Monday, May 23, 2011

The End of MRQ II

A couple of people sent me emails directing me to this announcement that Mongoose Publishing and Issaries "have mutually decided to part ways," which means an end to RuneQuest II and further supplements detailing Glorantha's Second Age. The announcement is quick to point out, though, that the end of RuneQuest II does not mean the end of the rules system behind it, which will be rebranded as Wayfarer and continue to be used for all the games that currently rely on RuneQuest II. Furthermore, the Wayfarer rulebook, when released, will be 100% compatible with the RuneQuest II rules, so there's no need to "upgrade" if you don't want to do so.

I can't say I'm particularly broken up about this news, since I was never particularly invested in MRQII, let alone the Second Age of Glorantha, the latter of which I frankly found dull. No explanation is given for just why Mongoose and Issaries parted ways, so we can only speculate. One possibility are that Mongoose discovered that the MRQII rules were successful while Second Age Glorantha was not and therefore it was no longer worth paying licensing fees to Issaries for the rights to the RuneQuest name and the Gloranthan content. Another plausible explanation (though a less likely one in my opinion) is that Greg Stafford felt that MRQII distracted gamers from HeroQuest, his preferred -- and controversial -- presentation of Glorantha.

As I stated in my review, MRQII is a solid updating of Perrin and Turney's original rules, albeit a bit on the "crunchy" side for my tastes these days, especially when compared to OpenQuest. I doubt Mongoose will suffer much from this change and indeed may reap greater benefits from it, since Wayfarer will be fully generic, which may attract the interest of gamers put off by the perceived connection between MRQ II and Glorantha. What we don't yet know is whether Wayfarer is going to use the OGL, though my gut tells me it won't, since MRQ II did not. If I'm correct, that'd be a pity, since I genuinely think Wayfarer might gain greater traction by being open.

As an aside, it's worth noting that there already is a fantasy RPG in print called Wayfarers, which I reviewed way back in 2009. Granted, Wayfarers has a terminal "s" in its title and isn't very well known, but it's still in print in several formats and has a small but devoted community of players. I imagine Mongoose is simply unaware of the existence of Wayfarers or, if they are, don't think there could be any confusion. Still, given that Wayfarer doesn't exactly screen "Fantasy RPG!" to me, I wonder if it's such a good idea to go with that moniker.

23 comments:

  1. My first instinct was that "Wayfarer" and "Pathfinder" are not that far apart in meaning. That cannot be a coincidence.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I believe the name is meant to evoke Traveller, which has become Mongoose's generic sci-fi rules set.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In the forums, Matt has said that the Glorantha books had low sales.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My first thought was "Pathfinder", like Michael mentions above. Although the Traveller angel could make sense ... hmmmm ... no, not to me.

    :-)

    /M

    ReplyDelete
  5. In the forums, Matt has said that the Glorantha books had low sales.

    Then that pretty well explains it. If the Glorantha connection didn't translate into bigger sales numbers, then it's probably not worth maintaining, especially when Mongoose owns the MRQII rules system. I can't blame anyone for not caring about the Glorantha books; the Second Age was neither particularly compelling as fantasy nor what most Glorantha fans want out of the setting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's a relief to know that the game system will live on... which I consider to be one of the best for modelling Swords & Sorcery play.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I might be interested in getting "Wayfarer," if I didn't already have the Basic Roleplaying manual and the OpenQuest PDF. (Or are there major differences I'm not aware of?)

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Anthony: MRQ2 is a derivation of BRP that is 'crunchier' than the BRP Gold Book and OpenQuest. It's a close descendant of Avalon Hill's Runequest 3, in terms of complexity.

    The major difference between the 3 rules sets is that MRQ2 has a detailed combat system that - while a little more complex - provides a lot of 'dramatic' potential.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @KP:

    Thanks, I might be interested in that after all, just to have more options to slot into a game.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm guessing those looking to play Gloranthan games are largely RQ vets...who are likely to have a wealth of Gloranthan material to work from already.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My reasons for never looking into MRQII had more to do with the atrocious editing at Mongoose than a lack of interest in the Second Age (I liked RQI back in the day). Ditto for their take on Lankhmar. This is unlikely to change with the switch to Wayfarer (I too thought Pathfinder as soon as I read this). It's a shame they can't get their act together in that respect.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Runequest is dead! Long live Heroquest!

    It's a pity, as Lawrence Whitaker did a sterling job of bringing MRQ into line with the official ideas of how Glorantha worked. But not surprising, as there is a lot of hostility amongst the Gloranthan fan community to anyone not using Heroquest II to roleplay in Glorantha. So with only a few grognards of the fan-base left (especially since the reboot of a franchise will always lose people who don't want to buy everything again and with the first edition MRQ being so atrociously produced), and little active support in the fan community any more, it's not surprising that the sales were anaemic.

    [And given that the licensing required that all Glorantha work product be reviewed for suitability by Issaries/Greg, it's not surprising that Mongoose feels better going it alone (especially since it also avoids having to pay a licence fee for each product that uses "Runequest" in the title).]

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've found Gloranthan fandom to be more than a little bit insular, so I'm not that surprised. MGP was never loved by the Cult, and the devotees have their own high priest.

    *shrug*

    Personally I liked what 2nd age stuff I did see. I'd sick to death of hairy xenophobic barbarians in Sartar fighting of lunars.

    ReplyDelete
  14. While the MRQII system apparently will live on in the form of 'Wayfarer', I'm sceptical that Mongoose plans to support it very much. Matt Sprange made it clear that their focus will *not* be on this FRPG:
    “RuneQuest has been an adventure in publishing fantasy, but we can only seek so much treasure at once. It is clear to us that Traveller, miniatures and our future board and card games are our strong suits. We’ll now channel more resources in these directions.”
    I suspect that Mongoose will support 'Wayfarer' only to a minimal degree, mainly to prevent sales of their existing MRQII stock from becoming dead weight. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't have much faith in Mongoose.

    ReplyDelete
  15. However, MRQII is a brilliant system. I strongly encourage people to check it out while it's still available in it's current form. The MRQII corebook is 'setting neutral' (for those of you who are not fans of Glorantha).

    I've been playing in a MRQII 'Young Kingdoms' (Elric) campaign over the past few months (with MRQII co-author Lawrence Whitaker as GM). If anyone is curious, the log for our campaign can be found here:
    http://akraticwizardry.blogspot.com/2011/02/young-kingdoms-campaign-index.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. I suspect that Mongoose will support 'Wayfarer' only to a minimal degree, mainly to prevent sales of their existing MRQII stock from becoming dead weight. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't have much faith in Mongoose.


    Apparently there is a possibility that Mongoose could make Wayfarer OGL. (http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=47370&start=15). Opening the door - again - to 3rd party publishers.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I still have my copy of the AH RQ3 - is there any significant difference between MRQII/Wayfinder and those rules?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I suspect that Mongoose will support 'Wayfarer' only to a minimal degree, mainly to prevent sales of their existing MRQII stock from becoming dead weight. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't have much faith in Mongoose.

    Well, there's always OpenQuest ...

    ReplyDelete
  19. Apparently there is a possibility that Mongoose could make Wayfarer OGL. (http://www.mongoosepublishing.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=47370&start=15). Opening the door - again - to 3rd party publishers.

    I'd love to see Mongoose open up MRQII. That is one of my biggest beefs with the rules.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'd love to see Mongoose open up MRQII. That is one of my biggest beefs with the rules.

    Amen, James.

    My take: http://runeunderwater.blogspot.com/2011/05/mrq2-rip.html

    ReplyDelete
  21. @Cord: there are many, many differences between AH RQ3 and MRQ2 - more than I could easily list in a brief blog comment. Chargen, skill use, combat, the various forms of magic - a lot has been modified and updated.

    I'd recommend checking out some reviews like (http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/14/14704.phtml) and (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_reviews.php?cPath=5353&products_id=78633) for more details.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have read the MRQII core rules and the basic book for the 2nd age Glorantha. The rules are a solid thing, in my opinion the best iteration of the RQ rules, and I could see myself using them. I could use the Finnish RQ, too, so, not sure if I'll buy the MRQII.

    The 2nd age Glorantha, on the other hand, is not so clear-cut. I own Glorantha products from over 20 years time-span,though not that comprehensively, but mostly the material seems to concentrate on the Dragon Pass area and the Lunar-Orlanthi conflict. There's nothing wrong with that, but it gets stale after a while. There are other products, for example the Maniria trading princes campaign, but I'd still like to see other cultures and possible campaigns.

    The 2nd age Glorantha setting at least provided a more world-spanning framework for the game. I thought it was a good thing. Even then, one of the detailed areas in the core Glorantha book was an area with Orlanthi barbarians, which felt quite a bit like saying "look, you can play Orlanthi even here!" Granted, they were (a bit) different from the 3rd age Orlantians, but in my opinion the space could̈́'ve been better used for Something Completely Different.

    So, I might buy MRQII and perhaps some supplements, but if I ever want to run a 2nd age Glorantha campaign, I can provide my own material for that. I think a lot of people, also at Mongoose, felt the same way.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Speaking as an IP law lecturer: If Wayfarers is a registered trade mark then there would definitely be a serious trade mark issue, infringement is very likely. If not, as seems most likely, there is still a potential issue, if I were Mongoose I'd use a different name.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.