The Gaming Shelf Slips Into Memory and Magic

As Kickstarter's ZineQuest picks up, we're highlighting six crowdfunding games alongside our featured creator.

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Image: Batts

This August is Kickstarter’s ZineQuest! Originally every February, the timing was changed in 2022 to coincide with GenCon. However, after a lot of feedback, they’ve changed it back to February for 2023. But: That does mean that there are a ton of crowdfunding projects, so we’ll be skipping over new releases this week. Enjoy all these very good games!

Featured Designer: John Battle

Also known as Batts, John Battle has been writing innovative and exciting games for years. One of my first encounters with their work was in 2020, when he published The Wizards and the Wastes, an innovative, immersive game about spellcasters attempting to make a difference before they’re turned into something... else. Currently, Batts is crowdfunding Lilancholy, an experimental TTRPG that is more concerned with the poetry of game-making than rolling dice.

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Image for article titled The Gaming Shelf Slips Into Memory and Magic
Image: Batts

Lilancholy is a playable, extended lyric game that drags you through the memories of an old woman as she recounts the moments during her life when she intersected with the fae. It’s an immersive storytelling text that encourages you to interact with the story through childlike games and rituals. It’s a bit like a fable, a bit like a dream where you don’t really want to wake up, because then the magic of this one, singular moment will be gone.

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Batts’ work always leans experimental and expressive. There’s .dungeon, which imagines the collective tabletop imaginarium as a massive multiplayer online world. My Body is a Cage, where adventurers must balance the mundane and the magical, won Most Innovative during the Indie Game Design Network Indie Groundbreaker awards this year. They’ve also written Iron & Lies, a dungeon-crawl through a fae-infested bathhouse. Lilancholy seems to combine a lot of the themes of their past works, invoking fae magic, memory, and the tenuous boundary between reality and fantasy to create a game that is as haunting as it is lovely.


Crowdfunding: One Breath Left, The Average Trooper, Rune, Notorious, One Night Worlds, Fungiable

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In One Breath Left: “You are an Explorer, attempting to determine what happened aboard a now-abandoned spaceship, known as the Wreck. As you explore, you’ll document what you find while trying to avoid a perilous fate, and count every breath you take (in case it becomes your last!)“

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The Average Trooper: Skeleton Mayhem is a tribute to all the classic punk zines with a wacky game TTRPG system and a self-generating story dungeon in it! The game centers around a group of skeletons who go on a journey for the great lich of the Necropolis and go through changes with each encounter!”

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Image: Gila RPGs
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RUNE is a solo tabletop RPG being developed by Spencer Campbell of Gila RPGs. It is heavily inspired by the Soulsborne genre of video games, including Dark Souls , Bloodborne , and Elden Ring. RUNE combines narrative exploration with tactical combat to capture the environmental storytelling and high stakes combat you love in soulslike games.”

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Notorious is a sci-fi themed tabletop roleplaying game for one player. Play to tell stories of the Nomads; notorious bounty hunters who strike fear among the scum and villainy of the universe and follow the dubious code of the Nomad’s Guild.”

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One Night Worlds is a collection of zero-prep, GM-less, one-page ttrpgs. With each of the included games you can learn the rules, create characters, and discover a whole new world with your friends, all in one night. You’ll be guided by a simple TTRPG rules system that emphasizes collaborative storytelling and creates dramatic moments of risky choices.”

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Image: Thom Owen
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Fungiable is a solo journaling game that uses Chris Bissette and Matt Sander’s Wretched & Alone structure with a unique exploding dice mechanic. Using a set of 7 standard polyhedral dice, a deck of playing cards and a way to record your journey, the player is ushered through the game. While playing, you will be journaling the outcomes of your choices and their consequences, some of which relies on entropy delivered by playing cards and dice rolls. Will you be able to tell when enough is enough or will you keep pushing that luck?”

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