Saturday, September 19, 2020

That Time I Nearly Will Write a Solo Zine

Yes, that title is messed up on purpose. I still want to do a solo zine that is easy/cheap to mail in physical form. But for now it's on hold awaiting inspiration. In the meantime, I once did a survey in which I asked people what they wanted in a solo adventure zine. Let's see the stats first and then I have more to say.

Survey Says

  • Sample size around 75.
  • Only 17.5% want it tied to a system. 45% prefer it to loosely refer to a system.
  • 55% want a unique and flavorful setting, 20% want a D&D style setting, 25% want something else (rotating, SF, etc.)
  • 52.5% want 1-2 hours of playtime material, 42.5% want 3-5.
  • 60% prefer self contained adventures, 15% want continuity, 25% don’t care.
  • PDF is preferred, about 17.5% want to be sent paper. Many asked for phone/tablet/Kindle friendly.
  • 25% want graphic content, 22.5% want it kid friendly, everyone else is in-between.


  • "Include mysteries and puzzles"
  • "Build a setting over time"
  • "Endings are cool, and rarely carried off well” 
  • And while they wasn't anything particularly quotable on this front, about 10% of the responders expressed a desire for hard or semi-hard science fiction. I feel like there is a real (and probably loyal) audience there waiting on someone.

The Great Black Bell is Back

It was all I could do not to tack a "Baby!" on the back end of that heading for the alliterative factor. Christian Walker is back with his very cool little by-mail solo adventure zine. He can explain it better than I in this short video.

Themes and Formats

I really think I'm waiting on something to grab me, theme-wise. My original thoughts were a) a magical realism story involving a homeless guy who, due to mental illness (or superpower, take your pick) can see into other realities. And b) a weirdo sf-fantasy setting inspired by Zothique, Barsoom, Dune, etc. I'm not sure if I have the chops to carry off either! 

Some other things to think about in my laundry list of musings:
  • Paper map and stand-up minis or counters similar to what Walker is doing? Or more choose your own adventure style text-based with illos?
  • Stand-alone scenarios loosely tied together in the same world or a true ongoing adventure? If the latter, "seasons" of 12 issues or just commit and keep going?
  • Envelope size? I want to use a standard stamp. But I could probably do it with either business envelopes (2-4 tri-folded full-size pages) or with a birthday or thank you card sized envelope and a small stapled (or not) booklet. A thank you card envelope might even work with a folded one-page zine like the Pocket-Mod format.
So you can see why I this project is still on the back burner for me. I got a little overwhelmed with choices. I need one thing to "lock in" to move forward: format or theme. 

I hope some of this has proved useful to you in some form. If you are a creator thinking of making a zine, have you thought about a solo adventure zine? Seems like a good time for one! If you are a fan of solo play do you know about the Great Black Bell? Now you do. Do you want to see me make a solo zine? Give me some inspiration or a good nudge! 

Minizines... ArE sO CoOl

Thursday, September 10, 2020


I am shrinking. Intentionally. I have fled most of the social media groups to which I once belonged. So, to cut to the chase, does anyone care about this blog? It's okay if you don't. Because that will be one less thing for me to manage. But if you follow my vain and extemporaneous writings here (and enjoy doing so), let me know.