Ask anyone who can remember a few decades back and they will remind you of the beloved halcyon days of magazines dedicated to RPG’s. In today’s digital age, we are not exactly starved for content, however holding a magazine dedicated to a smaller, easy to pick-up role-playing game is something that many have missed. I have fond memories from High School reading and sharing these zines with my war gaming club. From fan made D&D or White Wolf content, to articles on how to improve your games to smaller self-contained hyper focused RPG’s, Zine such as these kept the hobby going and were a highly sought-after commodity in the convention scene. I miss conventions…
ZineQuest is an annual Kickstarter initiative that seeks to promote and support content creators in creating and crowdfunding RPG zines. This is the third year of ZineQuest and like a crazed Dungeon Master, has many exiting and original zines ready to be backed, printed, and sent out to eager fans (physically or digitally) ready for something fresh to play. While I will be focusing on five zines in the campaign, please take time to look at all of ZineQuest’s offering throughout February 2021.
So, you ready to see some new zines to whet your appetite?
Let’s get started.
1) City of Flesh
Offered to us by the dynamite team of Elizabeth Chaipraditkul and Steffie de Vaan (both icons in the RPG community and members of the Onyx Path Publishing family), City of Flesh features an utterly unique and appetizing tarot-based system. The gameplay changes with each game as you create the gothic city of Nagara and attempt to navigate the political and mystical threats players find within its walls.
As much as I would love to continue gushing over the setting, what truly grabbed me was the sheer beauty of the art and layout of City of Flesh. Harkening back to classic White Wolf books mixed with the zine’s own grimdark setting the art itself it worth the small price of admission. This isn’t just the evolution of the typewriter based zines of the past, City of Flesh is an upgrade in quality and imaginative content.
You can find the Kickstarter campaign for City of Flesh at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1568822309/city-of-flesh and I strongly recommend it.
2) Low Stakes
And now for something different in all the best ways. Low Stakes is a rules light RPG setting where players take the role of various monsters (Vamps, Furrybois, ghosts, normies and mystics) and in a very sitcom like way, tread through life dealing with their roommates and the mundane world. Low Stakes creator Craig Campbell describes the methodology of the setting as inspired by the classic Vampire movie and television show What We Do in the Shadows and with that explanation, the game’s reliance on lighthearted mundane comedy shines.
Although personally, I will be running this as a more undead Golden Girls setting.
The art that we have seen from Low Stakes is likewise beautifully cartoonish and evocative of its light tone and setting. This will definitely appeal to fans of Ravenloft and White Wolf games.
Check out Low stakes at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1582756696/low-stakes
3)Mage to Order
An ironic look at a society of Mages, Mage to Order puts players in the role of magical maintenance workers in the technomantic city of Thelema. Putting an emphasis upon those most frequently taken for granted in society, your workers fix, clean, and work hard for their city even if they are frequently unthought of and underappreciated.
Mage to Orders’ creators, Drowning Moon Studios designed an easy to learn D6 system for this game and along with a compelling setting is worth a look. You may find the campaign for Mage to Order at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/drowningmoonstudios/mage-to-order-zinequest
4) Choose Your Own Skills
Creator Kenna May brings forth a new way for Dungeon & Dragons players and DM’S to streamline and customize skill checks. With an emphasis on enriching storytelling and removing lengthy barriers on rolls which often bog down games, Choose-your-own Skills offers a new tool to keep everyone invested in the game and deepen your story by exploring why your PC has some of the abilities they do.
While being a shorter 12-page zine, Choose-your-own Skills promotes their hack as a time saver and I for one can get on board. You may find the campaign for Choose-your-own skills at
5) A Tangled Web Vol 1
Creator Benjamin McCown seeks to take your NPC’s and connect them together via relationships, intrigue and story hooks that will enrich your games. A Tangled Web Vol 1 gives DM’s quick and easy charts that allow them to bring these often-neglected NPC’s to life.
The art for this zine is created by McCown and Christian Stryffeler and it really stands out as a stark and gothic representation of what one can expect from this zine.
While McCown has stated that Vol 1 features only city content, he has said that more is on its way and I for one am looking forward to that. Follow the life to find out more, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/benmccown/a-tangled-web-vol-1-zinequest-3
With that being said, this is just a taste of what ZineQuest 3 has to offer, check them out and if you have the ability, please support these and other creators. I, for one, will start planning for my own zine submission for next year….after all, don’t we need more mutant dinosaurs in our games?
Michael Jacobson is a freelance writer and a US Sailor. His work has been featured in products like Snowhaven 2nd Ed, Night Horrors: Shunned by the Moon and more coming thru the pipes. When he isn’t running games, running in general and drinking Dr.Pepper he can be found fanboying out about Dinosaurs, Star Wars and turtle of both normal and the Ninja Mutant variety.
All blog materials created and developed by the staff here at High Level Games