Holy shit, has it been a week since my last post already? Madness. My personal list has changed and grown, but I’m not in the mood to rehash things I’ve already talked about quite yet. At the current rate, I’m guessing I’ll have one or two more posts highlighting cool projects I’ve seen, and after it’s all done and over with I’ll do some math, add some charts, and talk about what my final list ended up looking like. In the meantime, here are some cool projects that caught my eye since part 1.
Let me also preface: There is waaaaaaay too much cool stuff to talk about it all. At current post there are 145 Zinequest projects. So if I don’t mention a project here its not because it isn’t great or worth your time. If you prefer to see a list of everything that’s out there, I’ve put one together here.
On with the show!
Barrow Keep: Den of Spies by R. Rook Studios
“Barrow Keep is a low-prep, old-school setting driven by playbooks and adaptable, easy-to-run scenarios. You play the young residents of the Keep, coming of age while dealing with mysteries, treacheries, and intrigues.”
I’ve played this one! It’s really good. Barrow Keep uses playbooks Beyond the Wall style to create fascinating social connections and obligations, building an NPC map for the GM along the way. Highly recommended.
Cold Iron by Joshua Mann
“Cold Iron is a complete tabletop role-playing game, including rules, a setting, a handful of classes, and two short sample adventures, all contained in a single, 44 to 48-page zine. The rules are simple enough to grasp even if you aren’t familiar with other TTRPGs. They are designed to encourage a variety of problem-solving approaches — from diplomacy, to physical acumen, to outright violence — under a unified rule set that requires very few “special case” rules, while still allowing specific player actions to have granular effect.”
Faerie tale beginnings with a focus on mediation and diplomacy as well as the usual combat. This hits close to my interests, my aesthetic, and my personal projects. VERY intrigued.
Deep Nightly Fathoms by Trinity Knot Studio
“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.”
Beautiful art courtesy of an old master, dream delvings, and a cool creator. 3 for 3 in my book!
DIRT RPG by Lars White
“Dirt is a tabletop roleplaying game about survival and discovery in a post-apocalyptic world of what may have once been considered a classic fantasy setting. Dirt is a stand-alone zine containing all the information you need to play. However, you can also pick and choose elements from the zine to use in other games.”
Similar premise as Dark Sun with a cool aesthetic, stylized art, and none of the baggage? Yes please!
i’m sorry did you say street magic by Caro Asercion
“i’m sorry did you say street magic is a citybuilding storygame, where players collaboratively explore a city that they create together. Each turn, a player adds to the city either a Neighborhood, a Landmark, or a Resident, nesting cards inside of each other to showcase and spotlight the relationship between the city’s inhabitants, and the places where they live. These cards are then complicated by Events that take place in the city: festivals, elections, ceremonies, natural disasters, mysteries, or discoveries that change the flow and focus of play. As you play cards, you unearth the city’s true names — quirks and qualities that make this place wholly, intrinsically unique.”
Seems like a take on Microscope focusing on building a magic city. I LOVE worldbuilding games, and this hits the mark. Plus the art is stunning.
Oligarchy by Eli Kurtz
“Oligarchy is a game of political folly, Rooted in Trophy. You play as rotten bastards: corrupt politicians, decadent aristocrats, and other greedy elites. You are each determined to maximize your own wealth and comfort while your actions tear society apart around you. Eventually, society will tolerate your abuses no more. But the iron confidence that is your privileged birthright makes you certain you will avoid that doom. You’ll do anything to make sure you get yours (and get away with it).“
Using a fantasy horror framework to build a game about oligarchs spiraling to ruin is inspired. Not something I would have ever thought of, but obvious once I heard the premise. Always a sign of a great new idea!
One of Us: Sideshow Salvation in a Dystopian Dustbowl by Tim Deschene
“Influenced by shows like Carnivale and literature in the vein of Something Wicked This Way Comes, One of Us will put the players into the roles of traveling circus performers in the service of The Madame — a shadowy and cryptic patron who directs the PCs to find and return artifacts of the old world. One of Us will feature new character classes, profession tables, and quick performance rules for when the characters are trying to win over a crowd. A short adventure set in the world after the Big Mistake will get your new campaign rolling. “
I have a longstanding love for 1800’s/early 1900’s Americana horror. Harrow County is one of my favorite comic series. Mr. Shivers is one of my favorite horror novels. This looks to be a great entry into the genre!
PRIMEVAL by Lone Archivist
“The year is 30XX. You are part of a special task force gathered by the megacorp TAKAHASHI ADVANCED GENETICS, often referred to as ‘The Company’. One of their chief scientists and researchers has failed to respond to her last two check-ins. Since then, no one at The Company has been able to raise her nor any of the personnel housed at the research facility.“
It’s the first 3rd party Mothership adventure. Layout previews look good. Honestly thats enough for me. I’ve been on a sci fi horror streak lately and this looks to scratch that itch perfectly.
Snake People: A Post-Apocalyptic Story Game by Ruth Tillman
“In Snake People, players craft a story of mortality and hope. Choose your species, then follow the game’s prompts and questions to tell your character’s story, imagine a world they inhabit, and consider their legacies.”
Regardless of the rest, this is here because Ruth Tillman’s work on Cthulhu Confidential was brilliant. But also it looks like a clever game of hope in the face of disaster and I kinda need that right now. Also? Evlyn Moreau art!
Snow and Salt: Monsters from the Taiga & Mangrove by Danielle Osterman
“The full title of each zine is A Treatise Upon the Unique and Interesting Observations Made Whilst Traversing the [Biome]. We’ve gone for the feel of an 18th/19th century zoological journal, not to valourise European colonial history but to poke fun at it: every entry is from an unreliable narrator.”
In world unreliable bestiaries are always a great thing. This one is for terrain that doesn’t get mentioned nearly as often in fantasy rpgs. And this one has a great set of authors on it.
Sunken by Mike Martens
“Drown Your Heroes.
The stories we tell are often not of gallant survivors but of the hard-pressed, star-crossed crestfallen. They are the poetry of the broken and the inhuman breakers: haunting things, deep and dark and bellowing things, unfathomable things that consume all that edges to their precipice.
Sunken is a tabletop roleplaying game about these things.”
Well thats one way to open up a kickstarter! Evocative pitch for a genre I already like. This definitely fills the space for The Terror RPG I’d been thinking about.
The New Tales of Oz by Mids Meinberg
“The New Tales of Oz is an RPG set in the peculiar land of Oz. You take on the role of a new generation of familiar archetypes, exploring the many bizarre things in Oz. The New Tales of Oz will be published as a 32-page, saddle-stitched zine and a digital PDF, brought to life by the illustrations from the first-edition printings of the Oz series of books.”
Oz is weird, its whimsical, and its in the public domain. I’m actually shocked there aren’t more rpgs that use this as a setting. This is also another great use of old art.
Them’s Monsters! by Joshua LH Burnett
“Q: What are those?
A: Them’s monsters! “
This is delightful. What else can you expect from twitter’s greatest flumph?
They Cried Monster by Charles Ferguson-Avery
“Based on stories like Hellboy, The Witcher, or Mushishi, They Cried Monster tasks a group of world-weary Hunters to track monsters, solve mysteries, and face the ethical dilemma of protecting humanity or the monsters they have been hired to slay. Hunters must balance social standing with the settlements and locals, as well as being quick to action facing down the dangerous creatures that lurk in the wilderness.”
Morals & Monsterhunters by the artist behind World War Occult. Yes please!
You Got a Job on the Garbage Barge by Amanda Lee Franck
“The Garbage Barge has been slogging up and down the coast for years, putting into port and accepting unwanted things in exchange for gas to keep the tugboats running. It is a towering, leaking wreck, and it’s your home. You are a wizard or a pirate radio operator or a raccoon or a barge worker, or maybe you raise goats in the listing high rise that’s been dumped on the stern. Things grow in the trash. Chemicals are leaching out of rusted barrels, growing legs, and setting off to seek their fortune. Beetles tell you their life stories, raccoons steal your pens. Something in a diving suit disappears into oil-slick bilge water in search of baroque pearls. A forest of rebar sings in the salt wind. Out past the gas lake, there’s a town on fire. It’s been like that as long as anyone can remember. They say that no matter how far into the trash you go, it keeps going.”
“Work your carcass till it breaks! Yard after yard of the rusty chain!”… oh sorry what was that? I’ve been listening to the song from the video for lifetimes now. So good. A lot of projects look wonderful. This one feels like it was designed for me. This was an instaback.
So there you have it! 15 interesting projects that hit my radar. I encourage you to check out the full list if you want to see what else has been going on, because the creative output from our community has been staggering. It’s a wonderful time to be into RPG’s. Happy Zinequest everyone!