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Recently, I learned about a new tabletop RPG (TTRPG) called Quest, which Dicebreaker toted as having “a good shot at becoming the definitive RPG for first-time players.” After watching Dicebreaker’s short video on the system (which you can find here or at the end of this article), I decided to order a copy and examine it for myself.
I gotta say, I like it a lot.
In this article, I’m going to share 5 things I love about Quest RPG with you. Before we get started, I want you to know the following:
- This is not an endorsement of Quest over D&D or any other TTRPGs. I encourage you to find the TTRPG that works best for you and your players, one that brings you unequivocal joy with every session.
- I won’t mention things that I don’t like about Quest. That’s just not my style.
- I’m not an expert on Quest. If I get something wrong, I apologize.
- Quest RPG did not ask me to write this article, nor am I being paid to do so.
The first thing that roped me in about Quest was the artwork. I’m a huge fan of Adventure time and Tales from Alethrion, both for their exaggerated cartoon art style and their whimsical yet thought-provoking method of storytelling. (If you’ve never watched “The Reward,” I just linked it. Go watch it, I’ll wait.) The artwork in Quest reminded me of my favorite cartoons while also maintaining its own sense of style.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fantasy painting. Our house is covered with them. But I’ve always been drawn to styles of art that are different, such as singers who maybe aren’t as technically proficient as others but who have memorable qualities to their voices. The art in this book scratches that same itch for me, while also conveying the epic and fantastical scope of adventuring with good friends. Oh, and it’s beautiful.
It’s also worth mentioning that the art in Quest is both inclusive and empowering. I especially love the artwork for the Naturalist role (depicted above), whose wonderful bird tattoos extend along their prosthetic arm. As a related aside, the community guidelines are also quite nice.
Quest is a book that holds your hand and takes you on a tour. It reminds me of the wholesome tutorial in the video game Little Big Planet, where the friendly narrator (Stephen Fry) engages with the player as they learn the controls at their own pace—while having a bit of lighthearted fun along the way.
From the very first page of the book, which states “This is a special place,” you feel like you’re on a learning journey. The table of contents is split into sections with commentary telling you what you’re going to learn in each grouping, and the book is presented logically without burdening you with too much information on any given page. I found myself thinking, If this rule works this way, I wonder about that rule, only to discover it in the following section. Font and layout vary from page to page, providing you with simple, direct information without any extra fluff. Once Quest has taught you a rule or conveyed its point, the book lets you have some space to ponder and chew on the information before continuing.
Backstories contain familiar elements of an ideal and a flaw, but the way that they are presented to the player is especially friendly to new folks. It’s sort of like mad libs meets D&D, and it works. You don’t need to write a 5-page backstory to get playing, and there are no races to choose. You just fill out the Character Profile, and you’re ready to go in that regard. They’re available as separate files on the website, too, so you can print off as many as you need and get rolling.
You can call Quest simple. In many ways, it is. But it’s simple in all the right places, which makes it elegant.
You get twelve items that reasonably fit in a backpack. Want to carry more? Drop one. Firing a ranged weapon? You’ll need one slot for your ranged weapon—be it a bow, laser rifle, or supercharged t-shirt cannon—and another slot for ammunition. But don’t worry about tracking all that ammunition. You have enough, it just takes up space.
In fact, don’t worry about keeping up with money and balancing an economy. Most things are free. Want something fancy? You’re going to have to trade for it. If you like tracking resources, this probably isn’t your game. However, if you are like me and don’t jump for joy every time a player asks how much a magic item costs, you’ll probably appreciate Quest’s bartering economy.
Because the rules in Quest are so light, there’s a bit more freedom to the group as a whole. Having just played Burn Bryte last night, I gotta say I like the freedom that comes with making skills versatile or even removing them entirely. There have been a lot of moments in other TTRPGs where my players will look down at their character sheets to try to find something—anything—that they can do. Often times, they’ll rule out the things they aren’t good at, which is natural in a system with skills and modifiers. When success depends on how good you are at a thing, you tend to focus on what you do best.
In Quest, there are no modifiers. You simply say what you want to do, and you do it, just like other TTRPGs. However, when you try to persuade someone, there’s no Diplomacy or Persuasion check. You just roll the d20 and use the following outcomes:
- 20 — Triumph: you automatically succeed, and might find fortune.
- 11-19 — Success: you do the thing without a negative outcome.
- 6-10 — Touch Choice: you do the thing, but the Guide gives you two setbacks that you must then choose from.
- 2-5 — Failure: you do not do the thing, and you might have a negative outcome.
- 1 — Catastrophe: you automatically fail, and something bad happens.
This means that the probability of success for any check that doesn’t use a special ability stays the same for each character throughout your campaign. Some people will like this, others will not. Personally, I think it’s neat and helps keep the game moving, especially if math isn’t your best friend.
Quest isn’t a watered-down version of your favorite TTRPG. While some aspects may seem familiar, there are several that feel entirely new—and refreshing.
For example, the game lifts some of the responsibility of controlling pace off of the Guide (the game master), particularly when it comes to player advancement. At the end of each session, each character gets Adventure Points (APs), a finite resource which the players can accumulate to use abilities with an AP cost. A fighter might use 1 or 2 APs at a time, utilizing them for minor maneuvers. Alternatively, the wizard might save their APs for a clutch moment, surprising everyone at the table by wielding mighty magic in an epic display. There’s no limit to how many APs a character can accumulate, so players can decide their ideal reservoir of points for themselves throughout the campaign.
Character advancement works similarly. There are multiple learning paths in each roles, similar to skill trees in a common theme. They must be taken sequentially, but you can borrow from any of the paths. You might go all in on the Invoker’s Invocation path take a vow (similar to a paladin oath), or you might pick the Shield ability from the Wards path and a couple abilities from the Wrath path. At the end of each session, you’ll get a new ability, so it’s possible to get all the abilities in a role—if your campaign runs long enough. There are also legendary abilities, which only the Guide specifies when a character can get. These are things like the wizard’s ability to create dimensional portals, or recruiting an army of small animals to aid you and your companions as a ranger!
It’s Easy to Teach
Most important of all, Quest is easy to teach. It feels like a great way to introduce a new player to TTRPGs. There are, of course, easier TTRPGs to teach new folks, and there are certainly more complicated ones, but Quest feels like a nice balance of rules with common sense, which makes them easier to remember.
A player might ask, “Can I hit the creature with my sword?” If you’re in reach, you can hit it where you stand. If you’re nearby, you can travel to it on your turn and make a melee attack. If you’re in range, you can make a ranged attack, but not a melee one. And if you’re too far—well, I think you get my point.
If you or someone you know has never played a TTRPG before, and that’s not enough to warrant a deeper look, there’s also:
- A single die.
- No modifiers.
- No money.
- No skills.
- No multiclassing.
If you’d like to give quest a deeper look, there are some basic rules on the Quest website. If you’re a writer like me, you’ll be pleased to know that they recently announced an open creator’s license.
I hope you enjoyed this quick look at a great new TTRPG! I can’t wait to play some in-person with my friends when the pandemic finally slows down. You can watch Dicebreaker’s short video on Quest below.
Like this article? Consider supporting me by buying one of my products on the DMs Guild, such as Elminster’s Candlekeep Companion. If you’re running Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus, consider picking up an alternative introductory adventure to the campaign, Devil’s Advocate: A Guide to Infernal Contracts, or Baldur’s Gate: City Encounters.