Rules

the game

Quest works best with 4-6 players.

First, choose one player to be the guide. The Guide plays as the story's narrator.

Everyone else will create one of the story's main characters, and then play as the character they created. These player characters are allies in an adventuring group called the party.

The Guide plays the part of the world around the party, like the director of a movie. They imagine the people, places, and things the party encounters. Then, they help everyone imagine the world of the game by describing it.

The Guide also plays the part of all of the characters in the story, like townspeople and monsters. We call them non-player characters, or npcs.

Finally, the Guide is responsible for creating consequences for the party's actions. That means imagining what happens next when a player springs a trap or makes an NPC angry.

The Guide and the party have different responsibilities, but they are equals — partners in storytelling.

how to play

The game is played by having a conversaiton with friends. It begins like this:

First, the Guide describes the scene to help the party imagine the world and what is happening nearby.

Next, members of the party say what their characters do. They can do anything they want, like talk to other characters, attack, or use one of their special abilities.

Then, the Guide imagines what happens next and describes the scene again.

action scenes

Usually the action in the game will flow freely while players speak, act, and think about what to do next.

In an action scene (like during combat), players take turns. During a turn, characters can move around AND do one thing. The one thing can be a special ability, or something else, like attacking an enemy, or trying to break through a door.

The Guide decides whose turn it is based on what's happening in the story. When each member of the party has taken a turn, the party's round ends. Then, the Guide gets a round for the creatures they control. Repeat this process until a conclusion is reached in the scene.

distances

Quest uses four relative bands of distance for resolving actions.

in reach

If something is in reach, a character can touch or hit it from where they stand.

nearby

If something is nearby, a character can move to be within reach of it during their turn.

in range

If something is in range, a character can hit it with a ranged attack this turn.

too far

If something is too far, it's beyond a character's range this turn. They will have to get closer.

rolling the die

Players roll the die in Quest to let fate decide what happens next. The Guide will ask players to roll when they try to do something risky, or when chance makes things fun.

important: Die rolls by default in Quest are purely a measure of luck, not of skill. We consider skill in this game to be captured by each Role's unique set of abilites, and by how players decide to use those abilities.

Characters must roll every time they make a basic attack. A basic attack is made when a character uses a weapon or their body to attack something. Special abilities only require rolls if they explicitly ask for one.

outcomes

20: triumph

The character automatically succeeds at what they were trying to do, and may find added fortune from The Guide. Damage dealt is doubled.

11-19: success

The character accomplishes what they were trying to do without any compromises. Standard damage is dealt.

6-10: tough choice

The character succeeds in what they were trying to do, but there's a cost. If a party member rolls a tough choice, The Guide offers two setbacks to choose from.

1-5: failure

The character fails. The Guide chooses a setback for the failure.

1: catastrophe

The character automatically fails and The Guide may create a severe setback.

deadly scenes

A creature's mortality is measured by hit points, or hp. Reduction of HP is referred to as "damage." All player characters begin with 10 HP, and 10 HP is the maximum amount of HP they can have in the game.

Creatures who lose HP are not necessarily harmed. Consider HP a measure of fate and not necessarily health.

harm and recovery

There are two primary ways characters can regain hit points.

regroup. When characters rest for a short time with no enemies nearby, they regain up to the halfway point of their maximum hit points. For example, if a character regroups while at 3 HP, they would recover 2 HP. If they regroup while at 0 HP, they would recover 5 HP.

rest. When a character completes a full night's rest while in a safe place, they recover all of their hit points.

injury and death

Characters cannot be seriously hurt until they run out of HP. When player characters drop to 0 HP, they are on death's door. They cannot go below 0 HP, but will remain there until they regroup, rest, or heal. (NPCs do not use this system; any NPC reduced to 0 HP is incapacitated or dies, at the discretion of the Guide.)

If a player character is hit while at 0 HP, they must roll the die. If the result is equal to or less than the hit, their character dies. For example, if a sword hits them for 2 HP while on death's door, they are killed if they roll a 1 or a 2. Characters who survive a death roll may still suffer some other setback, like falling unconscious or receiving a permanent injury.

common weapon damage

Basic unarmed attacks (like punches and kicks) deal 1 damage.

Common weapons, like swords, bows & arrows, daggers, clubs, etc. deal 2 damage. To keep the game balanced, we recommend using the 2 damage standard for any style of common weapon in the game.

a note on hit points

A key part of the design of Quest is to limit the amount of concepts that scale, especially where numbers are involved. To prevent inflation of stats, we keep HP the same for the player characters through the whole game. As they learn more powerful abilities, they become better able to deal with challenges despite a constant amount of HP.

abilities

Player characters begin with 6 special abilities of their choice. Each ability is part of a learning path, and players must learn new abilities in order in each path. Players may choose abilities from any path, and do not have to complete a learning path before choosing abilities from a different path.

Players cannot choose to learn Legendary abilities. These abilities are only made available by The Guide at their discretion.

In-between each play session, player characters may choose a new ability that they can use during the next session. The Guide may modify this rate of growth at their discretion.

adventure points

If an ability in the catalog has an activation cost, players must spend AP to use that ability. Players begin the game with 10 AP, and earn 5 AP at the conclusion of each session. Beyond this automatic reward, The Guide may offer AP to players at their discretion, as they roleplay, solve puzzles, defeat villains, reach goals, or encourage fun.

Adventure Points don't recharge. Once spent, they are gone.

When a player spends AP to activate an ability, they must immediately deduct it from their adventure point balance.

3 Activation costs look like this. (This ability would cost 3 AP to use.)

Some abilities can be used in different ways and have multiple activation costs. Take the example below:

2 You create a small bolt of flame.

4 You create a huge fireball.

In this example, a player could spend 2 AP to create a small bolt of flame, or instead spend 4 AP to create a huge fireball. If an activation cost has an "X," it means the player may choose how much AP to spend on the ability.

the spy's toolkit

The Spy is a master of practical means and is the only role that can craft bespoke magical items. These items are listed in the catalog alongside abilities, and the Spy can acquire them at the end of a session like players can any other ability. However, these items can be lost or broken like any other object. The Spy may spend 2 AP to rebuild a lost or broken item. Items must be rebuilt during downtime in the story.

Other creatures may hold the Spy's items, but only the Spy can activate their magic capabilities.

"at the table"

If an ability asks a player to do something at the table, that means doing it in the real world. If they can't do it, that's okay; they may ask another player to assist them, or just ignore the requirement.

If someone is uncomfortable performing one of the game's abilities, like reading poetry, they may describe how their character performs the ability instead of doing it themselves.

"roll the die"

If this badge appears in an ability, it means the player must to roll the die to see what happens when the ability is used.

roll the die

As usual, the Guide will decide what the consequences of the die roll are. But if an ability lists its own set of special consequences, the Guide will use those instead.

important keywords

objects. Any inanimate thing in a scene, like a door or a chair.

creatures. Any sentient being, including both NPCs and player characters. People, humans, dogs, aliens, talking trees — yes, anything.

non-player characters (npcs). Any creature played by the Guide.

spirits. Ethereal creatures who do not have physical bodies. Think of them like ghosts who float through the world. Many spirits are invisible.

animals. Sentient creatures without self-awareness or personhood, like cats, dogs, giant eagles, and insects.

bosses. Unique creatures of power, intellect, or importance who are resistant to some abilities.

minions. Creatures that are more powerful than average, like a villain's groupies or the town guard.

commoners. Normal people, common animals, or other average creatures. Think of them like extras in the background of a movie.

plane. A discrete location in the omniverse.

buying things

basic goods

Players can meet their basic needs in most places without having to pay for them. This includes things of average quality that their character needs as a matter of routine, like food and drink, a modest dwelling, and inexpensive items, like the things that stock the shelves of a convenience store.

Here are some examples of basic items that players can get most places without paying for them:

  • A modest meal at a restaurant.
  • An average dwelling, like an apartment.
  • Room and board at an inn.
  • Riding fare for public transit.
  • Common clothes.
  • Mundane items, like string, ink, postage, candles, firewood, groceries, and small tools.

There's no exhaustive list of what counts as a basic good, and what qualifies depends on the context of the scene. For example, if the players are in a hostile town where the locals really don't like them, they may try to charge the players for things that they can get for free elsewhere. The Guide is responsible for deciding whether something qualifies as a basic good.

trading

If the players want something valuable, like a shiny sword from a merchant or a room in a fancy hotel, they might have to trade one of their own valuable possessions for it. There is no money in Quest, only the items of value that players carry.

To get something from an NPC, players can offer something in exchange. It can be one of their own items or something intangible, like a favor, a promise, or labor. The NPC may accept or reject the offer, or try to negotiate.

If players get stuck in a negotiation, they can ask the Guide to let them roll the die to see if the offer succeeds.

Trading is based on communication, perception, and feelings. There's no definitive guide to the value of items — only what people want and how much they want it.

inventory

Players are limited to personally carrying a total of 12 (twelve) things. Each of these 12 things should be reasonable able to fit in a backpack or on their person. They can choose any configuration of packs, but altogether, they can only hold 12 things.

If something is a kit, like a sewing or first aid kit, it only counts as one thing. The outfit players are wearing and miscellaneous items, like a personal letter, a pen, or a decorative pin, don't count against the limit. The Guide is responsible for deciding what counts against the inventory limit.

general rules

addressing the reader

While other parts of this resource have been converted to address Guides and players in the third-person, we recommend that you address the players as "you/your" when possible, especially for the general rules that follow. We've included the general rules in this document with the original language as it was addressed to the reader.

be respectful

Quest works best when people treat each other and the conversation with mutual respect. Which is to say: be nice at the table, even if your character is mean sometimes.

The game doesn't work when people are angry, rude, or uninterested in what's going on. In the real world outside of the game, everyone deserves to be treated with respect. When you decide to spend your time sharing a story together, you should do your best to make sure everyone has a good time.

respect boundaries. Don't say things to people either out of character or in roleplaying that make them uncomfortable in the real world.

Don't introduce extreme concepts into the game, like torture or sexual violence, unless everyone agrees beforehand that they are acceptable to use in your story.

let your friends talk. Everyone should get a chance to speak without being interrupted. Make sure you are not dominating all of the conversation or action. Share the story.

only play your character. Don't tell other people what to do, even if you think you have the best idea. You can't win or lose a game of Quest in the traditional sense. People are often supposed to fail or do silly things, especially if they are roleplaying.

be nice to your guide. It takes a lot of work to prepare for the game and keep it running over time. Show respect for your Guide by paying attention when they are helping tell the story. It can feel hurtful when people are distracted.

Since the Guide is bringing lots of work to the table, it's a nice gesture for the players to take turns providing things like snacks and drinks for the group.

silence your phone. Please.

ask for consent

It is against the rules for player characters to attack other party members, steal from them, restrain them, or force them to do anything against their wishes. If you want to roleplay an adversarial situation, go out of character to ask the other player if it's okay.

don't be evil, unless...

The players' objectives should be compatible because they are allies. The game can quickly break if one player is overtly evil and wants to go around murdering everyone they meet. That doesn't mean you can't break the law or do bad things, and oftentimes, doing the wrong thing can be good for the story. But don't be evil unless the entire group agrees ahead of time. The story belongs to the entire group.

be mindful of secrets

Sometimes you will need to keep secrets from your character. For example, let's say the party splits up, and the Guide describes a scene your character is not in. You will hear what happens, but your character is not supposed to know.

Try not to use information your character doesn't have to roleplay or make decisions. Wait for another player to share it, if they want to.

speak clearly

You will use two voices: your out-of-character voice (you in the real world) and your in-character voice (roleplaying). Make sure it is always clear which voice you are using to prevent confusion at the table.

flip a coin

If your party can't agree on a course of action and everyone feels stuck, consider going out of character to flip a coin between two alternatives. Then, respect the result, and move on.

be a fair guide

The Guide's job is to narrate the story, play characters and monsters in the world, and create consequences for all of the players' actions.

All of that power comes with a lot of responsibility. Because the Guide's judgment is so critical to the enjoyment of the game, they have a duty to act wisely and fairly. It's no fun to have a Guide who constantly punishes the players in cruel ways, singles out one player all the time, plays favorites, or uses rules inconsistently.

Even though the Guide's word is final, they are expected to make consistent and fair decisions about the game.

help everyone have fun

The stakes in your story will often be high, but sometimes they will also feel high in the real world.

You might feel upset about what another player says or does. Maybe you feel that the rules were used unfairly, or maybe you're just having a bad day.

That's okay, but remember that this experience is about having fun. If you're not having fun, tell your friends why. And be sure to listen to your friends if they're upset. If tensions are too high, everyone should take a break and come back to the game later.

Always remember: Quest is not about winning or losing; it's about spending quality time with your friends.

player safety

For rich player safety resources in your own works, we recommend using the TTRPG Safety Toolkit, compiled by Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk.

the omniverse

basic principles

Quest does not have one canonical setting. Its omniverse has unlimited settings, which we hope you'll help create. These universes are connected through an astral plane called The Rift, and each universe is made up of a series of planes.

worldly plane

The worldly plane is the primary plane in each universe. It is the realm of conscious existence — the ordinary reality of space, time, matter, and energy. Most stories in this game begin in the Worldly Plane. Access to other universes and planes requires the use of powerful magic.

There are infinite numbers of worldly planes in alternate possible universes.

shadow plane

Beneath the worldly plane, there are shadow planes: independent dimensions of time and space. They can only be created and accessed by using magic.

Think of them like ships in a bottle. Each shadow plane can be filled with anything — from a single room surrounded by darkness to a convincing illusion of the real world.

the rift

The Rift is an astral plane that exists between universes. It is the nexus — the planar transitway — between an infinite number of parallel realities.

Creatures perceive The Rift like a series of vast islands, some as large as continents or planets, situated on the inside surface of a brilliant celestial sphere. Each island in The Rift is a door to a possible universe. The Rift is home to entire civilizations, godlike creatures, and many other beings who are spread across its expanse.

the beyond

The Beyond is the outer plane, the omniverse, that encircles all possible universes. It is the source of the magical energy that weaves through all of the omniverse's endless realities. It is an incomprehensible space where all possible existences simultaneously occur and time stands still.

Each time a group of players sits down to tell a story in Quest, they create a new part of the omniverse. That means every story told in this game is connected. Characters can even travel between stories if given the chance.

guide die rolling

This section contains information about rolling the die that pertains to the Guide.

when to call for a roll

The Guide should always call for a roll of the die when the players attack a creature with a weapon and when an ability explicitly asks for it.

In all other situations, The Guide gets to decide when the die is rolled. The Guide should only ask players to roll the die when they try to do something challenging and when a chance for failure makes things interesting. But only offer die rolls if success is possible. If a player tries to do something impossible, Guides should just tell them they can't (or don't) succeed.

Guides should roll the die for NPCs when they make attacks against the players.

guide rolls are public

important: Guides must make their rolls in public view just like all of the other players.

trials

Trials are the most flexible way to run an action scene. They're like movie montages that speed up the action. In a trial, players work together to overcome a challenge. If the players collectively succeed enough times, they overcome the challenge. But if they fail too many times, something bad might happen.

Have the players roll the die each time they try to deal with the challenge, then describe the consequences. For example, let's say the players are on a sinking ship, and The Guide initiates a Trial to see if they can save the ship. The players are free to propose any kind of action, as long as it makes sense. They can use one of their abilities or try something else.

Here are some ways the players might approach the problem:

  • The Magician says they want to use their Magic Eye ability to search for the sources of the leak.
  • The Fighter says they want to use their Marshal skill to hold back water from one of the leaks.
  • The Spy says they want to use their Silver Tongue skill to rally the boat crew and inspire them to take swift action.

Guides can be more open-minded about the players' abilities during a trial. Reward the players for clever thinking. NPCs can affect the scene but they don't take turns during a trial. Trials only test the party.

only roll once

Because the chance to succeed is always the same in a die roll, it is not a test of skill — it's a test of fate. Players only need to roll the die once to see what happens in any given situation.

For example, let's say a player rolls a success on an attack against a monster. The outcome of that roll is all The Guide needs to describe the consequences for the entire situation. Because the player was successful, it is assumed that the target of the attack was not successful in avoiding it.

If Guides invent their own abilities and situations, design them around this rule. For example, if there is a spiky floor trap that a player walks over, The Guide might ask the player to roll the die to see if they dodge it.

npc rolls

Guides only need to roll the die for NPCs when they make attacks against players or use abilities that require die rolls. When NPCs do things to each other, or things in the world that don't affect party members directly, Guides can just narrate what they do and what happens. Of course, Guides are free to roll the die anytime they want to leave things up to fate.

If an NPC rolls a tough choice, it's up to The Guide to create a setback for them. Tough choices consequences can be simple. By default, have the NPC deal half damage on a tough choice, unless there is a more interesting setback.

combat

The Guide keeps track of turns and rounds in combat to make sure everyone gets an equal opportunity to act.

When the players fight their adversaries, The Guide takes turns for the NPCs. The Guide keeps track of the NPC's hit points and equipment.

If the players are ambushed, the NPCs go first. Otherwise, have the players go first.

The Guide decides the order of turns for both the players and the NPCs. They should what makes the most sense in the context of the story.

rounds and turns

The Guide and the party take turns in an alternating series of rounds. During the party's round, each player takes a turn to move and act. During The Guide's round, each NPC takes a turn to do the same. Guides should describe the consequences of each creature's action immediately after they do something.

combat difficulty

Every player and party are different, so there's no way to create a perfect encounter for them. Sometimes Guides will give them something too difficult or something too easy. Guides will only learn what the players are capable of handling by playing the game.

That said, Guides can use a basic formula for combat difficulty to present the party with appropriate challenges.

First, add up the current hit points of the entire party. For example, if the party has 4 players at full health, they have a total of 40 hit points.

Then, look at all of the NPCs in the encounter. Add together:

  • Their hit points.
  • The highest possible amount of damage they can deal in a single turn.
  • The number of NPCs in the group.

This number is the difficulty rating.

If the difficulty rating is roughly equal to or greater than the party's HP, it is a deadly fight that will push their limits. If the difficulty rating is between 50 to 80 percent of the party's HP, it is still deadly, but should be a fair fight.

Consider this group of minions to calculate an example difficulty rating:

  • Four pack wolves (16 HP / 8 damage).
  • One alpha wolf (6 HP / 4 damage).

These add up to a difficulty rating of 39 (22 HP + 12 Attack + 5 NPCs).

advanced rules

growth

Groups that want to adjust the power level of the players can begin with more than 6 abilities. This is recommended for short stories with higher dramatic stakes.

  • With 12 or more abilities, the players are highly competent and can handle lots of different challenges.
  • With 20 or more abilities, the players are extremely powerful and can deal with many world-shaking threats.

If a group is playing a long-term game and wants to slow the rate of growth, consider having player characters learn a new ability after every other session.

rate of play

The base rate of AP gain at the end of a session (5 AP) is based on sessions that last about 3 hours each. If a session runs longer than 3 hours, consider increasing the base rate of AP gain per session.

Guides should also consider awarding bursts of AP based on the context of the story. For example, if the story is "fast-forwarded" into the future, consider letting the players earn additional AP to reflect the advancement of time.

quirk

The easiest way to let players be creative with their roles is to grant them a quirk. This lets them learn a single ability belonging to a different role. Consider granting a quirk to a player who has a really interesting reason to use one.

For example, perhaps the party's Fighter imagines they are a former Ranger who abandoned their life in the outlands but still keeps some of their old oral traditions. They learn the Speak Myth ability. Or perhaps the party's Spy is a failed Magician from a former life. They learn the Magic Tricks ability.

A quirk can be granted at the beginning of the game or as a reward based on a character's unique behavior.

dual roles

A player combines two roles. They can learn any of the abilities from each role, but must still learn them in order. A dual-role player may not learn more than 25 abilities without forgetting one they have already learned.

no roles

Players may learn any of the abilities from any role, but must still learn them in order. Cap the total number of abilities each player may learn at 20.