Designer Journal: UnderQuest #1


UnderQuest is a design that has been floating around in the back of my head for a while. I have written notes every once and while when I felt I had figured out an important element to the game. Of course the design as a whole has changed quite a bit in my head over the past months, but I have finally committed to putting it down on paper.

The Concept 

The idea is that each player controls a small group of characters. Right now I am leaning towards a medieval fantasy theme for a few reasons. Each player would start with three characters that are unique from one another, but every player would start with characters with the same abilities. The player controls a guild within a small town on the outskirts of a huge and infamous dungeon. You are trying to gain fame by building up your guild hall, recruiting more members, and of course retrieving treasures from the dungeon.


The Mechanics

The three main mechanics that make this design run are worker-placement, press-your-luck, and engine-building. I thought I would discuss a little bit about each.


On your turn you will choose one member of your guild (or more if entering the dungeon) to undertake an action. These actions include:

  • Quest into the dungeon (2 or more guild members required)
  • Hiring a new recruit
  • Entertain at the inn
  • Contract an addition to your hall
  • Purchase from the market

Once you use a member to perform a task, your turn is over and it passes to the next player.


When you enter the dungeon you choose the level you want to adventure and this will give you some goals and if you reach those goals you will gain fame. Once you have declared this you flip the top card from the dungeon deck. You continue to reveal cards until you decide to take the delve. Cards will contain monsters, traps, and treasures, but all will have a difficulty value indicated on them. You get to roll two six-sided dice and add up their sum. If you meet of exceed the total difficulty of all the cards revealed, you succeed! In this way you have some control on the luck factor.

If you succeed you gain any treasure indicated on the cards, but if you fail all your characters are injured. Each character can take one piece of equipment with them in the dungeon and these items give you bonuses and special abilities (shields, cloaks, axes, etc.). You also have excess to any items you bought from the market. Market items are one-time-use items but work in the same way as equipment (healing potions, torches, etc.).


One of your actions is to contract an addition to your hall. These additions include a barracks for sleeping more characters, a Libraries to gain bonuses in the cunning skill, an Infirmary to heal injured characters quicker, and many, many more. These additions also can simply gain you victory points. As you expand your guild your characters will benefit and will be better equipped to venture back into the dungeon.


Well, that about covers the basics. I think the combination of these mechanics combined with the theme and some whimsical artwork should work well. Now I just need to find some time to build a first draft prototype. I hope to have something ready for Protospiel Chicago.


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2 Responses to Designer Journal: UnderQuest #1

  1. btm1228 says:

    It sounds like a great concept, I would love to play it when you have it ready.

  2. Well my plan is to have an “ugly” prototype ready for Protospiel Chicago in a month and half. Then Protospiel Madison is in late October. This one is raw, but I love the concepts. Once I have it close to buttoned down, I plan on releasing a free Print & Play so I can get some blind playtesting done from the masses. Thanks for the interest!

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