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Bringing Pixar Magic to the Table: The Op’s Pat Marino on Designing Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition

While families are all staying safe at home, spending time together and watching movies, hopefully you’ve become acquainted with a couple blue characters recently introduced via Disney+, which to the delight of Pixar fans, is now streaming its newest animated movie, Onward.

Onward is a fantastic story about brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who live in a world that was once full of magic before becoming more reliant on technology. As a gift, the brothers receive a wizard’s staff and learn that it has the power to bring their deceased father back for one day. When the spell goes awry, Ian and Barley embark on an epic quest to complete the spell before time runs out, requiring them to deploy tactics from Barley’s favorite role-playing board game, Quests of Yore.

Pat Marino – Game Design Manager

Now, The Op has teamed up with Disney and Pixar to allow fans to bring home a real-life version of the story with Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition, an immersive tabletop experience inspired by the game from the film! The Op’s Game Design Manager Pat Marino is here to share more about the role-playing game, which comes about at the perfect time for families looking for an interactive new way to enjoy the film.

How does Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition relate to DISNEY and PIXAR’s Onward?

This game is the end result of us working together with the Pixar creative team behind Onward, and writer/game designer Mathew Reuther to pull Quests of Yore out of the film and onto your game table. It is designed to look and feel as though Barley has loaned you his well-loved personal copy of the game, complete with his notes, tips and drawings in the margins and on the box art.

Will players be playing adventures from the movie or their own story?

Part of what makes this project so unique is that Quests of Yore is set in the same universe of Onward, but in a time before technology, and before the timeline of the film. Rather than telling the story of the film, the game includes the adventures that Ian and Barley would have played in their copy of Quests of Yore. This gives fans of the film a new and exciting way to explore the lore behind Onward with exciting new adventures! It also means there is a great sense of discovery as you play through, and help shape, a new adventure.

How do the mechanics work for Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition?

Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition is designed to introduce players to role-playing. The adventure begins with a tutorial that teaches the basic concepts and system and along with Barley’s guidance, helps players develop familiarity and confidence with role-playing adventures. At the same time, the story and system offer enough flexibility to engage experienced RPG players looking for something new to try.

Like other role-playing systems, a Quest Master leads the game play, narrating the story and helping guide players through the trials of the adventure.

What I love about the system that Mathew created is that it is designed to get people engaged and playing very quickly. It also gives players the flexibility to add their own twist on their adventure as they decide how to overcome obstacles.

In short, the game works as follows. Each player has a character sheet that is primarily composed of Approaches, and Techniques. When taking an action, a player describes what they want to do. For example: “I want to shoot an arrow at the lever to lower the drawbridge.” The Quest Master (QM) and player then determine which approach they will use, and which technique, selecting from the options listed on the character sheet. Approach is ‘how’ a player will act (quickly, patiently, socially etc.) and a technique is the type of action (aim, brawl, parley etc.). In the example given, a player might ‘patiently’ ‘aim’ to take the shot.

For each approach and technique, players have a die they can roll, starting with none, then improving to a d4, d6, d8, d10 and d12 as they level up their abilities. After they have an approach and technique selected for an action, they roll the corresponding dice and the QM determines if they have met the required target or not, with the potential for fortune or ruin outcomes depending on the roll. Players can also use items, or request help from friends to add an assist die to help increase their odds of success.

As play continues there are opportunities to level up your character and discover new spells, powers and items. The game does include 4 pre-generated characters, as well as blank character sheets and a guide to creating your very own character.

What are you hoping players will experience from playing Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition?

First and foremost is the story. Not just the incredible story that Mathew has written, inspired by the film, but the collective story that players will create together. Watching our play-testers make memories and retell tales of their adventures has been really rewarding to see, and I hope all of our players will take away similar memories.

We also hope that people who have never played an RPG before will find that they are able to play and teach this system to their friends and family. Similar to the way our Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle game was designed to introduce people to deckbuilding games, Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition is designed to introduce players to the role-playing genre in a way that gets them quickly into the action.

How has it been working directly with the PIXAR team for this game?

It has been amazing! The film team has been working hand in hand with us as we developed the game play, story and art to ensure that everything aligns with their vision. This has ensured that the story, and experience of the game feel authentically Pixar and Onward. Our graphic designers Pam Weirich and Adam Sblendorio have been enjoying working with the incredible Pixar art and our 3D manager Darren Donahue had a lot of fun recreating the Quests of Yore miniatures as they appear in the film.

Mathew Reuther and I have also had the privilege of visiting the Pixar campus several times throughout the process to play Quests of Yore with the creative geniuses behind Onward, including Director Dan Scanlon and Producer Kori Rae. Getting a behind the scenes look at how this team operates and watching them become immersed in their characters during the game play was an unforgettable experience.

Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition is for 2-5 players, ages 8 and up. Be on the lookout when it arrives at your favorite local game stores and online retailers in 2021 for $49.99! For real-time updates, follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and don’t miss out on the magic!