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ZineMonth2024 Interview: Jordan Boschman and the Stone-Flesh Gift

Jordan Boschman is using the alternative platform Crowdfundr to raise money for his project: The Stone-Flesh Gift.

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

Answer: The Stone-Flesh Gift is a living ship module for Mothership 1e where players will wade through the innards of an ancient alien bioengineering factory as it drifts through space. They'll explore this grand offering, from one forgotten alien civilization to another, to discover its secrets, avoid its dangers, and plug their brains directly into its organs to feel their thoughts.

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 my first Zine Month project and my first RPG crowdfunding campaign. I chose to participate this year because The Stone-Flesh Gift is my first RPG release that I feel really deserves to be in someone's hands at the gaming table. I feel it actually benefits from being physical and not just a PDF. I'm proud of what I put into it and how evocative it is, and the only way I had a real shot at raising the funds for a print run was through the cross-promotion that Zine Month brings tiny RPG creators like me.

During the writing of the book, I also got COVID, “recovered” from it, and developed new chronic health issues, and even though, at times, that made me not want to work on it at all, it also pushed me harder to get it done and to make sure people who might enjoy it get to hear about it. So, strangely, this book about an unsettling, living building left to fester in space for millions of years feels a bit more personal for me than my other tabletop works, and I thought that'd be a perfect project for me to try funding for Zine Month, to share just a bit about my weird, gross relationship with my body using this weirder, grosser journey through an alien one.

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: My obvious twist on an old trope is the fact that the Gift is actually alive, a strange superorganism but also a spaceship intended to deliver a payload. I hate when "living ship" basically means there's a computer with a quirky emotional imbalance that occasionally sasses the main characters while delivering exposition. If a ship is alive, it has needs, desires, and power, and if you want to make use of it, you have to be aware of what responsibilities and relationships that entails. There's also a primary antagonist hidden away somewhere in the ship that might challenge how willing the players are to deal with the issues of agency all this might bring up.

And I really enjoyed writing the feelings that the semi-autonomous organs have. Players can connect to a Neurolink in most organs that temporarily blends the organ's experience with theirs. It's always a letdown when a game handles reading minds or psionic communication as a statement of facts that the user is just being told. I wanted to get more at that feeling of having another being's unarticulated thoughts in your head, so what you get when you plug your brain in is a metaphorical experience that hints at what the organ's function is, what its problems are, or how it feels about its situation.

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