Casting Runes – An exploration of RuneQuest ~ Introduction

This post is an introduction to the series and as such little to no content was harmed in its making. As I mentioned last week, my next series on the blog will focus on RuneQuest. For whatever reason, I have never played it and from what I can see now, I should have. While I have, of course experienced much of its framework through playing Call of Cthulhu and Stormbringer that is not entirely the same thing. Now in my dotage, I think it is time to correct that oversight.

Skippable Backstory

After spending the last two years exploring Ubiquity, which I found to comprise the best of the old and the new in gaming, I thought it was time to look back at the genre that launched me into roleplaying – fantasy. I haven’t completely ignored fantasy, but starting up Long Winter Shadows for Palladium was my first new fantasy campaign since I started running Call of Cthulhu seriously in ’90. As I am still running that campaign off and on in e-mail (much more off than on these days) and as I am about to play in a Palladium Fantasy campaign via G+, I did not want to default to it for this year of fantasy. It would not challenge me on enough levels. Instead of trying to resurrect a love of D&D which I will never feel again, I decided to try a game that does what I want it to do, instead of the other way around. I considered Song of Ice and Fire as the books are popular with friends, then shifted to Pendragon and hovered there for a while before pondering a few editions of Ars Magica. I eventually came to feel like I needed to do something else. I looked at Early Dark and I took a very hard look at Dragon Warriors. I would return to Dragon Warriors a few more times in the quest for the game feel I was after. After some poking around at games like Dungeon Crawl Classics, Crimson Exodus, and Yggdrasil,  a Call of Cthulhu one-shot which left me nostalgic and full of ideas led me to RuneQuest. The connection was not immediately obvious, but a few choice comments about the representation of combat in roleplaying games from one of the hosts of GrognardGames put me on its trail. After a brief hesitation about using Pendragon or Stormbringer again, I was in. It would be RuneQuest!  Then of course that left me wondering which version… decisions, decisions.

Which RuneQuest?

Visit the Design Mechanism homepage for more informationChoosing an edition of RuneQuest was a bit of a challenge, but after sampling a few, I decided to go with 6th Edition for some very simple reasons:

  • I prefer an edition without ties to Glorantha
  • I wanted a rules set as self-contained as possible
  • I wanted a rules set with good support for quick, interesting combat
  • I wanted a rules set about which I had some pre-existing opinions and experiences which I would have to challenge to learn to play it as intended

Looking over and discussing the various incarnations of RuneQuest and BRP, Design Mechanism’s RuneQuest 6th Edition seemed like the best entry point for me. As we go on I will draw on BRP, other early games, and various editions of RuneQuest for comparison, but the focus will be fairly solidly on 6th Edition. I hope that those with actual play experience of these earlier versions will contribute their thoughts as the quest continues.

You will  be doing what, exactly?

This year of fantasy will entail building a setting from the ground up, and a campaign to go with it. I will be challenging myself to design the world to combine areas of fantasy I have ignored with areas I have over-used ‘because they rock’ to see if I can create something that is both fresh (at least for my group) and enjoyable. Part of this exploration will be presented here on the blog, and part will be presented on my YouTube channel. The material will cross-over, with the important stuff appearing in both locations, but areas of focus here will be on the content I produce for the campaign, where the content on the People’s Tube will be geared more toward the steps taken to create it.

The biggest barrier I am facing as I contemplate this year of exploration is really the great love I have developed for Ubiquity. My quest to focus on it was borne out of ‘game sampling fatigue’ and my enjoyment of what I discovered far outstripped my expectations. This time I am turning my attention to a system I know I will like, but that I already know is built on a slower framework than what I have been using. Getting over that perceptual hump, and finding ways to speed and facilitate game play will be one of the challenges I explore as I dive into this RPG classic. This at least is familiar territory for me. I have tried to learn and enjoy games as they were written since early in my gaming history, and I don’t intend to change now just because I am an aging curmudgeon.

I hope you will join me on this quest, help me when I falter, and challenge me to do better.

Session Recaps

17 Responses to “Casting Runes – An exploration of RuneQuest ~ Introduction”
  1. anarkeith says:

    Thanks for posting. Really looking forward to your analysis and experiences with RuneQuest. I’ve cribbed ideas from it for my homebrew, but I’ve lost some enthusiasm for homebrew tweaking, and I’m considering just playing RuneQuest straight up.

  2. Runeslinger says:

    I generally find that for me, running a game as written (until any broken bits demand fixing or stop play) works best, demands least, and satisfies most. If it matches your group, it would be hard to go wrong with RQ6, I think.

    What’s your intention for the game?

    • anarkeith says:

      Pretty standard fantasy adventure, with a touch of Eberron-like steampunkishness. Frankly, that’s where I’ll have some work to do, but I’m not particularly worried.

      Mainly I want my players to be able to implement the character types they envision, rather than game-defined archetypes.

  3. Runeslinger says:

    Another day, another happy reader~

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