Mystic Punks (2020)

I have a bunch of Mystic Punks zines. They’re actually some of the first modern RPG zines I encountered. I use zine there in the classic sense — the Mothership branch of the zine family tree is populated with beautiful, professionally printed baubles, but Mystic Punks stuck to the old ways of hand assembled photocopies on day-glo paper. There wasn’t even a digital storefront — I just sent some cash to Anthony Meloro with the names of what I wanted in the note field and the zines showed up in the mail, made to order. This is the revised and collected edition, published by Exalted Funeral (2020). Honestly, I miss a little of the DIY charm, but the new art and the clean layout make up for the loss.

You start with just some stats, some spells and your soulbound switchblade. Book two introduces character classes. Book three gives you more spells. They underlying system reminds me a little bit of the Golden Dragon gamebooks, but that might just be because both have vigor as a central attribute.

The premise is easy to love. You play as a teen (did I mention this is a solo game?) living in a town beset by supernatural threats that no one else seems to notice, so it falls to you to use your fell magick to protect your home. The threat seems to be emanating from your high school, so this is a classroom crawl, a little bit Class of Nuke ‘em High, a little bit Satanic Panic, a lot of punk rock attitude. Meloro is over-the-top in everything, his prose, his conception of the world, the way everything constantly escalates across the volumes. The best part is that the book includes a massive fifth chapter of the story that definitively wraps up the tale — the ending in the zines was pretty open, so now you have the ability to save Star Valley once and for all.

If you love punk rock, or evil rituals, this is probably for you! For real, one of the better traditional solo experiences I’ve played.

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