Pixars Further got a raw deal: the film only had two weeks in theaters before the pandemic hit and cinemas closed. Disney released the feature film on the Disney Plus streaming service, but the die had already been cast, so to speak.
Imagine my surprise when tabletop game publisher The OP Games announced it was making an elaborate new tabletop RPG starter kit based on the film. I’ve spent the last week thinking about this game. Quests of Yore: Barley Edition, and i am absolutely impressed with how rich it is. It’s more than just a movie binding, it’s a family-friendly TTRPG with all the fixins and a meaty campaign. For those who enjoyed it Further or comforted yourself in its message of hope and inspiration, this is the perfect way to expand that table experience.
It all starts with the box itself, which is medium in size but nearly five inches deep – almost like a pint Gloomhaven. Removing the plastic wrap removes the Pixar branding and the name of the movie itself. What remains is an in-fiction representation of a Dungeons & Dragons analogue. Of course, this is not just any copy of Quests from before
I was instantly overwhelmed by how much stuff there was in there. There is an 84 page Advanced Player’s Guide, a 135-page Band of Quests, 16 polyhedral dice and 151 cards – including the Phoenix Gem, an artifact that played a central role in the film. There are also plenty of cardboard brands and an assortment of simple terrain tiles to choose from; Game master’s screen to hide your throws from players; and nine double-sided colored drawing sheets. Add in six miniatures inspired by the movie’s opening sequence and it’s a whopping $ 49.99 value. There’s even a thoughtful plastic wrap to keep everything organized.
Quests of Yore: Barley’s Edition is a traditional starter set through and through for those unfamiliar with role-playing games. Much of his energy is devoted to teaching mechanics. Instead of a d20 based system like D&D Quests from before uses a cube pool system. Players collect as many dice as their skills and equipment allow them to roll and then attempt to meet or exceed a target number set by the GM. As their skills increase, players “shift” the types of dice they are allowed to use, switching from a D4 to a D8, and so on. Depending on the nature of the challenge, there is even a mechanism to make particularly risky tasks more rewarding or dangerous.
The problem is that the game manual really gets stuck explaining the dice pool system. There are pages and pages of text – even a flowchart – that explain the process of creating the cube pool that just doesn’t need to be there. The density of the manual actually counteracts the intent of carefully familiarizing newbies with the concept of the game.
However, if you work as a GM, the included campaign takes on the task of integrating players into the world. It’s easily the best campaign I’ve seen in a starter set all year round. It starts in The Manticore’s Tavern (before it turned into a TGI knock-off on Friday) and takes players back through the old high-fantasy world when unicorns ate more than just from dumpsters. And yes, there is even a dragon to fight with.
The real joy of Quests of Yore, In this way, however, it is based on the fictional system introduced in Pixar Further. The cards shown in the film represent a closed system of spells and objects. Before each encounter, players can prepare to mix their equipment and spells from a shared pool. The result is that things stay fresh as the campaign progresses and players can take on new roles in combat and non-combat encounters based on their gear. It’s a smart way to build on top of the existing franchise and potentially sell expansions later.
If you have a Disney fan in the family, this is a great gift idea, even if they just keep it on the shelf to admire. But if you’ve always wanted to try TTRPGs like D&D as a family, there is nothing better that I have seen in the market today.
Quests of Yore: Barley Edition will be released on May 12th.
Quests of Yore: Barley Edition was reviewed with a final retail version by The OP Games. Vox Media maintains partner partnerships. These do not affect the editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. You can find You can find more information on Polygon’s ethical policy here.