I've never bought a zine before. It always seemed silly to drop cash on something someone typed up, copied, and stapled in their basement, especially when I could just pick up an issue of Dragon magazine where I could get “real” D+D content. Of course this was back in the days when Dragons was still being published, I was playing RC D+D, and the local shop even carried zines. (The existence of zines outside of RPGs was never something I ever knew about or even considered)
Since then I haven’t really seen any, or given any thought about them until Christian started talking about his old zine, and starting up a new one. I offered to work as a proofreader, but he already had one lined up. However, because of my offer, Christian sent me issue #1 of Loviatar.
It was better than I expected. In some ways it seemed like a cleaned up series of blog posts, formatted and published. The paper quality was good, as was the printing, and even the artwork was surprisingly decent. I was impressed, and I didn’t expect to be. While the system the material was written for is Pathfinder, it’s simplicity to convert it. The topic was about running an urban campaign, and while well written, it wasn’t really what I was looking for.
Issue 1 garnered many well deserved reviews, but in spite of this I was still skeptical. What role does a zine fill that isn’t already addressed by the vast proliferation of blogs? Mine included? Was it really worth $12 for 6 monthly issues worth? I couldn’t honestly say yes.
Issue 2 went past with a similar number of highly positive reviews. I didn’t get a copy, but noticed that Christian had maintained his planned monthly schedule for issue 2, and that he’s expanded the contents beyond Pathfinder. I wondered at the wisdom of that choice... Issue 3 received even more positive reviews.
When issue 4 was on the horizon Christian then sent me a request for help. One of his usual proofreaders was having computer issues, and he wanted to know if I’d be able to help out. I was, and the article I was proofing was on caretaker robots in GURPS for a weird sounding setting. I did what I could, and for my efforts received another free copy.
Issue 5 was another departure from previous contents. This issue focused entirely on a new feature, a hex crawl, and the entire issue was devoted to it. This peaked my interest, but it came and went with high praise. So did issue 6, which moved onto the next hex. Skipping them was growing harder...
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I subscribed, and asked to start with issue #5 so I could follow the progress of the hex crawl as it continues to develop. They came in the mail the other day, and I just finished reading issue 6, and I expect issue 7 any minute now, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
So what does that say about the role of zines? Generally, not much, except that there is probably room for them. What does it say about Loviatar? That I feel like my money has been well spent. Christian as done a bang-up job. Is this the sort of thing that I could get in blog format? Sure, in the same way I can get Zac’s Vornheim info from his blog, fragmented and incomplete. Loviatar does all that it promises, and it does it in a way that is (semi)professional and clearly a labor of love. Is it perfect? No, but for the money it’s very nice to have a gaming magazine of such good quality in my hands.