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ZiMo23 Interview: Meldar16

The married duo that publish as Meldar16 are raising funds for two projects this year, both on Crowdfundr. The fourth issue of the Altera Redux zine and the Die versus Die game system.

Q: Easy question first: Give us the elevator pitch of your project. Tell us about it in two sentences or less.

A: Issue #4 of our Atera Redux Zine: Marbordaj Sorĉistoj is a ttrpg adventure compatible with MÖRK BORG, Troika!, and our own Die versus Die system. Explore a formerly airborne wizards' tower to see what still creeps inside.

DIE versus DIE is a fantasy ttrpg that was written specifically for people that love playing with their dice, have a giant collection of dice, and/or share dice goblin memes. While the rules can be picked up quickly, every mechanic in the game was designed with, you guessed it, dice rolls in mind.

Q: Is this your first ZineMonth project or have you done it before? If it's your first, talk a bit about what inspired you to give it a shot this year. If you've done it before, what's something you've learned from previous crowdfunding projects that you may be doing differently this time, or, if you're not doing anything differently, talk a bit about your previous projects.

A: This is our 2nd time doing Zine Month. Last year we were actually getting our start with Meldar16 as a ttrpg maker, so we released our very first Atera Redux Zine for it. Like a lot of other people, we felt burned by Kickstarter moving the date of their ZineQuest, and KS's commitment to using blockchain technology, so we ended up not doing any crowdfunding at all. We just submitted it to the Zine Month site that Feral Indie Studio put together. We printed all the zines for local shows ourselves, and have it posted on DriveThruRPG now. We kept up that strategy with our other releases. Just last year, we had the first 3 issues of the zine (Mounts, Monsters & Cursed Items for the shameless plugs), another Atera Redux adventure book (Our Lady of Chaos) for 2 different systems (5e & Mazes), a small Troika! release (Fascination Street), and another standalone game (Beans Beans the Flammable Fruit).

This year, we are going the crowdfunding route for our 2 Zine Month releases. We checked out a whole bunch of the new crowdfunding platforms, and landed on Crowdfundr. They have a Tabletop Nonstop campaign going that specifically lines up with Zine Month. These are our first crowdfunding campaigns, and their staff has been super helpful from the get-go. Both the Atera Redux zine and DIE versus DIE were something that we had pretty much ready to go, so we felt it made sense to release them with as much help as we could get.

Q: Finally, tell us something about your current project that really excites you but the average backer may not be aware of. Maybe a twist to an old trope, a new way of presenting something, or maybe just something you've never tried before that you're using this as an opportunity to try out.

A: Our Atera Redux zine usually has stats for 5e, Fate, and Mazes. We were debating switching different systems in and out for Issue 4 already, but then the OGL kerfuffle was a huge trigger that we felt compelled to pull. So absolutely nothing against Evil Hat or 9th Level. They are phenomenal companies, and we love their games. We just wanted to only use free and open licenses for this release, so 5e was out for the obvious reasons. We were releasing with Fate since they also used the OGL. Evil Hat Productions uses some other licensing sometimes too, but neither of us are lawyers, so we decided to avoid it completely for now. We have a paid license with 9th Level Games so we could use Mazes, but wanted to stick with free systems too for this issue. We basically had Issue 4 ready to release in January, but paused once the OGL news hit to switch to new systems.

MÖRK BORG, and Troika! are both games that we play at home, and their licenses and SRDs are easily found online. These games have some real weirdo energy, so we thought they'd be a natural fit for an Atera Redux issue. This is the first short one-shot that we've done, so we took a little extra time to make sure it was something that was not only useful for our own campaign setting, but could be dropped into a homebrew game too. The Ruĝa Nano wizard tower's adventure can be completed in a night, and we hope that it could be a re-occurring location afterwards for everyone with longer campaigns. This started out as a parody of the show Red Dwarf, so there are tons of references for other fans.

DIE versus DIE is something that we've had in the works since we started Meldar16. We used a super-simplified version of the rules for Beans Beans the Flammable Fruit. This was to make sure that the core mechanic worked standalone. We got great feedback on that, so kept moving forward with how DIE versus DIE was structured. Again, the OGL brouhaha kicked us into high gear. We want to spread beyond our friend group to get more sweet sweet feedback, and also so other small time publishers had another free and open resource out there. Writing and play testing a whole game system has been a very arduous project, so I hope that people have as much fun with it as we have. We're going to have an open license inside the zine itself, and hope it's straightforward and clear that other people can freely use it with the single caveat that you credit us. And you tell everyone we're smart and handsome. So maybe 2 caveats.

The balance of the game rules in DIE versus DIE was tricky to get right. Like I mentioned in the elevator pitch above, my main mission for writing the game was to use dice for everything. Want to make an attack? Roll a die. Want to defend? Roll a die. Want to know your hit points? Check your dice too. The balance then became how to use random dice rolls for so many things without descending into chaos every game. What we ended up with was like a marriage between the d20 system where you have skills and modifiers, and a video game like Zelda with different meters for health & mana. We expect all the Meldar16 releases will use the DIE versus DIE system going forward, so there will be more content in the near future besides this Atera Redux issue.

So thanks for taking the time for these interviews. The Crowdfundr campaigns for both zines are running straight through February. We expect everyone to get their pdf copies within 2 days of the campaign ending. The rest of our immediate time and energy will be used printing and shipping physical copies to backers. Best of luck to everyone putting out releases for Zine Month!

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Thank you so much for taking the time for our, and everyone else's, interviews this month. I think I was verbose enough in the interview, so I just want to add one update. We have a handful of illustrations from the wonderful HodagRPG that's going to appear in DIE versus DIE (our first collaboration outside the family).

Thanks again,


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