[Hi, I am Kristian Østby, the developer and publisher of How Dare You? The story below is written by designer Rodrigo Rego and is his tale of how an early prototype transformed through many stages before it finally ended up — quite different from where it all began — as a published game. Enjoy!]
It all started during a game night at the end of 2018, in Rio de Janeiro…but not that kind of game night.
You see, my name is Rodrigo Rego, and I am addicted to board games, yes, but I am also addicted to trivia and quizzes: the ones you play at bars and pubs, the ones you watch on TV shows, the ones you find in outdated board games like Trivial Pursuit. So, it was not really a board game night, but a trivia game night.
For a long time, my wife and I have invited friends over for a quiz party we created. It’s similar to pub trivia, but with music, bets, mimics, lists, all kinds of challenges. It’s a unique formula we created, and I’ve yet to see something similar.
Moments from two different quiz parties in 2015 and 2023. The tradition still goes on!
This was a separate hobby of mine until a friend suggested what in hindsight was obvious: Why not join quiz nights and board games to create a modern trivia game?
But what are the qualities of a modern trivia game?
The trivia game I wanted to create was built on three principles:
• Simplicity must be key. The best thing about trivia games is that everyone can play them.
• No player needs to be a facilitator, the one that holds the answer while the others are quizzed. Everyone should play all the time.
• Players can win by means other than brute knowledge. Brute knowledge is binary; either you know the answer or you don’t. That’s boring. The game should allow clever players to outsmart the know-it-alls by using deduction, guesstimation, bluffing, betting, and so on.
With those principles in mind, I created two trivia games together with Leandro Pires (of Paper Dungeons fame) called É Top!? (which has three editions: Geek & Pop, Natureza, and Variedades) and Fora de Ordem, all published only in Brazil so far.
But I also started developing some on my own — and one of them was a small gem called “Range”.
Creating “Range”, the predecessor to How Dare You?
Like many other such games, “Range” was inspired by a type of question I used on my quiz nights called “Guesstimation”. I asked all groups a numerical answer I assumed no one knew (e.g., “What’s the circumference of the Earth?”) and the one who guessed the closest won the point.
To turn this into a board game, I could have gone the Wits & Wagers route: Each player writes an answer at the same time, and they all bet on the best one.
Instead, “Range” was a press-your-luck design: There was a line with numbers from 0 to 100 with two brackets that started at each end of the line. A question like this is posed: “What”s the percentage of blue-eyed people in the world?” On your turn, you must either shorten the range of possible answers (moving one of the brackets inwards) or drop out.
When only one player remains, the answer is revealed. If the answer is still inside the range, the remaining player gets a bunch of points. If it isn’t, the other players get points depending on when they dropped out.
Isn’t that a great premise? I thought so. That’s why I showed it to Kristian.
[Kristian: Publishers receive many submissions from hopeful game designers. Major publishers receive several submissions daily, and representing a small publisher I still receive at least one per week. Trivia games are not my first choice of genre. The reason is that they are often fun only if you know the answer, and they rarely reward reasoning — but Rodrigo had my attention because he had presented quite original prototypes to me before.]
The board and brackets used to control the range of possible answers in “Range”
How a Brazilian guy got noticed by a Norwegian publisher
Before I ever thought of designing trivia games, I was already bothering Kristian Østby with my designs. Politeness and civility dictated I shouldn’t because his company, Aporta Games, published only internal designs, and nothing on their website encouraged game submissions.
The first time I played Avenue, it was one of those revelation moments when you get in touch with something new and wonderful that you didn’t think was within the possibilities of a board game. It was my first roll-and-write, and to this day it’s still my second favorite. (Sorry Kristian, Next Station: London just robbed that gold medal.)
[Kristian: I can live with that, Rodrigo. I love Next Station: London myself.]
Also Santa Maria is among the three or four most played games between me and my wife. We have owned it for close to six years, and it’s still in frequent rotation.
These are games that resonate deeply with me, so for some reason I assumed maybe my games could resonate with Kristian as well. You might think I was presumptuous, and you could be right, but I was also desperate: Back then, I knew no board game publishers outside of Brazil. I was cold emailing lots of them with few answers. Any hope I could hang on to was enough for me to click send.
Desperate or presumptuous, to my surprise, Kristian answered. He enjoyed my pitch for the card game “Bungle in the Jungle” (later published as Emboscados in Brazil and Spain), and we started a long email exchange. We almost started a partnership to co-design it, but before the pandemic forced all of us to learn Tabletop Simulator, it was much harder to do it long distance.
But even then, Kristian generously gave me valuable insight to turn that prototype into a way better game than it ever had the right to be. And of course, it felt great to have the guy who designed Santa Maria and Avenue enjoying my games, so I kept bothering him with other game pitches and kept getting major insights to improve them.
“Range” was one of them. It was a stretch because Aporta never published trivia games, or even party games for that matter, but I knew by then that Kristian was all about simplicity and out-of-the-box ideas, and “Range” had those qualities.
From “Range” to How Dare You?
Kristian did enjoy the game a lot, but he felt it needed to be simpler if we were to aim it at the mass market. He suggested giving players only one bracket, so the range could be shortened only by going up on the line.
[Kristian: There was something about “Range” I really liked: It had a great tension curve, meaning that the tension increased as the round progressed and the ranges got smaller. It also allowed players to approach an answer through reasoning. For example, the game asked how old Leonardo da Vinci was when he died. How do you come up with a guess for a question like that? In most portraits I’ve seen of him, he looks quite old, so he was most likely not part of the 27 club. But still, how old did people actually get back in…whenever it was that Leonardo da Vinci lived? They probably didn’t wash their hands very thoroughly, and nearly no one used a seatbelt, so he couldn’t have gotten that old?
“Range” made me think about such things and also allowed for interesting discussions among players, but the game was also a bit convoluted: Narrowing the range of your answer required quite a few rules, and for this reason the game wasn’t as intuitive as it could be. In my opinion, party games need to be extremely light on the rules so that they can be easily picked up and played instantly by anyone so I suggested simplifications.]
I didn’t like Kristian’s suggested changes. I actually didn’t think the game needed simplifying at all. Move one of two brackets or drop out of the round — how hard is that? (Actually, dropping out of a round involved one more step, but my own unwillingness to explain it proves it was indeed hard after all.)
A few months later, when Kristian said he couldn’t publish it at that time for reasons unrelated to the gameplay, a small part of me was glad that the original idea would survive. I took it to other publishers, and the ones who answered turned it down on the grounds of the design not being very intuitive.
So it seemed Kristian was right again.
It’s amazing how hard it is to “kill your darlings”, no matter how much you agree with that sentence. I guess it conflicts with another popular bit of advice that tells you to “stick to your vision”. It’s not easy to know which darlings you can kill without killing the vision as well.
But I digress. It was early 2022, and no publisher wanted the trivia game that I thought was my best. Some time had passed since I last messed with the game, so I took a look at it again with fresh eyes.
It was one of those times that the solution suddenly jumps into your face: A game in which you can move only the lower bracket up means there’s no need for brackets, or even for a board.
This could be a simple card game: Someone reads the question on the card, and people start saying numbers, each time higher, but hoping their guess is still lower than the actual answer. Let’s say the previous player guesses the record age for a cat is 27. Will you say 28? Will you say 30? Or will you drop out? If you do say 30, will the next player raise the number as well? What about the next one?
This suddenly became the perfect trivia adaptation for the chicken game.
Except it wasn’t? Because one thing had gone missing: Dropping out wasn’t fun. That was now a passive action, with you just retreating from the round.
To solve this, I took a page out of É Top!?, the first trivia game I got published: What if instead of passing, you could challenge the previous guess? A passive action suddenly becomes active. If the guess is higher than the answer, the challenger wins the round; if it’s lower, the challengee wins.
After many playtests over the course of a few months, I showed it to Kristian again.
I had renamed “Range” to “One-Upper” since the game now contained no ranges
[Kristian: When Rodrigo told me he had a new, simplified version of his game, I was interested right away. We played it head-to-head online, and it was obviously improved. Now the rules were clear and intuitive, just as they should be in a party game.
I had a new publishing company, Alion – by Dr Ø, and this game would be ideal as a first release for this company. I brought the prototype to SPIEL ’22 in Essen and played it with my Norwegian and Swedish friends — and everyone loved it. We also found it to be the perfect game to play in restaurants as we were waiting for the food: It required no table space at all, the rounds were quick, and every question resulted in interesting discussions.]
Developing How Dare You?
Kristian was very excited after playing it on Tabletop Simulator. He had a new studio now, and he wanted to publish the game through it, so we met briefly in Essen (my first trip there!), with little time to talk because Revive, his most recent game, was one of the hits of the fair.
After he got home, he began testing it further with his new partner Kjetil, new ideas started flowing, and a couple of great additions to the design were created.
The first was the name: How Dare You? is sooooo much better than “One-Upper”, the working name I was using since the demise of “Range”.
Also, how great is this cover art?
But the best ones were on the mechanisms, the most important of which was to turn the victory condition around: Instead of having a winner, the round would have a loser. The player who loses the challenge gets the (negative) points. This made players a little less prone to challenge because if they think the next player won’t challenge as well, they are off the hook. Because of this, rounds got a little longer and more fun, with guesses increasing more and more until inevitably someone finds the previous one too outrageous not to challenge.
Kristian and Kjetil also added optional advanced game rules, like “doubling”, which gives you gain a positive point if you double the previous guess, tempting players to take high risks. Also, when you’re challenged, you can call a “double dare” to increase the stakes and try to threaten the previous player into withdrawing their challenge. These optional rules can be added after a couple of games to increase the “chicken game” aspect of How Dare You?
[Kristian: “How long did you say the longest fart lasted?” The questions engaged the playtesters, and very often they had follow-up questions: “Who? How? And why!?” I realized we had to provide context and background information to the answers, and this proved popular among the playtesters. Kjetil, Rodrigo, and I worked intensely on the questions over the next months: fact checking, rephrasing, and revising. The new rules that let players double or double dare added a nice twist to the Perudo-style gameplay and made the game feel unique.
In the end, we had a game that packed quite a punch for its small size. It is very flexible as you can pull it out and play with nearly any crowd — with both board game enthusiasts and players who have no experience with modern board games. You can start playing right away, and it provides interesting, hilarious, and memorable moments. And after each game you also feel that you have learned something extraordinary.]
Yes, finally, the questions themselves! We spent months perfecting each of the 360 questions, making sure people would hardly ever know the exact answer, while allowing them to make a reasonable guess without feeling dumb. And then there’s adding info to provide context to each answer, checking them against reliable sources, phrasing them so there’s no ambiguity…
There’s much work, obsession, and attention to detail in making a set of really good, engaging, fun trivia questions — and I love it.
The double dare rule explained
[Kristian: I must mention that illustrator Gjermund Bohne did a great job of capturing the game’s cheeky spirit, while also providing a masterful comic for the rules that explains the game in an entertaining way.
And the longest fart? Two minutes and 42 seconds. A record held by the proud Englishman Bernard Clemmens. I apologize for the mental images, but I also just gave you a head start if you are to play How Dare You? You’re welcome.]
It might not look like it at first sight, but a lot of history comes with this small trivia card game. I hope you will enjoy How Dare You? when Alion releases the game at SPIEL ’23 this October!