Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Some thoughts on OpenQuest 3rd Edition

I'm having trouble with reading through the third edition of OpenQuest. The thing is, this new edition warrants a complete re-read, but since I feel that I know most of it from 2nd Edition, I keep leafing back and forth for the new stuff. And the new stuff is good, good enough to convince me that OQ3 is both the best expression of OQ yet and probably also the best rules-light take on BRPish d100 mechanics out there.

My main takeaway from 3rd edition for now is:

Experience has been re-worked to allow for extended campaigns.

Reaching 100% in a skill (which is where they are now capped) is a BIG THING. (It remains a little vague how skills at 100% interact with negative modifiers, though - I suggest deciding how to handle that at your table in advance.)

Newt has moved on to the modern (and, to my mind, more intuitive) concept of doubles (33, 44, 55, ...) as critical rolls and to the blackjack style "roll high within your skill rating" approach. I'm happy with both because they greatly reduce math (though I also know that a good part of the d100 community doesn't like either).

"Social Combat" is codified for Fast Talk, Oratory and Intimidation, which are actually part of the combat chapter. I'm a little bit wary of that, because all three systems take an all-or-nothing approach (you either convince/intimidate them or not), and I rather prefer it when systems for social interaction are about changing the attitude of an NPC (on a ladder of hostile - adverse - neutral - open-minded or slightly intimidated - friendly or terrified) and not about dictating an outcome (a frienly NPC can still deny you your wish, a terrified NPC might still fight). I think the term "social combat" in itself is a little bit too leading here, because it implies that these interactions should be modeled on RPG combat and therefore have a definitive outcome.

Apart from that, the main systems remain unchanged, though there's a lot more support for realizing a multitude of character concepts, and also for running the game - for example, concepts like when to roll and failing forward are explored in a way that should be especially helpful to novice GMs.

What's really cool about the OQ framework is that, if you feel that a rule for a certain specific situation is missing, it is usually pretty easy to come up with a solution that's in line with how the system works in general.


Let me give you three examples:

Weapon reach in combat: Although OQ does use some modifiers for combat, it has always shied away from suggesting rules or even rulings for weapon length. I suspect that is due to the fact that most versions of BRP are notoriously complicated in that regard, and OQ wants to keep it simple. However, in OQ, you can easily get by with eyeballing this. So you could simply give a combattant with a significantly shorter weapon (say, dagger against spear) a disadvantage (-20%) on attacks and parries (not dodges, which would be another reason to be good at dodging) until they land a succesful sblow that is not parried; then they're considered to have closed to their own weapons reach, and the disadvantage is on the side of the combattant with the longer weapon, until THEY land a blow, and so (back and) forth.

Lethal damage bonuses: Damage bonuses of very large creatures are still so high that each hit will kill any human-sized creature (a dragon has +7d6). I'm not sure whether I consider this a bug or a feature ... anyway, if it bothers you, one way around it might be to roll only one d6 and treat the leading number as a multiplier: that way, there's still a slight, but not negligible chance that a giant monster rolls a 1 or 2 for a hit that might be survivable.

Keeping opponents down in unarmed combat: if you feel that holding a grip in unarmed combat should in some way be modified by the strength and stature of you opponent, take a page out of Mythras and use the damage bonus steps for that. You can keep a hold on a creature of up to one step above your damage bonus with no penalty; at two steps, the penalty is -20%, at three steps -50%, above that, you just don't stand a chance (a strong or even just very skilled human might wrestle a minotaur or troll, but not a giant!).

These are three house-rules that I came up with while reading, and I'm pretty sure that they should work fine, not because I'm such a genius at making up house-rules, but because OQ is such a great toolbox.


Art (mostly line-art) and layout are in black and white evoke the early nineties, especially Stormbringer, which is wonderful! To be honest, I kind of hated both the 2nd Edition and the 2nd Edition Refresh in that regard (Jeshields is a great artist, but I feel that coloring their illustrations doesn't do them a favour).

I#m not doing OQ3 justice here, because as of yet, I haven't really read through it from cover to cover (I've not even mentioned the magic systems and the included setting), but I've been wanting to blog about it for months now ... anyway, it's highly recommended. Next time, I'll be reviewing the quickstart adventure The Lost Outpost.


  1. Would you modify Initiative in that dagger vs spear combat?

  2. No, I don't think so. Just let them start in long distance (or in short, if the dagger-wielder has surprise), and go with the -20 disadvantage as outlined. If the one with the dagger has the higher initiative, s/he'll be at a disadvantage, but still get the first attack.