Runequest Glorantha – Hopes, Dreams & Fears

OK RQ Glorantha is coming out soon and we have seen peeks, we have had numerous design & teasing posts, many have played it at conventions, we have had the teaser released and we have debated about it at length on the forums.

I’m really excited about the project, some of new design are awesome, other bits I am worried may end up a missed opportunity. So, I thought I’d do a post on my thoughts on what we think we know so far.

What excites me.

These are things I have seen that I’m sure are going to be great.

  • Runequest without Glorantha is like an acoustic motorhead show, interesting but lacking its prime appeal. Wrapping Runequest and Glorantha together again has been essential, Runequest has always struggled commercially when removed from Glorantha. Top marks for making them intrinsically linked.
  • The new rune magic system. Love it, great games design, simple effective make sense, fits the settings and fixes significant issues in the older systems.
  • The desire for a simpler lighter system than RQ6, I like a few bits of RQ6 but it was starting to feel a little rules heavy for me.
  • More realistic monetary system. RQ2 money was just nowhere near right. In RQ2 the entire world economic system was based round getting treasure from adventures and then spending it on training and spells.
  • The Sartar focus. Sartar was never fully explore in supplements till HQ era, opening up RQG with this amount of dragon pass background is awesome.
  • Greater range of cultural options and deeper looks at Esrolia, & Grazelander culture than in any other edition of RQ.

Great ideas but …

Place where I think RQG has had great ideas but the evidence to date makes me fear the delivery will not match the aspirations.

  • Character& family life events. Building historic events into a character’s creation and family background is a great idea. However, the implementations that I’ve seen both in test and in pendragon which it is based from don’t live up to the promise of the concept. They are longwinded, are prone to give very similar results across cultures and make characterisation random (which is a taste thing for me)
  • Runes as personality traits. In theory a great idea. In practice it will mean that most cultists have very similar balances of runes and therefore similar personalities, leading to the playing of more stereotypes rather than individualised characters. Also I can’t see how numbers of form runes are going to be used in the game going forward.

What worries me

These are the things that worry me about RQG, some I think are just personal preference and I can’t exact the design to team to design for me alone, and others I may be proved 100% wrong on. Some I will probably may want to mod as I play the system.

  • Using RQ2 as a base system. Don’t get me wrong I absolutely adored RQ2 and thought was brilliant and revolutionary in its day, but its day was 40 years ago. Roleplaying has developed since then and some of the newer incarnations of RQ had tweaks, angels and approaches that would have improved the mechanics of the system and kept it fresher. I’d have used the best of to date as the starting point.
  • Sorcery will not be different enough from spirit & rune magic. I would love sorcery to vastly different in mechanics and game balance to the currently well-defined forms of magic. I fear due to game balance considerations it may have similar flavours but a different title.
  • The later campaign start date. I’m still in love with 1616 -1621. I like the earlier start where not as much is in motion, the world stands in balance and on the edge. Players are on the cusp of massive change, not hurtling down the hill caught up by it. If you have been playing 1616 -1621 for 40 years constantly you may have a different opinion.
  • The decision to scrap hero to zero as a playing option. I like the ability to start characters from lower power levels and think RQ is suited for that style of gaming. Character creation lead to creating characters who in my mind were much too powerful. I know this can be altered by house rules, but its much easier to mod up than mod down. Even MRQII – (yes evil MRQII ) had a great table that allowed different levels of character generation.
  • Passions as stats, Ok a personal hate thing of mine. Let’s leave stats as stats and characterisation to the discretion of the player. Anything that can allow the ref role and dice and then tell a player what his character should do, should be removed from the game. Also as the current rules allow passion to great a game effect.

Ok some of that is just down to personal taste, but other elements are valid points on games design. Don’t get me wrong I’m so grateful that this project is going ahead and hope my concerns are unfounded.

5 thoughts on “Runequest Glorantha – Hopes, Dreams & Fears

  1. You have summed up my hopes and fears for the new edition very well! I am looking forward to it, and of course, can always design things to make it fit my taste better, so no harm done. But yeah. There are some things that do bother me.

    1. Hi Clint, the drive home from work today allowed me to come up with a ridiculous idea, a configurable role playing system. A core components with optional elements designed to work with the games core. As a ref you choose the components you want and the system creates a PDF of your selection of rules choices, which you can use with all players round your table. But create that and we would then want to customise individual rules and not segments.

  2. I agree on some of the things you say (I also prefer the 1621 era), and disagree on others (I like passions as stats). It’s obvious this edition won’t be perfect for anybody. But I think that happens always with new editions of long-lived games. 😉

    But, as a friend of mine says… The rules in themselves are not the most important point of this edition. For me, the big thing is RuneQuest in Glorantha will be alive again, and you will be able to use the supplements and the adventures with whatever set of rules and house rules and mixed rules you and your players prefer! 😀

  3. Funny, my list agrees, but in different ways.

    What excites me.

    Runequest without Glorantha is like an acoustic motorhead show, interesting but lacking its prime appeal.
    — Entirely disagree. I enjoy Glorantha but its weirdness is offputting sometimes. I don’t know how well it’ll “sell” in the 2018s….then again, the art is SUPERB, realistic, and hopefully killing the ‘70s Stoner on Acid’ undercurrent. And the Cult of One-True-Glorantha-ism is waxing triumphant, which can truly be annoying to new players.

    The new rune magic system. Love it, great games design, simple effective make sense, fits the settings and fixes significant issues in the older systems.
    — Agreed. Clear improvement long past due

    More realistic monetary system.
    — don’t know anything about this, must be something you got from con-plays or beta rules?

    The Sartar focus. Sartar was never fully explore in supplements till HQ era
    — Seems like Sartar/Prax has been the focus of pretty much EVERYTHING from game products to KoS fiction. Frankly, I’d like to see more on the rest of the world; Ralios for example.

    Great ideas but …
    Character& family life events. Building historic events into a character’s creation and family background is a great idea.
    — Yeah, it’s a nice idea but frankly I find it more of a lore-nerds floor routine. It’s really only useful for such a narrow window of types of characters, if they’re going to do it, they need to offer more options.

    Runes as personality traits. In theory a great idea.
    — Agreed; I think it’s clever but invites powergaming.

    What worries me
    Using RQ2 as a base system.
    — yep. Dated system is dated, nostalgia will sell it to all the old timers, but a lot of stuff could have been modernized (opposed rolls is a great mechanic) HP table for example is as fsked as the RQ2 one was. No reason that wasn’t fixed.

    Sorcery will not be different enough from spirit & rune magic.
    — Jeff hated RQ3 sorcery, I loved it, and there was no RQ2 structure to fall back on. So I’m rather pessimistic that it’s going to be even workable/balanced from the get-go. I like tight, structured, gapless rules. I don’t expect Sorcery 0.1 in RQG will be that. I could very well be wrong, I know about the Shaman rules, and love them. That wasn’t much covered in RQ2 either.

    The later campaign start date.
    — meh, no opinion

    The decision to scrap hero to zero as a playing option.
    — I think you mean zero to hero? Yeah, I think the Old Guard’s insistence that it was too hard to get powerful wasn’t necessarily as universal as they claim, and had more to do with their style than the mechanics. I think starting toons too powerful a) loses an opportunity for ‘programmed instruction’ learning the game and systems, and b) is likely to lead to choice-paralysis. In running RQG free RPG day, it was immediately evident that saying “you have a rune point, you can cast ANY of these umpteen spells” left new players unable to act as they had to skim the whole list and descriptions repeatedly.

    Passions as stats, Ok a personal hate thing of mine. Let’s leave stats as stats and characterisation to the discretion of the player.
    — god yes.

  4. I’m very happy that RuneQuest in Glorantha is coming, and that attention and effort is being spent on these two areas. It will be interesting to see what happens when we have HeroQuest Glorantha, RuneQuest Glorantha, and 13th Age Glorantha. I suspect that it will ultimately be detrimental to the line as a whole, much like when an Independent Party candidate runs in an United States Presidential Election. I very much like HeroQuest Glorantha, and worry that it will be the first fatality, as diminished interest and corresponding financial support will force Chaosium to choose where to put its efforts, HeroQuest or RuneQuest. I hope I’m wrong.

    I am disappointed with what I’ve seen of the new RuneQuest rules, because the most recent edition of Call of Cthulhu is so very, very good and I was hoping RuneQuest would follow suit. The intent, I think, was to make the new rules reflective of the older system, but it seems like more of a step backward in tabletop role-playing than a loving nod to nostalgia. There is nothing worse for a fantasy rpg than for combat to drag, and during our convention play, engaging in combat was confusing and laborious.

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