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Great creators making great games

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    Nick Gralewicz

Every February (~ish) is Zine Month, an event where indie game designers try to fund and publish new tabletop roleplaying games.

There are almost 300 games seeking funding in ZiMo 2024 and they run the gamut: some are beautiful, some are weird, and some are pushing the boundary of TTRPG game design.

But each game is a spark in search of kindling, an idea in search of an audience. Most designers make games as a hobby, working evenings and weekends in hopes their spark becomes a fire and they can share their light with the world.

Some sparks just need a bit of wind to roar to life, so let’s do that. Here are a few games that I think deserve more attention this year:

Solo Martial Blues

Solo Martial Blues

I was a martial arts kid. I swung around a broomstick after watching TMNT. I watched Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris movies with my Dad. I spent many mornings and evenings in the dojo.

So when I saw James Kerr was designing a solo martial arts TTRPG, I pounced on the opportunity like a 10 year old ninja.

Solo Martial Blues is the solo version of Fight to Survive, which I got to play at a convention last year. It was a blast: very fun resolution system, felt exactly like a martial arts movie, and the book was gorgeous.

I really hope this game gets funded!

(Check out Solo Martial Blues on Crowdfundr)

Precious Things

Precious Things

Great design? Check.

Cool stickers? Check.

Be a tiny dragon who needs to collect household items for their hoard? AH just take my money!!

But here’s the fun part: Precious Things by Lucas Zellers and Emily Entner is already free, so really you are just buying an awesome sticker set and supporting two great creators in the process. What a neat little funding model.

Seriously, go give them $7 before Feb. 29 and get these cool stickers. And then go play this game with your kids, or your friends, or literally anyone who likes dragons.

(Check out Precious Things on Itch)

Shen Battler Aurora

Shen Battler Aurora

To the surprise of no one, I quite like Mechs. I also love story games and design that puts heart and soul at its core. Sounds like Shen Battler Aurora might be calling to me?

This isn’t Johnathan Wright’s first sortie either: he’s the designer of Mecha vs. Kaiju, a setting and toolbox that has been adapted for Fate and D&D 5e, so he’s got lots of releases under his belt.

If you enjoy 5e, love anime or isekai stories, or just want to support another Mech and Kaiju enthusiast, you should check out Shen Battler Aurora! I think Johnathan’s love for the genre really shines through in this game.

(Check out Shen Battler Aurora on Kickstarter)

Other games that I’ve backed

There are so many good games this year. Here is what else I have backed:

  • Miru 3 - Hinokodo does gorgeous work, but the multi-functional hex kit and coin add-ons are what sealed the deal.
  • The Details of our Escape - Great team of creators, beautiful design, and a really interesting story (and if you have read Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson or played Banner Saga, you know how epic a caravan story can be…).
  • Tacticians of Ahm - Do you like Final Fantasy? Tactical combat? Just love an old-school visual aesthetic? Go check out this game by Christian, the editor of HOME!
  • Rom Com Drama Bomb - I can't say no to a GMless, oneshot, asymmetric play game that uses story structure to deliver a super unique premise.
  • Milk Bar - Beautiful book + abandoned Soviet superstructures + Pierogi? Yes please.
  • Godspark - You are a saint who must find dead gods, take their sparks, perform miracles, and fight angels. 10/10 on the vibe-o-meter.

And there are lots more, but you should check them out yourself! I recommend using as many games are on platforms other than Kickstarter.

I hope you find something to expand your game library, and support a great indie creator in the process.

Happy ZiMo!