Questlings RPG And Novel: An Interview With Banana Chan, Tim Devine, and Dan Letzring
With the dual launch of the first novel and RPG for Questlings - A Children's Book Series and RPG Adventure, I was excited to schedule an interview with the game designers, Banana Chan and Tim Devine, as well as the author, Dan Letzring, about these two products. I’ve interviewed Banana Chan at High Level Games and reviewed Tim Devine’s North Sea Epilogues at d20 Radio, so I was eager to learn more about this all-ages franchise.
EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for talking with me. What is Questlings - A Children's Book Series and RPG Adventure?
DAN LETZRING (DAN): The stories and RPG are all about finding your inner hero. In the So You Want To Be A... series of children’s books, the characters find themselves looking at what they aspire to be without realizing that they may already embody the ideals of those to whom they look up. Each story is a heartwarming tale that sees our characters on journeys that involve friendship, heart, and being true to oneself.
BANANA CHAN (BANANA): Questlings is a tabletop RPG that’s based on that series of kids’ books! The players take on the roles of kids who are trying to accomplish their goals by gathering items. When they get to a challenge, they call upon their Inner Hero for help, just like the book series.
TIM DEVINE (TIM): Questlings, the RPG is a great introduction to new players and new GMs and a fun way to get the family together to create amazing stories.
EGG: For the RPG, how does the system work?
BANANA: The RPG uses a map and each location has two sides to them, just like the characters have a reality version and a fantasy version. When a difficult challenge happens, the location turns into its fantasy version and that’s when the kids become their Inner Hero. The Game Moderator uses a storybook full of prompts to read through that will guide them through the map. It’s heavily inspired by Choose Your Own Path systems, so newer GMs can get a handle of how to moderate the game.
TIM: All of the information a player needs to play is right on their character sheet, in an accessible and kid-friendly way. When the GM asks for a dice roll, players will roll one six-sided die if they are their kid, or one eight-sided die if they are their Inner Hero. The outcomes are narrated by the player and GM together. The sheet also has a place to track Boosts, which are a cool resource that players earn when they roll low and things don’t go their way. Boosts can be used later on to re-roll dice, move more than one space or bargain with the GM. Questlings has safety rules built right into the character sheet, with three face icons; green, yellow and red, which players can tap to indicate if they are really enjoying something, would rather not keep talking about something or simply remove something from the story. Teaching kids this way of playing really empowers them and makes for a much better experience for everyone.
EGG: What’s character creation like? Are the main characters from the book playable within the game?
BANANA: There are 6 different pregenerated characters that the players can choose from (these are the characters from the books), but players can definitely make their own if they want to! We have a blank sheet for players to draw and fill out.
TIM: Players can really make their characters their own, even if using the pregens, however they imagine their character or Inner Hero. As they describe their actions and how they face challenges, they can be totally unique. Players will give their character and Inner Hero names and assign stars to their three stats; Creativity, Determination and Problem Solving. Finally each character will need a goal, or the thing they are trying to accomplish by the end of the game.
EGG: Questlings is a series of kids books created by Bryce O'Connor, Nicholas Yu, and Dan Letzring with illustrations by Jacqui Davis, correct? You’re launching with the first book (of six) and the RPG, why kickstart the first novel and the RPG at the same time?
DAN: We were originally going to release the first two kids books together. However we decided that since these are RPG inspired stories it would be a lot of fun to launch the first book with an RPG set in this IP. Once we really thought about that idea it seemed smart to be able to hit multiple age ranges and audiences within the same campaign! If all goes well we will plan to launch each kids book one at a time paired with RPG supplemental material.
EGG: What age range are the books and RPG for?
DAN: The kids books are targeted to ages 3-7 and the RPG is for ages 8+ (though suitable for younger).
BANANA: I’ve played this with adults and they also seem to enjoy it, so it might be good for new roleplayers as well as a gateway game, before they get into something crunchier!
EGG: How long is each book? How many pages will the RPG be? Will these fulfill and deliver together?
DAN: The children’s books are 32 fully illustrated pages and the RPG is still in process but is expected to be around 40-50 pages.
BANANA: We just keep adding more and more pages to the RPG! I’m thinking we’ll have more supplemental stuff for the next Kickstarter.
EGG: While the content points towards an RPG, what was the catalyst to actually create that game?
DAN: Banana and I had met years ago and had run into each other again at PAXU last year. I approached her about making an RPG set in the world of one of my previously published games, Groves. Both of us were not all in on this project for a multitude of reasons and while casually taking I mentioned the Questlings line of books. This sparked a fire in the creation process and we had a solid plan for the RPG quickly. Banana then went to work making something truly special. She then recommended bringing Tim in on the project and I must say that it has all come together better than I hoped.
BANANA: It really is a really great team! Initially when Dan reached out to me, I had an idea of what to do and I did a quick brainstorm with Mabel Harper, who has experience with planning out TTRPG adventures and I wanted to get her take, before putting anything on paper. Once I had a good understanding of what the world look like and how to make it accessible, I did a first draft. I had a chance to playtest it a few times with adults (parents), but when things started moving to a digital sphere, I needed to bring on someone else. Tim has kids at home so he can continuously playtest with them.
TIM: Having played and designed RPGs for my son since he was 3 years old, I was delighted when Banana approached me about joining the project. I’ve enjoyed playtesting and running this game through it’s iterations and seeing the joy on the faces of the kids and adults playing.
EGG: What stretch goals are you hoping to unlock?
DAN: Additional prompts and materials to supplement the RPG as well as additional art within the RPG booklet!
BANANA: We’ll also have a pledge level for backers to play with streamers! Lysa Penrose and Gabe Hicks are the two streamers who we have the pleasure of having on the project as guest GMs.
EGG: Beyond this project, what else are you working on?
TIM: My partner and I have a long format campaign adventure coming out soon with Hunters Entertainment and Renegade Games for the Teens in Space RPG. We also have some awesome RPG podcasts over at the Roll to Play Network!
BANANA: I’m working on a TTRPG with the podcast Crypto-Z! It’s a game about the world after climate change has destroyed everything and cryptids roam the earth. We’re expecting to launch that sometime in 2021. I’m also working on a few things with Austin Knight, Sen-Foong Lim, Sadia Bies and Jason Slingerland that are in the works!
DAN: We have been working on two lines of games. One is Adventure Tactics, a campaign based encounter driven miniatures TTRPG inspired by Final Fantasy Tactics. The game is releasing early next year and we have a lot of expansion content in the works. We also just released a standalone expansion to our 18-card game Squire for Hire as well as a digital app of the game. We are working on more 18 card games both related to squire for hire as well as separate.
EGG: I appreciate you talking with me. Where can fans learn more about your work?
TIM: I am half of Dice Up Games [website here] and [a third] of the founding members of the Roll to Play Podcast Network. You can find me on Twitter @GMTimD.
BANANA: Game and a Curry’s website is [here] and you can find us on Twitter and Facebook @gameandacurry. As for me, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram at @bananachangames!
DAN: Our website is [here] and I am on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @letimangames
Questlings - A Children's Book Series and RPG Adventure! from Letiman Games and Game and a Curry
End Date: Thu, December 10 2020 10:00 PM EST.
“Questlings is an RPG-inspired children's book series and RPG game system about finding your Inner Hero.”
Egg Embry is a freelance tabletop roleplaying game journalist writing for EN World, Knights of the Dinner Table, RPG News, d20 Radio, the Tessera Guild, the Open Gaming Network, the AetherCon Convention Magazine, GAMA’s Around the Table, and more. His areas of focus are RPG crowdfunding projects and RPG reviews as well as interviews with a range of gaming professionals from freelancers to CEOs. Beyond journalism, he dabbles in freelance writing and producing gaming zines for the roleplaying zine-aissance, including POWERED by the DREAMR, a Powered by the Apocalypse RPG zine about living out your dreams within other’s dreams.
All blog materials created and developed by the staff here at High Level Games