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A quest in role playing games—including massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and their text based predecessors Multi-User Dungeons—is a task that a player-controlled character or group of characters may complete in order to gain a reward.[1][2] Rewards may include an increase in the character's experience in order to learn new skills and abilities, loot or treasure, in-game currency such as gold coins, access to new locations or areas, or any combination of the above.

Quests are typically grouped in to one of four categories: kill quests, gather quests, delivery quests and escort quests. Quests can be linked together to form quest series or chains. In this manner, quests are used to provide the player with further background to the setting their characters are in. This mechanism is also used to advance any story or plot the game might have.



In the most general sense, a quest is a "hunt for a specific outcome", in contrast to simply winning a game.[3] Typical quests involve killing a set number of creatures or collecting a list of specific items. Some quests may take only a few minutes or hours to complete, while others may take several days or weeks. Often, the larger the reward, the longer the quest takes to finish, and it is common for a quest to require characters to have met a certain set of pre-conditions before they are allowed to begin.

Questing is a tool used in role-playing games to avoid putting players in a position where they only perform a repetitive action such as killing creatures. Players may be performing this activity in order to gain new skills and progress to new areas, or in-game money in order to buy new items such as armour and equipment. This process, commonly known as "grinding", can slow down a character's progression in the game and ultimately limit the player's enjoyment.[4] Having a number of quests for characters to tackle is seen as a way to provide variety and to counter the need to grind in these types of games.

A side-quest is an optional section of a video game, and is commonly found in role-playing games. It is a smaller mission within a larger storyline, and can be used as a means to provide non-linear structures to an otherwise linear plot.[5] As a general rule, the completion of side-quests are not essential for the game to be finished, but can bring various benefits to the player characters.

Types of quests

Kill Quests

A kill quest sends the character out to kill either a specific number of named creatures, or a specific non-player character or NPC. These types of quests often require the character to bring back proof of their work, such as animal fangs for a creature kill quest, or the head of an NPC.[6] There are also quests to kill other players.

Delivery Quests

Another type of quest is the delivery quest, also known as a FedEx quest[7] or fetch-carry quest[8]. This involves the character being sent to deliver an item from one location to another.[9] Sometimes the character may need to collect the item first instead of being handed the item to deliver when starting the quest. These quests are made challenging by asking the character to journey through unfamiliar or dangerous terrain, sometimes while facing a time limit.[6]

Gather Quests

Gather quests, also known as collection quests, require a character to collect a number of items. These can either be gathered from a location or environment, or require the character to kill creatures in order to collect the required items. The quest may also require the character to collect a number of different items, for example to assemble a device.[6]

Escort Quests

The Escort quest is a combination of slaying monsters to maintain the well-being of a non-player character all while exploring an area alongside that NPC. A typical escort quest would involve protecting a character as he or she moves through a monster-infested area. A majority of the time the quest will demand of the player to slay multiple monsters to ensure the safety of the NPC.[10][6] Escort quests can be beneficial, in forcing the player's focus to a particular area in order to play out a scene or reveal a section of the plot. They can also be used to funnel a character from one location to another, leading the player along a route or path. However, problems with this type of quest can occur if the artificial intelligence controlling the NPC causes them to behave in unexpected or unmanageable ways.[11]


Elements from the above types can be combined to make more complex quests. For example, a quest could require that the player assemble the weapon needed to kill a specific foe (Gather quest) and then use it (Kill Quest).

Quest chains

A quest chain is a group of quests that are completed in sequence. Completion of each quest is a prerequisite to beginning the next quest in the chain. Quests usually increase in difficulty as a player progresses through the chain. The quests typically reveal a single plotline in stages that explain the reason for the quests.[6] Quest chains can also start with opening or breadcrumb quests, in order to encourage characters to journey to a new area, where further elements of the quest chain are revealed. Through mechanisms like these, the setting of a particular location is explained to the player, with the plot or storyline being disclosed as the character progresses.[12]


  1. ^ ""Effective Quest Design in MMORPG Environment"". Archived from the original on 2005-08-12. , Game Developers Conference 2005, March 11, 2005
  2. ^ "May Mud of the Month". The MUD Connector. 1999. Archived from the original on 2007-11-20. "Our areas also include the ability to track a player's progress in a task, and allows for incredibly detailed quests." 
  3. ^ Ryan, Marie-Laure (2004). "Quest Games as Post-Narrative Discourse". Narrative Across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0803239440. 
  4. ^ Tom McNamara (2004-12-10). "World of Warcraft Review". IGN. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  5. ^ Freeman, David (2004). Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering. New York: New Riders. ISBN 1592730078. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Michael Lummis; Danielle Vanderlip (2004). "What is a Quest?". World of Warcraft: Official Strategy Guide. BradyGames. ISBN 0774004055. 
  7. ^ "Guild Wars Review". IGN.  Mentions FedEx quest
  8. ^ "Mario Party Advance Review". Eurogamer.  Mentions fetch and carry quest
  9. ^ Schwab, Brian (2004). AI Game Engine Programming. Charles River Media. ISBN 1584503440. 
  10. ^ Walker, Jill. "A Network of Quests in World of Warcraft." Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media. 2007 308.
  11. ^ Russ Pitts (2007-11-20). "Escort Missions Suck". The Escapist. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  12. ^ Allen Rausch (2004-12-07). "World of Warcraft review". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2004-12-14. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 

See also

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