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MEET THE MAKER: FISTFUL OF CRITS

Get to know one of our featured creators: Fistful of Crits!

Written by: Tabletop Crafter

We settled in with Steph of Fistful Of Crits to learn more about how they started the business, their cat-cafe game Toe Beans, and what's coming next! Grab a cuppa and let’s get to know one of our makers a little better.

Tell us who you are and what you do!

My name is Steph (she/her), although I’m sometimes referred to as Frey on social spaces online. I own and run Fistful of Crits with my friend and business partner, Logan (he/him). I have a degree in Illustration and have been a graphic designer now for a couple of years – Logan on the other hand has a decade of experience in print and digital design - and Fistful of Crits is our TTRPG small business venture together.


Tell us more about you outside of your business. What do you like to do?

Fistful of Crits is a subsidiary of our main business, Fistful of Ink, which Logan has had for ten years. We are specialist, short-run printers and graphic designers who balance client work alongside our work for Fistful of Crits! We have been experimenting lately with fulfilling print for the TTRPG community and hope to grow and expand that way as we go.

Outside of work, I love board games and reading – fantasy and historical fiction are my favourite genres! I have two cats, Jynn and Foxy, who are my constant home-office companions. My favorite food of choice would be Middle Eastern curry and I am hideously addicted to caffeine. I’m not a movie-watching person most of the time but the LOTR trilogies are my go-to comfort movies and music-wise, indie folk, rock and metal are some of what constantly play on my playlists.


How did your business start? A couple of years ago I was working a licensed graphic design job for a large company working with big IP brands like Nintendo, WOTC and Warner Bros, but I was underpaid and miserable with no lift in pay for years and a totally demoralized team who crunched hard through the pandemic. Logan offered for me to come join him as a director in his business and grow a new side of it for our shared passion for TTRPG games: that will be two years ago in October.


How did you get into tabletop gaming and/or nerd culture? I got into D&D 3.5 in college for a bit and devoured the Drizzt Do’Urden FR novels when I was a kid. At the time it wasn’t a great space for women so I backed out of many of the games I managed to get into. I stumbled across an AP podcast called Friends at the Table some years ago where they played Dungeon World/Blades in the Dark among many other indie games, and Critical Role around 2017. I saw a totally different atmosphere in the hobby than what I remembered in college so decided to get back into it. But to be fair, I’ve always been pretty nerdy even for things outside of TTRPGs.


What do you like best about being part of the TTRPG or fantasy community? It's nice to have a group of people who share in your passion as much as you do. I’ve found a wealth of support and friendships in the two years I’ve been in the TTRPG space and am happy to say I’ve found a lot of great people, games and opportunities through it. I love seeing what people are creating most of all. It’s really helped me feel a lot less alone and it's been very healing for me.


Tell us all about Toe Beans! The design work is stunning and it’s such an incredible idea, we’d love to know all about it. I am beginning to be known as Toe Beans Girl! It was my first big project for Crits coming off the back of a Twitter thread started by a friend, who asked, ‘If you could have any business in a D&D world, what would it be?’. I love cats and spellcaster/academic types are my usual lean-to for roleplay mechanics, so I said a magical cat café. All the cats would be waiters and there would be special drinks to help you study or relax to. A lot of people in the thread asked if I was making it, so I decided to take it on as our first release.

I love making table props and I love the way they can elevate the experience around a table. When we set out to make Toe Beans, we decided it should come with things like café loyalty cards, tea bag labels and little menu handouts to help achieve the feeling that you really were sitting at a café table. It’s been hugely popular, so much so that we made a sequel version with a quest for players to go on, and we have plans to make a third and final instalment at some point in the next year or two.

By the way, all the waiter cats in Toe Beans are based on cats I’ve owned throughout my life! (Jynn is Binjinn and Foxy is Foss) If anyone has played Toe Beans, I’d love to hear about it and how it went for you and your table.


Toe Beans: Image from Fistful of Crits

What’s a hidden gem product, something you absolutely love but doesn’t seem to get the attention you feel it deserves?

There are so many creators and projects I’m passionate about it would be hard to pick! If I had to shout one out though, it would be Orchidelirium by Aether Corp Games. It’s a fun TTRPG about collecting orchids in Victorian times, it's also beautifully designed and always first on my list of recommendations. I also really love Hinokodo’s Miru.


What inspires you to create?

I am a little bit selfish in that I only make what I want to, or what I’d want to play or see on a table. I think if you try to chase trends and commercially viable projects you won’t grow as fast or enjoy the work as much as something you’re really excited about, and people can tell!

I love history, folklore and ethereal themes so I try to bring some of those passions into my work. I am also the queen of limited colour palettes, so sometimes I’ll see a swatch and think ‘ooh, what vibe does this give me and what could I make with that?’



Do you have any exciting products or projects coming up that we should know about?

Yes! Afterglow, based on the Firelights System by Fari-RPGs. It’s an indie TTRPG that you can play solo or with a friend, either competitively or collaboratively. I had to pause work on it to get ready for UKGE but I am eager to get back to it, so it should be out soon!

We also have a plethora of other games coming up through the year – a Mork Borg module in three parts called Hark! The Herald! Angel Sings!, an indie game about making stories for antiques called Sentimentality and more products and designs.


A work in progress of Afterglow: From @fistfulofcrits Twitter

Where can we find you?

You can find us on twitter and instagram at @fistfulofcrits and my personal account @freyalygil

We are also looking to get into tiktok but we’re both millennials and scared of it.

Our upcoming conventions for the year are Dragonmeet (December) and throughout the year at our favourite local boardgame event Dungeons & Flagons in Manchester.


Is there anything else you’d like to tell us or share?

We have a Discord link in the pinned comment of our twitter page – its open invite, small and cosy and there’s no pressure to be active. We’re available for help and advice about design, TTRPG print questions and general workshop advice. We want to give back to the community where we can, so if you ever want to ask us anything feel free to jump in the discord or DM one of us on Twitter!


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