RuneQuest – First Impressions!

Today we are diving into the RuneQuest RPG for the first time ever! I am excited to share what I have learned about this RPG with you on this blog and on YouTube (link at the bottom).

First off, where can you buy RuneQuest?

https://www.amazon.com/Chaosium-Inc-Runequest-Glorantha-Rulebook/dp/1568825021

$60 from Amazon

https://www.chaosium.com/runequest/

$55 from the Chaosium website

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/243427/RuneQuest–Roleplaying-in-Glorantha

$28 for PDF on Drivethrurpg.com

BookCover1

The book I have is a hardback version and is 445 pages.

$55 divided by 445 pages comes out to $0.12 per page. I know there is a lot more that determines value, but I like to know the price per page just as a comparison.

The art on the cover and the back of the book is really nice. It has an old-school flare that still looks modern and up to date.

Bookback1

Inside the book

Flipping through the book, the pages have a nice satin finish to them. Some of the full-page art pages they made gloss finish to make the art pop nicely. But it is only on the pages with nothing but art. This makes me very happy. It allows me to see the beautiful artwork on the glossy pages but still be able to read without fighting glare the whole time which is exhausting.

Inside1

What is RuneQuest?page 5

RuneQuest is one of those RPGs that I have heard about for a long time but have never gotten the chance to look into. It first came around in 1978 and was the first RPG published by The Chaosium which was a 3 person company out of San Francisco Bay, California.

Back then, RPGs were pretty new and RuneQuest took the world of roleplaying by surprise because it was different than other games out at that time. There was no leveling, no experience points, no classes, and very few restrictions on how weapons and spells can be used by the players.

What is Glorantha?

The world that RuneQuest takes place in is called Glorantha. It is a Bronze Aged world where people align themselves with their tribe, city, and cult. Humanity is the dominant species but only because the Elder Races keep on fighting with each other.

In Glorantha, religion plays a big part of every day life. The gods and goddesses of this world are real to its inhabitants. And there are many gods.

The Sun, Earth, Air, Water, Darkness, and Moon have powerful gods associated with them. There are also gods of Death, Fertility, Change, Stasis, Illusion, Truth, Disorder, and Harmony.

There are lesser deities such associated with things like cats, cows, bats, vengeance, and volcanos.

Runes page 6

Characters are tied to several Runes. These Runes were created by the gods and your characters can join cults of these gods and gain new magical abilities. As you progress in your cult, your connection to the Runes also gains strength as well as your abilities.

What will you need to play?page 6

RuneQuest uses many different dice. d10, d20, d8, d6, and d4 dice.

Most of the skill checks use a percentile system based on d100 rolls. Some of the time you are going to be rolling multiple dice to determine damage. Something like 2d8+1d4 would be 2 d8 dice then roll 1 d4 dice and add them together.

Just know you are going to be using a bunch of different dice. So you finally get to use that cool set you bought that is currently collecting dust.

Unique features of RuneQuest page 7

First of all, combat is dangerous. If someone attacks you with a sword, you better be able to parry or dodge that strike or block it with a shield of another weapon or your going to be in trouble. Humans only have so many hit points and there are no luck points or hero points in this game. If you run into combat without being prepared, your character is going to die.

Even then, they say it doesn’t matter how skilled or powerful your character is, disaster is always around the corner and combat should not be taken lightly.

Something else that is cool about RuneQuesst is that magic is everywhere. Everyone has magic. They say magic is and religion are basic to living in Glorantha and it is accepted by everyone.

Gods are real things that can exert their powers upon the world. Most people are polytheistic, meaning they serve many gods. There is also shamanism, philosophical materialism, and mystical illumination. A person may worship one special god but they acknowledge and often worship several gods.

The powers of magic in RuneQuest

Fighting with magic in this world can change the tides completely. Priests can cast bolts of lightning, or call down flames from the heavens; shamans can summon spirits that can destroy entire regiments of military soldiers.

Victory normally doesn’t go to the side with the most numbers, it goes to the side with the mightiest gods and spirits.

A small band of adventurers can take down an army if they are backed up by powerful shamans.

The same goes for one on one fighting. If both fighters are of equal skill, the one with the most powerful magic is more than likely going to be the winner.

The book says if you plan on having a combat oriented character, it is smart to have them join thee cult of a war god and get all that awesome magic that comes with it!

Ideals and Motivations page 8

In RuneQuest, your character has strong feelings about the world and is tied to the ongoing cosmic conflicts of the gods. In the game, this is represented by what is called rune affinities and Passions that give large bonuses and abilities.

Following these Passions and Rune Affinities in your roleplaying will allow the powerful abilities gained from these to remain strong. If you go against what your character’s Passions and Run Affinities are too much or too often, those abilities will begin to weaken.

If you don’t have deep Passions or strong Rune Affinities, you will be weak and at a huge disadvantage compared to those that have them.

Cults

Cults page 8

Your cult is one of your most valuable resources. It allows you to communicate with the gods. It is a community along with a religion. Being a member of a cult will gain you access to some of the deity’s power in the form of Rune Magic. The cult will also teach you Spirit Magic, which is less powerful magic, but still useful to know.

In return, the member supports the cult with sacrifices, worship, and loyalty.

Basically, the cult will help give you support for your way of life. And as you advance in the cult, you will gain more magical powers and resources.

Kinship

Besides your cult, you have your family and clan or else you are going to very lonely and isolated. Most of the time, you are going to have parents, siblings, children, spouse, etc. And you are going to belong to a larger kinship group such as a clan.

Your kin are going to support you against enemies, offer ransoms if you get captured, and avenge you when you die. Your kin is going to support you and be the basis for a lot of your roleplaying in the game.

Passage of Timepage 8-9

I thought this was pretty cool. They tell us that Time passes by very quickly in RuneQuest. The assumption is that a Season passes each time you do an adventure.

In about a month of gaming if you play every week, a full year of time will have passed in the game. After a year of gaming has passed in real life, your characters will be about 10 years older or even a full generation has passed.

This just sounds awesome to me. I can see roleplaying my character knowing I am getting older and I need to start taking time to train my protégé to one day take my place. It just sounds like a lot of fun.

The bronze agepage 11

As I mentioned earlier, Glorantha is set in an ancient world or even prehistory in a Bronze Age. Bronze is the primary metal, instead of iron which makes those who wear the bronze armor not only well protected, but a bit of a status symbol to show off to others as well.

In this world, the rulers are usually a king or queen, a chieftain or author supreme authority. They are usually a priest as well as priest-kings are the norm in much of this world. This is because temples are the source of the awesome power of the gods which allows them to destroy their enemies.

Fantastic

Keeping it Fantastic page 11

The world of Glorantha is very magical and fantastic. There are demigods who are insanely powerful that can transform battlefields in ways that have no equivalent to warfare in our own ancient world.

The Lunar Empire has magical weapons such as the flying Chaos demon that eats entire armies. Units of magicians who can call down comets on their enemies. There are sleeping dragons many kilometers long that people have mistaken for hills and ridgelines for years.

There are talking ducks and baboons, flying bulls, sentient fish, and numerous immortal beings and races in this world.

When playing RuneQuest, they say to let your imagination go wild. Ignore rational thought and draw upon your unconscious fantasies. Draw upon your own dreams, folklore, and mythology to make Glorantha even more fantastic. Almost anything can happen and exist here.

Next time, we will go over how Character Creation works in RuneQuest!

If you would rather watch RPG deep dives on YouTube, go to my channel here:

LogicianTim YouTube RPG Deep Dives

RuneQuest RPG – Character Creation!

Today, we are going to be talking about how to create a character (they call them Adventurers) in the RuneQuest RPG.

8-steps

There are 8 steeps to creating your character, called an adventurer in RuneQuest:

  1. Homeland
  2. Family History
  3. Rune Affinities
  4. Characteristics
  5. Occupation
  6. Cult
  7. Personal Skill Bonuses
  8. Other Information

Homelandpage 24

You are going to start off by choosing your homeland. There are 6 human homelands to choose from and each has its own Rune modifiers, cultural skills, and cultural weapons. Each homeland also has a cultural stereotype description to let you know how others typically perceive members of that culture. You can go with those stereotypes or play a character that is the complete opposite if you want.

Sartar – Default homeland.

Esrolia – Rich and civilized.

Grazelands – Semi-nomadic tribe of Grazeland Pony breeders.

Prax – Barbarian nomads.

Lunar Tarsh – Civilized culture and religion of the Lunar Heartlands.

Old Tarsh – refuse to acknowledge the Lunar dynasty of Tarsh. Survive by hunting and raiding.

Starting Passions – page 26

Passions are game mechanics that help quantify your character’s emotional propensities. How they are likely to act in certain situations.

Things like Devotion (Diety), Fear (Type or Individual), Hate (Group or Individual), Honor, Loyalty (Temple, Leader, or Group), Love (family or individual) and so on. These will help tell you what your character is likely to do when confronted with situations that pertain to your Passions.

Your character will start with 3 Passions at 60% and depending on your family history, they may increase or decrease.

Family Historypage 27-28

The second step to creating a character is determining your Family History and this will strongly influence your drives and passions.

You are going to write down this information in the Notes section of your adventurer sheet to establish your character’s identity.

There are 4 steps to this section and each one has a couple things for you to do.

  1. Pick a family member that had the most important impact on your adventurer’s sense of identity. Decide the grandparent that is most significant to your character’s story. Pick whichever parent is most significant to your character’s sense of identity.
  2. Determine the occupations of your grandparent and parent (roll on table page 28).
  3. Determine events of your grandparents and parents.
  4. Determine your adventurer’s past

You are going to start with your grandparent’s history, then your parent’s history, then finally your history.

Some events are only important to certain homelands. If your Homeland is listed as participating in the event, you roll or pick a result, if it isn’t listed, you can skip it if you want. Page 29.

History

Rune Affinitiespage 45

Your Rune Affinities are directly tied to your cult’s Rune spells and will determine how well you are at using them.

To join your desired Cult, you need to have a score of at least 50% in one of the Runes affiliated with the deity of the cult. And it is recommended that you share at least 2 Runes with that deity.

The higher your Rune affinity’s ratings are, the better you are at using that Rune magic.

You are going to choose your Elemental Runes, your Power Runes, and Form Runes.

For your Elemental Runes, you get to pick one to be your primary at 60%, your secondary will be at 40%, and your tertiary at 20%.

You will also add any cultural Rune modifiers based on your character’s Homeland.

Power and Form Runes – page 49 – represent the strength and nature of your personality and your social impulses in the world. These runes help you play your character in a consistent manner.

You also have an opposed pair of Form Runes called Man and Beast. The total value of the pair will be 100% and when one Rune increases, the opposite side always decreases by the same amount. So, if your character has a Man Rune of 75%, your Beast Rune will be 25%.

You are going to choose 2 rune affinities at 75/25 and the others will start at 50/50.

Now, you get 50 percentage points to distribute among any of your Rune affinities. Just keep in mind that if you add to a Power or Form Rune, the value of its opposing affinity must be reduced by that same amount so that it adds up to 100.

Characteristics

Step 4: Characteristicspage 51

This is where you are going to pick your characteristics. There are 7 of them.

  • Strength
  • Constitution
  • Size – ability to inflict and absorb damage along with height and weight
  • Dexterity
  • Intelligence
  • Power
  • Charisma

You are going to roll 3d6 for Str, Dex, Con, Pow, and Cha.

2d6 for Siz and Int.

If all of these totaled up is less than 92, you get 3 more points to add anywhere you like as long as any one characteristic doesn’t go above 18.

Your primary and secondary runes will also add to your characteristics. Your Primary will add +2 and your Secondary Rune will add +1. It depends on which rune affinities you have as to which characteristic it will affect (page 53).

Some of the Homelands will also affect your characteristics either positively or negatively (page 53 bottom right).

Attributes – page 54

Your attributes are going to derive from your characteristics and include Magic Points, Hit Points, Healing Rate, Damage Bonus, Max Encumbrance, and skills category modifiers.

Magic Points – these are like your mana and you will spend them to cast spells. This is equal to your Power characteristic.  If you use all your Magic Points, you go unconscious and won’t wake up until you regain 1 point. You gain your MP back at the rate of ¼ of your Power every six hours or all of your MP every 24 hours.

Hit Points – determined by your Constitution and modified by your Size and Power.

—What’s cool here is that there is location damage. Leg, Abdomen, Chest, Arms, Head.

Healing Rate – page 56 – Natural healing from wounds and injuries and depends on the severity of the injury. This is also determined by your Constitution (chart page 56 top left).

Damage Bonus – damage modifier when striking or applying force. Extra die roll that can either subtract from or add to your damage (chart pg 56 bottom left). This is determined by your Strength plus your Size.

Spirit Combat Damage – How much spiritual damage you inflict is determined by your Power and Charisma.

Maximum Encumbrance – is determined by your Str and Constitution.

Step 5: Occupationpage 63

This is where you are going to choose your Occupation. Each one listed has what Homelands it is typical to be found in, what Occupational Skills you get with it, the standard of living, base income, etc.

Step 6: Choose your Cultpage 73

Next you are going to choose your Cult. This is going to give you additional skills, special rune magic, cult spirit magic, passions and so forth.

Step 7: Personal Skill bonuses – page 79

You have personal skills above that which your occupation, cult, and culture give you. Here, you will add +25% to any 4 skills on the adventurer sheet, and +10% to 5 more skills.

No skill can be raised above 100%

Bonuses

Step 8: Other Informationpage 80

This is where you are going to assign your gender, your age (year born), your name, if you are left handed or right handed, any scars you might have and that type of thing.

You can add a family heirloom on page 83 to add a valuable and colorful possession that has been handed down.
So, that is basically it for creating a character in RuneQuest.
If you want to just get down to playing without going through any of this, they have supplied some pre-generated characters for you in the book – page 84-85

Next time, we will go over how the Game Mechanics work in RuneQuest!

If you would rather watch RPG deep dives on YouTube, go to my channel here:

LogicianTim YouTube RPG Deep Dives

RuneQuest RPG – Game Mechanics!

Tonight, we are going to be talking about the game mechanics in the RuneQuest RPG. The first thing we will cover is how time is handled in the game.

RuneQuest Game System

Time in the gamepage 137

Time in RuneQuest is interesting. We touched on it a little bit the other night, but I wanted to go into a little more detail about it.

Like I said before, it is suggested that for every game session or adventure, one season passes in the game. This means that if you meet once a week to play, after a month or so, a full year of time will have passed in the game. I really like this idea because it makes you think about your legacy in the game and training others to take your place one day (you will probably be training your next character!).

At the end of each season, you will make experience rolls, do training, and more. We will go over this more later, but just know that there are things to do even when you are not adventuring.

The days of the week even matter in the game. Each day is named after one of the five elements in Glorantha.

  • Freezeday
  • Waterday
  • Clayday
  • Windsday
  • Fireday

Then there is a sixth day called Godsday used for meditation and worship.

On each of the days, some magic is going to be stronger than others. For example, Windsday has more Air Rune energies available than others days.

So, knowing which day of the week it is before attempting some big boss creature might come in handy.

Ability Usepage 141

Most actions require the use of some ability, skill, Rune, or Passion. Most abilities are normal like walking across a room and opening a door. These are things which are considered to have an automatic success.

Other abilities are performed in more of a dramatic way or circumstance and a roll is required. The best way to figure out if a roll is needed or not is to consider the consequences of failure. Does the chance of failure make the scene more dramatic or exciting? Will a failure add fun to the game? If the answer is yes, then the player should roll for that action.

RuneQuest Abilities

Percentile Mechanics –

Like I said the other night, RuneQuest uses a percentile system to determine success or failures. I know these have been around a while, but this is my first introduction to them, so I might mess some things up. Please correct me if I get any of this wrong as I am still learning all of this.

You are going to be using a d100 which is 2 d10s. The first one you roll will be the tens and the second one you roll will be the ones column. So, I roll my first dice and get a 7. That means I have a 70 something. The second d10 I roll is a 9 which is my one’s column. I end up with a 79 for that roll.

Basically, when using a percentile system, you are going to try and roll under your success percentage. So, if you have a skill that has a 36% chance of success, you need to roll a 36 or lower for it to succeed. Any roll over a 36 will be a failure.

In RuneQuest, any roll of a 1-5 total on your d100 is a success even if the ability rating is lower.

Also, any roll of 96-100 is always a failure even if your ability rating is higher.

There is always the chance of your character getting really lucky and somehow managing to beat the odds. And there is always the chance that no matter how good at something, you will mess it up. There is always a chance of success or failure.

Characteristic Rolls – page 141

Most of the time, you are going to be rolling percentile dice against skills, Runes, and Passions to help resolve actions. Sometimes, none of those seem like the right thing to roll against for what you are trying to do.

In those cases, you are going to roll against one of your characteristics. Remember, this is your Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Dexterity, or Charisma.

There is a chart on page 141 that helps determine the difficulty depending on the situation you are in. If something is fairly easy, like kicking down a rotten door, you will multiply your Strength characteristic by 5. If something is harder like trying to kick down a new metal door, which would be nearly impossible, you multiply your Strength characteristic by 0.5.

Skill Base Chancepage 141

All skills have a base chance associated with them. This is the chance that any capable person has to perform the skill for the very first time. Your character’s skills category modifiers might adjust these chances and make it increase your odds even on your first attempts and doing a skill.

For example, you may have no skill in Tracking, but the skill has a base chance of 5%. You might have a Perception skills category modifier based on your occupation or something else that gives you an additional 5%. Your total chance for success in a Tracking skill check is 10% even though you haven’t practiced it at all.

Critical Success, Special Success, and Fumblespage 142

Whenever you are doing a skill check, there is a chance to get a critical success. This is a roll of 5% or less of the modified chance of success. A roll of 1 is always a critical success.

Whenever you get a critical success, you are going to get additional benefits. Your weapon will ignore armor, if climbing, you will gain extra distance, if crafting, you are going to make extra valuable goods, and so on.

There are also Special Successes which are similar, just not quite as good as Criticals.

These are 20% or less of the modified chance of success.

If you can succeed extraordinarily well, you can also fail extraordinarily bad right?

In RuneQuest, they call this a Fumble. A roll of 00 on the dice is always a Fumble as wells 5% of the character’s chance of failure.

A fumble is the worst possible failure and usually has really bad consequences.

If all this sounds a little confusing, I’m with you. Luckily there is a chart on page 143 that you can follow that gives the ability success, along with the Critical, Special, and Fumble chances that makes it a little easier to follow along. I don’t care to keep my calculator out for each dice roll.

  • If you fail a roll, you can reattempt it once if it makes sense, but you will do so at a 25% penalty. If you fail again, you can’t reattempt it unless something changes or time passes.

Opposed Rolls –

Sometimes, you are going to be using opposed rolls. This is not done in combat, but they say this usually happens when someone is using their Rune affinity to overcome another Rune affinity or something like that. Maybe you are using Hide to escape a Search roll.

In this case, both people can succeed their rolls. If this happens, whoever made the better roll will succeed.

Damage page 146

In RuneQuest, damage is handled differently than I have seen before. You have Overall hit points and individual hit locations.

When you get his, you will roll on the hit locations chart to determine where you are hit.

You have 7 hit locations.

  • Right Leg
  • Left Leg
  • Abdomen
  • Chest
  • Right Arm
  • Left Arm
  • Head

Depending on the location that gets hit and goes to zero or even more, you will suffer some penalties.

For example, if your leg hit points go below zero, your leg is now useless and you fall to the ground prone. You can still fight while prone but your attack chances are cut in half. And your attacker gets a 40% bonus to their attacks on you.

If your chest goes below zero hit points, you fall to the ground coughing up blood. You can’t do anything and you will bleed to death in 10 minutes if you don’t get some First Aid or some healing of some sort.

If your head gets to zero hit points, you are unconscious and have to be healed or treated within 5 minutes or you will die.

What do you think about hit location damage?

I really like the added layer that Hit Locations add to the game. You aren’t just swinging your sword around and hitting someone. You are hitting them in a specific location with specific results.

Death page 149

What happens if you die? Well, in this game, they say that upon death, the sould separates from the body. Over the next seven days, the soul travels through the Underworld to the Court of Silence, the gateway to the afterlife. Once there, the Judge of the Dead determines the soul’s fate, and it departs for whatever afterlife it is assigned. Prior to that judgement, it is possible to resurrect a character with powerful magic. After judgement, only a heroquest can bring the dead back to life.

Ok, I don’t know what the hell a HeroQuest is, but I know it sounds interesting. I’m sure I’ll get more detail about that as I continue reading through the book.

Advanced Stuff

The book goes on to talk about how First Aid works which is basically similar to other skills except for once you succeed, you are going to roll dice to determine how many hit points you healed for.

It goes into Encumberance and the effect that has on dodging and movement.

There is a money conversion chart in here.

There is all types of diseases and illnesses detailed in the book along with their effects.

Falling damage, drowning, fire damage, poison and antidotes. Weather conditions, exposure, hunger and thirst.

The book has everything covered if you wish to incorporate those mechanics in your game. For me, some of this is just way too detailed and I wouldn’t put it in. At least not at first. But it is cool to have the mechanics thought out so if I wanted to put a scene in where the characters were locked somewhere without food or water or even in a place with no oxygen for some reason or another, there are mechanics for that already mapped out for me.

That’s about it for the game mechanics section. The next chapter is about the different skills, which I will be skipping. We don’t need to read off all the different skills in the book as we already know pretty much how they work.

The next chapter that I will be covering is the chapter on Combat. I will be going over how to fight, use magic, and kick some ass in RuneQuest tomorrow night! Stay tuned!