RuneQuest is a roleplaying game that I have a long history with. It was one of the Big Four RPGs that Games Workshop used to have the licence for, after Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson (UK) picked it up from Greg Stafford (the game’s creator/publisher) when they were the only European Games Company at one of the early GenCon’s in the 70s. Fast forward forty odd years and the latest edition is out.and in a word it’s GORGEOUS!
The main rulebook has been out for some time since last summer along with the pdfs of the Bestiary and Gamesmasters Screen Pack, but now all the books are available in print and as well as separately they are available in a heavy-duty cardboard slipcase from the Chaosium web store
I’m sure I’ll do a full review here at some point, but if you are interested in a quick appraisal of the three things you get in the slipcase.
Main Rulebook: All the rules that the players and GM need to play/run the game. At its heart, it’s RuneQuest 2 with a smattering of new rules (Runes and Passions being a big one), which may put off some folk expecting a streamlined modern take on the ruleset. But its instantly familiar to old hands like myself. I ran a convention game pretty much straight off, without having to absorb 400+ pages, like the game had never gone away. Also its newcomer friendly, with all the Glorantha you need being hard-baked into the rules. In my opinion its the best out of the box representation of Glorantha ever.
Gloranthan Bestiary: This 202 page book is a feast of Glorantha’s weird and wonderful creatures. It also includes monster cults for playable monsters like Uz (Trolls), Elves and Ducks. Yes, there are ducks 🙂
Games Master’s Screen Pack. Other GM’s Screens have Dragons and scenes of adventurers fighting. Not this one, it has a scenic picture of one of Glorantha’s greatest mythological landscapes, the Gods Wall which shows all the sun-worshipping Dara Happan Deities in their correct hierarchal positions, in a massive fresco carved into a cliff overlooking the sacred river Oslir, that was commissioned by Yelm the Sun-god himself. It not only fits in with the concept of a screen perfectly, but it provides a good talking point for new players. “What the heck is that?” they will go, and the resulting discussion will give them a good idea that they aren’t in their typical fantasy setting anymore 🙂 The contents of the rest of the pack are: A Gloranthan Calendar, Two versions of the character sheet (the plain one that is in the rulebook, and a rather colourful one), a big a3 map of Dragon pass in colour, a double-sided map of the Colymar Tribal lands, a map of the city of Clearwine backed with another map of Dragon pass, all the pre-gens from the main rulebook as separate handouts, a npc sheet, and finally, a booklet of GM reference tables and an adventure book of 123 pages, that has a starting setting of the Colymar tribe and three adventures.
So I’ve decided to run some RuneQuest Glorantha at Furnace 2018 at the beginning of October. This introductory post is the first in a series where I post about my experiences, prepping and running the game.
It’s going to be a one-shot war-movie inspired game, with all the characters being soldiers from Lunar Tarsh trapped in the wasteland of Prax after the Lunar defeat and expulsion from Pavis, which has happened in the timeline of the new game. Here’s the full pitch that I’ve given for the convention’s game programme.
So “General” Baldrox is dead. Good riddance.
You can just leave him there in the dust and let the vultures eat his corpse (or maybe not, perhaps even Vultures have taste). Now your unit from Lunar Tarsh,survivors of the fall of Pavis, can make a run for home. The problem is that your group is known as Baldrox’s Bastards amongst the locals, home is hundreds of miles away across enemy territory, and supplies and morale are running low. Your only hope is to make it through the desert from the hole you are currently hiding in. Avoid the Beast Riders who are hunting you. Pray you don’t stumble across any foul chaos monsters. Then you might be able to find the testing ground that Sorcerers of the Imperial College of Magic set up in the Wastes. Perhaps they have a Moon Boat which you can sail all the way home?
So chin up solider. The Red Moon Will Rise Again!
This is a game using the new RuneQuest Glorantha rules. No familiarity is needed with either the setting or the rules (although if you are familiar with Call of Cthulhu you are halfway there). Be aware you are playing the villains of the default set up, in a game that riffs of the tropes of spaghetti westerns and World War 2 Movies from the perspective of the Germans.
I’m finally using RuneQuest Gloratha in anger, quickly flipping through the pdf it mentally working out if I can use it for a quick convention game at Furnace in October (so I’ve got to get up to speed with it quickly).
I must say the signs are immensely positive. Utility and inspiration boxes have been ticked, and it all feels comfortably familiar yet sooooo much more expansive. Already two scenario ideas have jumped into my head, spinning around a desperate band of Lunar Tarsh soldiers post-Dragon Rise. A quick spin and one emerges as stronger. Behold “A Dry Run in Prax” riffing off Spaghetti Westerns and WW2 movies, starts to form in a playable form. This is like riding a bike. Let’s see what they done with the gears 🙂
I had thought that I’d put RQ G to one side for a bit and run some 13th Age Glorantha (which magnificently landed through my mailbox last week) but my mate Guy Milner is already running a duo of 13AG at the convention (one game that sees the return of Crontas the Duck and the other which is going to see Guy’s unique interpretation of Apple Lane) and not only can you have too much of a good thing, but even in its PDF form (which HURTS MY EYES DAMNIT!) its familiarity won me through this time. But I have things planned for 13AG, a short campaign is being plotted, so its not entirely put to one side 😉
One of the things that defines the initial run of HiG (issues 1-5) was that we were constrained by the availability of the games. HeroQuest and sort-of RuneQuest 3 were the only options.
Now as of last month we have four options:
RuneQuest Classic (or RuneQuest 2). OK this one is perhaps for the Grognards or playful folk like me that want to enjoy a barebones Gloranthan experience, with minimal rules. The adventures The Secret of Duck Hill (in the last issue) and The Golden Gorp (see page 36) are the results of me just using the reissued RuneQuest Classic rulebook, so there is a lot of mileage here.
HeroQuest Glorantha. It seems strange that there’s not a HQ adventure in this issue since it was the workhorse of the last ten years. On a personal level its time for a break but I’m sure that it will be back. HeroQuest does BIG DAMN HEROES/HEROINES like no other system on Earth. If you’ve not come across HeroQuest before, Ian Cooper current HeroQuest Line Editor at Chaosium goes over what makes it so unique in his article Who Gets to Speak (page 18).
13th Age Glorantha. Familiar with D&D? Particularly modern feat based D20? Well, this is your stop. Mixing the narrative-driven 13th Age rules and a fair bit of rules tinkering to make it more palatable to us established Gloranthan fans. Of all the four rulesets perhaps, it’s the most accessible and directed. From word go it has even 1st level characters as larger than life people on Hero Quests. There’s also a lot of fun stuff, such as troll characters and Eurmali Tricksters, that you get to play right out of the first book. This is probably going to be my next game after I stop mucking about with RQ Classic, but my mate Guy Milner is way ahead of me having run The Beard of Lhankor Mhy (see page 23) multiple times at conventions.
RuneQuest Glorantha. Using RQ 2 as a base, and drastically upping the page count to cover the entire Dragonpass region in detail, this is the 400 plus page titan that fans have been wanting from the old days. The classic game expanded and updated with a rock solid Gloranthan base. While I’m still ploughing through the pdf of the main rulebook, Stewart Stansfield has charged ahead and used the Duck stats from the Bestiary Preview that Chaosium has made available as a taster for the full book available later this year and created Slipbeak a Seven Mothers Initiate and Lunar sympathiser (see page 16).
So there’s no longer any excuse. Get out there and play, create and submit the results to Hearts in Glorantha 🙂
All the above games are available from Chaosium.com and Hearts in Gloranthan issue 7 is currently on pre-order via the D101 Web Store.
Our 10th Anniversary Issue, featuring 48 pages of Myths, Articles, and Scenarios (13th Age Glorantha and for RuneQuest 2) in softcover A4 format, is now available to pre-order.
- Pavis Boxing Association A RQ3 Hero Cult by Leon Kirshtein.
- How A Rubble Runner Destroyed the Crimson Bat at The Battle of Iceland. A short tale by Lev Lafayette and Erica Hoehn.
- Strange Broos. A very strange RuneQuest Classic encounter with scenario seeds by Scott Crowder.
- Boatduck’s Lunch. Stewart Stansfield details what’s on the Duck menu.
- Snipbeak. A Duck with Lunar sympathies for RuneQuest Glorantha by Stewart Stansfield.
- Who Gets to Speak. Ian Cooper, Line Editor for HeroQuest, talks about what makes HeroQuest so unique among role-playing games
- Orlanth, Heler and the Dragon. An Orlanthi Myth told by Stuart Mousir-Harrison.
- The Beard of Lhankor Mhy. An adventure for 13th Age Glorantha by Guy Milner.
- Heroic Tales. Two scenario seeds, each with three possibilities, by Newt Newport.
- The Temple of the Golden Gorp. A Short Adventure for RuneQuest Classic by Newt Newport.
Here’s Stewart Stansfield’s marvellous cover.
All said and done there are five ducks mentioned/illustrated/given stats for in the upcoming Hearts in Glorantha issue 7. This is one of them, Tonk the Chaos Duck who appears in the RuneQuest Classic adventure The Temple of the Golden Gorp.
Tonk The Chaos Duck, by Peter Frain
Tonk the Duck, Champion of Chaos
He is typical of his species but has a bright spikey Green hair (which glows in the dark). He carries a small shield with skull embossed with skull, wears a chainmail hauberk, with leather greaves and vambraces and is armed with a morningstar.
Hit Points 15
Armour: Chain Hauberk (5pts), Leather Sleeves + Greaves.
|Morning Star Flail
- Can reflect spells up to 4 Power back at the caster
- Tonk regenerates 1d6 hit points per melee round in hit points until dead.
- Explodes after he dies, doing 3d6 damage to within three metres – armour helps against this damage.
- He Befuddles 1 opponent per turn in addition to other attacks.
Rollers of the Dice that determined the chaos features: Kevin Dale, Chris Hart, Jonny Gray, Andrew Jones, Iskallor via G+
Skills: Swimming 90%.
Languages: Hisses and spits!