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Quinns’ weird new RPG channel wants to “distract people from DnD”

Quinns Quest is one tabletop veteran’s way of showcasing diverse designs and creators in TTRPGs – and stealing the spotlight from D&D.

Quinns Quest screenshot of Quinns holding a copy of The Wildsea

There’s a weird and wonderful new tabletop RPG channel on the YouTube block – Quinns Quest. This is the brainchild of Quinns (Quintin Smith, of Shut Up & Sit Down and People Make Games fame), and it wants to introduce a diverse range of RPGs to its hobbyist audience. But with this mission comes another latent goal – to “distract people from D&D”.

Dungeons and Dragons is the oldest tabletop roleplaying game out there, and it’s certainly the most well-known. At this point, it’s pretty darn close to full-on genericide – becoming a term for the TTRPG hobby as a whole rather than just one brand within it. Many tabletop gamers are keen to keep D&D from becoming the next Bandaid or Photoshop, and Quinns seems to be among them.

“I’ve never in my life worked in a space where more of the oxygen is taken up by a single game or a single brand”, he tells Wargamer. “I know how we got here – it has to do with one big game using its huge marketing budget to ensure people play it forever, in a nostalgia-fueled ouroboros loop.”

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D&D is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, so such comments ring especially true. But while Wizards of the Coast is publishing throwback campaigns and history books based on its adventures from the ‘80s, Quinns is highlighting the work of other tabletop RPG creators. All this is done through the medium of sketch comedy videos that capitalize on a “bizarre 1989 aesthetic”.

Quinns dresses like Jonathan Frakes and cracks jokes about old-school tech, but the subjects of his videos are very modern. The debut review on Quinns Quest is for The Wildsea, a 2022 hopepunk apocalypse RPG that lifts mechanics from Blades in the Dark.

“The best designers of TTRPGs are as good as the best designers of games anywhere, but they get fractionally as much press”, Quinns tells Wargamer, “and hopefully I’ll be able to do something about it”. “I’m very lucky and privileged that I have fans who trust me and my opinions on games”, he continues. “I felt that I could use that weird, creepy power for good.”

QuinnsQuest pushes for more coverage of games beyond the big names, but it champions diversity in other ways too. “So many of my favorite designers are women and trans and queer”, he says. “Yet the space is still dominated by white men – there’s still tons of work to be doing to deal with diversity.” “I look forward to doing what I can (as a straight cis white man) to diversity the space.”

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“I want to make TTRPGs more welcoming, but really I think the games will do that for me”, Quinns continues. “Some of my favorite games in the space, which I look forward to reviewing, are not made by white people, men, or straight people.”

“Whatever more work there is in the scene to be doing, I am looking forward to the fact the games I would choose to review anyway are made by single designers from more diverse backgrounds than I’ve ever encountered in my gaming career.” “It’s going to be a real pleasure to highlight those games”, he adds.

Quinns says this trend is “a sign that diversity makes for better games”. “It’s proof that when you have people from different backgrounds making games, they’re more innovative, more unusual, and fresher.”

The games QuinnsQuest covers and the creators it platforms are both equally diverse. But the channel still can’t entirely escape D&D. At the very least, Quinns uses it as a reference point when describing ideas and mechanics.

Screenshot of Quinns presenting on Quinns Quest

“It makes sense to reference D&D”, he tells Wargamer, “because D&D is the hegemonic reference that everybody in the space is going to get”. “But one of my goals – as I’ve described on my Patreon – is hitting the monolith that is Dungeons and Dragons with as many hardback books as I can and seeing what falls out.”

“I do think people are interested in leaving D&D behind and seeing what else is out there”, Quinns says. “And the bulk of Quinns Quest season one will be games that I think approach some aspect of what D&D does in a better or more exciting fashion.”

As Quinns Quest begins its journey into the world of tabletop RPGs, Quinns makes one clear promise to his viewers: “I will wear however many stupid suits with gold chains as it takes to distract people from D&D”.

To learn more about Quinns Quest, check out our interview where Quinns talks more about stepping away from Shut Up & Sit Down. Or, for more talks about the RPG industry, here’s our chat with tabletop RPG designers about the Pandora’s Box that is AI art.