If you wanted a quick way to highlight the differences between RuneQuest and Dungeons & Dragons in the early days, you could do worse than to read Apple Lane and compare it to its near-contemporary The Keep on the Borderlands. Such a comparison is probably unfair to both adventure modules, but there's a certain appropriateness to it nonetheless, for each was bundled in a boxed set through which many people were first introduced to their respective rules systems.
Apple Lane was originally published in 1978 as "Scenario Pack 2" for RuneQuest, but was revised in 1980 for inclusion in the aforementioned boxed set. It was in this form that I first encountered it, so it's possible there are differences between the 1978 and 1980 editions of which I am unaware. The module presents the small Sartarite town of Apple Lane, so called because of the apple orchards that surround it. A glance at the crude map of the town provided makes it clear that Apple Lane is a very small place, as there are only about a dozen buildings present in the whole place, in addition to the orchards and public grazing ground.
However, the buildings aren't what make Apple Lane interesting; it's the inhabitants of the place that give this rural locale its unique charm. Every inhabitant of the place is given a name and all adult inhabitants are given full RuneQuest statistics. What's more, most of the inhabitants are given personalities, histories, and motivations. They're also given context -- connections to other NPCs and to Apple Lane itself. They don't exist solely to interact with the PCs who come into the town and have need of their goods and services. I hesitate to call them "real people," because, truth be told, many of Apple Lane's NPCs are broadly-sketched caricatures (or, if you prefer, archetypes), but, even so, that's generally more than you get in The Keep on the Borderlands, where NPCs noticeably lack even names, being known instead by their titles ("The Corporal of the Watch" and "The Curate," for example).
Of course, it's precisely this specificity that some might find off-putting. Whereas The Keep on the Borderlands takes place at the frontier of a vague "realm," Apple Lane sits squarely within Glorantha. That means that there are references to deities, historical events, and cultural practices that, while very useful for referees wanting to use Glorantha, need to be altered if the referee isn't using that world. But who'd play RuneQuest if they weren't using Glorantha? That too is another useful point of comparison that Apple Lane highlights. RuneQuest is Glorantha, at least that's how it was seen in its earliest days. Glorantha is one of the game's main selling points. The setting's richness and depth -- and quirks -- were a big part of what separated it from D&D, which lacked an integrated setting beyond the vague pseudo-medieval world in which "You play Conan, I play Gandalf. We team up to fight Dracula."
RuneQuest can't be summed up so blithely and that's something that comes through even in as early a product as Apple Lane. The product includes two scenarios, plus a brief introductory piece in which it's suggested the PCs begin play as newly initiated adulthood inhabitant of Apple Lane. The first scenario, "Gringle's Pawnshop," is little more than an extended battle, defending the aforesaid pawnshop from an attack by baboons in alliance with a group of non-human outlaws led by a centaur. As crazy as that sounds, it actually makes sense in context and might even be described as "normal" for old school Glorantha. What stands out to me, though, is that, again, every baboon and outlaw has a name and many have personalities, histories, and individual motivations.
Apple Lane's second scenario is "The Rainbow Mounds," which could be described as this module's equivalent to the Caves of Chaos, as it details a large cave complex filled with inimical creatures. Once more, we're treated to lots of individualized opponents rather than faceless orcs, as well as what might be called a fully-fledged "villain," the dark troll Whiteye, whose machinations are behind the recent spate of attacks on Apple Lane. I don't mean to dwell too much on this, but I nevertheless find it amazing how much detail and, dare I say, "story" is contained within Apple Lane's brief text. It's palpably different than the approach taken with The Keep on the Borderlands, being perhaps to the presentation of The Village of Hommlet (no surprise, as both Apple Lane and Hommlet arose out of actual play), but far quirkier, given the nature of Glorantha.
Apple Lane is not without its faults, particularly the rather limited nature of the community itself, but it's still eye-opening to consider that this module was first published in 1978. It represents a very different strand of old school play than is often discussed, one much more concerned with world building and coherence than was the case in many other corners of the hobby at the time. Such an emphasis comes at a price, of course, most notably its singular authorial vision, but, if one shares that vision or is less interested in providing one's own, Apple Lane has a great deal to offer. It's a classic of the hobby and well worth reading if one has the chance.