OpenQuest is a Fantasy Adventure Roleplaying Game

One of the things that I picked up on when I got the first print proof of the POD version of OpenQuest 3rd Edition was that on the title page, I missed out on the subtitle:

Fantasy Adventure Roleplaying Game

It’s been on every edition of OQ, so I put it back in, but I took some time out to think why this was important to me.

The short version.

Now that’s out of the way and everyone’s calmed down, I shall go into detail.

Sure, OQ has mythologies, settings with a sense of history and politics, creatures with history/background, but it’s all ingredients, fuel even, to get an entertaining adventure. You see, in OQ, the characters go on Quests, which are adventures. Not simulations or re-enactments of everyday life in some imagined fantasy Medieval/Dark Ages. The players want to feel the thrill of a sword connecting with an enemy, a spell making short work of a difficulty, or to see the results of a clever bit of conversation with a non-player character. Even seeing a character make a triumphant comeback after failing is all part of the expectation of a good adventure. It’s all about keeping things moving along at a quick pace (or as the Smart Party says, “You can never have enough pace”). And you don’t get that with overly complex fiddly rules or social structures in place in the game.

I bore this in mind as a primary design goal when I wrote the main rulebook, and I have kept it in mind as I finish the rules and articles in the OpenQuest Companion.

So that’s why OQ is a Fantasy Adventure Roleplaying Game, and it is important to state that upfront right at the beginning of the book on the title page.

The One Magic System

The OpenQuest Companion, cover by Jon Hodgson

This is a preview straight from the pages of the OpenQuest Companion, which is due for release in early summer but is available to pre-order with the main rulebook as a free pdf/at cost POD book.

This chapter contains a simplified magic system that developed out of the need to have quick magic for games of OpenQuest that did not require the same level of magic point counting, ranking of casters, and tracking of long-term relationships between the characters and their teachers. It grew out of convention games but is also useful for games where magic is less of a focus, and the players want a simpler, more straightforward system.

How this System was Developed

I took the spells from the Three Magic Systems of core OpenQuest and applied the following changes.

  1. Removed magic point costs. This system does not use Magic points. In quick convention games, I found the players were not counting them, and it was a barrier to the flow of play.
  2. A Magic Casting skill determines casting success. Every time the spell is cast, you must make a Magic Casting skill. If it is fumbled, the character loses the ability to cast the spell for the rest of the session.
  3. Spells limited by availability. If you need to limit which spells are available to characters, there is an availability trait. Beginning characters can only learn Common spells. The obvious benefit of joining a religion or magical society is that you can learn spells they teach with the Taught availability. Secret spells can only be learnt through Questing or a high-ranking member of a religion/magical society.
  4. Based on the Personal Magic spell list as a start and added spells that are not duplicated from the Divine Magic and Sorcery lists.
  5. Variable trait removed. Where a spell had the variable trait, I have made it a fixed effect or added a dice roll to work out how powerful the spell is when cast.
  6. No summoning spells. Spells that Summon Other World creatures have been removed.
  7. More complex spells removed. Spells that outside of the simple parameters of the system have not been included.
  8. Suggested critical and fumble effects have been added. This is intended to help beginning Referees and players.
  9. Same names. As the spells have the same name as their Three Magic System counterpart.

Here are two classic spells, as they appear in the One Magic System.


Instant, Touch

Each casting of this spell allows the caster to restore 2D6 hit points to damage themselves or another target.

A casting of Heal, which restores 6 or higher, will also re-attach a severed limb if cast within ten rounds of the loss.

A casting of Heal, which restores 4 or higher, will also cure any single poison or disease affecting the target.

Healing can only be attempted once per day per wound. If one character has already cast a spell on a particular wound, then additional healing must come from another character.

This spell can not be used to bring characters who are dead back to life.

  • Critical: 12 hit points are restored immediately.
  • Fumble: Spell backfires and causes 2d6 hit points of damage to the caster.

Weapon Enhance


When this spell is cast on any close combat weapon, it increases its damage dice type by one (so, for example, a Dagger’s damage goes from 1D4+1 to 1D6+1) for the duration of this spell and adds +20% to the character’s Close Combat skill when using the enhanced weapon. The weapon’s damage is magical and will affect creatures that can only be hurt by magic. This spell cannot be used with Fireblade.

  • Critical: Any hit by the weapon is considered a critical for the duration of the spell.
  • Fumble: The weapon is dulled for the spell’s duration by one damage dice type (doing a minimum of 1 point of damage).


The OpenQuest Companion

The OpenQuest Companion, cover by Jon Hodgson

This selection of additional optional rules is the next release for OpenQuest. It is currently on sale, as a free book, as part of the pre-order for the main OpenQuest 3 rulebook.

While this is not the finalised contents list, here’s a peek at some of the subjects covered in the Companion.

The One Magic System. I use this quick system for convention games. Here it is expanded and balanced for campaigns that do not need or want to use OpenQuest’s Three Magic System.

Membership skill. Want a quick game-mechanic to measure how responsive your character’s organisation is to their calls for help? Then Membership (Organisation) is the key here. Use it to track your character’s ups and downs in the organisation’s favour and access to the benefits that the organisation provides. An extension of the rules for Ranks in the Magic chapters (esp. Divine) which also covers non-magical organisations such as guilds.

Adventuring Associations. So, your merry band of adventurers have formed a band that has endured at least one caper and want to create a shared base of operations? This article shows the benefits of the characters creating their own Adventuring Association or joining an existing one.  Also, an example of how to use the Membership skill.

The Spirit World. An article detailing what the Spirit World is like and the places and non-player characters who live there. Intended for new players and Referees who are struggling to visualise how the Spirit World works in the game.

Quick Quest. This is how I run OpenQuest at my table to account for the sudden need for numbers to hang the rules off. Such as when a random non-player character suddenly gains importance through interaction with the characters, and a quick profile is created on the fly for physical or social combat.

Near-Death Experiences. What happens when a character should die, but the player spends a fortune point to avoid the final curtain call. They end up caught between worlds, and the valuable insights they can gain while waiting to come back to life are covered in this article.

Tools for World Building. To go alongside the Campaign Questionnaire from the main rulebook, a series of questionaries, random tables to help referees set up adventure locations in their games.

Also, making a return from the pages of the main OpenQuest 2nd Edition rulebook in a revised and possibly expanded form, are the following.

Other World Quests. What exactly happens when the characters go adventuring in the Other Worlds.

WAR! The realm is ablaze with conflict, and this article deals with the consequences to the adventurers no matter their power to affect the outcome.

Realm Quests. This article details how to define nations and states in OpenQuest, and the sort of Quests that arise because of events in the realm.

The OpenQuest Companion focuses on maximum gaming fun, adding modular rules that add excitement for any D100 game.

It is currently heading towards a summer release.

More Detail About The Lost Outpost

This is the OpenQuest Quickstart Rules + Adventure. If you are new to OpenQuest or a returning old hand wanting to see what’s changed, or simply want to pick up an introductory adventure suitable for newcomers this is for you.

I posted about this when I released it, but here’s a more detailed view, along with some design notes at the end.

OpenQuest Quickstart Cover by Jonny Gray

OpenQuest Quickstart Cover by Jonny Gray

A bit more about what it contains.

The Rules

The Rules is a cut-down selection, that has the basic mechanics explained, one of the three magic systems (personal Magic), a slightly cut down version of Physical Combat (with some of the combat actions left out). In short just enough rules so you can play the Adventure.

The Adventure

The Lost Outpost is set on the borderlands of the Empire of Gatan setting, which is the example in the OpenQuest Rulebook. Intertwined with the numbers you need to run it, there are lots of bits of explanation about the non-player character’s motives and what they are doing in the adventure in the context of their cultures and religious beliefs. I was very keen that the adventure shows that these more intangible things are just as big a driver in play as the numbers on the NPC’s profiles. Even for the “mooks” who are the accompanying warriors of the higher ranking NPCs.

Structure wise it’s a simple three-beat adventure in that the Referee presents the set of the situation in-game, the players explore the encounter area where the situation is, and then with the Referee’s help bring it to a resolution. Within that explanation that I try to show that player choice is central to the Quest plays out at the table.  If this sounds a bit worryingly story-game to you, don’t worry its presented with a reassuringly old-school introduction for both the Players and Referee, an adventure (or Quest as I call it in OQ) made up of six encounters – all placed on this wonderful map by Glynn Seal (of Midderlands fame).

The Garrison House, map by Glynn Seal

The Garrison House, map by Glynn Seal

Take note, this edition of OpenQuest is a lot darker in tone than previous ones and the quickstart reflects that. There’s a section that points out its mature themes in the introduction of the Quickstart. I’m not sure whether this tonal shift has been because of the fact that this edition’s art is black and white, or (more likely) because of the implied Dark Ages/Early Medieval setting, combined with I’m an adult playing with other adults.

Six Pre-made Characters

I used the full character generation rules, with six of the ready-made concepts, to make these starting level characters. From playing them you’ll get a good idea of how powerful new characters are, and what their limitations are. If you choose to continue the adventure, by either using the adventure in the main rulebook or the upcoming adventure pack (The Edge of Empire) you can continue to use them.

Here’s one of them Amon Durak, with comments on the pdf that explain how he works as a starting player character in OpenQuest.

Overall the Quickstart aims to give players new to D100 roleplaying games, a taste of what the full rulebook contains, and how D100 role-playing is different from D20 Level based games.

So if that sounds like something you’d like to use.

Designer’s Notes

This is probably the most involved adventure I’ve written since Life and Death, a three adventure collection that I released for OQ1 and revised slightly for OQ2.

I had three aims with it.

  1. Show how OpenQuest 3rd works.
  2. Provide clear examples to new Referees, and a clear structure that is easy to follow while allowing player choice to be king.
  3. Explain in a show not tell fashion the Empire of Gatan setting, without getting too deep and involved.

It was a struggle to get the three aims of the adventure across without vastly expanding the page count, and necessarily padding it. I think I got there 🙂

On a personal level, I want to be able to point to people new to OQ and say, “that’s what OpenQuest is”. Not have to, recommend they read the rulebook and then a follow on adventure pack to get what the game is all about.

OpenQuest + Quickstart done!

I hit a major personal milestone yesterday OpenQuest is finally done!

After another round of edits, both by me and by the backers, the final pdf is done and off to print proof. Also, the OpenQuest Quickstart Rules + Adventure, The Lost Outpost, is done bar a final check by my editor.  So delivery of final pdfs in the next week or so 🙂

It features this wonderful piece of art by Dan Barker, Granny Tier who is the pc’s patroness in the Lost Outpost.

Granny Tier, by Dan Barker


OpenQuest 3 is done!

Well, my bit anyway. I’m pleased to announce that OQ 3rd edition, was sent over to its Editor/Proofreader yesterday evening for a final check. Its got a table of contents, an index and a set of cross-references ( “see page xx” ) that are all lovingly hyperlinked in the pdf, which is also fully bookmarked. So I expect that to come back within two weeks, in which time I’ll be sending out pdf’s to backers and opening a pre-order for non-backers.

OpenQuest We’ve Got You Covered!

Big update on OpenQuest 3rd edition.

Jon Hodgson has delivered the goods on the Five stretch goal supplements, also I’m reusing the cover from OQ Refreshed to provide the cover for the Early Bird Quickstart Adventure, and finally Jonny Gray provides the cover for the OpenQuest Quickstart: The Lost Outpost.

So we’ve got covers, erm covered 🙂

Here’s the whole lot as previews, click on image for a bigger version.

The Clockwork Palace by Jon Hodgson

The Clockwork Palace © Jon Hodgson

OpenQuest Companion cover by Jon Hodgson

OpenQuest Companion © Jon Hodgson

the Book of Duck cover

The Book of Duck © Jon Hodgson

OpenQuest Dungeons cover

OpenQuest Dungeons © Jon Hodgson

The Saga of the Savage North Cover

The Saga of the Savage North © Jon Hodgson

Catching the Wyrm cover by Jon Hodgson

Catching the Wyrm ©Jon Hodgson

OpenQuest Quickstart Cover by Jonny Gray

OpenQuest Quickstart Cover © Jonny Gray

OpenQuest Dungeons

The Book of Duck (working title)

The Clock Work Palace

OpenQuest at Layout Proof!

Behold! Witness the marvellous moment where I print off a complete copy of OpenQuest 3rd Edition, to do a layout-proof.

Some photos showing off the layout, which is a work in progress.

OQ3 Layout Proof – Characters

OQ3 Layout Proof -The Quest

OQ3 Layout Proof – Sorcery

OQ3 Layout Proof – Creatures

OQ3 Layout Proof – Creatures

OQ3 Layout Proof – Empire of Gatan, The Five Emperors