Crowdfunding Carnival: February, 2023

Welcome back to the Crowdfunding Carnival! Now, it’s Thursday, which is a little unusual. I did this, though, for you, dear readers. You see, yesterday was the first day of ZineQuest, and a veritable torrent of zines hit my inbox around the time this article would have otherwise gone to post. That just won’t do, so I held off to pick through the wreckage for you. So now we have over 40 zines, and it’s been just one day! There are some other games too, and of course our second installment of the Crowdfunding Carnival/Kickstarter Wonk fifth anniversary retrospective. Onward!

The Cusp of ZineQuest

Yesterday was the first day of ZineQuest, and I rescheduled the article to make sure I could take a look at the day 1 crop. We’re off to a pretty good start, as far as ZineQuest’s go, but of course we won’t know how the whole event shakes out until closer to the end. Like we have in past years, there will be a midterm review in a couple weeks when the event is at full steam, and one more review when we return to the Crowdfunding Carnival in March. For the campaigns I’m looking at today, I’ve divided them into three categories. First are the full games which fit into a zine format. Second are supplements to existing games, especially if those games aren’t 5e. Finally, zines about providing cool stuff or commentary for use in games with no particular rules in mind are called ‘system agnostic gems’.

Full Games

Beneath Hallowed Halls: A PbtA zine of college friendships, academia, and murder.

Bug Out: Play as the heartiest characters of any post-apocalyptic story: the cockroaches.

CRUX: Elemental: A zine-sized starter set for CRUX: Universal Roleplaying.

Curse of the Blood Goblin: A quick and dirty OSR game in zine form.

Darkness of the Demimonde: A light Victorian horror game.

Dreamlike: A tarot-driven journaling game.

Escape from Spooksy Manor: Map out all twelve rooms, or join the ghosts that live there! A spooky solo journaling game.

Four Kingdoms: A map-drawing worldbuilding game.

Horse Girl: There’s no way to describe this better than the campaign does: ‘a solo GM-less journaling game in which you will document your surgical and mental transformation into a horse.’ Take from that what you will.

Kill Kindness: Fight Christian fascists in Florida, where they spawn.

Lordsworn: A GMless game of soldiers returning home after their crusade turned into a slaughter.

Low-Res Futures: No better description than the campaign: ‘Millenarian cyber witchcraft augmented reality death games’.

The Merchant: A solo game where you play a merchant traversing The Shifting Wasteland.

NIGHTFRIGHT: A horror zine from prolific short horror game designer Alexei Vella.

Normie Generator and more: Three pamphlet hacks of journaling game Along Among the Stars.

Pixie Punks: Play as unseelie fey trying to save their homeland in this standalone RPG.

Rising Star: A sports film game.

Sanctuary and Sentinel: Two GMless games about the guardians of places of power.

Saved by the Morph: Part RPG, part media analysis demonstrating that Saved by the Bell and Power Rangers are actually the same show. 100% intriguing.

Sewer Rats: An homage to cartoons of the 80s and 90s, that may or may not take direct shots at some adolescent augmented shinobi reptiles.

Small Crew Big Space: A spaceship-building game.

Stargems: A complete RPG intended for young players 4 and up.

Strictly Between Us: A LARP that fuses roleplay with Blues Dancing. Actual dancing, yes. Comes with playlists and works for 4-20 people.

Supplements of Note

The Arctic Infiltration: A 5e adventure based on John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’.

Bada$$ Bunnies: A ‘reverse module’ for Mutant Crawl Classics where you play the monsters trying to kill all the 0-level characters.

The Blood Moon Vernissage: Explore through an enchanted gallery with six sinister paintings in this adventure zine for Frontier Scum. Purportedly very hackable.

Bio-Drones and Cryo-Clones: A Mothership supplement all about playing mutants, including a full adventure.

A Butterfly Dies: A setting and hexcrawl zine for Diego Nogueira’s Primal Quest.

Chthonic Crawl #2: ‘Merchants and Monsters’, the second issue of this DCC-focused but OSR-compatible zine.

Corvid and Finch’s Caravan of Flim-Flam: Two bird shopkeepers provide all sorts of various and sundry nonsense for your 5e game.

The Doom of Blackwinter: Venture forth into the mountains to stop renegade fey. An adventure compatible with both OSE and Zweihander, an interesting pairing.

Electrocube War Adventures: A supplement zine for the perhaps lesser-known Valor Knights RPG.

Judge Phil’s Zine of Goodies #3: The third installment of this mix of items and rules for DCC.

MORK BOLL: ‘Sportsball at the end of the world’ for Mork Borg.

Old School & Cool Volume 4: Necromancers, Vampires, and more undead than you can shake a stick at for Old School Essentials.

Roboworld and Space Station M: Two multi-statted zines of weird science for various d20 games.

The Web of Dreams: Ancestries: Five new Ancestries for 5e.

Ziggurat of the Blood God: An ancient temple of a long-forgotten god, and an OSR adventure claiming compatibility with Mork Borg, DCC, and OSE. Actually available separately for all three.

System Agnostic Gems

Candle III: The third installment of Candle, an OSR audio magazine. This issue focuses around the Festival of Champions.

D100 Rumours: Intended for fantasy games but otherwise exactly what it says on the tin.

Delver #7: The next issue of an OSR magazine filled with game resources.

Dramatis Personae: 30 new NPCs and corresponding adventure hooks.

Dungeon Malarky: Weird stuff for your OSR games.

The Electrum Archive #2: The second zine in a series exploring the science fantasy setting of Orn.

Polite Society: A zine for ‘thieves, rogues, and scoundrels’. A combination of 5e material, a system-neutral heist, and commentary and reviews on heist-focused RPG material. The author has a four-zine sequence in mind!

Those Which Gather Dust: A point-crawl for your ‘favorite medieval-fantastic RPG’, done in both English and French.

The Big Games

While it’s clear what the big event is this month, there are a few big games worth noting. First, Kevin Crawford is campaigning his third sandbox without number, Cities Without Number. This is Sine Nomine does cyberpunk, and I am personally very excited. 

Next, over on Backerkit we have another big licensed RPG, this time coming from Green Ronin. The Fifth Season is an RPG set in N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. While the AGE system has been employed well in the past, the normal questions about a licensed game still stand; my hope is that the Green Ronin folks figure out a way to make the game stand out just like the novels do, but only time will tell.

Another Kickstarter campaign worth noting is Vast Grimm, a sci-fi horror game based on Mork Borg. With both Mothership and Death In Space coming prior to this one, it’ll be interesting to see if Vast Grimm will stand out. The game looks sharp, but the ‘Borg-alike’ trend likely has a pretty short runway for complete games; I personally think Vast Grimm may be one of the last really successful borg-alike Kickstarters (the campaign is already over $100,000 as of this writing).

There are perhaps a few other full-size campaigns hidden among the zines, but these were the standouts. If I see something else that catches my attention, I may highlight one or two more during the mid-month check in.

Five Year Review, the Second

As I mentioned last month, 2023 is the five year anniversary of Kickstarter Wonk/Crowdfunding Carnival, and to celebrate we’re going back in the archives to see where the campaigns I covered five years ago ended up. In February of 2018 we had seven games and two honorable mentions; one of the honorable mentions was Trinity Continuum: Aeon, which may have taken a while but OPP did get it across the finish line. As for the others, let’s take a look. This was a better crop than last month; only one of the games didn’t fund, which was actually one I backed. Suen Ikna: the Known Lands was an ambitious bit of worldbuilding but, looking back on it now with a bit more experience, didn’t really have the game ideas or completeness to attract enough attention. Because I backed it I was actually informed it didn’t fund way back in 2018; if anything the fact that it’s the only non-funded campaign this month is more of a surprise. There were a few duds; the Keyring RPG, as exciting as its idea was, completely flubbed, and the updates are a combination of excuses and apologies going all the way into 2022. Vital Hearts is similar, though there is something on DriveThruRPG which seems to be a partially complete or ashcan version of the game. The last update was October of last year, kind of a kick in the teeth for a campaign that projected delivery in January of 2019. At the very least, they seem to be still going.

The rest of the campaigns actually delivered! John Carter of Mars was of course a Modiphius product so there’s no surprise there, and Good Society generated another hit of buzz around its release given its interesting conceit (Storybrewers, the design team behind it, is still active and putting out new stuff). Sagas of Midgard released, and it’s available through DriveThruRPG and Indie Press Revolution…considering the 66% off MSRP for the print edition on IPR, we can infer that it never really took off, but that’s the Kickstarter Thud for you. Ascendant Destiny landed somewhat similarly; I will give props to the team for fulfilling quickly and fulfilling all goals, but Ascendant Destiny has been on sale on DriveThruRPG since August of 2018 and it hasn’t even reached the (barely) coveted Copper status which indicates 50 sales.

So we have two thuds, one failed to fund, and two fizzles. We also have two actual successes, so already February is way better than January! One interesting thing that these retrospectives do bear out is that, though you hear a lot of stories otherwise, funding on Kickstarter is a lot easier than actually building a sustainable product ecosystem. This was also the start of seeing the Kickstarter space really being driven by existing midtier publishers…this month we had Onyx Path and Modiphius but, as you’ll see in future installments, even in the first year there were more big campaigns to come.

February is a wild month! 40-50 zines in the first 24 hours is a strong showing for ZineQuest’s return to this quarter, but we won’t know how anything shakes out until it’s over. Join us for a mid-month check in in a couple of weeks; I’ll highlight even more zines and look for some stats to guide us as the event continues. Then, at the beginning of March I will highlight yet more zines and take a look at some preliminary numbers to see where ZineQuest lands compared to last year. Just like every year, February is going to be a ride, folks. Check out some zines, pledge some zines, and join us in a couple weeks for a ZineQuest special edition of Crowdfunding Carnival!

Like what Cannibal Halfling Gaming is doing and want to help us bring games and gamers together? First, you can follow me @LevelOneWonk on Twitter for RPG commentary, relevant retweets, and maybe some rambling. You can also find our Discord channel and drop in to chat with our authors and get every new post as it comes out. You can travel to DriveThruRPG through one of our fine and elegantly-crafted links, which generates credit that lets us get more games to work with! Finally, you can support us directly on Patreon, which lets us cover costs, pay our contributors, and save up for projects. Thanks for reading!

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