Tuesday, February 3, 2015

'Zines Without Number

Well, perhaps not literally, but there are certainly a large number of fan-produced gaming publications that have started in recent years, many of which focus on one OSR game or another. I suppose this is no surprise, as it is my understanding that in the early days of RPGs that the Old School movement looks back to, this kind of thing was also common. Nowadays, of course, with desktop publishing and the Internet for distribution, it's easier than ever to do.

The other day, thanks to a tip from Tenkar, I picked up the latest entry into the field. The Sandbox #1 is a product from Kevin Crawford of Sine Nomine Publishing, which has produced such gems as the Stars Without Number sci-fi OSR game, the Spears of the Dawn and Red Tide fantasy settings (the latter incorporating the Scarlet Heroes solo-hero rules), and - most recently - the Silent Legions Lovecraftian game based on the same ruleset. The Sandbox, Kevin says, is a vehicle for passing along a "passing idea or small notion" that could work with any or all of these.

 In this inaugural issue, we find four items:

  • "The Last Prince", a custom class for Scarlet Heroes based on being the last survivor of a vanished people. Really, this is more of a background than a class, as it is "treated as a Fighter for all general purposes". It would be, I think, an interesting exercise to port over the more flavorful items onto other classes to create, for example, a Last Wizard or Last Assassin. The d8 Doom table looks useful for general backgrounds, as well.

  • "Kickstarter Production Guidelines", taking up more than half the issue's pagecount, offers an inside look at the process that has made Sine Nomine one of the most reliable crowdfunding brands in the RPG market.

  • "A Quick Backwater Spaceport" is a set of random tables designed for use with Stars Without Number or similar games (I get a very Firefly vibe from it) that, with just the teensiest bit of modification, could also be used for settings focused on regular ships - a pirate-era game, say, or a Pulp game based out of a tramp steamer.

  • What's That Abandoned Strucure?" is a similar set of tables for, well, abandoned buildings.
All in all, it's worth taking a look at (especially as it is being offered for free), and in spite of the announced production schedule of "irregularly" I await the second issue with great interest.

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