Pavis, a boxed set extensively detailing the ruins of old Pavis -- 25 square kilometers contained within the walls of a formerly great city. Like its predecessor, Big Rubble was written by Greg Stafford and Steve Perrin and published in 1983. Also like its predecessor, it includes three books and a map. Big Rubble differs from Pavis in that it's much more adventure-oriented. That is, the player and GM guides are much shorter in length, while the scenario book is much longer. This is to be expected, since Big Rubble details the closest thing that old school Glorantha had to a megadungeon. Even so, all three books contain a fair bit of background and cultural details, in keeping with the tendency of RuneQuest products from the era.
The "Common Knowledge for Players" book is the shortest of Big Rubble's integral volumes and provides players with basic details of Old Pavis and the surrounding area. One of its longer sections is devoted to the cult of Yelorna the Starbringer, which is influential in the region. Amusingly, there are several Lunar Empire-issued government forms included in this book, such as the "Freelance Adventurer Registration Form." I adore little props like this, both because they're simply fun, but also because they provide a practical primer in the Lunar mindset, which is vital when adventuring in Prax. The "Guide for the Gamemaster" is longer and devotes most of its pages to describing the Big Rubble itself. The book highlights the most important areas of the ruins and their likely inhabitants, as well as discussing how to get in and out of the ruins. Of equal utility are the encounter tables and pre-statted collections of NPCs, such as Lunar patrols and Chaos gangs. Special encounters with unique NPCs are likewise provided.
As I noted above, it's the scenario book that is the heart and soul of Big Rubble, offering nine different adventures for use by the GM. These adventures vary greatly in length and scope, with some being quite extensive (and a bit railroad-y), while others are barely more than short encounters in a specific locale. All include stats for NPCs and, where appropriate, maps. Reading through them again, I found myself struck by a couple of things, the first being just how much more space is required in a RuneQuest adventure for stat blocks than is the case in a D&D adventure. Indeed, there are often entire pages consisting of nothing but stat blocks. The second thing that struck me is the level of detail provided for many encounters, far more than I am comfortable with these days. It's not for nothing that RQ adventures have the reputation for demanding much from the referee.
In the end, Big Rubble is something I like more in theory than in reality. The idea of a boxed set describing a huge ruined city as an above-ground megadungeon is quite compelling and it's one that appeals to me on many levels. Unlike Pavis, though, this boxed set provides fewer tools for the referee, instead giving more attention to pre-designed scenarios. While that might make Big Rubble more usable immediately (though that's a relative thing when dealing with RQ material), I think it also limits its long-term utility, at least compared to Pavis, which I think does a much better job of presenting a locale that referees can make their own.
None of this is to say that Big Rubble is a bad product, because it's not. On the other hand, I find it a lot less satisfying than other RuneQuest products of similar vintage, such as Griffin Mountain or even Borderlands, which is a shame, as the idea behind it remains an excellent one that could really benefit from the kind of treatment only a boxed set can offer.