The Smithsonian’s Open Access program provides 2.8 million digital items to the public, including images and data. Many of the images are tagged with the Creative Commons 0 tag (CC0), which allows you to download, and use them for your own projects, including commercial purposes, without needing to ask permission or attribute them to the Smithsonian.
Other Magic #1 (now 20% off on DriveThruRPG) focused on folk magic traditions of the real world. Other Magic #2: Monsters of the Americas, currently being offered as part of Kickstarter’s Zine Quest 2 project, supplements the first issue by highlighting the monsters of myth and legend from the broader Americas. It includes creatures from various regions within the United States, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. They are bizarre, obscure, and distinctly different from the ones found in most roleplaying games.
Since the goal is to present the monsters as they appear within folktales and myths,
Other Magic #2 focuses on their traditional behaviors, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, without modification. The emphasis is on magic and the supernatural as they are understood by regular people in the real world. Some of the monsters can be defeated or killed, while others can only be driven away or avoided. Most of them are not “I slay it with my sword” or “I shoot it with my gun” types of adversaries, because that is not how they are conceptualized in the real world stories.
The backing period for Other Magic #2 goes through Thursday, March 5, 2020. The estimated delivery for the zine is May 2020.
A Fine Mess
A Narrative Heist Campaign- Where reality…is willing to hear your argument.
A game of sky ships and floating islands. Corsairs is a 32 page RPG zine containing a high action and adventure role playing game.
Dish Pit Witches
A small RPG zine about gay witches who work in a restaurant, based on the Tunnel Goons system.
system: based on Tunnel Goons
A quiet space-faring rpg zine about being alone & not quite being alone.
genre: science fiction
type: one-shot game
On the Shoulders of Colossus
A TTRPG zine focusing around fighting colossal opponents.
Rock & Roll – A Musical RPG Zine
A tabletop role-playing game about making a band – play gigs, write jams, and get in the van.
The Artefact, a solo RPG zine
Craft a unique magical item and play to find out how it changes as it passes through the hands of many different keepers.
The Grind 2: Mistvale Nights
A Town & Treasures Supplement for Torchbearer
A RPG zine full of OSR flavored adventure hooks and resources for use in your heroic fantasy games.
Kickstarter’s Zine Quest 2 launched on Sunday, February 2nd. As of the time of this writing, Kickstarter has not yet put up a link to all the related projects, so here is a list of the ones that have been launched so far.
New projects will be added throughout the month of February, so make see to check Kickstarter on occasion to see new and interesting Zine Quest 2 projects. When searching Kickstarter for Zine Quest 2 projects, make sure to search on both “zinequest” and “zine quest.” Some project creators have only used one spelling variant in their descriptions, so the two searches yield slightly different results.
A Touch of Glamour
Fey mayhem, as Powered by the Apocalypse.
Adventurers Guide to the Yol’Najj Forest
An adventure setting for TTRPGs, provided in zine format for Zine Quest!
Best Left Buried: The Zinequest Quartet
Four writers. Four RPG adventures. Four books. One Kickstarter project. Welcome to Best Left Buried: The Zinequest Quartet.
system: Best Left Buried
Hunt monsters and bring balance to Nature in this liquorice fantasy RPG
e-zine from the team behind Bastard Magic.
note: pdf only
Dead Halt: Happy New Year 1999
A zine module for the Dead Halt RPG; Happy New Year 1999 explores the Hotel during the year leading up to Y2K. Made for ZineQuest 2!
setting: Dead Halt
Dungeons & Dilemmas
A ZineQuest RPG toolkit for designing dungeons as a narrative framework and encounters as moral puzzles.
Gamma Zine Issue #2
A fanzine dedicated to old-school post-apocalyptic and science fiction role-playing games. For the Zine Quest KS project.
genre: science fiction
type: fanzine (assorted content)
system: Gamma World
note: fulfilled through DriveThruRPG
Green Dawn Mall
A RPG zine about teens exploring an endless Mall in search of their lost friend. Part of the Zine Quest initiative!
Hunters in Death
An Old School Hex Crawl
No Stone Unturned
Explore the impacts of adventuring through a world in recovery while building up your home settlement in this Zine Quest game.
A zinequest roleplaying game about the Heir and her escape from a palace coup.
type: one-shot game
Passages of the Living
An existential horror zine for OSR roleplaying games.
Safe & Sound: A TTRPG Zine
Fantasy hideouts (and the NPCs who run them) for adventuring parties. Launching Feb 2 for #ZineQuest.
A bestiary of sorrowful monsters for Dungeon World, made for Zine Quest 2.
system: Dungeon World
Score: A Modern Day Heist RPG
Big heists. Small zine. #zinequest
Ten People You Meet In The Undergarden
A zinequest project set in a new Troika! sphere.
genre: gonzo science fiction
Terror of the Stratosfiend #2
A new tentacle and sorcery zine for the DCC RPG. (#ZineQuest)
The Beloved Underbelly
A faction-based OSR RPG adventure zine. Nomadic beekeepers, entrepreneurial taxidermists, feral hogs. Made for Zine Quest 2!
The Gaellaeffa Guide To Troika!
A Troika! playbook in Zine format with 36 new Backgrounds, 4 new Enemies! Set in the mythical world of Gællæffa. ZINEQUEST AWAY!
genre: gonzo science fiction
The Hidden Necropolis
An adventure compatible with Five Torches Deep, a fantasy RPG.
system: Five Torches Deep
The Waking of Willowby Hall
A Zine Quest RPG adventure from the creator of Maze Rats and Knave.
Valor Knights: The Electrocube War
A complete roleplaying-game-in-a-zine that is more than meets the eye by Eric Bloat and Phil Stone.
genre: science fiction
system: Black Hack
Willow: A Grim Micro Setting
A Grim Micro Setting (Zine Quest)
system: Swords & Wizardry
An RPG Zine of dungeons and other locations for your roleplaying adventures.
If you have ever thought about publishing a zine, a great place to start is with Kickstarter’s Zine Quest II event in February. Here are some great resources for planning and implementing a new zine project:
- Zine Quest I had 108 projects, many of which came from first-time creators.
- Michael Prescott’s My Kickstarter Task List on the
Trilemma Adventures Blog is a good overview of the types of things a Kickstarter creator needs to plan and do over the course of a project.
Many Kickstarter creators use part of the funds they gather to commission art. Others do their own art, pay for the right to use stock art, or locate art that is free and legal to use. Creative Commons licenses are one way to designate the legal uses a particular piece of art (or other work) that has been made available for free.
Several large museums offer good quality scans and photos of the art and other items in their collection that have entered the public domain. Remember, a piece of art can be in the public domain, but images of it that you find online might not be. Below are links to museums and other sources that have images that are free and (mostly) available for you to use in your project. Some have certain limits on their use, and some require you to attribute the sources in your project. Make sure to check the specific type of license offered at each website to get the relevant details.
- Creative Commons Licenses
- Creative Commons Search Engine
- The Getty Open Content Program
- The Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection
- The Cleveland Museum of Art Open Access Images
- The Met Open Access Images
- The Public Domain Review
- The Rijksmuseum
- The Wellcome Library Creative Commons Images
- Wikimedia Commons
Some libraries and government websites have started to offer free images for the public to use. As with art, make sure to check the specific license (Creative Commons or other).
Many (if not most) of the zine projects in Zine Quest I offered both pdf and print copies. A PDF format optimized for phone viewing is gaining in popularity in the rpg world. It focuses on the use of website-style links for navigation, rather than internal bookmarks. If you have the time, it never hurts to offer both formats.
Most zines have words. Words need fonts and other typographic things.
Printing and Distribution
Some Kickstarter zine creators print and assemble their products at home. Some use print shops, local or online. Once printed, zines have to be distributed to backers. You can use Media Mail in the United States if your zine doesn’t contain advertisements, but it may be just as cheap (or more so) to use regular First Class mail.
The big question, though, is how to handle international backers. People who live in countries other than your own are likely to back your project, but it can cost a lot of money to mail items internationally.
My favorite way to deal with this issue is to offer fulfillment through DriveThruRPG. They have printers in various parts of the world, so using them to print and mail your zine greatly reduces the cost of shipping.
Kickstarter’s Fulfillment from A to Z guide lists companies that have experience providing various services to Kickstarter creators.
The pulps covered a wide range of genres. Though most depicted adventures of some sort, some genres were more realistic (ex. outdoor, romance, railroad, spicy, sports). Among those that were more adventurous, certain genres and subgenres proved to be more popular than others. Among these are:
- Private Pilot (ex. Carson Napier, Bill Barnes – Air Adventurer, Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds, Captain Midnight and the Secret Squadron)
- Military Pilot (ex. James “Biggles” Bigglesworth, G8, Red Randall)
- Advanced Flying Machine Pilot (ex. The Rocket Men, The Rocketeer, Robur, Master of the World, Doctor Omega, William Kinney, Avanti Planetaros)
- Gentleman Thief (ex. Arsène Lupin, Fantômas, A.J. Raffles, Simon Templar – The Saint, Crimson Clown, Monsieur Zenith)
- Criminal Turned Hero (ex. Judex, Modesty Blaise, Rocambole, Waldo, the Wonder-Man, Lone Wolf)
- The Shadow
- The Spider
- The Avenger
- The Whisperer
- Deen Bradley, The Cobra
- Doctor Coffin
- Doctor Syn
- Zero the Silent
- Moon Man
- Gentlemen/Great Detective (ex. Monsieur Lecoq, C. Auguste Dupin, Lord Peter Wimsey, Philo Vance, Albert Campion, Madelyn Mack)
- Hard-Boiled Detective – Men (ex. Nick Carter, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, Lew Archer, Nestor Burma)
- Hard-Boiled Detective – Women (ex. Grace “Redsie” Culver, Violet McDade & Nevada Alvarado, Sarah Watson, Carrie Cashin)
- Wealthy Masked Detective (ex. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Domino Lady, Lady Luck, Green Hornet, Madam Madcap)
- Private Detective (ex. Sally the Sleuth, Miss Boston, Dixon Hawke, Tocsin, Myra North, Special Nurse)
- Amateur Sleuth (ex. Joseph Rouletabille)
- Asian Detective (ex. Kogoro Akechi, Charlie Chan)
Occult Detective / Weird Tales
- Monster Hunter (ex. Jules de Grandin, John Thunstone, Ghost Exterminator)
- Mystic/Occult Detective (ex. Simon Iff, Carnacki the Ghost-Hunter, Randolph Carter)
- Psychic Detective (ex. Flaxman Low, Dr. John Silence, Sâr Dubnotal, Prince Abdul Omar)
- Mystic (ex. Green Lama, Fascinax, Ralf Clifford)
Proto-Superheroes (with powers)
- Earthman On A Strange Planet (ex. Flash Gordon, John Carter, Gullivar Jones)
- Future (ex. Buck Rogers, Captain Future, Northwest Smith, Eric John Stark)
- Time Travel (ex. The Time Traveller)
- Scientific Detectives (ex. Lash Lynn, Craig Kennedy)
- Inventors (ex. Frank Reade, Captain Nemo, Doctor Q, Quentin Locke, Radio King, Prof. Haskel Van Manderpootz)
- Boy Inventors / Edisonades (ex. Johnny Brainerd, Tom Swift, Electric Bob)
- Mad Scientists (ex. Rotwang, Dr. Moreau, Dr. Herbert West, Arthur Maxon, Dr. Moses Nebogipfel, Dr. Griffin)
Spy / Secret Agent
- Government (ex. Secret Service Operator #5, Yorke Norray)
- Femme Fatale Spy (ex. The Leopard Woman)
- Secret Agents (ex. Secret Agent X-9, Rouletabille)
Two-Fisted (some of these types can be found in other genres, too)
- Sailor (ex. Sailor Steve Costigan, Singapore Sammy)
- Boxer (ex. Kip Morgan)
- Soldier (ex. The Sergeant, Beau Geste, Don Winslow of the Navy, Night-Hawk)
- American West (ex. The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, Denver Doll)
- Mexican West (ex. Zorro)
- Ancient Mysteries/Ruins (ex. Indiana Jones)
- Big Game Hunter (ex. Allan Quatermain)
- Adventure Team (ex. Doc Savage and his Fabulous Five, Tintin)
- Asia / Middle East (ex. El Borak, Kirby O’Donnell, Captain Athelstan King)
- Jungle Adventures (ex. Tarzan, The Phantom, Rima the Jungle Girl)
- Lost World (ex. Professor Challenger)
- Seafaring (ex. Captain John Fury / The Skipper)
- Hollow Earth (David Innes, Otto Lidenbrock)
- Story Papers, Penny Dreadfuls, Dime Novels, 19th century short-fiction magazines, and early adventure books were the direct predecessors to Pulp Magazines. The pulps in turn strongly influenced Radio Dramas, Comic Strips, Comic Books, and Movie Serials. As a result, there is a considerable amount of overlap between all of these types of media, with some characters crossing over between two or more of them.
- The first pulp magazine was the all-fiction issue of The Argosy Magazine in 1896.
- The pulps covered a very wide range of existing genres, helped to popularize others, and were responsible for the creation of several. Some book authors published in the pulps, as well, and some (particularly the science fiction ones) got their start there.
- “Two-Fisted Tales” refer to action and adventure stories set in the 1920s and 1930s that feature larger-than-life heroes. The main characters are generally extremely strong-willed, physically strong, tough, determined, and intelligent.
- May of the earliest superheroes were based on characters from the pulps. Some that have been acknowledged as influences by later superhero writers include The Scarlet Pimpernel, Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Zorro, and The Spider. Hugo Danner from the novel Gladiator would seem to be the direct predecessor of Superman, but there is no evidence that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster ever read the story.
- In 1949, the last pulp magazines ceased publication. These were The Shadow, Doc Savage, Detective Story and Western Story.
- Since the 1950s, “pulp fiction” has been used in reference to mass market paperbacks, rather than magazines. Some pulp magazine characters managed to stay popular by transitioning to mass market books.
Call of Cthulhu and related games are often set in the first half of the 20th century. Below is a brief guide to various aspects of life in the 1920s. Make sure to check the links at the bottom of the page for general 1920s resources and scans of catalogs, magazines, and pulps from the period.
- American Realism, Art Deco, Bauhaus, Constructivism, Dada, Expressionism, German Expressionism, the Mexican Muralist Movement, Social Realism, Surrealism, and other art movements flourished.
- Salvador Dalí, Marc Chagall, Otto Dix, Wassily Kandinsky, George Grosz, Paul Klee, Tamara de Lempicka, René Magritte, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright were famous artists from this period.
- The Harlem Renaissance was a period of African-American (“negro,” at the time) art, music, and culture flourished. It spanned the period between the end of World War I (1918) and the mid-1930s. Jazz and blues musicians like Duke Ellington and Gretrude “Ma” Rainey and authors like W.E.B. Dubois and Langston Hughes became famous with people of all ethnicities.
- A. A. Milne, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Sinclair Lewis, Edith Wharton, André Breton, and H. L. Mencken found success as writers.
- The Golden Age of Radio began. The first commercial radio station in the U.S. was launched in 1920. One million sets were in use by 1922.
- Motion Pictures become a popular form of entertainment, leading to vaudeville’s sharp decline in popularity by the early 1930s.
- In the early 1920s, pianists in theaters were given sheet music to play in accompaniment with silent films.
- The first color film – “The Toll of the Sea” – debuted in 1922
- The first commercial screening of a film with sound (a “talkie”) was in 1923, but they didn’t really take off until the last few years of the decade.
- In 1927, “The Jazz Singer” was the first movie to feature dialogue.
- Mickey Mouse first appeared on theater screens in 1928.
- Famous actors of the period included Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valention, Mae West, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Anna May Wong (the first Chinese-American movie star), Al Jolson, and many more.
- marathon dancing
- crossword puzzles
- pole dancing contests in dance halls
- pole sitting
- Jewelry was strongly influenced by Art Nouveau designs.
- Young women increasingly wore sportswear and clothing influence by the flapper aesthetic.
- Popular men’s hats included the bowler, fedora, flat cap, homburg, newsboy cap, straw boater, trilby, and top hat. The cloche hat was popular with women.
- Functional, durable children’s play clothing became the norm, as opposed to more elaborate and layered clothing of the past.
- Albert Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.”
- In 1922, Neils Bohr received the Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them.”
- Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, but it wouldn’t become a widely-used antibiotic until the 1930s.
- Dance clubs became a major form of entertainment.
- The Foxtrot, The Waltz, and The Tango were the most popular dances.
- Jazz became a popular form of music.
- The Cotton Club opened in Harlem in 1923, with African-American performers catering to a white audience. Cab Calloway was a regular performer there. The Savoy Ballroom opened in 1926 with no restrictions on the ethnicities of the guests.
- Jazz and Blues became popular with people of all ethnicities.
- The genre of Country Music started to form.
- Famous singers of the period included Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Bing Crosby, Bessie Smith, Jimmy Rodgers, The Carter Family, Cole Porter, Béla Bartók, and George Gershwin.
- Women began to work outside the home.
- The Equal Rights Amendment was presented to Congress in 1921.
- Flappers arose in the post-World War I years. They were young women who had rejected traditional gender roles in favor of living broader, freer lives, like men. They were particularly known for going to “wild” parties, drinking, smoking, and embracing sexual freedom. The 1920 film “The Flapper,” the first U.S. film to depict that subculture.
- The KKK reached somewhere between 4 and 5 million members in the 1920s, their highest membership ever. They fell to 30,000 members by 1930, though. By 1923 they were opposed by the Red Knights, an organization made up of Catholics that was open to people of all ethnicities.
- Prohibition was enacted by 1919, and continued until 1933.Women gained the right to vote with the 19th Amendment in 1920.
- The first US Red Scare ended in 1920 (it started in 1917).
- The National Origins Act / Immigration Act of 1924 set limits on the number of immigrants who could enter the U.S., according to their country of origin.
- The Scopes Trial of 1925 started a national conversation regarding the teaching of evolution in schools.
- Elliot Ness led “The Untouchables,” government Prohibition agents, from 1929-1932, to help bring down Al Capone and other gangsters. The underground bars of the time were known as “speakeasies.”
- The Great Depression begins after Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929).
- The American Mafia/Cosa Nostra grew throughout the 1920s, partially in response to Prohibition. Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and others got their start in organized crime in the earlier “Five Points Gang.”
- Baseball was the #1 sport. Babe Ruth joined the New York Yankees in 1920 and gained fame as a power hitter. The farm system was created, and the Negro National League was formed and ran from 1920-1931.
- Jack Dempsey was the World Heavyweight Champion from 1919 – 1926.
- The first professional basketball leagues in the U.S. were created.
- The American Professional Football Association was formed in 1920.
- Golf became more popular, with American Walter Hagen winning the British Open Championship in 1922.
- The first Winter Olympic Games is held in France in 1924.
- Indoor plumbing and household electricity became more common.
- Telephone became more widespread. In 1920, 35% of homes had a telephone. Rotary dial phones were replacing the old “stick style” ones. In 1926 the first transatlantic phone call was made from London to New York.
- Mass-produced automobiles became common, with Ford releasing the Model T in 1927.The first liquid-fueled rocket was launched in 1926.
- In 1927, Charles Lindbergh made the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight.
- Meccano, Erector, Lincoln Logs, and Tinkertoys building sets were popular toys of the time.
- Companies like the Knickerbocker Toy Company made teddy bears popular.
- Donald Duncan promoted the yo-yo, making it a popular toy.
- Hornby produced the first electric train sets in 1925.
- Effanbee and Schoenhut produced popular dolls for girls.
- Kites, marbles, stick horses, wooden blocks, and tops continued to be popular childhood toys.
- Warren G. Harding (1921 – 1923)
- Calvin Coolidge (1923 – 1929)
- Herbert Hoover (1929 – 1933)
- World War I had ended (1918)
- Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921)
- Irish War of Independence (1919-1921)
- Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923)
- Chinese Civil War (1927-1937)
- Fascists continued to gain power in Italy, and were later copied by Adolf Hitler.
- The Weimar Republic in Germany ran from 1919 to 1933, with its Golden Era lasting from 1924-1929. It was a cultural renaissance period where new forms of entertainment and new ideas about modernity flourished.
- King Tut’s Tomb was discovered in 1922, leading to a worldwide fascination with Ancient Egypt.
- The Soviet Union was formed in 1922.
- Egypt gained independence from Britain (1922).
- The Pahlavi Dynasty rose as the last Iranian monarchy (1925-1979).
Années Folles (France)
Golden / Happy Twenties (Germany)
Weimar Culture (Germany)
Pulps with Lovecraft Stories
1925 (Jan.) Weird Tales (includes “The Festival”)
1926 (Aug.) Weird Tales (includes “The Terrible Old Man”)
1927 (Jan.) Weird Tales (includes “The Horror at Red Hook”)
1927 (Oct.) Weird Tales (includes “Pickman’s Model”)
1928 (Jun.) Weird Tales (includes “The Lurking Fear”)