QPC Character Sheet

Context: the non quest-specific details, which are decided by the DM outside the QPC, and which it has no control over. What land/world is it set in? What’s the mood of the campaign? (e.g. fantasy-adventure, horror, western, etc.)
Main Characters and their Abilities: the PCs and important NPCs. The PCs are obviously main characters but it’s important to be aware of their abilities so that the subgoals can be defined appropriately.
Main Goal: the ultimate purpose of the quest. The PCs should virtually always be aware of this goal when they begin the quest, although sometimes people lie. (ie the quest the PCs think they’re on need not always be the quest they’re actually on.) In any case, they must be provided with the motivation.
Subgoals: the players must accomplish the ultimate goal by completing a series of smaller goals. These subgoals must be clearly connected to the main goal or the PCs will have no reason to pursue it. The subgoals (or at least the next few) should be obvious to the players, to maintain their motivation to continue. Obvious progress towards the main goal should be made whenever a subgoal is completed. The subgoals should probably not be entirely linear (e.g. you must reach A to open B, you must reach B to open C, etc.), because this makes for a boring story, although small linear subsets are fine. Subgoals have the following attributes:
Subgoal Skeleton: the structure of the subgoals on the path towards the main goal. The PCs should not be forced down any one path towards a solution, since this is irritating and causes the game to lose realism. Instead, there should be a variety of ways that the main goal can be accomplished, and the players should be able to choose their own path towards it. A DM can build a subgoal skeleton to try and anticipate those paths.
Level Range & Quest Income: the approximate beginning and intended level of power of the PCs (rated in number of experience points). Why include this? Because it allows the DM to pace the game more easily, so that the PCs don’t go experience- or money-starved for a long time, then suddenly get a huge boost (or vice versa).
RULES FOR SKELETON-BUILDING, DUNGEON-BUILDING, AND PUZZLE-BUILDING SHOULD ALL COME AFTER. Why in that order? Because you can’t know what’s an appropriate puzzle until you understand it’s place in the dungeon. You can’t understand the dungeon until you understand it’s place in the quest. Monster and NPC placement and behaviour are discussed within all three of these rulesets, since, for example, a monster designed as part of a puzzle has a different meaning than a monster that doubles as a major obstacle in a dungeon, which too has a much different meaning that a monster doubling as a major NPC in the quest.

Rules Rewrite

Here’s a rewrite of Gilbert’s Rules, tailoring them to the building of a quest-design system. This does NOT describe how to build a quest itself, instead it describes rules to keep in mind when building the quest design SYSTEM.


Excluded from these rules is Gilbert’s “Puzzles should be like boxes, not cages” and “Let them Live and Learn”. The former rule is more appropriate when talking about dungeons, since quests typically involve the PCs moving around all over the place. The latter rule rule should be discussed elsewhere. (ie the GM is not on a mission to kill the PCs outright)