RPG Quest Design a long and arduous journey.

RPG Quest Design: Computer RPG Quest Basics

Heroes embark on quests; that’s just what they do.  In this article, we will discuss common RPG quest design basics.

If you are going to make your own RPG, you are going to need quests.

When I evaluate RPG maker platforms in future articles and videos, I will be checking out the platform's capabilities with regards to questing.

I am looking for platforms with fast, flexible, robust, and easy to use questing systems that support questing in computer RPG games.


What Are The Different Types Of RPG Quests?

There is a great variety of different types of quests, but they can all be distilled down to just a few main types.

The main types of RPG quests:

  • Gather Quests (collect X number of items)
  • Kill Quests (kill X number of a certain monster)
  • Talk Quests (go talk to X)
    • Delivery Quest (a variation on Talk Quest – bring an item when you talk to X)
    • Interaction Quests (a variation on Talk Quest – go somewhere and do something)
    • Travel Quest (a variation on Talk Quest – go somewhere and talk to somebody)
  • Exploration Quests (go discover a place or landmark)
  • Escort Quests (protect an NPC as they travel from point A to point B)
  • Protection Quests (protect an NPC or structure against waves of enemies for a certain amount of time or a certain number of waves)
  • Hybrid Quests (combine 2 or more quest types into one quest phase)
  • Quest Chains (a series of quests strung together that tells a complete story arc)

If you are creative, you can disguise the standard RPG quest types by camouflaging them in the trappings of your game world. 

Don't make a gathering quest so obvious, add some depth to it to engage your players, for instance.


What is a Quest?

A quest is a long, adventurous journey in search of some goal.

A person could go on a quest to find a distant land, discover ancient ruins, or uncover hidden knowledge.

A quest goal could be freeing enslaved or subjugated people, cleansing a poison from the land, or defeating a local crime syndicate.


How Do Players Get Quests?

Typically players receive quests from ‘quest giver’ NPCs.

Quests can also come from other sources, such as reading a book or bulletin board or hearing rumors in a tavern.

Quests can come from a variety of creative sources; not just a quest-giving NPC.


How Do Players Complete Quests?

Players usually complete quests simply by fulfilling the quest requirements.

Quests will require players to hunt down monsters, gather resources, talk to other characters, gather information, discover game lore, and more.

How players complete quests depends on what type of quest the player is undertaking.


How Are Players Rewarded For Completing Quests?

Quest rewards can come in a variety of forms.

Quest rewards typically come in the following forms:

  • Money: One way of rewarding players for completing quests is to give them money. The amount given should be commensurate with the level of difficulty of the quest. If the quest is a simple one then the money reward should below.  Likewise, if the effort to complete the quest is hard then the amount of money rewarded should be greater.  Of course, there are things of value that can be given that are just as good as cash.  Things like animal pelts, other natural resources, and useless gear gathered in the course of completing the quest can be sold for money.
  • Equipment: A popular quest reward is to give the player some equipment they can use such as weapons, armor, crafting components, and other gear that the player can use or sell. The level of the gear should be equal to the difficulty of completing the quest. Equipment that isn’t as good as what the player is wearing should have a decent sell value at the vendor otherwise the player could feel cheated.
  • Experience Points (XP): One way of rewarding quests is to give the player experience points to use to improve his character. Experience points are a flexible and valuable quest reward and can be used to increase character level, skills, or attributes.
  • Renown / Reputation: Increasing or decreasing reputation level with in-game factions can be a great reward. Changing reputation can cause NPCs to mention the character in dialog, grant the character discounts, or make NPC’s that belong to an enemy faction attack the character on sight. Another form of Renown is earning titles such as “the Brave” or “Master Locksmith” and so on.

Use your imagination and creativity to come up with quest rewards that players find value in.

Make your rewards system flexible so that if the character or player doesn’t want to use the equipment reward they can still fetch a decent price for it at the store. 


Are Quests Necessary?

Quests are necessary for a successful computer RPG.

Quests have the following benefits:

  • Quests give players something to do: Players sometimes just want to kill time and play casual games that they don’t have to sit down for a 2-4 hour block of gaming. Using simple quests can give players something to do to pass the time casually.
  • Quests give players goals: Giving the players something to accomplish is a great way to keep players coming back to play again and again.
  • Quests can set the mood of the game: Quests can convey a mood you are trying to set. Is the area a carefree zone or is it war-ravaged? Quests can paint a picture of what’s going on in the character’s immediate area.
  • Quests can convey storyline: From small story arcs to main plotlines, quests can tell the story of your game and its world. What is going on in the world?  Who is in power?  Who is related to whom?  Are there secrets to learn?  Use quests to inform your player and immerse them in your game world.
  • Quests can convey character development: Quests allow the players to make decisions that change how the story progresses. As the player makes different choices based either on personal preference or may be based on skills the character already possesses, they customize their experience and get a unique path through your game.

Players have come to expect a questing system of some form in their computer RPG, so be sure to include quests in your computer RPG.


What Are The Elements Of A Quest?

Since a quest, by definition, is an arduous journey the elements of a quest should reflect that.

Taking a letter from one place to another is not interesting or arduous and so doesn’t qualify as a quest.

Taking a letter from one place to another while avoiding bandits and traveling through the haunted forest, however, does qualify as a quest because the outcome is unsure due to dangerous conditions encountered during the journey.


What Is The Difference Between A Quest And A Journey?

A journey is nothing more than traveling from one place to another.

A quest is a long journey full of adventure and peril where the players accomplish tasks by overcoming challenges.


Your Turn: What Do You Do?

What is your favorite type of quest?  What is your least favorite quest type?  Do you even like to do quests?

Let us know in the Comments section below; we’d love to hear from you!

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