Another February means another opportunity to dive into the annual well of creativity surrounding tabletop RPG zines. What started with ZineQuest has expanded to include grassroots organisers, alternative crowdfunding platforms and the wayward support of Kickstarter - all collecting into 30 days of small, meaningful creations from outside the traditional publishing scene.
If you’ve never taken part in a previous ZineQuest/Zine Month, prepare for a slew of crowdfunding projects hosted primarily on Kickstarter, Backerkit and relative newcomer Crowdfundr, all of which will campaign to create a full game, supplement, tool or other tabletop-related product formatted into a zine - that most classic expression of indie tabletop design. Most campaigns run for two weeks, at most and can start anytime within the next month.
Dicebreaker will be writing about different projects throughout February and collecting them under a neat tag for easy browsing (found at the bottom of this story!). Below, I’ll list some links and resources to help the curious and excited players find their next adventure or booklet of random tables, but look forward to some deeper dives into especially interesting campaigns here on the main site.
What is ZineQuest, er… Zine Month?
ZineQuest began as a Kickstarter initiative to provide more support to independent and smaller tabletop creators who felt pushed out of the spotlight by massively successful campaigns that raised seven-figure amounts and highly polished books from the likes of Chaosium, Free League and other established names that, frankly, weren’t solely reliant on crowdfunding to make a living.
In 2022, Kickstarter shunted ZineQuest’s usual February timeslot back into August, ostensibly to coincide with Gen Con. Many creators were baffled and upset that they would need to split their time between physically attending the annual Indianapolis convention and running a crowdfunding campaign - both laborious endeavours and vital to paying the bills. Thus, the grassroots Zine Month rose to fill the February void and offered stranded designers a new harbour.
Kickstarter eventually reneged on the ZineQuest shuffle, and last year Crowdfundr began the Tabletop Nonstop spotlight (its success guaranteed a return in 2024 - more on that in a bit). The result is a bustling and vibrant ecosystem of tabletop-focused creation blooming throughout the month across multiple websites. It can be a bit intimidating to know where to look, but we have some tips below.
Where to find zines
Kickstarter’s ZineQuest tag is the best way to browse the current and upcoming crowdfunding projects hosted on the tabletop platform of choice. There’s already a few dozen active projects finding an audience, and more are scheduled to go live in the coming weeks. Kickstarter hasn’t always been the best advocate for indie creators - the Zinequest initiative itself seemingly suffers as a corporate afterthought with little marketing and resources - but the OG promoter still deserves some credit.
Crowdfundr’s Tabletop Nonstop Spotlight returns this year for another batch of special attention paid to the RPG folks who chose to fund their projects on a relative newcomer to the crowdfunding scene. Throughout the month, Crowndfundr plans to highlight tabletop creations on the platform’s main page has dedicated extra promotion and marketing prowess to those creators in the hopes of better surfacing them to prospective customers. You can check out the Tabletop Nonstop Spotlight here, which will update periodically.
The grassroots organised Zine Month has apparently hit a snag this year, as the main website where projects were collected from across the internet and handily pooled on a single page is apparently down and experiencing some major difficulties. We’ll let you know if and when it comes back, but a backup site hosted by Luke of Æther Corp Games is already continuing the good work.
ZineQuest, or Zine Month, has never been a blockbuster financial success on the level of Gamefound’s massive boxes or the Avatar Legends Kickstarter campaign, but it also never aspired to set records. Like the best farmer’s market or community centre art sale, it carves out a little niche on the internet where we can all buy some weird and wonderful RPG creations outside of the usual hustle and grind.