Hi friends! I put up an open offer to mutuals on twitter to talk about whats exciting them this Zinequest. The first one is here. Joe (who you should also definitely follow) was kind enough to respond as well. Enjoy!
ZQ3 Is Destroying My Life and It Hurts So Good
By Joe DeSimone
I’m currently backing 45 zines as of sitting down to write this piece (the morning of 2/14). I’m going to be receiving a bunch more than that. I will also be talking about some that I’m not backing. Why would a zine that I’m not backing wind up on my list of most exciting zines of the year? Firstly, fuck you. Next question. Secondly, because at this point I have a group of friends who make a big Goddamn spreadsheet each ZQ and we split up the projects so we can cover the widest possible spread. So, there are some things I’ll be getting that I’m not backing. Some of those are deeply awesome. There. You can have an answer, as a treat.
The Things (well, 10 of them) In No Particular Order:
1) NERVES by John “Batts” Battle
I’ve been stanning Batts since he had two weird adventures to his name and his shit has only gotten better since. When I saw he was going to be adding to the growing collection of books about games rather than making yet another awesome game, well, that got me immediately excited. If you know me at all, you know that is My Shit. I trust Batts implicitly to select good people who will in turn write good pieces about games. That earns a spot.
2) The Vast in the Dark – Exploring Ruins in an Infinite World by Charles Ferguson-Avery
“The Vast in the Dark is an exploration setting for the world’s most popular role-playing game and takes place in a crumbling alien wasteland filled with brutalist mega-structure ruins.” Okay one: yes. Two: brutalist mega-structures are amazing and something I try to put into every campaign I run. Three: Charlie is one of the best, least-recognized artists currently working in the space as far as I’m concerned. It’s $10 for a physical copy. That’s less than I pay for a pack of cigarettes. Only issue I have is “role-playing” is a far inferior way to write it than “roleplaying.” Otherwise, this is awesome. It ends tomorrow so back it today.
3) The Very Good Dogs of Chernobyl RPG Zine by 9th Level
Couple years ago, I stumbled upon four zines detailing one game called Mazes. It had one of the coolest dice mechanics for an FRPG I’d seen in a hot minute. It wasn’t made by one of the cool kids on the block so I basically never see it discussed, but it should be. Anyway, the people who made that are back with this game about dogs and Chernobyl and like… I don’t even know what to say. I find it inconceivable that this could be anything less than amazing. It’s called The Very
Good Dogs of Chernobyl. Come the fuck on. Anyway, it isn’t live yet so sign up to get notified when it launches.
4) Darkest Demons, Devils, and Dungeons [a ZineQuest thing!] by Doug Tabb
Okay so you might not know who Jack Chick was (spoiler: he fucking sucked), but Chick Tracks are a fascinating historical curiosity. They’re little pamphlets usually handed out for free on the street by batshit insane missionaries about how popular culture is going to send you to Hell. Real fundamentalist Christian trash. So, the idea of using that format and inverting it to make an RPG supplement (which Chick thought were evil: “It told the story of two girls who got into D&D. One of their characters died in game, and the other girl was made to treat her friend as if she were actually dead, to obtain the “real power” of D&D”) about demons and devils and shit… well it’s awesome. I have no idea who Doug Tabb is or if he has the chops to pull this off, but I am absolutely willing to put money down to find out. Also, the art is all vintage etchings of what demons were believed to look like in 1863 by French artists Louis Le Breton and M. Jarrault.
5) Hope is Not a Plan (ZineQuest 3) by Steve Wright
The Wretched & Alone SRD, based on The Wretched by Chris Bissette, has been behind some of the more interesting solo journaling games I’ve seen recently. That said, I’m not really into solo journaling games. I’m not trying to introspect right now more than in strictly necessary to keep myself sane. Mindfulness is well and good until it reliably instills mortality salience and then you’re just trying not to die. So, not fun. But here’s a game that doesn’t sound fun at all, so it gels perfectly! I don’t mean that snidely or as an insult. I’m super down for a game where the theming matches up with the play experience, even if it isn’t a strictly speaking enjoyable time for me. Anyway, Hope is Not a Plan is a game about attempting to develop and deliver something really big on time and under budget. It’s something I’ve dealt with many times before, an unrelenting nightmare of the working world, and I’m honestly extremely here for a game that takes a mundane, stressful experience and distances it from the real-world consequences of failure. It’s basically a therapeutic exercise in a zine. So yeah, backed.
6) Dying Hard on Hardlight Station: a Mothership Adventure by David Kenny
The subtitle starts “Die Hard meets Alien” so yeah. I don’t know. Yes?
7) External Containment Bureau, a Zine Quest RPG! by Eli Kurtz
“If you enjoy media like Control, Fringe, The Magnus Archives, Men in Black, SCP Foundation, or X-Files… you’ll love External Containment Bureau!” Well considering you just named my one of my favorite videogames of the past several years, a show I’ve watched a bunch, my favorite narrative horror podcast, one of my all-time favorite movies, my favorite website to read late at night, and the show that deeply scarred me as a kid… Fuck yeah, I’m in. Couple that with a team of people I respect immensely, three of whom have produced games in my Top 25 All-Time Bangers, and I’m utterly sold. This book could come out looking like absolute garbage and I wouldn’t care. I know what’s inside of it will be amazing. That said, I really don’t think it’ll look anything but gorgeous since they’ve got Julianne Griepp attached for both the cover and a bunch of interior art at this point. So yeah. Easy buy for me.
8) 3DIE6: A Dungeon Creepy-Crawler Roleplaying Game by Kris McClanahan
Sometimes I back things because they just look cool. I’ll open a KS page and my brain just goes full Marge Simpson saying, “I just think they’re neat.” That’s the reaction I had to 3DIE6, which I can only describe as “What if the movie Antz but it didn’t have Woody Allen involved and also the art was simultaneously cute and cool.” I don’t know. That doesn’t seem like a great description. But it got me excited enough to keep scanning through the page. The art is great. The colors are rad. The layout is clean but not ascetic. It has the feeling of that cool shit you see somebody post on a blog that gets tweeted out and RT’d a bunch and then nobody does anything with it, except it’s a whole-ass product and I might even play it. Plus, it’s got bugs.
9) Warmer in the Winter: ZineQuest Holiday RPG by Will Lentz
Okay so here’s something you might not know about me: I love Christmas. I fucking love Christmas. I don’t know why. I love everything about it. The cold, the songs, the bad movies, the BAD movies, the occasional good movie, the TV specials, the food… just everything. It’s my favorite holiday. Basically, any game explicitly Christmas- or winter holiday-related is something I’m gonna buy. I don’t know if that’s actually an endorsement of this game or just me admitting somebody found my very specific button and smashed that shit hard. I’m thinking it might be both in this case, though.
10) BEstitchARY for MÖRK BORG by Michał Gotkowski
So back in the day there was this program called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. In at least one version of that program, there was a minigame where you mashed together cross-sections of animals to make these horrifying chimeric monstrosities. I mean, in actuality they weren’t that scary and it was mostly about you making sure you got all the pieces of the animal correct. But I was young. I’ve held onto that memory for a long time for absolutely no good reason. Or so I thought. Now there’s a zine that’s basically that concept and I am extremely into it. It’s got weird art and garish colors and you’re supposed to cut it apart (which I hate) but it’s only PDF so you can print it out a bunch (which I love). So yeah. I like this one a lot.
I have weird taste and I buy a lot of stuff I’ll never use. These days when I get a new game in the mail, I literally take it out of the package and immediately put it into a drawer. It doesn’t even go on a shelf. Sometimes I don’t fully unwrap it. So, don’t take my word for any of these. Take an afternoon and just dig through all the ZQ3 projects you can. Hell, I don’t even use the tag to search them. I just search with the categories “Live” and “Tabletop Games” and then sort by newest and scroll and scroll and scroll. You’ll find shit I didn’t talk about. You’ll find shit nobody is talking about. And sometimes that’s the stuff that really calls out to you. Good luck.