Bring me Cookies! – Badge Quest: A Horror Roleplaying Game… With Cookies

Badge Quest

A Horror Roleplaying Game… With Cookies

Author: Dave Hamrick
Publisher: DMDave Publishing
Page Count: 96
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF – $16.99
Print/PDF Combo – $21.00

Spring is here! With it comes the annual Brave Blossoms cookie drive. The yearly fundraiser the organization, uses not only to fund its activities but also an opportunity to teach the girls valuable skills like entrepreneurship, salesmanship, and other life skills. Every March and April, Blossom troops everywhere fan out across their towns and cities, trying to sell the most boxes of cookies. Some troops, like the ones featured in Badge Quest, find themselves entangled in mysteries while hawking their sweet treats. Grab your sales brochure and join the Brave Blossoms as they navigate familiar and strange neighborhoods, solve supernatural mysteries, and try to sell the most cookies in this year’s sales competition. While at it, they even earn new merit badges to adorn their sash.

Badge Quest is a game at the intersection of Stranger Things and Scooby-Doo with a touch of Nancy Drew. Although Badge Quest is at the crossroads of these classic inspirations, has game designer Dave Hamrick (DM Dave), better known for his Dungeons & Dragons 5e and fantasy setting material, created a good game accessible to the masses?

Badge Quest has a background that is worth mentioning up front as it will become important further on in this review. Born out of Wizards of the Coast’s January 2023 OGL debacle, the designer wanted to branch out from exclusively producing 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons content. Badge Quest is inspired by Girl Scouts hawking their boxes of cookies. DM Dave put a twist on it by adding the mystery-solving element. Reading promotional material and through limited correspondence with the designer, Badge Quest was conceived, written, edited, and published in about 45 days—begun in February ’23 and published in both digital and print at the end of March ’23.

What is Badge Quest

In Badge Quest, players are young girls, Brave Blossoms, presumably between the ages of 10 and 15, but no specific ages are articulated in the game book. Every year in March and April, Blossom troops everywhere aggressively sell their delicious cookies after school and on weekends during the annual campaign. The girls go house to house selling for four hours every day after school and all day (8 hours) on Saturday and Sunday, hoping their troop comes out on top. Our Blossoms, the player characters, find themselves becoming entangled in various mysteries, some of which they may be all too happy to assist with, especially if it means increased sales at the end of the day. Not only are cookie sales a measure of success for the girls but so are earning new merit badges to sew on their sashes, embodying skills learned.

The game is all about solving mysteries, but cookie sales are the vehicle through which the Blossoms find those mysteries and have access to funds to buy needed things. And while these things are true, as someone who grew up as a Boy Scout and did similar fundraising, I find the idea that the girls can spend the money collected from the sale of cookies absurd and not very plausible. I feel the girls’ access to objects and defensive items could have been handled differently—like a skill roll to search for a specific object in their garage or garden shed.

The game can be set in “Anytown” anywhere in the world. At least, that is my perception of the designer’s intent. There are no parameters for placing or creating a town where the Brave Blossom troop operates. While this should be pretty easy for a crafty Gamemaster, new or inexperienced Gamemasters might be a bit overwhelmed, especially if they themselves live in a large sprawling town or city.

Game Mechanics & Flow

At the heart of Badge Quest is a simple d6 dice pool mechanic for resolving all situations. Anytime something within the fiction is uncertain, a Test is called for. All Tests are based on one of the three character attributes: Charm, Toughness, or Skill. Dice pools are created on a die-per-point basis using the attribute plus an additional die for an appropriate merit badge. The resolution is simple, the Gamemaster sets a Target Number (TN) from 2-6 unless a specific rule dictates otherwise, and any result equal to or greater than the Target Number is a success.

Should the Blossoms find themselves in a situation where they need to get their hands dirty and potentially throw down with an adversary—called scaps—there is a specific, albeit slightly wonky sequence that is played through. The initiative order is determined by each participant making a Test versus a static TN. With the initiative order now decided, the “declaration” phase begins. Here, each Blossom declares what phase (there are three) of the round they want to act in: Thinking Phase uses wit and creativity to find a non-violent solution to the situation at hand; the Running Phase is for disengaging from combat and fleeing the scene; Fight Phase is for making and dodging attacks.

Each of those phases happens in that order. Blossoms attempt to narratively do whatever they planned during their respective phase and Test accordingly, again versus static TNs, but each phase uses different attributes. Blossom cannot die in Badge Quest; instead, they take temporary reductions to their attributes; Skills become “stressed,” Toughness becomes “injured,” and Charm becomes “embarrassment.” The reductions in effect make future Tests more difficult. And when any attribute is reduced to zero, the Blossom passes out and must recover before being able to resume active selling and investigating with her fellow Blossoms. Attribute points can be recovered by resting, eating a good meal, and generalized self-care.

Each game follows a structure to keep the story flowing. Each day after school, the girls head out to sell cookies for four hours as a group. On the weekend, they sell cookies for eight hours each day. Thus, in-world time is broken into four-hour increments. During each of these increments, sales are happening, but to keep the game flowing, the story does not delve into the minutiae, and a test is called for at the end of the four hours to determine sales totals. During these same periods, Gamemasters also introduce mystery leads for the girls to follow if they are so inclined. One interesting aspect of the mysteries is that if the Blossoms decide not to dig into a mystery, for whatever reason, a prescribed outcome comes to fruition.

The gamebook has 20 mysteries for the players to explore in due course. They run the gamut from haunted houses to dead people, a possessed doll to a teacher turning into a robot, and more. They appear to take inspiration from a wide body of sources. The mysteries are generally interesting but do feel a little bit like they are on rails. Depending on the makeup of the group (age, interest, etc.), mileage may vary with some of these. While most are benign and good-natured, some players may not like some of the amped-up themes. The mysteries also introduce situations where there are no rules in the “complete rulebook” for dealing with them. For example, in the first mystery, “1527 Lulu Avenue,” a haunted house is at the center of the mystery. If the girls fail to, for whatever reason, stop the construction workers from demolishing the house, the ghosts escape and terrorize the town for a few weeks. However, there is nothing in the rules to deal with alternatives (I’m trying to stay spoiler free) to resolve the mystery, of which a few come to mind and would likely need a rule to handle it.


Badge Quest comes as both a physical book and a digital download. The layout is two columns adorned with copious amounts of color artwork, mostly from the talented Rick Hershey. The layout does need a little bit of work. Although it is easy to read, some issues need attention. First, there are several, not many, misspelled words and inconsistencies like the mixing of the terms GM and DM. Second, the images and tables are overly large, which seems to cause problems with the flow of the body copy itself, resulting in widows and orphans. Simply reducing the images’ size slightly would allow the text to be aligned better. In one instance, an image slightly overlaps the copy but is still readable.

I know I have many concerns about the book’s presentation, but these things do not detract from the game’s playability.

Final Thoughts

I want to love Badge Quest. I was initially hooked by its themes and that it was supposed to contain 36 mysteries. In the end, only 20 made it into the book, but strangely the pitch on the back cover says there are 25 included. The game is playable, and I will ensure it sees table time because I love the ideas within. I believe the things that I noted throughout this review are a direct result of the game’s short cradle-to-customer timeline. I think it was rushed and all that entails. Having said that, I think the game is about 95% done, but it needs further developmental refinement and a little attention to the layout, and it would shine brighter.

In my introduction, I asked if DM Dave created a good game accessible to the masses? After taking it all in, my answer to that query is a resounding yes and no. Yes, the game is good, but it does need a little more polishing. No, in its present form, I don’t feel that it is widely accessible to non-gamers. Although DM Dave provides some tips and advice for Gamemasters, I suspect the people that might purchase Badge Quest to play with their Girl Scout troops and who have no roleplaying game experience might struggle in some areas. However, a little refinement to the game will widen the accessibility aperture.

Badge Quest may scratch that itch for veteran gamers wanting to try something a little different. Remember that you may need to make some freewheeling adjustments for your players who want to take the narrative into territory not covered by the rules. That is how I plan to deal with it in my effort to take my current like of it to a love of it.

~ Modoc

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. StarNinja says:

    RPGs where you play as kids are always fun. World of Darkness: Innocents and Little Fears are two horror examples that jump immediately to mind. Tales From the Loop would be the Science Adventure version I guess. I wonder what effect Stranger Things had on kid RPG sales?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. modoc31 says:

    I think Stranger Things has greatly influenced this type of game. Following the release of season 1, we begin to see a rapid increase in games with kids as the protagonists. Moreover, we see an increase in games with themes similar to Stranger Things.

    ~ Modoc

    Liked by 1 person

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