Weekly Briefing from the North Texas Apocalypse Bunker, 2/24/23
The End (of ZineQuest 5) is Nigh Edition
Spring Cleaning has unofficially begun at the bunker, and everyone in Administration is just thrilled at the progress so far. Bunker Operations has been slow to come around, as they are focused on other time-sensitive projects, but everyone is pitching in and doing their best. The first thing to go was the build up of winter insulation known as the cardboard box. We’ve pulped approximately a living room’s worth of cardboard, enough to craft wargame terrain into the 22nd century, if we were still of the sort that made gaming terrain, which we are not, and don’t want to be anymore, no matter how much fun it looks like in the YouTube videos that keep mysteriously showing up in the Recommended For You tab.
We are, as a matter of public safety, saving the Bunker refrigerator for last. There is at least one item from, oh, around Thanksgiving, that has developed eye stalks and a rudimentary intelligence. At night, when the world is quiet, I can hear it tapping gently on the nearly empty jar of pickles, clink, clink, clinkity clink. It’s not morse code, but it might very well be some sort of binary or hexadecimal code. We remain vigilant, just in case its calling for reinforcements.
We’re a handful of weeks out from our wedding, which will take place on April 1st of this year in Las Vegas, at the Graceland Wedding Chapel, and it’s going to be streamed live on Facebook, in case you’d like to see us tie the knot.
I’m a little surprised at how calm I am about it all, especially considering that it’s a destination wedding. I think it’s because this isn’t my first time on this particular carnival ride. I am looking forward to the whole experience. I’ve got friends and family coming, but most folks will be watching it on their screens, like breaking news, minus the car chase.
And yet, despite my assertions, it IS stressful. I think that’s just the nature of a wedding. I totally get why some people just throw money at a wedding planner, if they have that kind of money to throw around. We do not, which is why we’re making all of the phone calls and making the wise decision to punt on the things that are not essential to the day—the getting married part. Everything else is tacked on.
We have extra invites, if anyone wants one for posterity’s sake. It’s an Elvis movie poster, with some tactical changes made to the front. I’ll leave it for you to guess which Elvis movie. (HINT: It’s not Clambake.) Reply to me privately if you’re interested, while supplies last.
ZineQuest Kickstarters Part IV: The Quickening
I don’t know if any of my endorsements resulted in a bump or even a blip from any of the people whose campaigns I featured, but in any case, I tried to spread the word. And speaking of endorsements, I’ve got one of my own to share, from Bill Willingham. It’s a lengthy missive, so I’m putting the pull quote below, along with a link to the whole thing if you’d care to check it out (and if you’re an O.G. from back in the day, you will want to do that):
Mark writes good rules. Like him, they’re aged in fine oak casks, and go down as smooth as 20-year-old scotch. No critique intended against every year’s new crop of hot young gunslinger rules writers – you all have your place keeping the games fresh and alive – but give me rules by one of the old guard rpg guys with nothing more to prove. He’s already spent a lifetime behind the dice, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and we reap the rewards...
Polite Society works...Can you plan and execute a good, workable caper with Polite Society? The answer is unequivocally YES. Not only can you run a good heist, and maybe even a great one, but you can do so with only a few minute’s preparation...In this brave new age of larceny-themed fantasy role playing games...this is an addition to the popular new subgenre that’s guaranteed to stand out.
Bill Willingham, Former TSR staff artist; lifetime gamer; creator of the long-running comic series Fables
The full statement is here, and it’s very flattering and humbling: I mean, I’ve known Bill for, geez, I just did the math—about 30 years now, and we’ve written and co-created stuff together, and gamed together, and all of that kind of thing, and I don’t think of him as “THE Bill Willingham,” but I do have immense respect for him as an artist and writer, and it’s always very nice to get the nod of approval from one’s peers. I also got a very nice blurb from one of my friends and other gaming heroes, Jack Herman, who co-created Villains & Vigilantes, a game that has invaded my own DNA to the point of irrevocable corruption.
It’s been a typical Kickstarter campaign, with the surge at the beginning, the stall in the middle and hopefully a surge at the end to carry the day. But if that’s not the case, I have a pivot/regroup move all ready to go. This is the seventh Kickstarter I’ve participated in, and the fourth one I’ve run myself. I am not an expert, by any stretch. In fact, I daresay I know only fractionally more about crowdfunding after seven of these things than I did at the outset. I do know that, with this campaign, I’ve used every part of the Kickstarter buffalo, up to and including posting videos of myself explaining the project, and playtest vids of a session in action. I have no idea what the impact was, if any. I still think there’s a bit of alchemy and luck involved. Also, a bigger platform.
You can watch the campaign’s progress on Kicktraq, which is both extremely useful and rather like tonguing a sore tooth in that you can’t stop it, no matter how much it hurts.
It’s been weird. I’m trying to engage with all of the people that are making retching noises anytime some official utterance from Corporate Dungeons & Dragons appears, and in particular, I’ve been somewhat critical of their newest offering. For example, earlier this week, they put a video out called “How to Run a Heist Campaign,” and it’s a full seven and a half minute long commercial for the new book. Here you go:
Yeah, not what I was expecting, either. Or, I don’t know, maybe it was. In any case, I put a rebuttal up:
No idea if it’s been effective or not. I think I was too nice, even if I did compare the new book of theirs to an Instagram photo of a plate of food.
Also: Jeff Jones and I bandy around the idea of Sword and Sorcery on his Podcast:
I’m ready for the other shoe to drop. I suspect you are, too. So, while I can, one last time, here’s the link to the campaign.
Thank God I have great literature to distract me from all of this hubbub, such as the kick ass trade paperback collection of my pal Shannon Wheeler’s old Too Much Coffee Man comics to keep me feeling nostalgic for the days of my comic and zine-making youth.