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ZineQuest Meet the Publisher: Spooky Bell Games

Updated: Aug 13

Spooky Bell Games is Wes Ascolese and Chris Koger. They're funding Beyond Deep, a horror-tinged adventure for Mork Borg. You can sign up for their newsletter here. I interviewed them together, and they each provided answers to the questions.


Question: Give us the elevator pitch of your project.


Answer Chris: Beyond Deep is a horror-tinged adventure designed for the tabletop role-playing game MÖRK BORG, and it leads players deep into corrupted mines to encounter terrifying creatures and abnormal mysteries. The mines are surrounded and supported by a secluded mining town filled with people ground down by the exploitation of a mining company, and living treacherous lives out at the edge of civilization and capitalism.


Answer Wes: A particularly bleak game, MÖRK BORG, is the perfect setting for an exploration of the stranglehold that an organization has on a company town. Beyond Deep is a stand alone adventure designed to do just that while using the particularly simple yet brutal system present in the game. Rich environments, terrifying creatures, and a fear instilling storyline will be provided within the pages of the zine.


Q: Have you participated in ZineQuest before? If not, what spurred you to do so and what are you looking to get out of the project?


AC: This is our first Zine Quest project. In February I did a digital zine called D6 Danger System as part of ZiMo 2022, and it is available for download at https://criticalmist.itch.io. I had worked on several projects before, but that was the first small step to putting something out for myself. Wes reached out to me about an idea he was working on, and I was so happy to join the endeavor to bring Beyond Deep to life, as both a physical and digital creation. I love zines and the huge community of creators in this section of the roleplaying world. ZIne Quest is a really exciting opportunity to be a part of, as Kickstarter really puts the spotlight on independent creators and helps so many projects come to life. Wes has been a fantastic partner to work with, and has really helped that ever young, little bit of punk rock spirit inside of me to keep grinding and put something cool and interesting out into the world.


AW: As Chris said this is our first Zine Quest as a team. This is my first public project ever actually, and I am quite excited. I saw a few of my friends with similar backgrounds who were successful with their own Kickstarter, and I was given the confidence that I would be able to create something as well. There was somewhat of a niche that I would be able to fill, so I just went for it. Zines have always seemed interesting to me as an amateur book binder and I was actually going to hand make them all originally on some colored cardstock with a laser printer. Owning a healthy amount of zines ranging from one page adventures all the way to full blown systems it seemed something I could accomplish. Once the idea grew to a considerable size, and I realized the scope I contacted Chris to help me with his set of skills. His background in music and like mindedness with socioeconomic issues, it really was just a great match. This partnership and project has boosted my creativity and confidence so much that I can't wait to hold it in my hand.


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.


AC: Beyond Deep smashes together the creepy and terrifying world of Mork Borg, with ideas and history inspired by the Appalachian region. You will find gruesome creatures to battle and abnormal mysteries to decipher, but you will also be plunged into the everyday struggles of the working people, being ground down and exploited by the corrupt mining company and its representatives. Player’s characters will be faced with decisions along the way on how to deal with not only the horrors of the dark, but the horrors of their fellow man.


AW: I have always been incredibly interested in the somehow both benevolent and exploitative nature of the late 1800s mining towns (company towns) in the United States. This wouldn’t necessarily lend itself to a TTRPG, but I think we were able to pair this idea with the grim nature of Mork Borg. I am quite intrigued to see how players approach the hurdles and tribulations of our storyline.



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