Way, way back in 1975 when most of today's games players were very young there was a boardgame by Steve Perrin & Greg Stafford (published by Stafford's then new company, Chaosium) titled White Bear, Red Moon, later to be known as Dragon Pass, and then to be extended and expanded into the first real rival to Dungeons & Dragons in the already popular new genre known as role-playing. Lots of people coming into the hobby preferred the role-playing in Glorantha, now retitled as RUNEQUEST to the sprawling universe of D&D for several reasons. one being that unlike D&D and the other RPGs then coming into existence by the bucketload, RUNEQUEST had quickly developed a solid background and a logical, though still fantasy, rules system.
Like D&D, RUNEQUEST grew, and grew, and grew, and then needed revising, then more revision and then it was sold on to Avalon Hill who, for reasons best known to themselves had decided to detour from their lucrative War and Sports games into the world of role-playing (and subsequently other boardgames mostly of abstract theming) which they knew very little about, similar in some ways to some years later when Hasbro bought WotC for the Pokemon card game, not really knowing what they were getting with D&D and MtG. Over the years Chaosium retook control of RUNEQUEST rpg when they merged with and then were basically taken over by Moon Design.
Now it's 2017 and RUNEQUEST is on the rise again and the first booklet to hit the streets is the superb QUICKSTART RULES (and Adventure) by Jeff Richard and Jason Durall, Greg Stafford having by now given up on all rights and trademarks to Glorantha.
This 50 page book (including covers) has a strong front cover and a very descriptive back cover, both in colour, but the inside pages are set in an uninspiring 50 shades of grey text, borders, headings and page backgrounds. The reference text blocks, artwork and maps within the book have lost some of their detail because of the greyscale printing, which is a shame because the illustrations by Roman Kisyov in particular would look spectacular in colour or even in sharp black & white.
Thankfully the rules are written to be easy to read and understand whether you are familiar or not with Glorantha, RuneQuest or even role-playing. For the results of their actions during the adventure RUNEQUEST players depend on the D100, the 100-sided die, results from 01-00 (100) when you roll 2D10 (10-sided dice) and read one as the tens and the other as the units. The D10s are the most important dice but you will also need a D20, a D8, a D6 and a D4. Occasionally you may have to roll a D3, in this case you roll a D6 and halve the result (1 or 2 = 1, 3 or 4 = 2, 5 or 6 = 3). I know that for many of you I am stating the obvious but there are new players coming into games playing and role-playing every day, so like the RQ quickstart rules, it is a my idea to ensure that any players new to role-playing reading this know that they will not feel out of their depth as I did the first time I tried to read the Dungeons & Dragons rules.
So, continuing as if you are new to role-playing, you can dodge these next couple of paragraphs if you are experienced at RPGs, to play RuneQuest or any RPG, you need 3 or more players. One person has to be the Game Master, the one who lays out the adventure, runs the characters from the story, explains the situations to the other players and generally sets the scene as if it were a movie or a play. Characters in the game are either PCs (Player Characters) or NPCs (Non-Player Characters), the latter being those the GM (Game Master) will be putting forward from the story for you and the other players with PCs to interact with; remember that you are like an actor playing the character you have created.
In RuneQuest PCs are created with and defined by seven basic characteristics: Strength (STR), Constitution (Con), Size (Siz), Dexterity (Dex), Intelligence (Int), Power (Pow) and Charisma (Cha). Each of these characteristics has a value and the GM assigns a target number for any actions you wish to take, thus if your character wants to jump over a gap that is feasibly possible but also quite possibly dangerous, the GM might say that as jumping is a Strength and Dextrous exercise they will probably tell you to add the values of your Str and Dex and then halve the total, rounding up or down if necessary and depending on whether the GM is being generous or not (my interpretation). Then a difficulty is assigned, let's say the average of your Str + Dex is 8 and the jump, as we have said is fairly difficult then your average total x 5 (40) may be the number required. Roll 2D10 and get a result of 40 or less and you jump over, get a really good low result and you may be rewarded with extra benefits.If your action is against an adversary then it is called an "Opposed Roll" and if it is against an obstacle of some kind it is usually a "Resistance Roll", the GM will always let you know the type of roll required.
Okay, the game isn't called RUNEquest because it sounds good, although it does sound good. It is the RUNES that set RQ apart from all other RPGs, even those that have tried to emulate the powers of the Runes in their perspectives.In RuneQuest Runes have several uses but it should always be remembered that they are not to be taken for granted. They are mostly used for Magic, Spirit Magic being the most popular. Each Rune has its own specific symbol and although there is a summary of them it is really useful if you can at least remember the main ones so that when you see them you instantly recognise them and know how to act/react. The Runes are in four types; Conditions (not detailed in this booklet), Elements (Air, Darkness, Eath, Fire/Sky, Moon and Water); Powers (Disorder, Fertility, Harmony, Illusion, Movement, Stasis, and Truth) and Forms (Beast, Chaos and Man). Runes can make spells more powerful or alter their effects for the better, they can be used to manipulate your die rolling and they can help you attack, or defend yourself in combat. Learn how to use Runes and you will discover how different RuneQuest is from other RPGs.
Like all fantasy RPGs at some time or other there will be combat, it is as likely as Day follows Night. The rules of combat are generally in the favour of the player as long as they act quickly and with purpose. PCs usually can take more damage than most adversaries, though of course this isn't always the case; sometimes it's best to think about running away and regrouping and rethinking your plan before attacking simply because tradition says the creatures in your path are evil. Battles are often first fought in the mind and then by the dice so think before you roll! Each method of basic combat is very well covered on pages 13-16. PCs as well as NPCs can be hurt and if the damage is severe they can die or at the very least be hurt so badly that their actions and skills can be affected; many other RPGs do not take wounds into account and allow PCs to fight on as if they were totally fit and in control until their very last hit point (life point) has been lost. RuneQuest players enjoy that their characters are not super-human freaks and therefore generally take better care of them, as I said before, "think before you roll".
The rest of the rules are efficiently dealt with over the remaining pages up to page 24, obviously leaving out large amounts of possibilities to be discovered once the new complete rules book becomes available, and then on page 25 the "beginner's" adventure begins. Note that there are five pre-generated character sheets at the back of this booklet to let players, new or experienced, get a quick start to their adventuring exploits. The adventure within this QuickStart Rules booklet is called "The BROKEN TOWER".
Once you reach the end of page 24 you should put the book down, or better still, re-read the first 24 pages, unless you are going to be the Game Master for the BROKEN TOWER adventure. If this is the case you should familiarise yourself with the rules AND the adventure. There is a short precis to read to players who have no previous knowledge of Glorantha, followed by another short informative passage. Let the players choose one of the pre-gen characters (or hand them out if you don't have a full compliment of players and believe that a specific character needs to be in the game - in later games with the full rules book the players can create their own characters from scratch. Newbie GMs will probably read the narrative without embellishing it, that is something GMs learn with experience, but remember not to read the grey-boxed text as that lets the GM know what is occurring and allows them to adjust according to the players actions and decisions.
You can enjoy exploring only a little of Glorantha with these QuickStart rules but you should get a good idea of what is in store for when you get the full and complete revised RUNEQUEST.