Indie Games Get the Spotlight During Zine Month

Indie Games Get the Spotlight During Zine Month

It’s hard to describe the scope of the indie tabletop roleplaying scene during an average month, but it’s never more difficult than in February. For the past three years, February has been home to Zine Month — or ZiMo — during which indie TTRPGs attempt to crowdfund books and games.

ZiMo is a community-forward project that was created from Kickstarter’s 2019 Zine Quest initiative as a way of bringing back old school RPG zines, and has since expanded into an industry-wide movement across multiple crowdfunding sites. The sheer expanse of games being crowdfunded, promoted, and developed is overwhelming, but I’ll try to give y’all a place to start and what to look for. As a ZiMo alum, this movement has a special place in my heart, and I hope that everyone finds at least one game (or two, or three, or a dozen) they’re excited about.

Where do I look?

Indie Games Get the Spotlight During Zine Month

Discovery has always been a problem when it comes to almost any game that isn’t published by either Paizo or Wizards of the Coast. That being said, both Kickstarter and CrowdFunder are using their platforms specifically for Zine Month. Kickstarter is doing Zine Quest again (the initiative that started it all) and CrowdFundr is supporting Tabletop Nonstop, both focused on small RPG zines and games. There are some games crowdfunding on, which offers less customisation and even less opportunities for discovery, but keeps everything in one place. Indiegogo is another option for crowdfunding, but there’s not a lot on there at the moment and the discovery options are extremely poor — and the sorting options are skewed towards popularity rather than any other metric.

Honestly, and it pains me to say this, a lot of folks are on Twitter promoting their work. It’s a great place to find and follow creators, not just during Zine Month, but throughout the year. Many designers and indie outfits use ZiMo as a barometer for their future slate of projects, not just the project that they are immediately funding. There’s a feeling of camaraderie online, and often one designer will hype up other projects, lending their support to multiple games either through promotion or acting as a “guest writer” for other games. You can also look on the Zine Month site for a self-submitted list of crowdfunding projects.

Taking a risk on a new game

Indie Games Get the Spotlight During Zine Month

One of the really great things about ZiMo is that so many games are being offered at low price points — PDFs can go for as little as $US5 ($7). So even if you have a small budget you can still pick up a couple really great standalone games or modules, and support small, indie creators. There’s a lot of really great work being done with popular systems. Mothership, Primal, and Old School Roleplaying-based RPGs are all getting some incredible third party content.

So here’s the thing: there are hundreds of games crowdfunding this February. I can’t possibly list them all. I am, however, going to pull out a couple favourites in the following slides that I think you should check out. Hopefully you find one or a few that you might enjoy.

9 fantasy games currently crowdfunding

Image: watt
Image: watt
  • Cloud Empress An expansive Nausicaa-inspired fantasy setting for Mothership Sci-fi Horror RPG. Cloud Empress will be produced as two full-colour, saddle-stitched zines, and five adventure pamphlets.
  • Tangled Blessings — A solo journaling or two-player RPG inspired by dark academia media, ghost stories, and graduate school.
  • Ends of the Earth — A system-agnostic hexcrawl through a weird fantasy setting where the more the characters learn about what’s going on, the weirder it gets.
  • Odyssey — Discover the truth behind the myth in this grim and deadly RPG; join Ulysses’ crew and face the dangers of the Mediterranean.
  • TLD RPG — A rules-light RPG inspired by games like Forgotten Lands and Mork Borg.
  • Path of the Immortal: A Guide to Ascension — A system-agnostic pocketbook manual to becoming a god or falling into lichdom.
  • Lordsworn — A GM-less TTRPG for 1-4 players. Each player takes on the role of three Lordsworns, soldiers who swore themselves to a (now dead) God in an apocalyptical battle between the Gods.
  • Pixie Punks — Play as a rotten (unseelie) fey trying to stop the invasion of your homeland. This zine contains all the rules needed to create fey characters, and adventures in the world of Fairy.
  • The Priory of Red Peitor A Quick and Dirty solo RPG adventure delve for Marching Order.

7 science fiction games currently crowdfunding

Indie Games Get the Spotlight During Zine Month
  • CONTACT A cosmic tabletop storytelling game where players communicate with aliens through song and tarot.
  • Echoes in my Hull A solo journaling game about remembering the people we have lost.
  • Low-Res Futures — Millenarian cyber witchcraft augmented reality death games from 199X.
  • Project ECCO — A game of time travel and cosmic horror — a solo journaling game with a twist.
  • Grandmothership — A TTRPG for 2-4 players and 1 GM about space, horror, and senior ladies piecing together a mystery.
  • Earth to Jupiter — A solo epistolary roleplaying game. You write messages as Cassiopeia, holed up in “the University” during a planetary apocalypse.
  • Bio-Drones & Cryo-Clones — A facility-crawl module for Mothership RPG inspired by the body horror of Cronenburg’s The Fly and a twisted take on Metroidvania “save stations;” explore the revived ruins of the Mountain Forces R&D Facility.

5 horror games currently crowdfunding

Indie Games Get the Spotlight During Zine Month
  • The Bloom  — Something sinister is creeping beneath the town of Coldwater. Campers have gone missing, but the townsfolk won’t say a word and the authorities are less than helpful. Can your team of Investigators find out the truth and save the town before it’s too late?
  • Seven Murders til Midnight You play the role of a detective. You might be a cop, a reporter, or just a concerned citizen. In any case, you find yourself on the trail of a serial killer.
  • Splat 4: Frights — A zine focused on how to safely and meaningfully play with horror in TTRPGs.
  • Traysikel – Ride or Die! — A system-agnostic one shot, where a rebel cabbie must ferry a Babaylan fugitive across the jungle mountain on a tricycle taxi in a single evening.
  • Ruination Pilgrimage — A Panic Engine RPG of Medieval Horror with demons, pestilence, knights, priests, saints’ relics, angels, and Ruination or Redemption

10 ungovernable games currently crowdfunding

Indie Games Get the Spotlight During Zine Month
  • Hit the Road, Jack — A solo/duet game of adrenaline rush and creeping terror. Of chasing and being chased, of being forced to face your sins or to leave them all behind. It is a game of cat and mouse between two characters that we call the Jacks.
  • Horsegirl A solo GM-less journaling game in which you will document your surgical and mental transformation into a horse by the love of your life.
  • Kill Kindness — A TTRPG about fighting an alt-right, Christofascist government in dystopian, post-apocalyptic Florida. A Zine Quest 5 project.
  • Bastardized Classics — Recreating classic OSR modules with a modern sensibility.
  • Real Housespouses of X — A Real Housewives-inspired Liminal Horror adventure module no one asked for.
  • Pesto’s Guide to Testing — A comprehensive guide to TTRPG testing aimed at new creators, but includes plenty of tips and resources for experienced designers as well.
  • My Mother’s Kitchen — A solo journaling game about traditions, change, and cooking. You play as the author of the original family cookbook, robbed of memory and trapped on Earth as the spirit of your cookbook.
  • Bullets & Bourbon A card-based tabletop RPG where the players take on the role of Cowpokes — outlaws, bounty killers, homesteaders, and other folks that have come out West in search of something – or the Dealer, who serves as a referee and storyteller.
  • Morpholomancy — A cooperative rules-lite micro-RPG for 3-6 players where players harness their creativity to fight through a series of randomly-generated obstacles on a quest to pass their final exam.
  • Strictly Between Us A live-action role-playing game for 4-20 players where players will explore the intricacies of a changing relationship through blues dancing.

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