Welcome back to March! There are a lot of games on Kickstarter this month, and Kickstarter Wonk is here to help. Now, Zinequest technically ended on Sunday, but there’s still a good crop of zines at the tail end of the event. I’ve picked out 35 more that are worth checking out if you have any of your Zinequest budget left. And, since it is March again, we’re picking up what we can for our full game selection. Five full-sized games are here and they’re picking up where ZineQuest left off, with both old hands and newcomers casting their projects out for us to peruse.
City of Winter
Fall of Magic is one of the most intriguing and innovative story games in recent years, packing its rules and its narrative around a scroll that gets unfurled as you play. Designer Ross Cowman has returned to the medium that made Fall of Magic so special and created a new game, City of Winter. The game requires no GM, instead instructing you in how you traverse along the scroll and what happens along the way. When you reach the eponymous city, there is another map to unfold and more to discover. Fall of Magic truly was an art piece as much as a game, and it looks like City of Winter aims to do the same. $25 gets you a digital version, though there is a lower price tier for those experiencing financial hardship.
Coyote and Crow
Coyote and Crow is a game developed by Native American designers, posing an alternate future where the Americas were never colonized. 700 years after a cataclysm, the challenges of both new technologies and supernatural abilities help to set the stage for adventure in this reimagined world. While the world is reimagined the mechanics are quite traditional, using a dice pool built out of d12s (the one unique mechanical quirk). Although the game aspects play it safe in contrast to the intriguing setting, the campaign’s promise that combat will not be the primary mode of conflict resolution still has me intrigued. And, as much as the form factor is also playing it safe, a big glossy book might be the best way to do the setting justice. $20 gets you a PDF.
Appropriate for March, Diesel comes in somewhere between a full-sized RPG and a zine. Clocking in at around 50 pages, Diesel sets forth the western science fantasy setting of Edge, a desert region on the, well, edge of The Frontier, a space between dimensions. What makes Diesel interesting is that instead of creating a whole setting gazetteer, Diesel provides enough touchpoints to feed into a robust set of Session Zero mechanics. That way, every group is empowered to create the version of Edge that’s most aligned with how they want to play. This mode of game and setting creation is clearly informed by PbtA, but Diesel, with its d6 dice pool system, is trying to take lessons learned from existing games and put them into a different rules context. Personally, I’m excited to see how they do it. $18 gets you a PDF.
Stonetop is a new entry into the oddly empty space of PbtA fantasy games. Built around an iron age setting, Stonetop casts the players into the role of heroes who must set forth outside the safety of their village and into the unknown. The core themes of the game are grounded with mechanics; there are overland travel rules to help create a backdrop for adventure, and domain-adjacent rules for keeping the characters tied to their home village. The game also departs somewhat from PbtA norms by providing more robust setting material, though this is a great boon for any GM dealing with groups who want to travel long distances. Stonetop is a mix of old and new for PbtA, and I can see why people have been excited by this game. $25 gets you a PDF.
Universe Ball Anthology
Another not-quite-zine, Universe Ball Anthology is a collection of humorous, absurdist science fiction RPGs. This campaign, for Universe Ball #1, gets you two games which can either be run with the light included mechanics or ported into your absurdist game of choice (*cough* Troika *cough*). The first game, SSOS, is a combination heist/sandbox where the characters explore a space cruise ship in an effort to steal its precious fuel. The second game, Yep, That’s Me, is a more high concept and experimental game where the players play through the cliched record scratch and “yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation” (in fact, that very phrase is used when the players introduce their characters for the first time). Working kind of like reverse Fiasco, the players must figure out a way for the game’s climax to incorporate the (randomly rolled) wacky situations they started in. Both of these games are clever and sound fun, which makes me hope that the Universe Ball Anthology really gets off the ground after issue 1. $8 gets you a PDF.
A few more zines
It is the end of ZineQuest, and a lot of people already have zine fatigue. Still, in this first week of March, it’s worth it to take just one more look.
The Academy Chrysalis: Magic School, but also Trophy!
Aetherjammer: OSR space opera!
Aether Operations: Psychedelic zine/art thing!
After World: A collaborative post-apocalypse!
Agents of BAMF: Super-spies!
At Your Peril: A zine about curses!
Blood Feud: Be a man, but not in the crappy regular way!
Bystanders: Disasters and extraordinary circumstances!
A Catalogue Chimerical: Magic items galore!
Colloquial Monsters: Reuse all your trading cards and CCGs!
Constant Downpour: Just like fictional Venus!
Contemplation: Solo journaling with multiple intents!
Courier: It’s either Death Stranding or New Vegas!
D6xD6 Dungeons: Rules-light gone even lighter!
A Divorce of Druids: Cut it apart, like the druids’ relationship!
EVOLVE: Your worst AI nightmare!
Fever Dreams: Emotional crises are literally destroying the world!
FONT: From the designer of Goblinville!
Fractured Unity: A zine set in Doskvol!
The Heroes of Radness: Super summer camp!
Little Katy’s Tea Party: Imaginary friends and their real guilt!
The Lord of Wolves: Content for Trophy!
Mari Zellout’s Gay Survival Guide: A fantasy bestiary but queer!
Our God is Dead: You’re a cleric but your god died! It’s comedy!
Outlaws ‘N Owlbears: More fantasy westerns!
Pro Patria Mori: World War One!
Procrastination Day: More time loops!
Project Cassandra: Nothing says genre mashup like Cold War psychics!
Reliquary: Far-future megastructure archaeology!
Shipwrecked: Escape a desert island!
Silk Hollow City Guide: More insect role-playing!
The Tome of Debasement: Evil priests! Evil spells!
Virtuemancy: Anti-dystopia freeform magic!
The Wizard’s Grimoire: Vincent Baker’s newest project!
Zineography: A meta-zine about zines!
With all the drama around ZineQuest this year, it’s easy to forget that the event should be about the creators, especially those who may not have put something out there if it weren’t for ZineQuest. Now that another February has come to a close, we can take those thoughts about independent creators and turn them towards larger, more conventional Kickstarter campaigns, and be glad that we have so many options. Here’s hoping for even more weird, wild, and wonderful games in next month’s Kickstarter Wonk!
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