#BuyIndie: The San Jenaro Co-op Digest Vol. 1

The month of May surprised me by being a particularly creative month. We posted five pieces of creative writing on the site, as well as our first audio file and character sheets. But we also added another regular contributor. Welcome, Valkyrion!

Collaboration is one of my favourite things. Working together on something makes it easier for everyone, and often allows you to produce something much better than what you could have done on your own. I was chatting about it to a friend of mine who composes music when he isn’t farming avos.
He said, “Sometimes it’s hard to spark alone. Collaboration feels weird because you wind up in places you wouldn’t otherwise, but the momentum is undeniable.”

Sometime over the coming weeks, I’ll post my introduction to getting started in RPGs, beginning appropriately enough by asking, where do you start? But before we get to that, I’ve had the privilege to see a collection of people produce something … pretty damn amazing. So I thought I’d hype a fantastic example of collaboration that has achieved something that nobody involved would have been able to pull off on their own.

And so, without further ado: the San Jenaro Co-Op!

Cover image for the San Jenaro Co-Op Short Games Digest: Volume 1
San Jenaro Co-Op Short Games Digest: Volume 1

The Co-Op describes themselves as “an independent collective of creative professionals working together to bring new voices to the gaming scene.” They just released their first publication, The Short Games Digest, Volume 1, but they are releasing their first Kickstarter, The Roleplayer’s Guide to Heists, as early as next week. If it funds, I hope to end up editing some of it! I can’t tell you how excited this makes me. Simply watching from the sidelines as everyone discussed the digest over Discord has been amazing, so actively helping – boggles the mind.

So what’s so unique about this whole thing? Well, I’ll just quote Olivia Hill, who describes herself in the intro to the Digest as “one of the graphic designers, writers, and mentors for this project.” (She did much more than that, but at any rate.) She wrote,

“What you have in front of you is an outstanding collection of short games from numerous designers — some veterans, some this is their first game. Every dollar spent on this book gets divided among the team, and all major choices are made collectively by the team. This first issue of the Quarterly San Jenaro Games Digest is an experiment in a lot of ways. First and foremost, we wanted to see if we could do it. We wanted to see if we could make a games co-op work, if we could maintain realistic timelines, if we could deliver awesome games, and if we loved the project as much in delivery as when we started. We do. We do so much.”

On twitter, she described the collection as follows:

Just getting the whole thing written and published was a huge effort, and a massive accomplishment, considering. But it also paid off in a really big way. The next four tweets give you a pretty good abbreviated timeline for how the day went.

1.

2.

3.

Some final thoughts

You can buy the book, sign up for the Discord server, and get notified about the Kickstarter by signing up for the SGD mailing list and/or the Heist mailing list. I am inordinately excited about the whole thing. And you can buy Volume 1 at this link, or this one, or even this one.


What’s so cool about this book?

Rather than simply ranting about how great I think the whole thing is, I thought I’d post some of the things the creators have said about it themselves.

This Awful Place is designed by James Barton.

Camp Xander: A Summer Camp for Teen Monsters is designed by Raven Norris.

Clerics is designed by Olivia Hill, with art by Dyer Rose. A descripton from a reader:

The Gods Play Dice is designed by Ken Rountree, with art by Dyer Rose.

The Great Instrument is designed by Magnus T. Hansen, with art by Dyer Rose.

The Halls of Lomaar is designed by Liam Ginty with additional writing by Gabriel Komisar.

Hysteria is designed by Nicholas “satorui” Underwood, with art by Dyer Rose.

Legends and Libations is designed by J.R. Zambrano.

Lonely Knights is designed by Filamena Young.

Used Grimoires is designed by Christopher Falco, with art by Dyer Rose.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow, Today! is designed by Galen F. Evans, with art by Dyer Rose. Another member of the Co-op took some time to describe each game. He summarised the last game like this:

The cover art was designed by Kamapon! and I think it’s fantastic.