[GUEST POST] Jason Anarchy on Creating the Original Drinking RPG
The ten thousand hour principle states that after you put 10,000 hours into anything you’re an expert. Jason Anarchy has 10,000 hours of experience creating Comedy RPG game systems. He made his first game when he was eight years old (A Legend of Zelda tabletop game called Gannon’s Bad Day) and in the last couple years professionally developing the first two Drinking Quest games. He has 10,000 hours invested in Business Management (Game Industry and Newspaper Media) Not quite 10,000 hours of drinking yet but close.
Tattoos, Poetry and Why Drinking Quest: The Original Drinking RPG is like… Lost?
I’ve always been the GM. I love RPG game nights and it really seemed like the only way that everyone would get together. Since I was young I would make RPG game systems that focused on only the best elements of a gameplay system keeping it simple and accessible while cramming in as many insides jokes and funny moments as possible for my friends. It’s always been tough for me to find people who could consistently show up for a campaign.
Now that we’re all adults we would tend to have a beer or six when we get together on Saturday nights and the game nights continued to evolve. One night at a friends wedding after consuming many free Scotches, a buddy said to me “Jason you’re always drinking and playing Tabletop RPGs, why not make something that does both?” Several months later while commuting I realized that my friend was right and this was a fantastic idea.
My education was in Business Management and I’ve had several different management jobs. I’m also a huge fan of Punk Rock DIY work ethic so the idea of completely releasing a game myself seemed like something I could do.
Not only was I about to unleash an awesome new game but this was creating the new genre of “Drinking RPG” that would surely spawn imitators. I felt a lot of responsibility to make sure it did certain things to honour each of the root genres. It can’t be too simple or it isn’t an RPG and it can’t be too complicated since players are drinking! On top of that I didn’t want it to be a series that relied solely on a gimmick. It had to know it’s audience and be a really funny game first. The concept of a Drinking RPG is a absolutely ridiculous so the potential for humour is huge.
After considering all of these things, what ended up happening was a game that very much knew it’s audience and really started to connect with people. There are jokes and serious issues brought up in this game that you just wouldn’t find in another commercially released games. There needed to be many layers of humour on every card. There are immediate jokes of course but there are many subtle references to Pop Culture, Internet Memes and occasionally surprisingly deep philosophical issues
The gameplay ended up being a “Quest System” where you would take one of four balanced, pre-made heroes through randomly generated quests full of themed monsters, traps, treasure and perilous saving throw situations. The one-on-one battles ended up being very Pokemon-esque while the character sheets and HP system were close to the early 90’s Tabletop RPG Hero Quest. Oh yeah and if your character dies in the game you have to chug your drink in real life to continue the quest. (There is a one chug per quest limit to prevent players from passing out in 15 minutes and kind of pace it out a bit)
The story would be told one quest at a time… but in each quest you would only get one piece per turn in random order. Since the game doesn’t take itself very seriously, this ended up being a great approach. A lot of the humour and fun comes from piecing together events from different cards and figuring out a bigger story.
The game exists in a fantasy world that could be described as a “Drunken Middle Earth”. The style of humour I would describe as similar to the cult TV show Arrested Development and has a similar “Tasteful Tastelessness”.
I was very happy with this new style of “Drinking RPG” but it could also be called a “Comedy RPG” or “Casual RPG”. When designing Drinking Quest I was very out of touch with the gaming scene so nothing was influenced by current games. And although the game uses cards I wouldn’t describe it as a Card Game. The cards simply act as the GM so everyone can drink! It comes with all the cards you need, a pad of character sheets, dice, instructions and fits together very nicely in a box that you can bring to the pub.
Drinking Quest: The Original Drinking RPG was a great success and I was able to make a sequel called Drinking Quest 2: Yeddy Vedder’s Yeti Adventure. It was a self-contained game that you didn’t need the others to play, it continued the loose story but didn’t force you to buy the others. (I don’t believe in expansions and DLC).
And the third game in the trilogy will soon be launched, Drinking Quest 3: Nectar of the Gods, which will end the trilogy and give closure to the DQniverse. I’ve had a lot of fans ask for different Merch and I thought I’d try my hand at making a mockery of the group funding format so releasing it first through IndieGoGo seemed like a logical choice. It’s also the first time players can buy all three games together. Plus there are some pretty silly perks like getting a custom insult from the series creator (instead of a boring old Thank-You), A personalized poem, or the option for me to tattoo your name onto my body. (And some normal stuff like t-shirts and bottle openers)
So if you take the segmented story which is told out of order, the philosophical overtones, and the grid based story system then you have three Tabletop RPGs that are similar to three seasons of Lost. It just happened like this and I really enjoyed the show so I’m very much OK with it.
But don’t worry the ending will be better.
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