From one vantage, fanzines already played a major role in the creation of 13th Age. Jonathan and I met because we both wrote for the Alarums & Excursions print rpg fanzine that’s still run by Lee Gold. I was a fan, Jonathan was a pro, and we became friends after I started sending him postcards about Over the Edge outside the fanzine. First we were friends, then alternating GMs in our game group, then co-workers, and now collaborators again on 13th Age.
Fanzines rock. They’re the place to try stunts that you might or might not come off, to test material that can then be focused down into your gaming group, to hone writing and design skills, and to find people you’re going to stay in touch with the rest of your life.
In a weird sense, I have already had a fanzine-like experience with 13th Age. The 700+ pages of playtest comments we got on the core rulebook read just as much as a fanzine as playtest data. Alongside comments on bad wording and broken spells, there were oodles of campaign write-ups, cool little mini-adventures, delicious quotes, character and monster sketches, construction schemes for escalation dice, and even photos of a minis battle played out in front of a toenail painting party!
We half-designed the world of 13th Age, inviting people to fill in or recreate the pieces anew every campaign. Having seen the initial harvest of home-playtest material when people were just getting used to filling in the pieces, I’m grateful to David for taking the initiative to put together a gathering point as the game develops.