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!

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