Zine Quest 2 – You Don't Know What You Don't Know…

Until, that is, you try to do it.

Having finally settled myself on the idea of using Corsairs for the upcoming Zine Quest, I’m left with a whole bunch of ‘what next’ questions I know I need to answer, and whole lot more I don’t even know I need to answer yet.

What questions? Well I have a to-do list, and part of that list is comprised of the things I need to finish on the game itself, and a larger part of that list is the host of things I need to learn, find answers to, and do. This list is far from complete, and I have the feeling that I’ll be adding a whole lot more questions to it as I work through this process from knowing nothing, to getting a Zine Kickstarter ready to launch for February’s Zine Quest 2.

I recently had the opportunity to speak briefly with the kind and excellent Ben Hoban of Red Genie Games. In that short call Ben covered a myriad of things about Red Genie’s own experiences and learning curve with the first Zine Quest, and the practicalities of things like printing, and shipping. He also talked about momentum in a Kickstarter, keeping things moving, keeping people involved. Having things to reveal or show about the project, and getting input from backers along the way.

I spoke to a local graphic design company I know, and they talked about the differences between offset and digital printing, and some of the considerations to take into account. They also gave me the names of some of the printers they have used and would recommend, and I have added them to the Zine Quest page on this website.

I spoke to an artist about the costs and things involved with commissioning art, the things like licences for commercial use, and the costs involved (which will vary from artist to artist). In fact, I spent hours and hours looking through Twitter, Deviant Art, and ArtStation for artists who listed they were interested in freelance work, and whose styles I felt would suit Corsairs. Contact information is hard to come by at times, and as of writing this, there are still many emails that have gone unanswered, and which may never be answered.

Still there are questions, questions about printing and costs, about the weight of the paper and cover, the weight of the finished book, and the costs of shipping that may be involved if I have to send physical copies around Australia or overseas. There are questions about layout in preparation for printing, And there are questions about what the overall costs involved are going to be. These costs will indicate what the funding goal for the project will be, as well as what the cost per physical copy will need to be. There are questions about taxes and fees, particularly for overseas markets. There are questions I am not yet aware are questions, that I will need to find, and then find answers to.

It’s a process, but a process I have started. Links I find, articles I find, and information I uncover I will endeavor to add to the Zine page here in case it should prove useful to anyone else going through the same process. Which reminds me… if YOU are going through this process and have any links to share please let me know! I’ll add them to the Zines page and hopefully they’ll be useful to others as well! Also consider joining up here, collaboration can be a powerful way of helping each other get things done!

Zine Quest 2 – Choices

Will I or won’t I? Oh, the agony of choice…

‘What choice?’ I hear you bellow at the screen in rapturous anticipation.

Ok, calm down. It’s this: with the goal of participating in next year’s Zine Quest abuzz in my mind, the question that burns most keenly is whether to use the game I have been working on, Corsairs, for my zine, or whether to develop a new game specifically for the purpose.

Corsairs is in late development, and had Zine Quest not hoved into view on the horizon like an ice-burg with bloody intent, it would have been released this month through itch.io and DriveThru, like my other micro-rpgs.

But… But… with Zine Quest approaching, am I best to set my sights higher? Am I best to take this game, already close to completion, and use that for the Zine Quest? It gives me time to focus on the other aspects that need to be done: to get art, to finish and polish the writing, to add some things… Or should I finish and release Corsairs, and then develop a new game for Zine Quest?

I think I have the answer… using Corsairs for my zine will allow me more time to playtest, allow me more time to really add to what is there, allow me time to get art, and allow me time to polish everything and lay it out ready. Yes, I know that Kickstarters don’t need to be finished when the project launches, but having it well developed already gives me space in the next months to delve into publication, packaging, shipping, and all those other aspects that are involved.

I had Corsairs nearly fully laid out in A4, and now I need to start again in A5, I’m sure for professionals this is only a small hurdle, but I am still learning, and layout takes me time. I think it will be worth it though, Corsairs will be a developed and playtested game, it will include all the rules required for characters, ships, and ship combat. It will include background material, and will also probably include at least one adventure.

I think it will be awesome. No, it won’t replace D&D, but it isn’t designed to. It’s designed for short run campaigns, for high action and adventure, for quick play, and hopefully, much fun! For anyone looking forward to Zine Quest, I hope that the prospect of broad-sides and daring-do in the skies among floating islands has you as excited as I am!

Zine Quest 2 – Beginnings

In February of 2019 Kickstarter ran something called Zine Quest. Zine Quest was an invitation to creators to launch RPG related Zine Kickstarter projects. These zines are small (A5 or smaller) booklets paying homage to and heralding back to the early days of the role playing game hobby. They may contain full games, or contain RPG related content.

In response 103 Zines were launched on Kickstarter over the course of February, and according to this article from Kickstarter, these projects had a 93% success rate. From zines containing games about Cats and Goblin towns, to maps and mazes, adventures, and articles, these zines ran the gamut. I heard about the Zine Quest too late to participate this year, but have been holding out for news as to whether Kickstarter would run it again in 2020. They are.

Zine Quest 2 will be launching in February of 2020, and this coming year I bet there will be more Zines; I’ll be interested to see how it goes. I for one am hoping to add something to the mix.

What will it involve? A zine must contain RPG related content (full games, adventures, articles, or whatever else a creator can think of). A Zine needs to be A5 or smaller, and must be unbound, folded, saddle stitched, or stapled, no hard cover or perfect binding. A zine must feature one colour printing, although it doesn’t have to be black on white paper. The Kickstarter campaign should have no more than a two-week funding period, and may be launched anywhere between February the 2nd, and February the 29th, 2020. The page containing all the relevant information is here.

To help myself (and hopefully anyone else), I have added a Zine Quest page to this website with links I have picked up trawling the interwebs. Hopefully the links are a useful source of information for anyone looking to participate, and it’s something I’ll be adding to (so if you have any good links or information, please let me know and I’ll add it!). I have also made a Facebook group for Aussie creators, though people from anywhere in the world are welcome to join up. I hope this is a place where people can share resources, ask questions, and offer support to one another as we work towards creating something for and launching our Zine Quest campaigns.

So if you have links that would be useful, I’d love to add them here, and if you are considering joining in the Zine Quest 2020, we’d love to have you in the Facebook group!

Now to ponder my next steps…

Straining the Rigging…

A customs official with a fondness for wine had let slip word of the Trepidation, a fluyt carrying tonnes of sacks of bat guano mined from Teboa’s cave systems. Some gentle persuasion in an alley behind the tavern helped the customs man recall the Trepidation’s intended port. Nursing a bruise or two and a headache, the man would be back at duty the next day, but by then, the Courser would be well underway in pursuit…

Orange-red and blinding, the sun crested the horizon, its rise echoed by three bells; an hour and a half into the morning watch. With any luck the crew of the sloop, the Courser, would sight the sails of the Trepidation before eight bells called the forenoon watch to their posts. The Trepidation had been running for three days, but the Courser had a strong wind, and her crew had been bending every yard of sail to make ground.

This was no simple raid, naturally the Courser meant to take as much from the Trepidation as possible, but that guano was destined for the manufacture of saltpetre, and saltpetre is used to make gunpowder. Any chance to stick one to the Alderil Empire was a chance gladly jumped at. Stealing a shipment that would end up as gunpowder was a golden opportunity to kick the Empire, the fact they would make money doing it was just a little extra shine on what promised to be an excellent day.


Corsairs is the next Micro-Role Playing Game to be released by Caradoc Games. It’s a game of piracy and high-action, a game of sky ships and broadsides, of boarding actions and loot. A game of empires, whose exploitation and depredations have driven many to take to the skies as Corsairs, and fight back!

Corsairs is a unique and simple game system, with players rolling both Skill and Difficulty Dice. Characters are quick to make, and the mechanisms designed to encourage high-action adventures. Exploding skill dice, conditions like ‘Charmed’ and ‘Cursed’, and the use of ‘Luck’ are all key parts of the game.

In Corsairs, the mighty sky ship is just as important as the characters, and each ship has it’s own sheet. Corsairs includes rules for ship-to-ship actions, gaining loot, attempting running repairs, and the upkeep of the ship.

Playtesting…

Every aspect of Corsairs is designed to be thematic, fun, and yet simple and streamlined. Characters gain experience and may improve their skills, and the game is designed to be played over 4 to 8 game-long campaigns, or through standalone adventures.

I’m still in the process of trimming and editing, and when the game is finished (which is planned to be early in November) it will include all the usual RPG rules, rules for ships and loot, a number of stat blocks for NPCs, and an adventure.

I’m planning for Corsairs to the first of the games I have released to have a set minimum price, probably something like $2.99 or $3.99. Patreon supporters will, of course, get the game for free!

It’s a Small World On RPGs…

This week I was a guest on the OnRPGs Podcast with the inestimable Donald Dennis. If you’re interested, I’m on episode 76: It’s a Small World.

Don and I talk about a range of things, but mostly about my games, and about creating micro-RPGs. Don has a wealth of experience, apart from being a regular GM and player, Don also worked for Iron Crown Enterprises back in the day and has a history with RPGs that runs deep. It was (as it always is), a lot of fun chatting. We’re hoping to catch up and and record ourselves creating a game together at some stage in the future, which should be good fun!


A quick reminder that my game, Owlbear Omelette, still features in the Colludium One bundle of RPGs, available both on DriveThruRPG and Itch.io.

This bundle is a fantastic chance to grab a bunch of different, interesting, and funny small press role playing games! Get on it, the bundle won’t be up for too much longer!

Laying it all out…

If you ever find yourself Googling ‘How many fonts are too many fonts’, chances are you’ve already used too many fonts. At the moment I am working on my next micro-RPG, tentatively called ‘Corsairs’, and I’m moving out of my MS Word based comfort zone, and delving into the deep waters of Affinity Publisher.

Affinity Publisher is a program designed to do, essentially, what In-Design does, it’s a publishing program with a whole bunch of functions and features that I am unfamiliar with, and do not understand. Making the leap from Word, where I can make something that looks pretty reasonable (at least to my untrained eye), and into the murky waters of a desktop publishing program has been enlightening, frustrating, tear-inducing, and invigorating. Yes, it’s been a roller-coaster.

No cover image yet…

Corsairs has been an interesting project, essentially I am working on two very different drafts. The first is the draft of the rules and game itself, and the second is a draft of playing with the program and trying to get it to do things. The first is ground I feel comfortable on, and the second has been a struggle, I won’t deny it.

Luckily for me there are a whole bunch of tutorial videos on the Affinity website, which has been a massive help. I also downloaded the Affinity Publisher Beginner’s Guide, by Nathanael Roux, which was very informative, and came with a bunch of backgrounds and fonts that have been very useful! I would highly recommend Nathanael’s guide, not only does it come with useful resources, it is also a great source of general information about the program itself.

So why make the leap? I suppose it’s because I wanted to stretch myself, and to try and make the games I’m releasing look a little more professional and well put together than they have in the past. Am I succeeding? Well, I am not familiar with the ins and outs of visual design, but I am slowly coming to grips with the program, and I am enjoying the flexibility it offers. This was something I had been intending to do for a little while, but have been putting it off. I’m glad I finally made the leap. While I’m sure that the games I release will still undoubtedly look like they were put together by an amateur (no denying it), I think that as a whole, they will look better produced than what I had been releasing previously.

Little details, like the ease of adding art to the document, the ability to create Master Pages, and the capacity to use the background around the document to make templates and tables you can copy and use throughout are all elements I am enjoying. I am even slowly becoming more familiar with such terms as kerning, who would have thought it!

I have been enjoying using Affinity Publisher, and I am strongly considering getting Affinity Designer to go along with it. All the box outlines and diagrams in Corsairs I have drawn in Corel Painter Essentials, but the capacity to shift between Publisher and Designer is something that really has me curious.

Affinity Publisher is an excellent program, and while learning it (and I am still learning it) has been a roller-coaster, it is pretty straightforward to use, and offers a lot of flexibility. Having struggled through creating something close to a working draft of Corsairs, I think I would find it hard going to turn back to Word. Affinity is well worth the entry price, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

The beginnings of a character sheet takes form as a Master Page which I can drop in anywhere. No matter where it appears in the document, any alteration to the master page alters them all. A great and very useful feature!

Corsairs will be, I think, the next game released by Caradoc Games. It is coming together nicely, but more about that in another post…