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RPGs are not always about saving the world or making tough decisions with long-reaching implications. Sometimes they're simply about getting blackout drunk and then dealing with the consequences, or helping a tree get its revenge on a long-dead lumberjack. And if you'd like to know which of these low-stakes quests the editors at PC Gamer consider to be the best, you should check out this article. A few examples:
The Witcher 3: A Frying Pan, Spick and Span
One of the first quests you're likely to stumble upon in The Witcher 3's opening town gives you a hint that all in Geralt's world is not as dark and serious as the opening cinematic. An old woman delivers an impassioned monologue on the events leading to her pan’s theft, and Geralt—renowned witcher, respected hero, tasked with braving the threat of The Wild Hunt and finding Ciri—is out to find a frying pan. Taking a break from stabbing ghosts and bird-lizards to help out an average person with a menial problem was actually somewhat touching. Finding the frying pan can be the work of just a minute or two, but dig a little deeper, and you'll find clues pointing towards a bigger story: a murder, a spy, and a likely reference to a certain spymaster from the first Witcher game. Sometimes a frying pan isn't just a frying pan. — James Davenport
World of Warcraft: Welcome To The Machine
Ever wondered what goes on in the heads of those NPCs who just stand around with exclamation marks over their heads, waiting for a hero to come along and solve your problems? In one of WoW’s funniest quests, you get to find out—your quest being to hand out three pointless quests to would-be heroes in need of something to do. Do they succeed, fail, live or die? Not your problem. Welcome to the Machine. — Richard Cobbett
Divinity: Original Sin 2: The Bark's Bite
There are some very low stakes quests in Original Sin 2—the one where you mediate an argument between a cat and a dog, the one where you kiss a spider—but my favorite is the one where you seek revenge on behalf of a log. Not a regular log, of course: the log is from an Ancestor Tree, and the spirit contained within it is still pissed off at the foreman who cut him down. Except the foreman is dead, so you have to exhume his grave, talk to his spirit, and then absorb his source, 'killing' him a second time. This pleases the log, and he gives you a shield… made from himself.
The log says that he's "free," but he's not really. He's still a log. All you accomplished was digging up some poor guy's grave—the foreman didn't even know it was an Ancestor Tree he cut down—and harassing his spirit. But whatever, as long as the log is happy. — Tyler Wilde
Ultima VI: Chuckles’ Quest
Not necessarily one of the best, but arguably one of the most evil practical jokes ever played on players by an RPG designer. There you are, the hero of the realm, told by Lord British’s jester Chuckles that… well, in his own words: “I've got a clue! It's important, and just for you! Yes, it's crucial to your quest.” Cue a trip to the court mage’s room to steal a scroll, which sends you to the other side of the world to find the next part under a plant, which sends you to a beehive at the other end of the world, which sends you to search the beds in another distant town, which sends you to yet another town where a hint awaits under a cauldron, which sends you BACK to Lord British’s castle to be sent to go and speak to a talking horse called Smith… who does indeed give you an important clue! For completing Ultima V. Yes, the previous game.
Thanks, Chuckles. This is why Ultima fans love to pile explosive barrels around you. — Richard Cobbett