Crowdfunding Carnival: March, 2023

Welcome to the Crowdfunding Carnival for March! It’s a bit of a weird time, early March. ZineQuest is ‘finished’, but with campaigns starting as late as yesterday there’s still a bit of backlog to dig through. Meanwhile, the bigger, more traditional campaigns are starting to spin up, but they’re often lost in the shuffle.

The campaigns we’re covering this month reflect that reality. There are 25 Zine campaigns here, which I will do my best to sell to you in a sentence or two. I didn’t have to have a hard cutoff like in the middle of the month, but most of the Zines that didn’t make the cutoff were just material for 5e that I don’t have the energy to care about. Such is life.

Here at the beginning of March it’s also worthwhile to reflect on ZineQuest as it is now, here in 2023. Based on numbers, there’s no doubt in my mind that this year was a return to form compared to the misstep of moving the event to August. That said, there’s an enthusiasm gap that seems to have formed between 2021 and now, and it’s in large part due to what happened in 2022. The number of people tracking and providing data on ZineQuest has withered significantly, meaning I don’t have a project count, funding level, or success rate easily at hand to compare to last year or the year before. Based on our August 2022 coverage, this year was significantly better than last year’s Kickstarter’s outing, but I don’t know how it compares to the combined total of the 2022 events, and that’s important because of what happened to Zine Month.

While Zine Month this year was an opportunity for nascent service provider Crowdfundr, my prediction that the event would continue at a sixth of last year’s size was, based on earnings, exceedingly optimistic. Crowdfundr’s Zine Month campaigns came in at roughly 30-40, which I’d guess would be around ⅕ of the Kickstarter Zine Quest campaigns in count and significantly lower volume of funding. Out of the likely around 200 projects on Kickstarter, the top 5 alone (possibly the top 3 even) outfunded every zine campaigning on Crowdfundr combined.

I said this before as a prediction, but it’s come true: any momentum to push an alternative to Zine Quest is gone. Seamus has noted the energy and collaboration of the Zine Month community, and I wish them success in that regard, but when held concurrently the two events show quite starkly that Kickstarter as a platform will get you more eyeballs and more money.

To that end, every campaign I’m covering this month is on Kickstarter; the RPG pickings on competing services are relatively slim still. I am still watching Backerkit very carefully, and indeed Crowdfundr is showing some promise as well; the reason I’m not highlighting any Crowdfundr projects here is that Seamus has one remaining round up of Zine Month projects coming out soon. In addition to the 25 zines I noted above, there are two large campaigns which caught my attention and are certainly worth noting.

Big Games

HarnWorld: If you’ve ever asked for a recommendation for a realistic medieval fantasy RPG, someone probably has said Harn. Harn was originally released in 1983 and is one of the earliest completely system agnostic product lines in fantasy roleplaying. Harn is known for detail, and even in the campaign this is still very clear…in addition to maps that range from continental to citywide to singular buildings, the details around the planet of Kethira include wind charts, tectonic plates, and even details of the broader solar system. It’s a lot. While this 40th anniversary hardcover is not new, per se, Harn’s place in the fantasy RPG ecosystem means that it’s worth noting that Columbia Games is still chugging and still supporting their masterwork.

If I Were a Lich, Man: I am ashamed to admit I didn’t get the pun in the title until the third reading. Oy vey! Lucian Kahn is campaigning a trio of Jewish RPGs and, as you may be able to tell if you’re familiar with Fiddler on the Roof, they are written with tongue firmly in cheek. These games include the titular volume which is about liches resisting murderous paladins, Same Bat Time, Same Bat Mitzvah, which is about one of your elderly family members being turned into a vampire at a bat mitzvah reception, and Grandma’s Drinking Song, a singing game (yes, singing) about Jewish bootleggers. The campaign includes an option for a lovely looking box set with a lot of accessories (dreidels!), and there’s some interesting merch with the fanged star of David from Same Bat Time, Same Bat Mitzvah.

The Remains of ZineQuest

Band of the Black Wolf: A Norse-inspired OSR adventure.

Beyond Cy: A Cy_Borg zine detailing what’s out there beyond the city.

Black Bag: A spy game, except a spy game involving alternate dimensions.

Book of Portals: It’s literally a zine about doors and doorways. There’s a D&D I’d play…

Broken and Sleeping Hearts: Two system-agnostic adventures aiming for a more cozy aesthetic.

Broken Cities: A diceless, GMless game of exploring and possibly fixing a surrealist city.

Daggers and Ditches and Dangerous Things: A minimalist dungeon crawler that fits on one folded sheet.

Fie, I Say!: A self-referential comedy game, perfect if you want to be part of the OSR (obnoxious snickering roleplayers).

GenoFunk: A game about dying heroes, done in ASCII. In English and Italian.

Graveyard of the Gods: Gnostic horror for Mothership. Mining companies secretly strip out the bodies of long-dead deities, and there’s clearly no way this could go wrong.

The Hard Light Dynamic: Break into an AI research facility. Watch reality collapse around you. For Cy_Borg.

The Ink That Bleeds: A zine from Paul Czege about how to play journaling games.

Kill Him Faster: Speedrun killing Hitler. That’s it. That’s the game.

Killing in the Name: A murder mystery for Mothership.

ManaZine #1-2: System agnostic splatterpunk adventures with an OSR bent.

Mork Corp: Surrealist Ballardian corporate horror for Mork Borg.

Old Gods Sepulchre: Adventure through the remains of nine old Gods with the help of isometric dungeon maps.

Pet Rescue: Play as beds, saving your missing owners. Also you’re demigods. Why not?

Pressure Point: Survive your deep sea laboratory. Poke holes in paper as part of the mechanics.

R’lyehwatch: Combine Cthulhu and running on the beach in slow motion. Yeah, *that’s* the crossover we’re going for here.

The Silence: A system-neutral cosmic horror adventure.

Viva La QueerBar: A slice of life game about a queer bar and a queer community, no matter the trappings around it. In English and German.

The Vulture: An adventure on a derelict ship for Mothership.

Zam! Pow! Spork!: Play as c-list superhero sidekicks, managing their hero’s nonsense.

Zoic: Creative history zine, play humans and their dinosaur companions.

Crowdfunding Carnival Retrospective: March, 2018

Of course, it isn’t a fifth anniversary Crowdfunding Carnival post without a retrospective. January was bad, February was better, how was March? First thing worth noting is this is the first month which includes a game that I backed, which was funded, and which I received and reviewed! Fraser Simons’ Hack the Planet was campaigning in March of 2018, a Forged in the Dark cyberpunk/climate fiction game. While it hews pretty closely to the Blades in the Dark formula, it’s a solid game and I’m glad I backed it. We also had Magpie Games’ Cartel in this month, which was successfully released in 2020, and Capers, which our friends at Nerdburger Games released to some acclaim! Definitely some solid picks in this article.

The rest of the games, as usual, landed all over the place. There was only one failure to fund, Necromech. The game looked interesting but only scared up 80% of its funding level. Out of the remaining games, it looks like every one of them delivered! Now, there are a couple which are still delivering additional materials or stretch goals, which serves as a reminder not to ‘stretch’ yourself too thin with extra content. Liminal and Devil’s Run fall into this category, but as they did fulfill the core game, I won’t judge them too hard. As far as continuing success, I wouldn’t say any of these titles set the world on fire, but that’s after picking out three which definitely did get some recognition. I am a little sad that the Princess Bride RPG never went anywhere, but if you’re intensely curious, it appears that there are still copies for sale on Amazon.

Well, we can close the book on zines for this year. ZineQuest will hopefully stay in February and keep supporting small creators, but at this, its fifth anniversary, the fire in our hearts is burning low. Don’t get me wrong, I hope Kickstarter keeps doing this, but it feels like part of the landscape more than it has in the past. Still, I will be here, every year, flipping through zines, making lists, and even throwing around a bit of money.

Next month though, it’s back to the Carnival! What new games will show up in the Crowdfunding Carnival next month? Come back and find out!

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!

One thought on “Crowdfunding Carnival: March, 2023”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.