RPG Zine Club: Talking With Tony Vasinda (Plus One Exp)

I’m an RPG Zine Club member. Plus One Exp created a monthly subscription for all zine enthusiasts complete with a dedicated Discord and a constant flow of games. Tony Vasinda agreed to talk about this new venture, what fans can expect, and what’s on the horizon. But, before we get into the club, let me point out the answer to that age-old question: What is an RPG zine? Zine Month has a short...

I’m an RPG Zine Club member. Plus One Exp created a monthly subscription for all zine enthusiasts complete with a dedicated Discord and a constant flow of games. Tony Vasinda agreed to talk about this new venture, what fans can expect, and what’s on the horizon. But, before we get into the club, let me point out the answer to that age-old question: What is an RPG zine? Zine Month has a short, simple set of bullets that conveys their setup with the TLDR being: An RPG zine is a short digest-sized booklet offering TTRPG content.

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EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for making this club. What is RPG Zine Club?
TONY VASINDA (TONY)
: At it’s heart, Zine Club is our attempt to create a more humane and sustainable process that helps small creators from around the globe get their games into player’s hands. Practically though, it’s a membership community of folks who want to get hot, fresh TTRPGs each month so they can talk about and play them with other nerds. We put out two games each month, in two different flavors. You can get one or both and support the designers while you do it.

EGG: Each month you’re offering two new zines. These aren’t reprints or leftover stock, correct? Are these zines standalone RPGs? Sourcebooks? Adventures?
TONY
: Yeah! These are new prints, you don’t have to worry about getting something you already have. It’s a mix of standalone systems, adventures, supplements, and eventually some truly gonzo items as the program grows. So far, about 75% of the releases are standalone and 25% are adventures. For adventures, we try to keep them to systems we love and support or super rules lite so they can be used with your favorite home game.

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EGG: What systems do these use? What genres are you exploring?
TONY
: The two “flavors” we are offer are “Story games” and “Adventure games.” Of course, somewhat abstractions, but generally “Story” zines focus on characters and narrative arc using systems like Powered by the Apocalypse, Belonging Outside Belonging, Wretched & Alone and bespoke gems. “Adventure games” focus on exploration and combat and use systems like Cairn, Mörk Borg, Into the Odd, Liminal Horror, Mothership and our house systems old school systems Down We Go and Through The Void. We even play with systems like Trophy that truly crossover both. As far as narrative genre, we are all over the place horror, fiction, scifi. One month you might explore the backrooms of reality, the next you might go to your high school reunion to reconnect with an old flame, and then try to discover why bodies are going missing from the graveyard you tend.

EGG: That’s a fantastic range of tastes. Who are you working with on these zines? You already mentioned it’s a curated list of creators, but will you create any of the zines?
TONY
: Our creators are as diverse as the themes above. Our team includes myself and co-owners of Plus One, Kegan, Sarah and Johnny. I work as the project manager for all the releases currently, and Johnny works as the art director. I’m not saying I’ll never work on a game for Zine Club, but the zines are not by me. I am not the demographic that we want to support with Zine Club. I have and can release games on my own through the site or by funding them. Zine Club is about creating equity for sharp emerging voices. We have contributors from all over the globe, all walks of life, all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It’s one of our biggest commitments in Zine Club. Though there are amazing established voices we may slip in from time to time, overwhelmingly we want to build equity and support for folks getting their first game or two out to the world. These may be folks we are just discovering who are making amazing games, or folks who we have loved for years.

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EGG: Let’s talk about those amazing games. Can you provide a few of the upcoming zines? Creators, premise, system, etc?
TONY
: Yeah! Around the time this comes out Primadonna by Kyle Tam and Die, Grave Robber, Die by Michael Van Vleet will be arriving to club members. Primadonna is a solo game about a composer who used to play for the world but now plays music to soothe a beast that wants to consume that same world. You reflect on your career, your music, and your impending end. Kyle is one of our favorite writers, and had a great manuscript that Johnny and Red Rivera really brought to life with the layout and art. Die, Grave Robber, Die came to us fully formed from the mind of Michael. We loved his last stand alone Trophy game Devil, Aim For Me. In Die, you play in a rain soaked world and have to retrieve a stolen body from The Flayed House. It’s a standalone Trophy RPG incursion with all the rules you need to play in the book. We also have Last Oath by Lucas Rolim, Longsword by Viditya Violeti with contributions from Sam Tung coming in our Adventures membership early next year alongside Tinoli Me Tangere by Pammu and The Family Order by Megan Cross for our “Story games.”

EGG: This is an ambitious project with two zines a month, twenty-four a year; that’s a lot of content for creators to design and for ya’ll to print and distribute. This is a relatively new concept, how is it progressing from a project management point of view?
TONY
: We are learning a lot as we work with different teams, and all of this is on top of prepping larger projects for release, also. The real secret to our success is the working relationship Johnny and I have had managed scores of creative projects together over the last 9 years. Plus One really works because we have such a talented art director on staff. That said as the program grows we hope to give Zine Club it’s own part time project manager. This makes sense once we get to around 300 subscribers. At 500+ we would start looking at bringing that person on full time. We still have to get there though, in the meantime we are making it work. Thankfully we have a great leadership team, and a very large community of support. We would be nowhere without the folks in the Plus One Discord, our friends at Space Penguin Ink, and the support of the club members.

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EGG: I like your plans and efforts to see this grow. If you missed a zine, are they available elsewhere for purchase?
TONY
: Yeah! Everything goes up for preorders until they are in club members hands, but then they ship out from our site to the rest of the world. Getting on the mailing list there is the best way to stay up to date for non-club members.

EGG: We’re talking about RPG zines so I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about February’s RPG Zine Month (ZineQuest on Kickstarter). With the massive number of zines happening that month, do you have any special plans for RPG Zine Club?
TONY
: That… is a secret for this year. It’s something fun and we are excited about it as a team. Let’s just say that you want to sign up before then if you are able! I am one of the organizers for Zine Month and we put out a lot of designer and professional content each year. We want The Clubhouse (the section of our Discord for Zine Club members) to be a hub for folks who love zines to discover great things. But yes, we have a surprise for club members and we will every year in February.

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EGG: Beyond RPG Zine Club, what else are you working on?
TONY
: TOO MUCH! There are three main things we have been working on beyond Zine Club. Tomb of 1000 Doors, a Mausritter megadungeon with ManaDawn Studio and 43 other collaborators is funding in January. Matt at ManaDawn has been great to work with and really driving that project. To Live Beneath is the first major Down We Go expansion, and a collaboration with a dozen amazing creators to build massive resource of subterranean factions and deconstructed megadungeon concepts focused on those who make their lives underground. Lastly, getting my love letter to scifi media, Through The Void, ready for release. Through the Void has been in development for about 18 months and layers some great narrative tools on top of the Together We Go system that powers a lot of our house old school systems. We have all of these and a few other projects slated for funding and release in the 1st part of 2024.

EGG: For fans interested in learning more about your projects, where can they find you?
TONY
: We can be found @plusoneexp across pretty much all social media platforms or at [our website]. You can sign up for or find out more about Zine Club at RPGZine.Club

Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, Noble Knight Games’ Affiliate Program, and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG, Noble Knight Games, and Amazon.
 

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