Zine Month 2023 Round Up #2

A ride or die Filipino adventure where the indigenous magic and monsters still dominate the archipelago. A seaside vacation meant to both help your health and help you find love, provided you can solve the murder. Living a version of your life affected by ADHD. It’s down to the wire, but there’s still time to check out another batch of Zine Month creations!

Down the hallway at Cannibal Halfling, Aaron’s office door just burst open with the overflow of Zine Quest projects, bringing that total to more than a hundred. I’m sure he’s fine in there. Here, the numbers are more modest, but there are some great things to be found off of Kickstarter.

Like I said, it’s down to the wire – if you’re reading this from more than a little bit in The Future then these are  projects to follow up on rather than pledge to. If you, like me, are in the present also then get reading and then go do some pledging! Go go go!

Traysikel – Ride or Die!

The spirits sought atonement by spilling the blood of man.

To the Imperyo, this was just another obstacle.

But the people saw truth in their jungle’s darkness.

They must exorcise their demons from the root… The Imperyo must go.

Traysikel – Ride or Die! stands out from the rest of the ZIMo offerings I’ve looked at by being a system agnostic adventure meant to be compatible with the fantasy game system of your choice. Created by Rhodrick Magsino and meant for 1-4 players and one gamemaster, it will have you riding – or dying – across a horror/fantasy fictional version of the Philippines as you ferry a Babaylan refugee across a jungle mountain on a tricycle taxi in a single night. Along the way you’ll contend with nightmarish monsters and have to deal with both the violent colonial occupation and the island’s brewing revolution.

The adventure will consist of two extremely stylish-looking pamphlets, one for players and one for the gamemaster. On the player side there’ll be unique items and backstories, rules for stunt driving and mobile combat, and ways to customize your ride that will suggest allegiance with either the revolution or the colonial powers. The GM half will include everything you need to actually run the adventure like monster/NPC/encounter descriptions, charts, and instructions. There’s a lot of character packed into just the campaign pitch, and it sounds like a wild ride indeed.

You can look at a preview of the player pamphlet here. In terms of its Crowdundr campaign, Traysikel is an eyebrow-raising steal: it will only cost you $2 to get a PDF copy of the game, and only $8 for the full color pamphlet print version. There are also community copy and deluxe game-with-the-creator options, as well as options to get Remember Frankie? to support Traysikel’s creation.

Ailing Away

The year is 1905 and you have tuberculosis. The prognosis is not good and your spirits have been very low. Threatened by the prospect that you might die young and unmarried, your father sends you to an exclusive spa-hotel in Venice to convalesce. The air is supposed to be wonderful for your lungs, and the hotel offers many treatments to aid the recovery efforts of its attractive, consumptive, and wealthy patrons.

This seaside vacation hasn’t been good for everyone’s health, of course. There’s only room for you on the patient list because there’s been a murder. One of the eight people taking accommodations at the hotel was the victim of a perfect crime and you’re determined to solve it.

“A little bit like CLUE but it’s meant for one player, you get to kiss some of the suspects, and there’s no board to set up,” Ailing Away is designed by Justin Vandermeer. You’ll need a copy of the game, a deck of standard playing cards, a pair of d10s, writing implements of your choice, and yourself… although the pitch notes that it also be played as a one-on-one GM and player game. 

The particular trick of Ailing Away’s mystery is that there are 8 potential suspects, each of which could end up as a friend or romantic partner, and one of them dies at random before you start playing. The game has 48 clues scattered among the suspects for you to find, but in order to ferret them out you’ll need to risk either your social standing or your health – getting booted out or succumbing to your illness before you solve the mystery is a real possibility. Both of those can also be changed, ideally for the positive, via gifts/developing relationships and treatments respectively (you are, after all, here for your health).

8 Canadabucks will get you the digital only version on Crowdfundr – bump that up to Can$20 and you’ll get the physical version and add a community copy to the game’s pool. There are additional tiers for a custom Detective’s Journal to write in and a deluxe tier for some custom art and a personalized letter. Note that the physical tiers say Can$X + free shipping, but the actual descriptions of said tiers will tell you that shipping will merely be charged later.

Soft Focuses

You are an alternate version of yourself.

You have ADHD.

How will the circumstances that surround you affect your life?

Created by Chris Legge, Soft Focuses (which is actually funding its Second Edition) is a solo journaling game that encourages the player to experience their life as if they had ADHD. Your stats are for Social Functions like Impulse Control and Forgetfulness, and Executive Functions lie Time Management and Cognitive Flexibility – the higher their number, the more affected they are by your ADHD. 

You record your activities from the day, creating each as an event, and then roll a d6 and subtract the relevant stat for each to see how it went. Maybe you succeeded with a final result of 5 or more, or had to rush because you were delayed on a 3 or 4, or couldn’t even begin to attempt the task because of a -2 or less. You might have medication that could help, until it doesn’t. Maybe you have coping skills for some of your issues which might get you through them. Maybe the hyperfocus kicks in and either acts like a superpower or completely trips you up.

Aside from generating a print version the Second Edition is adding new rules to include co-occurrences to the game that people with ADHD sometimes also have to live with, such as autism, anxiety, and depression. It is also working to allow you to use Soft Focuses within other games, add mechanics to better represent ADHD in the first place, and to make it less taxing to play the game if you actually have ADHD. 

Making games about this sort of thing can be very challenging, and you’ve got to put in the work. I wasn’t too sure of this one when the press kit landed on my desk, I’ll admit – I have ADHD myself and have both struggled with it and dealt with the stereotypical reactions to it for decades. To say that a game like this hits close to home would be very accurate. The degree of empathy on display, however, and the continued efforts to improve the game, have me convinced – I believe every game I’m covering deserves the funds it needs, but this is one of the ones I made sure to pledge for.

You can check out the first edition and download the text only rules for free here. $7 on Crowdfundr will get you the digital copy (and any extras that get added). $15-18 will get you the physical version (the lower price is for the first 50 copies in an early bird deal), with additional tiers for getting multiple copies including one for use as a mental health professional.

Zine Month proper, as in February, is behind us but the creativity continues for now – as with some of the ZQ projects Aaron listed, several of Crowdfundr’s Tabletop Nonstop Spotlight projects only just started and have a ways to go. I’m going to give things a bit more time to cool down, and then I’ll be doing a bit of an examination:

How has Crowdfundr worked out this year for creators and customers alike, and unlike other non-KS platforms, can we look forward to putting in an effort in the future?

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