ZineQuest Meet the Publisher: Jeffrey Jones
Question: Easy question first: Give us the elevator pitch of your project. Tell us about it in two sentences or less.
Answer: Gary’s Appendix is an OSR zine that is 100% compatible with Old-School Essentials. The goal is to catch some of the spirt of the appendices of the ADnD Dungeon Master’s Guide by providing information that is both fun and inspiring for the GM.
Q: Is this your first ZQ 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 ZineQuests that you may be doing differently this time, or, if you're not doing anything differently, talk a bit about your previous descriptions. A: This is my second ZQ project. The first was Scoundrels, a series of three zines that focused on tables and tools to infuse a crime theme into sci-fi and modern games. I wanted theses booklets to produce the vibe of Blades in the Dark for any system. This project was a leap of faith and it miraculously funded. In the end, but I pretty much broke even (I think I wound up with $300 in my pocket).
After Scoundrels, I Kickstarted a supplement titled Journey into the Madlands. This was a system neutral setting and bestiary for post apocalypse games. I partnered with several people, including two artists and another writer. It didn’t take the world by storm, but it funded and I “upped my game” from Scoundrels.
Each Kickstarter project provided an opportunity to learn. Also, I look around and see what is currently succeeding and trying to determine what path I need to take to be successful in the future. What is different:
* I am getting more people to do the writing. I tried getting people to write for me in the past, but with limited success. I do a decent job writing, but I am not very efficient at doing it.T his time, my call for writers was successful because my audience has grown, probably because of my podcast, RPG Ramblings. Now, more people know who I am and what I am about, largely through my show.
* I anchored the project to an established IP. We all see how popular supplements and adventures are for Mork Borg and Mothership. We can say the same for Old-School Essentials. While the write-ups for many of the OSR games are easy to port to other OSR games, from a marketing standpoint, I firmly believe it is better to plant a flag with a single product. Hence, I am going to ensure that everything for this zine is 100% OSE compatible and it will have the OSE label on it.
* I am focused on sustainability. The focus of past projects was to (at least) break even. For past projects, this position was fine because I considered it the cost of “education.” I intended to produce Journey into the Madlands as an ongoing zine, but there were several factors that made this impractical: its format, its size and its pricing. The goal for Gary’s Appendix is to be successful enough that I can commission art and pay an exceptional word rate. My goal is for this zine to become successful enough to pay people to write at least 80% of the content for future zines. It this happens, it is more practical to publish at a frequency greater than twice a year. I believe reaching that point with Gary’s Appendix is very doable. 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: The core of this issue is the bestiary, which is a personal project to provide write-ups for every single creature in the OSE SRD bestiary. While this may not sound exciting, I hope to provide a bit of a twist. The writeup for each creature provides clear guidance and inspirational content to assist GMs in developing useful encounters with these creatures. Sometimes these creatures are so common that we cannot see how special they are. The bestiary doesn't attempt to take these common creatures and make them “cool” by adding cool powers or zany abilities. Rather, it sees each creature as already being cool, but needing someone to tease that out of them. This bestiary provides guidance and options for making memorable encounters with even the most mundane creatures. For example, when rolling up an encounter, we often get common creatures such as a boar, a dryad for an acolyte. What is the GM supposed to do with any of those? I research their history, their mythology and throw in a dash of special sauce to provide GMs with multiple ideas and options.