Once again, very hit or miss. But here’s the thing about a gaming zine this aggressively weird: all it takes is one “hit” that nails you in that sweet spot of close enough to your own sensibilities that you want to add to your game yet simultaneously bugfuck crazy enough that you’d never have come up with it on your own, and the entire zine instantly becomes worth your time. Something in here could very easily make your table go “DaFUQ was that?!”, in the good way.
Page 33, Game 11: Penicillin Issue #3 by Micah Anderson
And what’s waiting for you in this issue?
- The Peridem, a kind of asexual succubus. Not necessarily evil, but definitely a bit dangerous. Are they ethical demonkin, or douchebags? Unlike the last issue of the zine, this one offers stat blocks; I think these stats are for Troika?
- A loosely defined haunted house storytelling game, presented as a one-page comic.
- Dwarves. Issue #2 gave us halflings that were sentient fungus inhabiting children’s corpses; this time, we have hyper-conservative communist lumps of living metal. Offers up a fantastic explanation of where the mystical metal orichalcum comes from. (“That’s a really nice war-hammer.” “Thanks, it was my grandfather.”) This one, too, has a stat block. Apparently, the author took some “You really need to provide some stat blocks” feedback to heart, and wrote-up D&D stats so you could play one of these rusting little fuckers in your own game — assuming your game is 1st edition. 70’s-era Dungeons and Dragons. Complete with THAC0. And yes, I recognized the mechanics immediately. This is the kind of piss-take I can get behind.
- I was just thinking to myself “The layout seems WAY less painful than the pink-and-black nightmare I remember from issue #2,” and then I hit an encounter with middle-aged wine-obsessed nymphs that I literally had to turn my laptop sideways in order to read. Based on the songs of ABBA in general and the musical “Mama Mia!” in particular.
- Medicinal amphibians. Seriously, fuck having “Eye of Newt” as some sort of lame-ass all purpose magic ingredient; here’s a shitload of charts to roll for some magic amphibians that’ll cure what ails you. What kinds of amphibians? Do they, like, secrete the healing mojo from their skin, or do you have to powder them? Is their power so weak that you’ll need to coat yourself head to toe in them, or is just one of them so potent that it might accidentally kill you? Roll some dice, find out.
- Nacre, City of Squid and Snail. Are your underground cities insufficiently weird and/or terrifying? Nacre is here to “help.”
- Alligator Blood. Some performance-enhancing drugs just aren’t worth it. Unless you’re fighting for your life. Then, really, don’t you need every advantage you can get?
- So You Contacted An Outer Horror. Look, coming up with original and truly horrifying Lovecraftian entities isn’t easy, and it all starts to sound samey after a while. Here’s a series of horrible d6 charts to help correct that for you.
Is it all great? Hell no. But it’s for damned sure unique. If you’re running a fantasy RPG and any of the above sound like they’d add something to your game that you’d like to have, by all means, go get some.
Will this next game feature random encounters with cultists who cover themselves in cat-sized snails who are probably slowly eating them alive?
Page 28, Game 5: The Three-Body Problem by RoAnna Sylver
“Queer Celestial Witches Navigate Scary Woods And Each Other”
I’m guessing nobody’s getting covered in giant snails unless something goes very, very wrong. But I don’t think it’s off the table entirely.