as it takes its satiric aim at the horror/absurdity of Crypto and the world we've built for ourselves (or had thrust upon us).
THIS SHIP IS A TOMB
Sci-Fi horror RPG Mothership always gets a good outing during ZineQuest and catching our eye this week is James Hanna's This Ship Is A Tomb. Set on board a mercurial and malevolent space hulk, the Advent Dawn, this zine will allow wardens to create an ever changing labyrinth drifting through the merciless void, hungry for fresh fools to consume.
Across its 72 pages you'll get over 20 locations to explore, an equal number of creatures to run away from, rules for generating the interior of the derelict craft on the fly, gorgeous if macabre illustrations by Dane Gaydosh, all kinds of fancy tables to roll on and of course "a sense of foreboding and danger that never quite leaves".
That last one just sounds like most of the last decade to be honest but, hey, at least in RPGs there's always the slim chance that things might get better.
Anyway back it now to pick up all kinds of Kickstarter exclusives like a poster and what seems to be fast becoming a Mothership zine staple, the essential iron-on crew patch.
ONE BREATH LEFT
Honestly if I was scrabbling around, trying to make a living in some miserable space bound future I think I would simply not go exploring derelict space ships, no good ever comes of it. Still, that horrifyingly familiar scenario is what we once again find ourselves stuck with in solo journaling game One Breath Left from debutant game designer Ian Howard.
Create your explorer from a series of prompts, pick a contract and then it's time to suit up and explore an abandoned spaceship that you generate randomly fresh each game from a deck of 'navigation' cards.
Once on board your spaceship/eternal resting place you have to be quick, find what you need and get out of there sharpish as your oxygen supply is limited and likely to be depleted even faster in the event of encountering something awful, which let's face it you're almost certainly going to. All in all it looks like another winner from the currently on fire Stout Stoat Press.
Now, these guys have the right idea. If you're going to live in a rundown future taking contracts from unscrupulous authorities, why see out your final moments in a shit filled spacesuit being chased through hell tainted spaceships when you could have a cool helmet, a cooler spaceship and earn a crust ethering fools that've pissed off space slugs instead?
Anyway, Notorious is another solo RPG, this time from Southampton based game designer Jason Price and no prizes if you guessed Star Wars is the touchstone here. The galaxy's at war but rather than get involved in all that you're out to make a quick buck while everyone else is busy overthrowing evil space empires, so put on that cool helmet and chase down your quarry to some backwater planet and bring them back dead or alive, whilst dealing with all the complications the universe has to throw in your way.
Inspired by Tiago Junges' Ronin and with some lovely art by Torben Bökemeyer this looks like it will make a handsome addition to any zine collection.
TALES FROM THE VOID
Tales From The Void is a trio of adventures (Evlyn Moreau's His Arrival Was Foretold, Zach Hazard Vaupen's The Chair and Matthew Morris's The Spirits in The Firs) inspired by the works of famed horror mangaka Junjo Ito.
Presented as trifold -digital- pamphlets, all three adventures have been written for the Liminal Horror RPG, a rules-lite system derived from games like Cairn and Into The Odd and designed for playing modern horror games where the weird, eldritch and paranormal extends, uninvited, into our reality with generally less than happy results.
From strange forbidding cat graffiti that appears to be influencing the local kids, to Lovecraftian folklore and an encounter with some Cronenberg'esque furniture -that I'm sorry would be going straight on eBay if it came into my possession- there's a good mix of weird, unsettling paranormal activity to get stuck into here and should be more than enough for at least a good few fright filled evenings.
THE BALLAD OF MYRTLEWOOD FISHERMAUS
Not content with one entry in this week's roundup Matthew Morris is back with a second, The Ballad of Myrtlewood Fishermaus, an encounter for Wyrd Science favourite, Mausritter. As the creator of the excellent Mausritter zine Bernpyle and a frankly mind boggling amount of other great content for the system Morris has plenty of form when it comes to the world of sword-and-whiskers roleplaying, so it's fair to say that we're in safe paws here.
Anyway after all that space horror this is a much needed change of pace, so gently float downstream for what's billed as a purely social encounter in the company of eccentric, retired adventurer Myrtlewood Fishermaus, a chance for rodent rogues to build new connections and hopefully not MEET THEIR DOOM, sorry it can't be entirely peaceful, can it?
THE TAMING OF THE SLUGIRAFFE
Ok, let's end this with Taming of the Slugiraffe, a solo RPG where you play as a small, insignificant background fantasy creature (@ me next time you cowards).
After years of benign mistreatment you have decided, like some bizarro world bank holiday dad, to go on a quest deep into THE PIT to find and, you guessed it, tame the legendary eponymous beast.
Based on Nate Treme's very fun and incredibly simple Tunnel Goons system, this is, according to the designers, "a bit like Dark Souls if you were playing as a Pikachu trying to catch a Snorlax." Which, obviously, sold us on it instantly.