Yet More RPG Zines

Jim Vassilakos (jimv@uia.net)
As some of you may recall, back in A&E 303 & 309 I submitted two articles covering various RPG Zines, both the dead tree as well as the electronic variety. Well, it seems that the RPG world never sleeps. There are a whole slew of new zines out there, some of which have already been mentioned by other A&Ers. In an effort to make sense of it all, what follows is a nifty, little list to help you decide which ones you might want to check out.

Gaming Herald www.gamingherald.com
Published by EpicSaga of Fullerton, California since 2002, this is an RPG zine in the form of a newspaper. They seem to concentrate mostly on reviews, designer's notes, and industry announcements, however, there's also some genuine source material present. Despite the fact that newsprint tends to deteriorate quickly, I'd say this is a pretty good value for your money and well worth checking out.

Paper Zines:
Black Seal www.theblackseal.org
Touting itself as the magazine of modern horror gaming, The Black Seal came roaring out of Great Britain in 2002 as a classy magazine with high production value. The focus so far seems to be on Delta Green & Cthulhu Now.

Iron Rations www.ironrations.com
Christian Walker, who is also the editor of Scrollworks (see my article in A&E 309) and who has recently joined A&E (as of issue 332), started putting out Iron Rations in January 2003 with the idea that it would be like Scrollworks, but scaled back to the point of being more managable and less of a money pit. Published under the OGL, it's a nice, little zine in an era when small paper zines have all but vanished. Christian, however, is back to doing Scrollworks, so I'm looking forward to perhaps getting two zines from him instead of just one. Sometimes I tend to err on the hopeful side.

Campaign Magazine www.gamesunplugged.com
Published by Fast Forward Entertainment of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, this is the sister-zine of Games Unplugged (mentioned in A&E 303), however, whereas Games Unplugged covers the gamut of non-electronic gaming, Campaign Magazine focuses exclusively on the d20 system.

Lejends lorecollege@aol.com
Published by Total Reality Studios since May 2001, this magazine was devoted to the Lejendary Adventure RPG and its campaign world of Lejendary Earth. At least 12 issues were published, some old greybeard by the name of Gary Gygax contributing many of the articles. I'm not sure if the magazine is still in production or if the key players have moved on to more lucrative pastures.

Excellent Prismatic Spray www.dyingearth.com
Published by Pelgrane Press of Great Britain since December 2000, XPS is the in-house magazine for the Dying Earth RPG. The first issue is available as a free PDF download.

Webzines:
Dungeon Crawler www.dungeon-crawler.com
Published since September 2000 by Brian Spicer and friends, this webzine covers the entire breadth of gaming.

Gaming Frontiers www.unitedplaytest.com/gamingfrontiers
I don't even know where to begin, except to say that this is one monster of a magazine. Like Campaign Magazine, it also focuses on the d20 system, however, it's nearly twice the size and around four times the cost (Issue #4 is 144 pages with an MSRP of $19.95), easily making it the highest-priced magazine on the RPG market. Fortunately, Robert Williams believes in giving his customers something extra, so every subscription includes a generous selection of d20 products. Overall, I have to respect the ambition (nay, the balls) it took to produce and market a magazine of this girth, however, high production value comes at a steep price, and this magazine is living proof.

The LARPer www.thelarper.org
Published since May 2001, this is the new webzine of LARPA (The Live Action Roleplayers Association). The old zine, back when they were known as the Interactive Literature Foundation (ILF) was a paper zine known as Metagame.

PDF Zines:
As I stated back in A&E 303 & 309, my personal preference when it comes to zines is PDF. There are numerous reasons I feel this way. Environmentally Friendly: Unlike paper-zines, PDF zines don't kill trees. Easy on Shelf Space: Nor do they weigh down my bookshelves or deteriorate in boxes. Easy to Share with Friends: You can burn hundreds to a cdrom, all for the cost of mere pennies. Frozen Format Provides Permanence: Unlike webzines which can change after their date of publication, PDF zines provide an uneditable window into what people were thinking and saying on a given date. No Falling off the Web: Unlike webzines which are difficult to download unless the editor was kind enough to distribute them as a zipfile, PDF zines don't end up falling off the web never to be seen again. Once copies are out there, you can usually find them even if the editor pulls a missing persons act & drops off the face of the Earth. The only serious problem with PDF (which Spike mentioned in A&E 305) is that you can't copy/paste text from a PDF file into an editing program, although I believe there are some utilities which will now convert from PDF to an editable format. In any case, PDF zines seems to be becoming increasingly commonplace, so I'm clearly not the only person who likes this format. Here's a list of some I hadn't mentioned in either of my two previous articles.

Commando Quarterly www.commandohq.com
Published by Jason Weiser and friends, CQ is a Battletech fanzine.

d20Zine www.d20zines.com
Published by the team at d20 Magazine Rack since June 2002, d20Zine focuses on (surprisingly enough) the d20 system.

Deep Magic www.deep-magic.net
Published by the Amberlin Group since June 2002, Deep Magic isn't an RPG Zine, per se, but it does focus on fantasy fiction as well as doing science fiction, book reviews, and interviews.

EdgeRunner
Published by Lauri Gardner and friends, EdgeRunner was a Cyberpunk fanzine. I only have two issues, so either I'm missing a great deal or it was fairly shortlived.

Ethos Magazine www.ethos.curvedspaces.com
Published by James Henley and friends since February 2003, Ethos seems to be the latest of the d20 zines which have sprung up on the Internet.

Fictional Reality m.theurer@att.net
Published by Mark Theurer and friends since June 2000, Fictional Reality advertises itself as "a forum for scifi/fantasy miniature game enthusiasts." They also cover the d20 system and M:tG to some extent, however, the meat of this zine seems to be the battle reports.

Action Check www.alternity.net, actioncheck@hotmail.com
Published by Jeff Ibach, Jim Sharkey and friends since June 2000, Action Check is dedicated to the Alternity RPG, including the Star*Drive, Dark*Matter, and Gamma World campaign settings.

Future Orbits www.futureorbits.com
Published since Oct/Nov 2001 by Paul Vander Neut, Future Orbits is a science fiction zine, much like Quanta which was published by Daniel Appelquist some years ago (www.etext.org/Zines/Quanta). Tragically, only the first issue is freely downloadable, but for those who are SF nuts, this might just be your fix.

Asgard www.d20reviews.com
Published by Russell Morrissey and friends since July 2001, Asgard focuses on the d20 system. If you have trouble getting the website, see my offer at the end of this article.

Bite Mark www.romancingcathy.com
Published by Chuan Lin since May 2002, Bite Mark focuses on the Jadeclaw RPG.

Interactive Fiction Now www.if-now.demon.co.uk
I've got only two issues of this zine (dated 12/1997 & 01/1998) which was put out by Matt Newsome in celebration of Interactive Fiction computer games such as Zork as well as its more sophisticated descendants.

Legions Realm www.legionsrealm.com
Published since September 2002 by James Luft and friends, Legions Realm covers a wide swath of territory, from RPGs and CCGs to miniatures and board games.

TempesT's Lore www.d20zines.com
Reincarnated as a PDF zine in June 2002 by Morgan Grover and friends, TempesT's Lore started out as a AD&D zine during the late 90s but migrated to the d20 system for its first issue as a PDF file.

Oerth Journal oerthjournal.hypermart.net
Produced by the Council of Greyhawk since May 1995, The Oerth Journal started out an an AD&D zine but has since morphed into a D&D3e zine. To the best of my knowledge, at least fourteen issues have been produced so far.

Total Power www.players-society.com
Put out by the Warhammer Players Society of Great Britain, Total Power covers everything Warhammer.

Revisiting the Three Kingdoms www.romancingcathy.com
Published by Chuan Lin since November 2001, Revisiting the Three Kingdoms is a sister-zine to Bite Mark and also focuses on the Jadeclaw RPG.

WildTalents www.crucibledesign.com
Put out by Crucible Design a few years ago for the 23rd Letter RPG, to the best of my knowledge, WildTalents only ran for three issues (rather oddly numbered 1, 3 & 5). As always, I've tried to go fairly light on review commentary, as opinions are like that posterior orifice of the alimentary canal (sans some rather brutal surgery, everybody's got one). Hence, I'm leaving it to you to figure out what you like and what you don't like. In case any of these web-addresses don't work, let me know via email (jimv@uia.net or jimvassila@aol.com), and I'll be happy to postal you a cdrom or two with all of these fanzines as well as a veritable plethora of free RPGs and other wickedness. And just in case anyone is wondering, I'm still working (albeit rather slowly) on that RPG Zine Index Program and will post an update of my want-list to my proggies page at www.elektrasystems.net/~jimv in the semi-nearish future. Good gaming, everyone.

RPG Now www.rpgnow.com
Published since November 2002, RPG Now is the inhouse zine of the RPG Now website, which has been doing retail sales of a variety of RPG products for the past several years.

Shadowrun Supplemental tss.dumpshock.com
Published by Adam Jury and friends since 1997, The Shadowrun Supplemental obviously focuses on Shadowrun.

Stygian www.realmsofevil.net
Published since 2002 by your good friends at Realms of Evil (don't worry; they're only slightly evil), The Stygian is yet another d20 zine, although it's thick and it's dense (a lot like me, come to think of it). Defintely worth a protracted gander.

Check out a PDF Zine you fowl fiend. They aren't for the birds, y'know.

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