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Indie initiative SideQuest bookends the year with a second zine-focused TRPG event

Like Zinequest, but more collaborative and festive.

A designer collective has announced plans to host SideQuest 2021, an event similar to February’s Zinequest, in November of this year. It will provide creators a second opportunity to crowdfund zine-sized projects without tying them to a single platform or website, stressing a collaborative spirit and pooling of resources.

For the past three years, the Kickstarter-hosted Zinequest invited tabletop designers of all stripes and experience levels to create and fund a small game within a month-long time frame, usually beginning in February. Last year’s offering ran the gamut from Apothecaria’s solo journaling RPGs about a fledgling hedge witch and Low Stakes’ pulp horror-meets-sitcom vibes to the psychedelic Aether Operations and simple, reflective Precious Little Animal.

Zine Creators Workshop, the game dev incubator behind SideQuest, believes Zinequest’s popularity smothers many projects by dint of Kickstarter’s webpage design and the sheer limits of players’ time and money. “ZineQuest is so successful that many designers wait all year to launch projects. Kickstarter becomes flooded with indie games campaigns. The rest of the year, it becomes hard for new designers to promote zine-sized offerings,” a press release read.

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SideQuest’s founder Marc Strocks hopes it vents a little pressure by offering a second stage for small games. Titles launched during the upcoming initiative can be hosted on Kickstarter, Itch.io or the designer’s personal website - campaigns are still encouraged to include the SideQuest logo and reach out to ensure they are linked on the official website.

Throughout November, members of the Zine Creators Workshop and its associates will share the submitted projects and effectively create a grassroots advertising push across social media and other online channels. Individual creators can join this effort to buoy all ships on a collective tide, as it were. One of the stated goals of SideQuest is to succeed without “need[ing] companies to advertise for us”, according to its Itch.io information page.

Strocks and peers have another dream - sustain that spirit of collaboration beyond the end of month. “I was excited for ZineQuest but didn’t see any community form between participants. I created a Discord server to help people network and lift each other up. We don’t need corporations. We work together to show what indie resources can do,” they said.

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Participating projects must be a tabletop game, supplement or other sourcebook designed in a zine or pamphlet format - the creators recommend A5 or smaller paper in a folded, stapled or saddle-stitched arrangement. It also must crowdfund for roughly two weeks between November 1st and 30th of this year on Itch.io, Kickstarter or a similar website, and the project cannot promote hate speech or bigotry of any kind.

Spencer Campbell, whose own recent work on the LUMEN system reference document has spawned a thriving ecosystem of hacks and adaptation said SideQuest “represents everything I love about the indie RPG scene: an opportunity for a wide variety of designers to show off their amazing work, and the community lifting one another up together."

More information on guidelines for submitting a project can be found here. All games will be crosslisted on the SideQuest 2021 website, along with details about the designer and other contributors.

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Chase Carter avatar

Chase Carter


Chase is a freelance journalist and media critic. He enjoys the company of his two cats and always wants to hear more about that thing you love. Follow him on Twitter for photos of said cats and retweeted opinions from smarter folks.