Enter the fantasy world of Zin Never Dies, inspired by classic animated films, fairy tale charm, and folklore darkness...
Latest Updates from Our Project:
RELEASE DATE ANNOUNCEMENT
27 days ago
– Sun, Sep 03, 2023 at 08:58:31 AM
Hey folks! I’ve got a lot to update you on, but for those interested only in the hard facts, here’s a tl;dr:
Zin Never Dies core rulebook will drop on October 10th in PDF form.
In the month that follows, I'll use player feedback to make the final corrections before the finalized version is approved for print.
Next to drop will be the Starter’s Kit on October 20th.
Once that’s out, the 3 adventure modules (Mask-A-Raid, HUSH, and Spirit Water) will drop in November & December.
The world is full of angry spirits. Why are they angry? Who knows... All you can do is try to avoid them and their wrath. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. The core book will feature this section detailing examples of uniquely cursed domains with inexplicable effects hindering the players.
The gm guide now includes this section, an illustrated manual for presenting players with special challenges based on the environment they’re in; grassy hills, wetlands, rocky mountains, deserts, etc.
The final bestiary design will feature some “highlight” pages featuring one creature (art, description, & stats) and other pages that feature 2~3 creatures at a time. The “stat block” as we know it, used for characters & NPCs, is proving too big & clunky for critters. It simply takes up too much room on the page. This redesign fixes ‘em with a fancy “stat belt” instead.
Countries/so much art
The ‘countries’ section of the world chapter has been the most intensive art effort of the entire book, and it’s finally finished. Phew…
The book will also include an appendix featuring example copies of all character sheets (player characters, npcs, spirits, etc) and all cheat sheets.
Why so slow?
The missing updates, the slow responses, the delayed release dates and more have led a few backers to (not unreasonably) assume that ZND is a dud; One of the many Kickstarter projects that started with good intentions but fell through. It might have been one in an alternate timeline. After all, my life has seen many changes in the past year and a half. I experienced technical issues, a family member passed away, I got through illnesses and heartbreaks, breakups and loss, I’ve moved to my own apartment, come out of the closet as both queer & transgender, my dog Zoro died (he was 16 years old and, objectively, the best boy)... This list of changes isn’t here to toot my own pity-horn but rather to show how much ZND means to me. Through all of this, when the outside world sucked and my own life seemed to be heading the same way, I had my own mountain to climb. If I can write one page today, the day will have been worth it. If I can finish one art-piece today, the day will have been worth it. If I can make one more npc, one more map, one more design… It helped me tremendously and so have all of you. And as you can tell from the descriptions of my tasks, I’m doing this on my own. The concept artists have helped me a lot, but their work has been done for months. Now it’s all me. My current workload looks something like this: writing, designing, layout, bureaucracy, art, customer support, playtesting, scheduling, and proofreading. I’ll use the last bit of free budget from the campaign to hire an assistant who will handle the details of printing correspondence with the printer company because I recently reached my limit and had a minor collapse.
I love you all. Thank you for the support <3
Eiko Nemo Dowme
3 months ago
– Fri, Jun 30, 2023 at 10:16:22 AM
There is so much to share, I feel like I should divide it into parts. Let's start with what's going to be available for download the earliest. Then I'll detail the latest updates from the full book (art, new content, etc.). Then I'll share some "new stuff to buy" news (which is really "stuff I forgot to put on the pre-order store before" news). And finally some personal news and the release predictions. Alright let's go!
Cheat sheets are useful reference pages that compile all the essentials into one printable page. They're super useful for players & GMs regardless of how experienced they may be. I've wanted ZND Cheat Sheets for so long and they're finally going to become a reality! That's right, sheets, plural. All six will be available for free download.
This cheat sheet contains all the steps of character creation without all the flipping back & fourth from section to section of a big book or pdf. This is not just what's featured in the Quickstart Guide, it also includes the Kickstarter-Unlocked insectoid species Heka, stats & all.
Every Zin Tower has 5 levels of Mastery. You'll find them all listed in the Zin Tower cheat sheet (including the kicksarter-unlocked Tower of Life & Tower of Shadows).
There's more to RPGs than rules of movement, combat, and magic. The world of ZND is HUGE. That's why you'll find this World Cheat Sheet so useful. It has detailed short summaries of each country, land, & nation.
This sheet is useful for creating backstories that stretch far into the past and incorporate the history of the world. It features timelines summarizing the most important historic events in the past 4 eras leading to the present day.
Last but not least is the GM cheat sheet. It features a giant tables clarifying the meaning of every single level of every single stat. And if that wasn't enough, it also shows all the different ways to use ZND's mechanics to simulate different types of damage.
This section is almost a whole chapter on its own. It spans 16 pages and covers the description, art, abilities, stats, and history of all the playable species of ZND. It adds a TON of the character creation potential on top of what's already available in the Quickstart Guide. On the bottom right of every spread you'll also find a color-coded population map showing where members of this species are most/least likely to be found. Even though no species on Djin-Za is restricted to a single land, there are still "ancestral homelands" associated with most species. This section features notes on these lands and the species' connection to them. Notably, non of the "big four" (the largest, most powerful nations - Wona, Kina, Luka, and Lunas) are considered the ancestral homeland of any species. To learn about those, you'll have to go over to the Countries section.
Following up on a suggestion from a backer, this page "What Remains of Past Eras," will detail the sorts of relics & ruins players will encounter in their adventures on Djin-Za. This world has ended many times already. Each "end" left behind traces of what came before. Each of the documented 3 eras have their own unique ruins, some of which are still useful in the present day to those who know their secrets...
Downtime is important. This the Leisure section (which features my absolute favorite illustration) you'll find ways to unwind alongside the other residents of Djin-Za. From underground fighting rings to hotsprings, high & low class entertainment, and more, people have to have something to do when they're not an a mysterious, ghibli-esque adventure!
Finally, there's this fun bit of art I'm really excited to show you. It's the chapter-spread for the Surviving On Djin-Za chapter!
The ZND Starter Kit is officially available for pre-order! To add it to your pre-order, visit backerkit's ZND page or Zinneverdies.com.
For keeping up the support despite all the delays. I'm committed to bringing out the digital version of the book soon and the printed version +all the add-ons before the end of the year. One last thing... I don't know how much personal news you lovely beans are interested in but I'll add (to those who are) that due to the independence this project has allowed me, I was finally able to be in a place in life where I could come out to my family as a trans woman.
New Critters, GM resources, Character Sheets, Story, & Spirit tools!
5 months ago
– Sun, Apr 30, 2023 at 01:33:59 PM
Hi all! I wanna show you some of the latest exciting stuff going on behind the scenes. First…
Since the beginning, I’ve wanted the primary ZND book to contain a bit of everything. Player guide, GM guide, Lore, and bestiary. In the campaign, I said the book will contain 50+ original creatures, and at last, that’s a reality! There are over 50 sketches and concept-art pieces for ZND critters now. Time for me to start turning these amazing sketches (by Mortimer M.) into finished ZND-level art.
New Story: How Lehrer Invented Lehrean
The idea for this tale came from two sources. The first was the mythical story of sissyphus before he started rolling that boulder. Syssyphus was a king who cheated the Greek gods at every turn. He had no special powers, he wasn’t a hero by anyone’s standards, he just didn’t like the way the game was run. The other inspiration came from a player character’s brilliant plan to deceive the gods and become, in plain language, mad OP.
I am now drafting the final chapter of the book, the Game Master’s Guide. It will include all the lessons I have gathered from being a ZND GM for 5+ years. One of the things that struck me is that players un-learned many standard fantasy tropes through their ZND experience. Things like “big = strong & dumb” are so common in Fantasy literature, it’s hard to see it until it’s not there anymore. This section of the book discusses these issues and offers pointers.
Spirit Making Guide
ZND’s Spirits are unique among RPG entities. They’re not PCs nor NPCs. They have no dialogue and they rarely appear in physical form. Yet they hold immense power over the roleplaying experience. ZND’s Starter Kit will include several example spirits. The core book will contain 2 example spirits and this Spirit-Making Guide for GMs to craft their own strange otherworldly beings.
Party Tracking Sheet
This Party-tracking GM sheet is the newest addition to ZND’s character sheet bundle (A4 print version will be available for free download in the coming weeks). It’s an easy, mess-free way to track the players’ progression & abilities.
In other news
Kickstarter’s website is stubbornly bugging out. I’ve corresponded with a KS representative and they don’t know what the problem is either. For now, it seems I have to jump through a few hoops to access the information backers have submitted or to post these updates.
This month I traveled to visit family, the oldest member of which passed away the day after my return. That certainly affected ZND the week/s that followed.
Thanks for the support!
P. S. Several backers still haven’t filled their BackerKit surveys. If you’re not sure whether you did or not, message me.
Zin Towers, New Art, Maps, and more! (plus it's my birthday :D)
6 months ago
– Mon, Mar 20, 2023 at 12:08:32 PM
Got so much stuff to show off this month! Let's go!
New Section: "Zin Towers"
Unlike spells from a grimoire, Zin Towers are dynamic magic categories. In a fight between two mystics of similar abilities & levels, creativity will determine the winner; Whoever finds a better way to use the same tools is the better Zin user. Because of this, a simple ability list isn't quite enough to explain each Tower. In addition to a brief summary and an overview of the 5 levels of the Tower, this section is going to include the Towers' historic origin, how it's perceived in society, and how it's used today.
Since the Towers aren't all in one spread anymore, I've also added a handy overview page that features a summary of each Tower, for quicker browsing & character creation.
New Feature: "Population Maps"
Once upon a time, species were separated by borders. There was a human empire, feborn nations, and Tower-Dweller territories. That time is long gone. There are dominant species in some countries, of course, but it's nowhere near the walled-up world of the 1st Era. That can make it difficult to decide where your character lives, where they were born, where they're going, etc. Knowing how out-of-place you'll seem can be a big factor in decision making depending on the character's personality. This is why I added a population map for each playable species in the game.
New Section: "Plot Hooks"
One thing that kept popping up in the suggestions is "plot hooks" or "writing prompts." It's one of my favorite features, too. Even before the questionnaire, I included a short plot hooks section in the ZND Quickstart Guide. The only question is how many plot hooks to include. I put 2 pages' worth as it is. Let me know if you'd want more! These are all world-appropriate and open-ended so even if the players read the whole book, the GM can still surprise them.
The pieces shown above are all based on concept art by the talented 'Lunch+'.
New Section: "Country Info Pages"
This section will also include a short description of the country's unique form of government, as some of these lands have some... unusual traditions.
Note: some countries will take up a whole art/text spread, while others will share a spread with another country if their geography/weather both fits the same general atmosphere. The neighboring countries Fena & Luina, for example, will share the same art/spread. They are both lands mostly populated with feborn and full of forests, jungles, and savannas.
INPUT NEEDED: "Cheat Sheet"
Next on my to-do list is a ZND cheat sheet that includes a bunch of basic mechanics in super-concentrated form. What I want to know is this: What do YOU want to see in a ZND cheat sheet? What do you wish you had in front of you while playing/GMing? Your input has been wonderful so far and I'm looking forward to reading your suggestions :D
Submit suggestions here in the comments or over on the ZND Discord server.
Stories, Mechanics, and Life Paths!
8 months ago
– Sun, Jan 22, 2023 at 12:45:54 PM
Back in the swing!
Let's start with the good news: I've made a nearly complete recovery! All the time I didn't spend on medical shenanigans is the time I sank into ZND. And with all the news about Twitter recently, we're going to be a bit more active on Instagram too. Make sure to follow to get alerted to new updates & art drops!
I've got a bunch to show you this time around so let's get to it!
New Story: "Final Testimony of an Empty One"
I've been looking into your responses to the backer-kit questions again and saw just how many of you were interested in some in-world fiction. And as much as I'd love to dump a novel's worth of stories into the book, I also want it to serve a purpose beyond the entertainment value. So I decided to include some more stories but only if they serve to help flesh out something about the world. This is the reason there won't be a dedicated "fiction" section of the book. Instead, they'll be spread around the book, always right next to the page about the mechanic/lore presented in the story. This one, for example, will feature right next to the page that talks about death, the whispers, the echoes, and the Empty Ones.
New Story: "Mai-Dji at Noon"
This story was so long that it almost broke my personal page count vs. art goal. Being an indie creator, there's no real way of maintaining the same art-per-page ratio as a big studio. Still, I felt that letting five whole pages go by without any visual stimulant was a bit much. This story went to some places I didn't expect it to. Hope you'll enjoy it!
Life Path Tables
An exciting addition to the Character Creation chapter! These tables are an optional means to randomly or semi-randomly create a backstory that fits into the world of ZND. In the 4th part, titled "influences" there's the option to pick a character who played an important role in the character's life so far, so much so that they gain 1 free level in a 'Knowledge' according to whichever influence they picked.
Improved 'Gods' section + stories
Since they play such an important role in ZND, I added a bit to each God's page and wrote a short story about the reason some people might choose to do it despite the game book continuously insisting that you shouldn't.
Healing fast & slow
In ZND, there are 2 ways to heal after taking damage. One is slow and reliable. The other is fast and... uh... has some side effects. There is no straightforward "health potion" that increases your HP/LP for no cost (other than money). Instead, the substances in ZND have pros and cons that can cause problems of their own. One of these, Blue-Bark, is effective, but highly addictive and carries its own game mechanic with it.
A brand new spread and a brand new mechanic for those rare beans who choose to use armor!
Basic summary of armor and how it protects you
Play-by-play example of using armor
The downsides of using armor
Six examples of armor sets, price, and the non-lethal range of each type
A brand new spread to explain the nature of weapons in ZND. It contains:
Adding weapons to the inventory
Special/specific weapons skills
Nine examples of weapons, lethal range & price
Pretty neat, huh? Anyway, that does it for this month. See ya next update!