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Can anyone explain Runequest to me?

axl666

Registered User
Validated User
I'm interested in getting into it. However there seems to be multiple editions of the game, which I am finding a bit confusing.
And what I thought was Runequest (Glorantha) seems to be just one setting of Runequest.
Does Runequest refer to the core rules and Glorantha is the flagship setting, much like the Forgotten
Realms for DND, and are there also other settings?

Also: what are the best books to get?
 

Wickus

Mirthless Gummy Bear
Validated User
The newest is RuneQuest: Glorantha, the system explicitly tied to the setting.
There are previous editions, some printed by other companies.

There are similar systems that has different settings - Mythras for instance with Mythic Britain and the Vampire Wars.

So if you want to get into Glorantha I'd suggest getting RuneQuest: Glorantha, and the books are stunning.
 

ffilz

Registered User
Validated User
RuneQuest was first published in 1978 with Glorantha as it's setting. In 1980 a 2nd edition was published, and the game really took off with lots of supplements. RQ1 and RQ2 are close enough that the materials for each are very compatible. There was some attempt to diversify out of Glorantha with the Quest World boxed set, however, other than a few magazine articles, that setting never gained traction. In 1984 a 3rd edition was published by Avalon Hill. With this edition, Glorantha was removed from the core and provided in a supplement. Many of the RQ2 era supplements were re-released (and expanded) by Avalon Hill (though the famous Gloranthan Griffon Mountain was re-released as non-Gloranthan Griffon Island) and some additional supplements were released.

After that, I'm fuzzy on the history...

In 1999 Moon Designs Publications started releasing collections of the RQ2 era material in thick volumes covering several supplements and including material from RQ3, magazines, or other sources. These reprints cover some of the most classic RQ2 supplements (Cults, Pavis and Big Rubble, Borderlands and Beyond, and Griffon Mountain).

In 2015, a kick starter for Classic RuneQuest was started to republish almost all of the RQ1 and RQ2 era material (including both editions of the game itself).

In 2018, a new edition of RuneQuest, RuneQuest Adventures in Glorantha was started.

Along the way, Mongoose had a successful trip with two editions. There is also Hero Wars/Hero Quest which is a different game that did grow out of RuneQuest.

Also, in 1980, Chaosium extracted the core mechanics of RuneQuest into a booklet Basic Role Playing. This set the stage for a variety of non-Gloranthan games (Elric, Stormbringer, Call of Cthulhu, Elfquest, Ring World, and maybe another one or two?). The title has more recently be used for a much larger tome.

I also have an interesting book I found, The Adventurer's Handbook which is basically Basic Role Playing with some "how to play" commentary added.

Others will have to fill in with the various other games that have spun off from the original...

As to what you should get... If you ask me, Classic RuneQuest (2nd ed, though I prefer 1st), Cults of Prax, and maybe some additional supplements (Borderlands, Griffon Island, Apple Lane, Balastor's Baracks, Snake Pipe Hollow, Cults of Terror, and a few other bits are all available).

Others will suggest RuneQuest Adventures in Glorantha, which is probably the better choice these days...

Frank
 

Nate_MI

Hail Tzeentch!
Validated User
RuneQuest Adventues in Glorantha is the latest edition of the RuneQuest rules. Through most of its lifetime RQ has been a simulationist percentile system, so a lot of stuff from RQ1 and RQ2 still work basically without modification in the latest edition (technically this is the fifth edition of RuneQuest, so RQ5). There's plenty of collections of older material and even the Glorantha Sourcebook, which doesn't have a word of game or rules text but instead is a massive, sprawling history and ethnography of the region of Dragon's Pass, which is where most RuneQuest adventures take place. There's any number of collections of older RuneQuest materials; I quite enjoy the Cult Compendium and books on the Lunar Empire, but you can't go wrong by starting with the core book and expanding outwards from there.

There's also 13th Age in Glorantha, which is takes an entirely different approach to the setting. 13th Age is class based and narrativist, and the game starts you out at a significantly higher level of power than most starting RQ characters. That being said if you're coming from D&D, then 13th Age might be a system that you'll feel more familiar with than the systems of RuneQuest.
 

Lysus

Unbelievably Fancy Ostrich
Validated User
RuneQuest Adventues in Glorantha is the latest edition of the RuneQuest rules. Through most of its lifetime RQ has been a simulationist percentile system, so a lot of stuff from RQ1 and RQ2 still work basically without modification in the latest edition (technically this is the fifth edition of RuneQuest, so RQ5). There's plenty of collections of older material and even the Glorantha Sourcebook, which doesn't have a word of game or rules text but instead is a massive, sprawling history and ethnography of the region of Dragon's Pass, which is where most RuneQuest adventures take place. There's any number of collections of older RuneQuest materials; I quite enjoy the Cult Compendium and books on the Lunar Empire, but you can't go wrong by starting with the core book and expanding outwards from there.

There's also 13th Age in Glorantha, which is takes an entirely different approach to the setting. 13th Age is class based and narrativist, and the game starts you out at a significantly higher level of power than most starting RQ characters. That being said if you're coming from D&D, then 13th Age might be a system that you'll feel more familiar with than the systems of RuneQuest.
I'll point out that Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is the name of the newest iteration of Runequest. Runequest: Adventures in Glorantha was the supplement for Runequest 6 that was never published as more than a Gencon preview draft, being cancelled in favor of the standalone game.
 

jorganos

Registered User
Validated User
I'm interested in getting into it. However there seems to be multiple editions of the game, which I am finding a bit confusing.
RuneQuest is the ancestor of the entire family of D100 skill-based class-less rules sets, some of which has been worked into D&D since 3rd edition, too.

Currently there is one actively developed line, RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha, which is supposed to be the other main leg for Chaosium to stand on besides their flagship Call of Cthulhu.

And what I thought was Runequest (Glorantha) seems to be just one setting of Runequest.
Does Runequest refer to the core rules and Glorantha is the flagship setting, much like the Forgotten
Realms for DND, and are there also other settings?
Yes for Chaosium's RuneQuest, at least in preparation. Mythic Iceland by Pedro Ziviani was originally a single Basic Roleplaying setting book published by Chaosium (with Basic Roleplaying being a modular tool set based on the original RuneQuest (1 and 2), the 3rd edition licensed to Avalon Hill, Cthulhu, Stormbringer, Ringworld, Superworld, Elfquest, Elric, and a number of others). When Chaosium changed ownership to MoonDesign (basically the current directors of Chaosium), Pedro's one volume supplement was assigned to become a standalone game with its ruleset derived from the current RuneQuest Glorantha, which in turn is based mainly on the Classic RuneQuest. I met Pedro in 2016 at Kraken convention and overheard his discussion with Jeff Richard then, and the presentation of that project. I have no idea what has become of the three volumes project that it had become by then, with a campaign arc starting at Iceland but including the whole Viking world, from Vinland to Miklagard (Byzantium).

Around that time, a historical/mythical setting in the Ottonic Holy Roman Empire of Germany was discussed, too, based on Pedro's work as far as I could make out. Roughly the same period, so it makes sense to have matching background and rules.

Back in RuneQuest 3 times, there were two excellent non-Gloranthan setting boxes developed by Chaosium and published by Avalon Hill, Vikings and Land of Ninja (the latter by the author of FGU's Bushido rpg) that were also reprinted by Games Workshop as hardcovers for the European market. The rules are fairly compatible with RQ2, BRP (the Big Golden Book, which included most of the RQ3 rules except for the trademark) and RQG.

Also from that time there was Chaosium's Thieves World box, which had stats for a range of popular rpgs of its time, including RuneQuest. Probably very pricey to get second hand.

All of these are usable with RQG with only slight adjustments, and quite a few of the old Chaosium monographs (many of which have been cycled out of print) probably are, too. Sarah Newton's Chronicles of Future Earth was reworked for Mythras, IIRC, the rpg that used to be called RuneQuest 6 and evolved from Mongoose RuneQuest 2, by the same authors.


Also: what are the best books to get?
Right now, the best books to get for RQG is the slipcase set of the rules, the bestiary and the GM screen cum mini-campaign, plus the (free to download, cheap to buy in print) quickstart adventure, as that is what has been published so far in that line. More publications are to come soon, usually first as pdf download directly at Chaosium.com.

If you are asking about the setting of Glorantha, there are a number of system-less publications available.

The lowest hurdle entry (apart from the - sadly halted - webcomic Prince of Sartar and the collected Griselda stories) is the Glorantha Sourcebook which has an overview over the myths and pantheons of the world, some general description of the setting for all three of the official Glorantha rpg lines (RuneQuest Glorantha, HeroQuest Glorantha, 13th Age Glorantha) tossed in.

The big, fairly complete world description (at least for its zoom factor) is the two volume Guide to Glorantha, an encyclopediac description of the physical setting, its history, inhabitants, dominant cultures, prehistoric myths, and a collection of prophecies for the mess that is unfolding in the setting. If Columbia Games with their supplements for Hârnmaster and their world descriptions used to set the high standard for a world description in the 1990ies and beyond, the Guide at the very least matches this, with (at the time of publishing) fourty years of world building to draw on. Lots of maps (also available in a maps only addendum), beautiful illustrations, a utilitarian high quality layout, in coffee-table format. Expensive in the print form, and not cheap as pdf, but worth the price if you want to research the setting.

The booklets of the Stafford library (available from chaosium.com) add special perspectives for certain historical and mythic aspects of the world, also without any rules system reference (except for Arcane Lore, a grab-bag of various attempts at creating a set of heroquesting rules and metarules, which sometimes get referenced).

The first of this series, but now a nice hardcover book also available as pdf, is King of Sartar, a collection of in-world documents from a future Glorantha only hinted at, with at times contradictory traditions of many of the core events of the Hero Wars and what led up to them. If you are willing to dive into this, it provides an interesting puzzle, conveys a good feeling for the Orlanthi culture that is one of the rival powers in this struggle, and leaves you digging for more info.

As soon as the pdf gets released, get your hands on RuneQuest 2 Trollpak, (to be) re-released for the Classic Edition reprints of that material. Not only this is a great description of one of the major nonhuman races of Glorantha, it also offers the troll perspective of Gloranthan history, providing a good introduction from a different angle. Forget what you learned about trolls elsewhere. An expanded remake for RQG is in the editing state.

Until the big RQG opus Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha gets published (right now it is in art commission), the Glroantha Classics Cults Compendium offers you a taste for what is in the works, with a compilation of the RQ2 supplements Cults of Prax and Cults of Terror and a few extra full-length cult descriptions tossed in. These books were the first roleplaying treatment of the world of Glorantha (which had previously already been the home to two strategy board games) and set the fundamental tone with the relationship between player characters and their deities, which is one of the defining features of Glorantha. The other three volumes from this release line provide the rest of the at their time trailblazing RQ2 publications in a reprinted form at affordable pdf prices. All of this has become the foundation of all subsequent Glorantha publications.

The HeroQuest line has the most up to date material, for that rules-light system, and even more so if you also include the older publications (hidden as "The Vault" on the website) with material for the precursors of these rules (Hero Wars and HeroQuest 1st edition) which have a less official status but are highly playable, too. Until the RQG line catches up with this now nearly 20 years old system, its supplements provide the biggest body of roleplaying material for the setting.

The 13th Age line currently consists of only one Gloranthan supplement/adaptation for the generic 13th Age rules. It has a campaign and lots of cool concepts, and delivers Glorantha from a D20 family rules set, complete with character classes and levels.

If you want to dive into the fandom of Glorantha, currently the place to go is basicroleplaying.org, a forum with significant activity. All the current authors and editors have come from this fandom and keep in contact. Internet discussions of RuneQuest and Glorantha date back to 1990 or so, starting with the Bell RuneQuest Digest, followed by the RuneQuest Daily starting in 1993 and followed by the Glorantha digest. In the 2000s, most such traffic happened in two Yahoogroups, HeroQuest and World of Glorantha. There was an active Google community whose contributions have been migrated to the Tapatalk platform before G+ closed down ten days ago. There are other social network presences, most of which are linked from chaosium.com.

There used to be well over a hundred private fan webpages with Glorantha material, but most of those have gone inactive and have been lost to the world unless backed up on some old backup harddisks. They all showed how to come to your personal version of Glorantha which was inevitably at some point divergent from official Glorantha. An astonishing number of fans also knows many others face to face, thanks to both national and international convention activities that helped build the Glorantha Tribe and to keep it together.
 

DavetheLost

Registered User
Validated User
The posters above have pretty much covered it, I think. Glorantha was the original setting for RuneQuest, a Bronze Age fantasy world. It has elves, dwarves, and trolls in it, but the RuneQuest/Glorantha versions of these creatures are quite different to how they appear in D&D.

There have been a number of systems spun off from RuneQuest over the years. The base mechanics are usually known as the BRP or Basic Role Playing system after the booklet in which Chaosium first published the basic rules separately.

Two current spinoffs that do heroic fantasy are Mythras and OpenQuest. Mythras is at the crunchy end with lots of detail and options, OpenQuest is at the light end, I would call it medium crunch, a streamlined version of RuneQuest. Both have free intro sets. The one for OpenQuest, OpenQuest Basics, is a fully playable game with all the core rules, it only presents one of the three magic systems from OpenQuest and also does not have all the optional rules. I have not read the Quickstart rules for Mythras so I can't comment on those. Both are good options as well as RuneQuest. Neither is set in Glorantha.
 

Epicurean DM

Registered User
Validated User
I'm interested in getting into it. However there seems to be multiple editions of the game, which I am finding a bit confusing.
And what I thought was Runequest (Glorantha) seems to be just one setting of Runequest.
Does Runequest refer to the core rules and Glorantha is the flagship setting, much like the Forgotten
Realms for DND, and are there also other settings?

Also: what are the best books to get?
I played RuneQuest 3 back when it was published and I'm currently running a RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha (RQG) game. :)

"RuneQuest" refers to the rules and system and "Glorantha" is the flagship setting. You've got that right. In fact, RQ3 was famous back in the day for removing the Glorantha setting from its predecessor, Runequest 2.

What are the best books to get? It depends on if you're going to read it or play it.

Just a reader? Get the RQG corebook (cover features a blue-skinned guy and his friends descending from the sky) and The Glorantha Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a good, comprehensive summary of Glorantha's setting. It sets your baseline so that you can feel comfortable in other sources. Do not buy the Guide to Glorantha unless you're interested in the deepest dive into Glorantha. It's for the hardcore.

Want to play the game? Buy RQG, the new RuneQuest Bestiary, and Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes. Sartar is a supplement for an old game called HeroQuest. All you need to know is that for a while, if you wanted to play in Glorantha, you used the HeroQuest system. Sartar contains a lot of practical, gameable advice about the primary region in Glorantha, Sartar. HeroQuest has a very light rules system and you can easily ignore it as you read about Sartar. This book provides a straightforward introduction to how Sartarite culture and religion actually functions at the ground level, where the players will be interacting with it. This matters because Glorantha is often praised for its unique cultures and religions. RQG places particular emphasis on grounding the characters in their community. Of all the books published about Sartar, Sartar's got the most meat on the bone. Buy it and your group will start to feel the uniqueness of Glorantha with the least delay.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
I'll point out that Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is the name of the newest iteration of Runequest. Runequest: Adventures in Glorantha was the supplement for Runequest 6 that was never published as more than a Gencon preview draft, being cancelled in favor of the standalone game.
It was also the name the never-published RQ4 (not the MRQ one) draft was supposedly going to use before--events--made that never happen.
 

Raleel

Registered User
Validated User
Two current spinoffs that do heroic fantasy are Mythras and OpenQuest.
let us not forget Revolution d100.

the below tree gives you the big picture of all the d100 stuff. there are bits coming off RQ6 (mythras) and others that I'm not exactly sure where they might come from.
 
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