RuneQuest and me

So last post was me & D&D, so where do I stand as far as the game that I probably reverer more in the Old School stakes?

RuneQuest 2 is where the story starts for me. In Pavis in Glorantha sometime in the mid 80s. A one on one session with my friend I rolled up a simple character who could just about wield a sword and was a couple of thousand of lunars in debt to the Fighting Guild as a result. His name lost to me know, but I remember he had aspirations to be an initiate of Humkat (the Gloranthan Warrior god of Death and Gloom). So off on a trip to Troll Town, a Troll strong hold established by the Hero Arkat in the Dawn Age. With me so far… don’t worry it was all new to me and a good three quarters of the game was my GM friend explaining the background to Glorantha and all its associated workings (Cults, HeroQuesting, Myths as a way of changing reality). Solid foundations which I’ve built on still, but still a huge learning curve that fortunately I fascinated with.

RuneQuest 3 is where it all took off. The Games Workshop Hard covers (RuneQuest, Advanced RuneQuest and RuneQuest Monsters) at pocket money prices made the game accessible to all in the UK, and when they chucked them in the bargain bin during the Great Betrayal (when they dumped all their RPG support around White Dwarf 100 at the end of the 80s) everybody and his brother had a copy. This time I was in a proper group of about five playing in a generic setting, possibly Griffin Island, fighting off zombies with a young twenty something Civilised Peasant Farmer whose claim to fame was he was OK with a Pike (about 40% from memory). Next session I wanted more so with the GMs OK I rolled up a Sorcerer called Tel-Kar-Nath who new the sum total of one spell, Venom (“I shall turn your blood to poison!”).  Next session I had grabbed the reins of GMing and huge files of notes were produced.

Stormbringer 1st Edition (a slight detour). Also in the same bargain bin as a result of the Great Betrayal. I’ve gone about this game before, but this was a revelation in terms of scope of what the game could do and how you could modify the D100 engine to produce a very different style of game. A very lethal style of game 😉

Then at University having access to a student grant and making a solid investment in the future I got all the Glorantha Boxsets  from the newly opened Travelling Man (up in Headingley Leeds for those who could remember it). Que the 10 years long campaign set there that one day I WILL PUBLISH the setting for. During this time we kept on striping out the crunch until the system resembled what OpenQuest is today. These were my glory years running RQ set in Glorantha – both at home and at at cons. RQ 3 for me was story gaming done right, a post for another day.

The wilderness years came for me in the late 90s when we gradually drifted away from our regular RQ3 Glorantha game due to entering the wacky world of employment. Then there was the case of mistaken identity that was HeroWars (effectively 1st edition HeroQuest), a wonderfully epic narrative game which is nothing like RQ.

Mongoose RuneQuest – The return!  Well sort of. Bad editing and shonky rules take the sheen off what should have been a fine version of the great and glorious game. But the release of a SRD did lead to the following …

OpenQuest is my RuneQuest (with a bit of Stormbringer thrown , which is why its got so many demons). Originally designed to be a small fantasy interpretation of my favourite bits of BRP/RQ with my own common sense house rulings. Its kinda grown into OpenQuest Deluxe (a open tribute to the collected RQ3 Deluxe of the 1990s produced under Ken Rolston’s time as RuneCzar during the so called RQ Renaissance) and then be paired back to the slim and slender version of OpenQuest Basics. Its been a great journey which started at lunch in my office in 2007 and continues to this day.

MRQ2 Lawrence Whitaker’s and Pete Nash’s go at refreshing MRQ, and a damn fine one too.  I never got to play this one because my group at the time would have none of it, and Greg Stafford pulled the license from Mongoose a year or so into the license.

RuneQuest 6  Loz and Pete now working together as the Design Mechanism revised and expanded version of MRQ2 which is the ultimate big book RuneQuest dwarfing all its prediscesors. A fine version of the game and a worthy inherittor of the name RUNEQUEST 🙂

About Newt

Games Designer, Publisher, Web Developer, Dad.

This entry was posted in Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying System, General, Nostalgia, OpenQuest, RuneQuest. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to RuneQuest and me

  1. Sturat says:

    see, the one thing that stands out in this post is mention of THE GREAT BETRAYAL, something i know nothing about due to either not being the biggest RQ player, or perhaps living on the western shore of the Atlantic (can 1300 miles away still be considered “the shore”?). should you be inclined to dance on the the crestline of that slippery slope of “taking requests”, perhaps you could do a post/comment with regard to THE GREAT BETRAYAL.

    thank you

    • Newt says:

      Wikipedia expands a little

      “Following a management buyout in December 1991, the company refocused on their most lucrative lines, namely their miniature wargame Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB) and Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K). The retail chain refocused on a younger, more family-oriented market. The change of direction was a great success and the company enjoyed growing profits, but the move lost the company some of its old fan base. ”

      Basically GW originally imported US RPGs and in RQ, Stormbringer and Chaosium’s case printed their own versions and in the late 80s started making their own games. They were were you went to get RPGs in the 1980s in the UK in most cities and towns. Then in the early 90s Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson (of Fighting Fantasy fame) sold the company to the miniatures boss who promptly dumped all RPGs, even their own lines such as Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Judge Dredd and Golden Heroes. It was a shock to the system that within a month or two you couldn’t find any RPGs in your local high street and it took the RPG scene a couple of years to re-establish any retail presence.

      It still upsets me 20+ years on, but for years half-jokingly Games Workshop was a swear word amongst UK roleplayers.

      • Indeed, and one of the surprising saviours of ‘high street roleplaying’ was Virgin Megastores (at least I remember them having a AD&D and maybe Shadowrun etc. in stock).

  2. Pingback: Me and RuneQuest | Hearts In Glorantha

  3. Sturat says:

    OK. That would have had no effect on my gaming world so little wonder I didn’t notice.

    If it helps any, GW has been considered something of a swear word* around here for several years or more. I still remember the chilly reception one of their staffers got (by the 40Kers) when they came sniffing around looking to open a local store. They did eventually open one of those one-person stores on the outskirts of town. No one I know has been there.

    * more like a bad smell, actually.

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