Thursday, June 27, 2013


Hello again! Above, you see the working card back for the Event deck cards. I recently received the last piece of artwork I was waiting on, and so I went ahead and created a print-ready PDF of the cards and sent  it off to That means I should be receiving an actual printed copy of the game within the next week or two, which will allow me to make a learn-to-play video and begin the open beta in earnest. Once I have the game and ensure everything looks okay on card stock, all I'll need to do is have the video and a public-read rule book, and I'll be able to activate the product on DriveThruCards for anyone to purchase. Note, still, that this is not the final version of the game and that much of the art stands yet uncommissioned.

But it is an exciting next step!

~ Andrew

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Play Mats

I haven't updated in a month because mostly what's going on lately is just that I'm waiting on a couple artists. I still need two more illustrations to be turned in, for the characters, and then I can move forward with the POD beta test plan. However, this past week, Inked Playmats ( had a sale, and I ordered four: one each of the previously-previewed Encounter artworks with gameplay guides and one of the Glowmount art without the guides (for my girlfriend to play Magic: The Gathering on).

I'm hoping to be able to make these available at some point, preferably through the Kickstarter campaign and then continuously afterward, but I am a bit wary of too many add-ons for Kickstarter, and I don't know the math on costs on larger orders.

Here's a photo of the Meltwood gameplay mat with an alpha edition of the game set up on it.

And here's a photo of the Meltwood mat without cards all over it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Logo and Card Backs

It's been a while since my last update, but things are trucking along. I'm commissioning artwork and waiting for already-commissioned artwork to come in. Some has already come in, and I have the pretty-much-final card backs for the three Encounter types to show you. I also made a logo I'm pretty happy with.

The plan for the future is, once the pre-Kickstarter art is all in, I'll order a prototype from Note that I am not planning to use a print-on-demand publisher such as DriveThruCards for the final product, but it will be useful in testing out the cards. If I'm happy with them, I'll make the "beta test" version of the game available for purchase through DriveThruCards. I also plan to have the game and its appropriate forum up on at that point, as the rules will be basically final, and there will only be the individual cards to work on. Then, after a beta-testing phase—perhaps a month—and once all the rest of the pre-Kickstarter work is done, the Kickstarter will launch, and we'll go from there.

~ Andrew

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Graphic Design

Last post, I mentioned that I had a couple alternate play options I'd offer playtesters. However, I tried the one method again, and it was still pretty awful, so I don't feel the need to waste anyone else's time. And the first method I still haven't tried I think will be best saved for a specific character mechanic. Anyway, the alternate method just made me happier with the game's current mechanics.

I've been working on the graphic design and putting the cards together—just waiting for art. The Encounters in the playtest are Land, Air, and Sea. The ones I have slated for the published version are the Meltwood Forest (seen in Kralls's back story), the Shadow Caves, and Glowmount.

Here are the artless samples.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kralls, The Boy Who Turns into a Dinosaur

Last night, I posted a very crunchy mechanical update about possible rules for Quest. Today, I want to contrast that with some more story. Here's the concept of the character Kralls, the boy who transforms into a dinosaur.

Kralls grew up in a vast, tropical forest. He was born before the dawn of magic, but from the time he was old enough to know the difference, magic had been there, twisting the world. And also as long as he could remember, he had known no other humans, but his great tyrannosaur friend had been around taking care of him.

As he came of age, as with any young boy, he became curious of the world beyond him—of the broad, civilized world beyond his jungle. He would watch from the edge of the trees as other humans—like him—traveled in caravans and lived in the small nearby town full of people, and while he loved his home, he craved adventure. But with his beloved dinosaur companion, he couldn't leave the protection of the trees.

One night, as Kralls slept on the back of his dino friend, a soft rain started, and Kralls pulled a large leaf over his face so he could sleep through the storm. But the rain grew heavier, and the smell of magic came across the wind. The raindrops became stronger and sharper. The leaf blew away from atop Kralls, and the trees began melting. Branches bent and melded into bushes. Animals sunk into the ground, crawling to escape but sunken halfway as though every inch of earth were quicksand.

Kralls tried to spring up and escape the rain, but his hand was stuck—in the flesh of his tyrannosaur. He pulled and pulled, and the side of the dinosaur stretched, but he couldn't extract his arm. He felt his feet sinking into the dinosaur's body as well, and as the rain fell harder, he could see his own flesh melting away and dripping into the dinosaur's unperturbed body. It slept soundly, apparently unbothered by the caustic, magical rain. Within moments, Kralls was completely submerged in his companion's flesh, and he let himself drift away into death.

When he awoke, he did so in his own body on a smooth, unnatural surface with a shining sun and the bright blue sky above him. The surface was the ground, melted into oblivion by the rain. No plants or animals remained, but the greens and browns of the jungle had melted into a flat expanse for hundreds of feet around him. He could see spots of color in the smooth surface that he expected were the remnants of bright fruits and berries—or perhaps poison frogs and tropical birds.

At the edge of the smoothed area where the rain had fallen hardest, bumps emerged where the vegetation had been less affected, and farther out, the jungle returned to less-melted status. Kralls went to the human village that was nearby, to peer at them from a distance as he often did, and discovered melted homes and people with their human amenities—and even other people—melted into them. They shambled, confused and cursed by their fate. Kralls turned and ran into a less affected part of the jungle, and emotions swelled over him as he wondered what had happened to his dinosaur companion.

As he ran, he felt his legs becoming heavier. The thin hair on his arms sloughed away, and scales grew. He continued running and crying, and he felt his back stretch as he went higher and higher from the ground. Within a few seconds, he found himself inside his tyrannosaur's body again, but instead of having melted, his body had become the dinosaur's, and Kralls existed only within the beast's mind, looking out from its eyes. The dinosaur went about its day, hunting, eating, and resting, and Kralls was happy to experience his friend's safety, and a half-day later, the dinosaur shrunk away, leaving Kralls in control of his own body again.

Within a few weeks, Kralls had gained some semblance of control over the change. He wished he could hold onto his friend again and be with him, but he took comfort in the knowing that his friend still existed and lived within him—and sometimes the reverse of that. Now able to take his friend everywhere he went, Kralls ventured out into the wilds of civilization, looking for adventure.


Strategizing Variants

So, my work this past week has been on trying to add strategy and important decision-making to the game. If you haven't played, the following probably won't make a ton of sense—or at least it won't have any context—so you should probably see my first post and then e-mail me for access to the playtest documents! Here are two ways I've come up with.

Skill Cards

My first idea was that before the game, you could choose either three or four cards. I'm imagining they're like special skills or preparations you character has for the upcoming journey. There would be some restrictions on which cards you could choose. For example, a character with fire powers would be able to choose a fire skill card, but other characters wouldn't; or you might be able to choose a skill card that represents preparation for the shadow caves Encounter type—but only if shadow cave Encounters are one of your Encounter deck's Encounter types.

Anyway, as playtesters know, the game is broken up into Stages. You start on Stage 1, face four Encounters, and then move on to Stage 2 with its four counters, and so on. Before each Stage, you choose one of your four skill cards to have active for that Stage. The strategy here is that you have to pick which one you think would be most relevant. The cards would have to be designed so that they are more useful at certain points in the game so that no one card is the best universal choice. I haven't actually tried this mode of play yet, but I'm not sure it actually adds a lot of strategy—probably just more complexity and more stuff to keep track of during the game.

Revamped Events

The other idea I had is to totally revamp the Event deck. Currently, before each Encounter, you draw and resolve a single Event card, adding variety to each Encounter and unpredictability to the outcome of each game. The modified Event deck would consist of cards you could hold in your hand and play at certain times. I actually did design a deck of Event cards of this variety, though they were mostly slight alterations to the original Event cards. At first, I played with a five-card hand, but that felt like too many cards, and I switched to three-card hands in subsequent games.

The way these cards work is that there are bad-for-you cards, and there are good-for-you cards (just as there are in the current Event deck). Each card requires some combination of dice results to be played. When you roll your five d6, check to see if any cards' dice requirements are met by the results. If it is a negative card the requirements of which are met, you must play it. If there are more than one, play one at a time, checking the requirements again after each resolves. (Several cards change dice results, thus changing eligibility of further cards.) Once you've played all the bad cards you can, play any number of beneficial cards you want to in the same way. (You must play negative cards; you choose whether to play beneficial cards.) Unlike combos, dice used to play cards do not become locked by the cards, though cards played this way can put new combos into the current Encounter (usually using the dice required to play them). Whether a die is locked into a combo has no bearing on whether it can be used to play one or more of these cards.

After each reroll, check again. In this way, you will choose to reroll differently based on what cards you want to play or want to avoid playing. Consider this card: "Requires 123 to play. Combo: 123: Escape the Encounter." "Escape" isn't a defined term, but you get the idea [probably]. Before each Encounter, draw up to the normal hand size. At the end of each Encounter, you may discard any number of beneficial cards. At the end of an Encounter, if your hand is all bad cards and you didn't play any that Encounter, you've broken your bad luck: Discard them all and draw a new hand.

I might have missed something here, but it's hard to know what it's like without playing with them. Oh, and I also made a deck-building variant that used these cards. However, my experience with this system was not positive. I felt that while it did add some strategy (choosing how/when to reroll and which cards to play or save), it made the game very sluggish as I recalculated all the options and odds. Also, I was having to check every few seconds which cards required which dice and which results I actually had showing on my dice at the time. The prototypes of these cards I put together were very, very raw, and good graphic design could make checking the cards' eligibility much easier (for example, imagine a graphical sequence of dice in the top-left of the card—also, negative and positive cards could have different-colored frames, making it easy to distinguish which cards had to be played and which could be held); however, I still feel the system was too awkward.


I plan to make both gameplay variants available to playtesters, although I expect I'll keep the quality of the prototypes—and my expectations—low. I'm going to try out the second variant a few more times since I've already printed everything out and sleeved them up, but I've basically given up at this point. As for the first variant, I'm going to give it its fair shake, but I expect the mechanic will be better served as a single character's special abilities and not as something that every player deals with all the time.

The reasons I took all this time to talk about mechanics I don't think are successful are twofold. First, I want playtesters to have a shot at them. It's possible I missed something and they're actually super-fun and worth pursuing. Second, I want to emphasize that I am trying to find ways to add strategy. The response to the gameplay of Quest has been very positive on average, but the one complaint has been a dearth of meaningful decisions. If I can find a way to add some, I feel that would just make the game better. However, I haven't found anything, and it's making me more and more satisfied with the current iteration. So here's the takeaway:

If you have any specific, mechanical suggestions for how to add strategy, please let me know! I don't want to overhaul the game or slow down gameplay, but if there's a way to make it better, I'm all for it.

~ Andrew

Friday, March 8, 2013

An Initial Taste

Playtesting has been going on a bit for Quest, and it looks positive. The rules as written will need an overhaul, but that'll probably happen a couple times more still. A few people across the Internet have access to the print-and-play playtest files, and I've been sharing the game with more friends and acquaintances at the local game store. If you're interested in helping out with playtesting, shoot me an e-mail! (fissionessence at hotmail dot com)

But in addition to making sure the game plays well, one of the elements I've been focusing on recently is figuring more out about the setting. The playtest edition of the game has Land, Air, and Sea Encounters with enemies ranging from Squirrels to Electric Sharks to Forest Fires to Mermaids' Riddles. But while the intellectual property of the setting won't have a huge impact on actual gameplay, I do want the illustrations and card designs to resonate flavorfully—and for that to happen, there needs to be a resonant, flavorful world.

I can't guarantee that all of this will make it through to the final version of the story—especially names of people and places—but I'm pretty happy with what I have so far. Here's a verbal sketch of the setting.

Quest: Awakening of Melior

Melior wasn't a peaceful world, but its wars were waged with swords and crossbows—with catapults and wrought towers—with steel, wood, and flesh. Its denizens knew magic only in fairy tale and legend; no gods watched over the land, and the only great lizards weren't firebreathing, gold-hoarding dragons, but simple dinosaurs. But about a hundred years ago was the first sighting of the strange lights that began appearing in the sky. Some of them fell to the earth, crystalline meteorites of varying sizes. Some people spoke of an intelligence beyond Melior, of people who lived out among the stars, whose eyes were the lights in the sky. Such talk was derided socially . . . but whispered of in curses and in frightful stories. But still, Melior knew no magic.

That is . . . until only a few years ago. On a dark night—so dark even the foreign lights were dim—a huge glowing mass appeared in the sky. It descends the horizon as day breaks, and it rises at the night's fall, but day or night, its presence can be felt across Melior. The crystals hum and glow, and the world has been beset by storms of chaotic, alien energy. People, animals, and places alike have been touched and twisted by the world's new wild magic, creating abominations, havens, dangerous phenomenon, and people with strange new powers.

And there are rumors of dark, shadowy caves—you may turn a corner and find yourself among them, their labyrinthine sinews taking you endlessly in any direction, but with no exit. Some have found escape to tell the tale, but others may be lost, still wandering.