On A Quest, Part I: The Drinking Quest Creator Interview
It’s Saturday night and you’re sitting around drinking with friends. You’re having “fun” but you’re not truly enjoying yourselves. It’s not that late but your friends are starting to talk about going home. You need to jazz things up quick and bring something entertaining to the table. Suddenly you realize that you can do that, literally, with a table-top game! Not just any table-top game, but the one and only table-top drinking RPG, Drinking Quest! When you’re done with that, you can even read about your favorite heroes from the game as they quaff their way through crazy adventures in the Drinking Quest comic book!
In this first of a three-part look at the world of Drinking Quest, I get to chat with the series creator, Canada’s own, Jason Anarchy. Enjoy as we talk nerd-to-nerd about all things boozy and fun!
Comic Booked: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. Drinking Quest is now a game and a comic. Let’s start by talking about the game. Can you give a brief description for our readers that may not have heard of it before?
Jason Anarchy: Sure, Drinking Quest started out as the world’s first “Drinking RPG” which mixed the worlds of Drinking Games and Pen & Paper RPGs. So picture Dungeons & Dragons, but it’s a Weird Al style parody, but you also have to chug your drink when your character dies.
The first game was popular enough to warrant two sequels (the first three games came out in 2011, 2012 and 2013) and a fourth game combining all three original games (and remastering them) was just released on Kickstarter.
Also along the way I started a fun side project, which took the ridiculous world of Drinking Quest and turned it into a comic book. I’m a huge comic geek in my spare time and it was a lot of fun to work with artists and put this together.
CB: I’ve played the game before and it made me laugh quite a bit. There is definitely a lot of humor throughout. How important was it for you that the game be funny, as well as fun to play?
JA: Great question! For me the “Drinking Game meets Tabletop RPG” hook was a way of getting people interested. They’ll buy the game because of the premise and then the comedy writing was a way to surprise people and keep them as fans beyond the gimmick.
I’ve done so much amateur game design in my life prior to this that I was always confident in the gameplay system. I have a really good sense of what would and wouldn’t work by being a GM with homemade systems for roughly 20 years.
The writing and world building were of the upmost importance to me while designing. The story is told one puzzle piece at a time like Lost or Pulp Fiction. So the world is built with all these random silly facts and over time it tells a strange tale of alcoholic adventurers on a quest. I spent a lot of time writing and revising deciding what should and shouldn’t be in this world.
One of my biggest influences in writing is Mitch Hurwitz of Arrested Development and how he writes comedy in layers. In Drinking Quest there is a big dumb layer but a lot of smart stuff happening behind the scenes if you’re paying attention. Mr. Hurwitz also once described his show as “Tasteful Tastelessness” which I’ve taken to heart and applied to my own writing.
On top of that I think a lot of people have had game nights where they spend the evening reading the instructions for a game and don’t end up actually playing… I wanted to make something that you could easily learn on the spot and avoid those wasted nights. Well… maybe replacing it with a different kind of wasted night 🙂
CB: The sense of humor in the game is very pop culture oriented, one might even call it nerdy. Do you consider yourself a nerd, and if so, can you talk about your nerd origins?
JA: Absolutely I am a nerd. I really have fun ramming pop culture homages into my work. It’s just another layer of comedy. I don’t want to rely solely on it because on some level it’s easy… but at the end of the day I’m writing for a nerdy audience.
Sometimes I’ll just carry on “Pop Culture Reference Conversations” with my friends so I definitely wanted to write for a similar type of person.
It was a very conscious decision to write for the hardcore gaming / comic book nerd and sacrifice any hope whatsoever of mainstream appeal.
CB: There are three volumes of Drinking Quest, but you currently have a Kickstarter for the “Trilogy Edition”. Aside from having all three adventures in one box, can you tell me what makes this version different from the original game? What do you think is the coolest part of the “Trilogy Edition”?
JA: First of all everything is better on a technical level. There are bigger cards, newly colourized cards, more artwork, new quests, better box art, improved dice, better character sheets and a way to officially have up to 12 players and mix characters from one game into another.
Then each game has a different tone. All three Drinking Quest games exist in the same world, the same “Drunken Middle Earth” and each game builds on that world. The first game (The Original Drinking RPG) is the most straightforward Sword & Sorcery parody of the three. It sets the tone and introduces the player to that world. The second game (Yeddy Vedder’s Yeti Adventure) strays from Sword & Sorcery somewhat and ups the silliness factor. Instead of having quests that feature Goblins and Pirates, you have quests about Leprechauns and Depression. Then the third game (Nectar of the Gods) sort of ends the series in a big way, all the characters get God Powers so you’re fighting big monsters and using your power in irresponsible ways.
But to answer your question, the coolest part about this is to be able to come out with the definitive version of Drinking Quest. It’s totally rammed with content and a great value for the customer (You get about 3 ½ games for the price of two… even less through the Kickstarter).
CB: What kinds of cool swag can be had by backing the Kickstarter? I understand there could possibly be a tattoo in your future?
JA: Haha yeah, there is some silly stuff on the Kickstarter. For $4000 I will tattoo your name onto my body. Just not in the face but otherwise I’m very open to this.
Another higher reward tier is an Internet celeb game over Skype with myself, Mitch Hutts from the Drunken Moogle and Blake Boston (Also known as Scumbag Steve of internet meme infamy).
Most of the rewards we have are tied into making the game better (We’ve nearly unlocked the third stretch goal which adds a total of 36 brand new cards to the game) and then after that we start talking bottle openers and cloth maps. I wanted to keep this as simple and as low cost for everyone as possible. I wanted to get as many games out there without getting sidetracked into sending out a lot of unrelated extras.
CB: You mentioned that the third game is an end to the series. Does that mean we won’t be seeing more games? Are you working on something else you can talk about?
JA: The world of Drinking Quest will continue in comics and my next game project will be a non-drinking game…. but I can’t say much beyond that.
CB: About a month ago you expanded the world of Drinking Quest with the comic book. What made you decide you wanted to write a comic?
JA: Besides being a gaming geek since childhood I’ve also been obsessed with comics. The Drinking Quest games hint at such a unique and hilarious world that I wanted to expand it and tell a longer form story.
It’s a really different kind of comedy because I have more set up time and ways of making you love / hate the characters.
On top of that the two artists I worked with Stuart Paterson (Pencils + Inks) and Anique Zimmer (Colours) both added a lot from their end. Stuart was able to make things gritty, light hearted and above all else funny. Anique then came in and added this beautiful coat of paint to the whole thing and it made the project gain five levels.
There’s definitely a niche right now with Sword & Sorcery comedy books like Adventure Time and Skullkickers (As a side note Ryan North and Jim Zub each have ads in the comic for their work) but I wanted to offer a new take on the genre.
Drinking Quest the comic is about a Quarter-life crisis in a setting of drunken Sword & Sorcery. It’s heavy on pints of ale, bar brawls and sexy moments but it’s also a philosophy heavy comic that sets up some unexpected depth.
CB: Did you find the process of self-publishing to be more challenging or rewarding?
JA: It’s actually much less work than publishing a game so it was a lot of fun to put together and get out there. But I should point out; it was easier for me since I’m established with my game series. Odds are I wouldn’t have put the time and money into it if I weren’t already working a lot of conventions and doing a lot of online sales. I already had the outlets and wasn’t a brand new writer trying to get out there.
However if a publisher reads the comic and wants to get it out there that’s awesome! In the mean time, I’m happy to continue doing things DIY.
CB: Will there be more issues of the comic in the future? Is there any sort of timeline for when we might expect to see them?
JA: There will be a gap between issue #1 and #2 but then the next five issues will be in a block together. I’m figuring out the logistics of that but expect it in roughly six month to a year. I also wanted to do a collected edition when it’s all said and done.
I’ve got a lot of ideas for story arcs but doing this first six issue arc is what I’m focusing on right now. I just wanted to get the first issue out there and test the waters and so far the waters have been a wild party with everyone having a great time!
CB: If you have one last thought to share with Drinking Quest fans old and new, what would it be?
JA: If it has the name Drinking Quest I guarantee it’s a product full of nerdy comedy.
That’s it for part one, and a huge thanks to Jason Anarchy for taking the time to answer these questions!