ZineQuest 2 games are dropping next month and if you don’t know what that means, you’re in luck because it’s time for a history lesson!

What? No…

Too late!

What In Sam Heck Is A Zine?

Domesday Book 10 Zine from back in the olden days.
You can almost taste the toner!

A zine (/ziːn/ ZEEN; short for magazine or fanzine) is a small-circulation self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier.

In the 1970s, these where how people made and shared their own RPG content. These forty page or so fanzines had things like comics, articles, even campaigns. They then mailed them to each other. Just think how lucky we are now to have things like DMsguild, DriveThruRPG, and Itch.io.

Well sometimes its important to learn from the past and last year Kickstarter’s head of games Luke Crane decided it would be interesting to see how modern designers took to the format.

What makes a Zine Quest zine?

Zines must either contain an RPG or feature RPG-related content, like maps, adventures, monsters, comics, articles, and/or interviews. 

Must be 5.5” x 8.5” (A5) or smaller.

Zines must feature one-color printing. Think beyond black ink, or consider printing on colorful paper.

Zines must be unbound, folded, stapled, or saddle-stitched. No hard cover or perfect binding allowed.

Campaigns should last no more than two weeks. Keep your project small and doable. In two weeks, you could launch another zine, or just look back proudly on a job well done.

Small, one colour RPG related content in some sort of simple binding. Surely no one would be interested in that?

Well with ZineQuest 2 coming up (and yours truly throwing her hat in the ring), I thought it’d be cool to highlight some stuff people are working on. And of course, if any of you have a project you’re working on or just want me to look at, leave a comment or get in touch

Terrors of the Stratosfiend #2

“I’ve got door magic, door breeding, elevator demons, mages that mutate their spells, rogues that mutate their speed, bards that use fear for inspiration. Living weapons. Insects that drip honey. A Pirate Queen t-rex seizing a space station. 72 pages.”

– Sean Richer
Terror of the Stratosfiend game cover art for their ZineQuest 2 Kickstarter
Trippy imagery and a bloody weird setting. Cover art by @ElHuervo

While the new edition hasn’t dropped yet, last years initial Kickstarter says:

The setting is meant to be both an add-on to any DCC (Dungeon Crawl Classics) session the Judge and players would be running; adding a splash of tentacles. It’s also being built to be a standalone setting where tentacles and sorcery would be the focus.

As a player you’ll be wielding future weaponry like laser chainsaws, and living breathing shotguns that incubate sleeping horrors. You would also find out what it’s like to be 20 foot tall living battering ram…

As a Judge you’ll be introducing players to maniacal Orbital Intelligences that seek to guide, destroy, and illuminate the lives of their charges. You will be throwing strange alien beasts at them, and guiding through portals leading to the stars beyond our stars.

The Great Soul Train Robbery

The Great Soul Train Robbery is a tabletop roleplaying game about Desperados robbing the train to Hell.

Play as a Sharpshooter, or a Fiddler, or a Homesteader Widow… motivated by Love or Justice, but also by Greed or Revenge.

– Cloven Pine Games
ZineQuest 2 image for The Great Soul Train Robbery game's Kickstarter
The original, non-zine cover.

The designers have said that “for ZineQuest in February, we’ll be expanding the game into a 32-page zine. It’ll offer more inspiration tables to fill out your game with Weird Western allegorical scoundrels, monsters, and train cars.”

If you’re looking to get your fix of Weird West early, you can pick up the original microgame on Itch.io.

Sunlands: A Hexcrawl Zine

Sunlands is a system-agnostic hexcrawl zine, intended for use with your favourite fantasy roleplaying game. There’s a map, a brief overview, and over three hundred hexes of stuff for players to encounter, fight, befriend, betray, murder, loot, or run the hell away from. All in 32 pages (give or take — I haven’t done the layout yet) and for a price best described as ‘beans’.”

– Chris Longhurst
Sunlands ZineQuest 2 Kickstarter Image.
Those tentacles crack me up.

And, lifting liberally from the Kickstarter preview: this isn’t going to be some slick, high-production-value zine made by professionals! This is an old-style, rough-and-ready, slightly wonky zine! (Still made by a professional though.) I can promise you glorious content such as:

  • A sphinx whose ‘riddles’ are terrible puns, a sphinx whose ‘riddles’ are surrealist nonsense, and a third sphinx who thinks the other two are affronts to sphingine renown and will pay you good money to kill them.
  • A cult of insect-worshipping elves who are unable to sleep or meditate, and who are tripping balls at all times.
  • and more!

LIFTS: ABpocalypse World Edition

This year’s LIFTS: ABpocalypse World Edition is the 36-page blockbuster sequel to LIFTS: Ultimate Pump Edition, the role-playing game about becoming and being strong. LIFTS is a game for about five players (though you can play it with more or fewer). The strongest player is the Muscle Master, who runs the game, describing situations and people.

When you disagree with the Muscle Master about something happening in the game, you’ve engaged in a conflict. Depending on the type of conflict you’re involved in, you and the Muscle Master will engage in a physical competition. LIFTS: ABpocalyse World Edition features all new mechanics — the ABpocalypse Engine — that emphasizes self-improvement, perseverance, and rockin’ abs!

A group of muscly people and robots in stark black/white contrast for LIFTS zinequest.
Become the gladiator you’ve always known you are by out-benching your GM.

The zine includes the incredible 1600-word In the Name of the Moon, I Will Punish My Abs! base system, setting, and adventure-prompts! In addition, it comes with a number of supplements including: Brometheus, Quadfinder, and Atrophy Makes You Happy, Citizen

Deep Nightly Fathoms

Deep Nightly Fathoms is a role-playing game about exploring dark, dangerous dreamscapes inspired by the beautiful engravings of XIX century artist Gustave Doré.

In this game player characters will dive into the Kingdom of Night in search of that which they’ve lost: a missing love, an heirloom, a truth. The Dream Master will portray dark landscapes and the denizens that dwell in its depths.

Dark dreamscape painting by Gustave Dore as the cover for Deep Nightly Fathoms.
I’m always astounded by the amazing artwork in the public domain.

It is a SWORDDREAM point-crawl game inspired by TTRPGs like Miseries & Misfortunes, Apocalypse World and Lacuna Part 1: the Origin of the Mystery and the Girl from Blue City. It blends aspects of old school style games with a modern indie design perspective, while exploring themes of loss and yearning in a safe and open manner.

The core premise is that characters are charting the mysterious Kingdom of Night in search of their Star, one landmark at the time. Dive ever deeper into its domains, escape the lure of the demons that inhabit it and the call of Oblivion.

Tips

ZineQuest runs for the month of February but each campaign is only on for two weeks. With most ZineQuest 2 games aiming to be small, cheap, and niche, this is a great chance to find those creators that seem to be on your wavelength. Just look at all the submissions last year!

And of course, best of luck to everyone involved!

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