Monday, January 4, 2021

RuneQuest vs RuneQuest

 My relationship with Chaosium's RuneQuest is a complicated one, thanks in no small part to the fact that some of my earliest gaming mentors didn't think very much of the game or its setting of Glorantha, deeming them "too Californian" and, therefore, unfit for good East Coast boys like myself (I exaggerate – but only slightly). Nevertheless, I would occasionally encounter RQ aficionados at local RPG gatherings and what I saw piqued my interest, as did the many articles I read about the game in the pages of White Dwarf (RQ apparently being quite popular in the UK at the time). There might have even been the thrill of "the forbidden" in my interest as well, though, more likely, I was simply hungry for more roleplaying games and settings.

In the years since, I've had the opportunity to play RuneQuest more often and, in the process, gain a greater appreciation for the setting of Glorantha, though it's never been a staple of my gaming diet. In the last couple of years, for example, I was fortunate enough to play in an extended RQ campaign run by a terrific referee with a deep knowledge of Glorantha. We used the second edition of the classic RuneQuest rules, which were the rules contemporary with my earliest experiences with it. They're brutal and unforgiving in combat, which is why our campaign saw the deaths of multiple player characters over the course of its run (and, in fact, ended with a total party kill when we foolishly took on some trolls in the Big Rubble), but, for me, they are a quintessential part of the game's mystique.

Despite this, I'd never consider myself a proper Glorantha-phile – more an interested observer and well-wisher than a dedicated fan. The impression I have of RuneQuest and its setting is no doubt limited and idiosyncratic, but it's on the basis of this impression that I have come to develop a greater affection for both. Consequently, I was fascinated to hear about the revival of RuneQuest under Chaosium in recent years. I hoped that this new edition, called RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and explicitly based on the original game from the 1970s (rather than the very different Glorantha-based game HeroQuest/Hero Wars), would prove successful and revive interest in the legendary game and its setting.

Unfortunately, I can't say I'm a fan. I had the opportunity to play RQG (as I believe it's known colloquially), ably run by the same referee who'd run the TPK RQ campaign. RQG is beautifully presented and illustrated and does a superb job of painting a fuller picture of Glorantha and its inhabitants. By almost any objective measure, the 2018 edition of the game stands head and shoulders above its predecessor from forty years prior. And yet

Again, I'm, at best, a casual Glorantha fan and I only played RQG for a few months before bowing out of the campaign (which is still ongoing, albeit without me), so little I say should be taken as in any way persuasive. From my limited perspective, I found the current edition much too complex and weighed down by detail. Yes, it's probably a better reflection of Glorantha as Greg Stafford imagined it than was RQ2 in the late '70s, but I also found it less fun, particularly for someone not well versed in the ins and outs of the setting. I found the vastly expanded skill list, rune affinities, inclusion of Pendragon-style passions, and very detailed family history generation to be more than I needed or indeed wanted to roleplay in Glorantha. Now, I understand that, for many longtime fans of the setting, this is exactly what they wanted and have wanted for years and I'm sincerely happy they have the game they wanted. 

For me, though, it's simply too much. I much prefer the simplicity and sketchiness of the earlier Chaosium editions. I find RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha cramped and limiting. Further, I didn't find the additional rules complexity to have provided anything worthwhile – at least for me. Pendragon, whose design has obviously exercised a powerful influence over the development of this game, provides a great deal of depth through very clean and straightforward rules, proving, I think, that one need not sacrifice such things on the altar of simplicity. I'd have much preferred to see RQG go this route, but I can imagine many reasons why Chaosium chose not to do so. Again, this is my own feeling, as an outsider and shouldn't be taken as anything more.

What's interesting to me is that many fans of Tékumel, a setting to which I am very devoted, have, over the past couple of years, cited the revival of RuneQuest as a template for what could be done for that setting. With the greatest of respect, I think that's a terrible idea. Tékumel, with its weird, accented words and non-Western cultural inspirations, does not, in my opinion, need to be presented in a way that emphasizes its oddness. Instead, I think it would be better served by emphasizing its commonalities with traditional fantasy RPG settings, especially when it comes to its rules. Unusual and complex settings don't need extra impediments to accessibility and I fear that RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha has too many of them, even for my taste, which is a shame, because Glorantha, like Tékumel, is a remarkable work of the imagination and ought to be more widely known.

34 comments:

  1. The "popularity" of RuneQuest in White Dwarf was probably because Games Workshop was publishing its own licensed version of the game. That said, RQ did seem quite popular among the gamers I knew, but I can't tell if that's a result of WD pushing it.

    For what it's worth, Chaosium has also released a revised version of RuneQuest 2 called RuneQuest Classic; well, when they announced it at Dragonmeet a couple of years ago they said it was a cleaned up version of the original rather than a straight reprint.

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  2. While I probably like RQG better than you do, I agree with your preference for RQ2;it hits the sweet spot between complexity and playability for me (and has nostalgia value as well). I'm intrigued by your comment that Tékumel is better served by emphasizing commonality with other RPGs, "especially when it comes to its rules." Which rules would those be? I assume EPT, but isn't it a bit cavalier to assume that Tékumel = EPT? The setting has had several rule sets attached to it, which to me suggests ongoing dissatisfaction with their fit with the setting. But then I suppose EPT is as easily available as any of the rule sets now.

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    1. The reasons behind Tékumel's various rules sets being published has, I think, less to do with dissatisfaction with them, and more to do with publishing trends at the time they were published. Professor Barker, as you know, used a very simple system in his own games and the published rules don't reflect his preferred style of play.

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  3. Great discussion of RQ. I count myself as a solid fan, but not a Gloranthaphile. I got started in 1978 with RQ1, and chose NOT to buy RQ2 a year later, though I adopted SOME bits from it (facilitated by various quick references and the JG GM Screeen which is for RQ2), plus I photocopied the creatures section. Finally in 2005 I acquired RQ2 in a 80% complete collection of RQ2 products (which filled in almost all the bits I was missing, and gave me "backups" of several products). When the RQ Classic Kickstarter hit, I was interested, and then went whole hog when they added the everything digital level. As a result of that, it's easy for me to pick a few more bits I like from RQ2, so really I run RQ1.5... In the 90s I picked up almost all of the RQ3 line, but other than a few adventures I don't use much from RQ3 (though my 90s RQ campaign did use a FEW bits from the RQ3 rules).

    I have some more specific dislikes of RQG based on a deep knowledge of the RQ1 rules and what folks have shared about the differences, so your analysis rings very true to me. There has also been an explosion of detail about the setting, and an attempt to better define the culture of the setting which runs counter to the Glorantha I started developing in 1978, so my Glorantha is more grounded in the RQ2 products and my own interpretation of the setting implied by the actual rules and equipment list, with occasional stuff borrowed from the more recent publications.

    And yea, rather than more deep development of Tekumel and it's oddities, I would love to see more things that help someone get into the setting. A big turnoff for me is that there are almost no earthly flora and fauna which to me makes it hard to imagine trying to describe the setting. Sure, a host of unique monsters, that I can deal with, but no cats and dogs (ok, I can grok no horses) and what kinds of birds are there? Wolves and foxes and rats? Give me a list of which earth animals DO exist, and analogues for a decent set that folks might want in their encounter tables or to be used in description.

    Frank

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    1. FWIW, there are both cats and dogs on Tékumel but your larger point stands that there are comparatively few terrestrial animals in the setting. (Horses exist too, but they might as well be non-existent, since no humans know of them)

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    2. Maybe I did know about cats and dogs. I didn't know there were horses somewhere. Any other terrestrial animals you know of?

      Of course one COULD make Tekumel one's own and just decide many terrestrial animals ARE present. Or if one wanted to keep it weird, use the D&D stats and places in the ecology for various animals, but describe them as the Tekumel equivalent of... Maybe to make it easy on people, Tekumel is populated by t-wolves, t-rats, etc...

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    3. Off the top of my head, I can't recall any other Earth animals on Tékumel, though I'm undoubtedly overlooking something.

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  4. Prepare for a ramble:RQ (primarily) was the game that steered me away from O/A/BX/ D&D in 1982. I was so mystified and enthralled by the ads in The Dragon for a couple years, that I nearly pissed myself the day it showed up on my FLGS shelf. I loved the glimpses of Glorantha that were provided in the original book, Cults of Prax, and to this day I feel that the boxed sets like Borderlands, Pavis, Big Rubble have yet to be matched for large scope campaigns. The game system and the setting completely blew me away and it was my # thereafter for Fantasy.

    As RQ3 came along, I had mostly lost interest in Fantasy games and I took a hiatus from TT gaming around 1985. When I came back to RQ in the mid 90s and picked up all the RQ3 Glorantha material all of a sudden I felt like I knew almost nothing about Glorantha anymore and that the Game and Setting were now in the hands of scholars and wannabe novelists, and it completely became burdensome for me as a setting for PLAY.

    When Hero Wars (Heroquest) from Issaries came out around Y2K, I was further put off as Glorantha seemed even less accessible (though I like the HW/HQ system). With NuChaosium, I don't find it much different. In the early days, like OD&D, GM's just made up their own Glorantha, but today Glorantha has become so unwieldy, and it's gameplay focus seems to be centered on a simulation of living in those cultures, instead of the cultures providing a fun background for high adventure.

    "Someone stole a cow! My brother, sister, my 3 cousins and myself will now have to request a audience with the village elders to vote on whether we should go after the thieves, or finish helping with the harvest, because it will frost in the next two days and we cannot lose our crops!" (followed by 40 minutes of arguments between the Ernalda Priestess Council member, and the Humakt Warlord Council member.......yawn)
    vs.
    The old days of defending Gringle's pawnshop, sneaking into The Rubble to find Balastor's Axe,or high altitude adventure mishaps trying to "acquire" some condor eggs.

    Glorantha has become SO cumbersone, IMO. Sure there is "lip service" to "your Glorantha may vary", in RQ:G but being a casual Glorantha fan running games for Gloranthan Scholars is really frustrating (even infuriating at times). This goes for Star Wars, Middle Earth and Forgotten Realms games too- Canon Dorks are the absolute worst kind of Us Dorks, AFAIC.

    Though initially excited, the newest version of RQ is pretty disappointing so I have not bothered to purchase, though I have read through the book. It just amps up the rules to be nearly as cumbersome as the setting. I did run the one-shot of the QS scenario but it did not go over well and we quit about halfway through. "Ok guys , Make these rolls to see if you can add bonuses to THESE rolls, which may still fail anyway". IME it is poor design similar to crits in 3.X- a passion or rune roll or whatever works, player gets excited and then their skill roll fails anyway despite the bonus and the player is deflated. I feel 13th Age in Glorantha is a bit closer to the mark for what I like these days- cinematic game system with a toolkit approach, and definitely has the "High Adventure in the Glorantha setting " vibe vs "Deep Immersion in the Cultures and Lore of Glorantha" vibe of RQ:G.

    So I run the Openquest rules which are smoother/faster than any other edition (Chaosium or otherwise), add a couple tweaks for more heroic play (e.g. Size + Con = HP score- no division) And nothing about Glorantha is Canon barring the one and a half page intro in the RQ2 rulebook.


    :Initiates Spirit Magic ritual to ward off flames coming my way from Gloranthan Scholars:

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    1. I find Tékumel canonistas are similarly frustrating (and I count myself among those very knowledgeable about the setting).

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    2. Yea, Tekumel has it's own setting geeks...

      For me at least Glorantha can be taken as pretty terrestrial with varying doses of weirdness at the GM's discretion depending on what source materials you take in.

      For me, I stick with RQ1 because when I want a dose of RQ, I want a dose of RQ. And Glorantha is part of that. If I want a simpler system, I'll play something else. I like the interaction of the various Ability bonuses and the XP/training system, and hit locations, and strike ranks (and delaying attacks to modify hit location). For me, it all works together.

      I dunno, sometime I might try Stormbringer though I've never read any of the source fiction (and probably won't anytime soon). Still, I could play it the same way I played early RQ. But then I'd quickly run out of adventures...

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    3. Because my Glorantha varied from Day 1 I took the opportunity of also translating the setting when I translated my long running campaign to a different set of rules. It was pretty easy to do, and a lot of fun, although a lot of writing (especially since I'm a fan of full cult descriptions). It helped that the players were generally Sartarite barbarians with little interest in the rest of the world (and that maps are magical objects of great power). The transition was pretty seamless from their point of view, but there was no longer going to be the risk that they take the standards of my game (which, for example, is set in the early iron age) as canon.

      I'm not going back to RQ. Mainly because of the work I put into it, but the fact that it runs cleaner (naturally since it's optimised for my RQ groups style of play), but also I have several fundamental design disagreements with the new rules.

      One of the problems with RQG is that the authors (and many players) want to get to the cosmic/hero level of play as soon as possible (even given the fact that in the official Glorantha the roles are pretty much set and inviolable), and RQ has always had the problem that it was actually the first half/third (depending when you talked to Greg) of a game system. Unfortunately the next planned part ("coming in 1978") didn't really work out, because players acted like typical D&D players which was antithetic to the fiction that Greg wanted to present in the game. Anyway that resulted in a game that was effectively Part I (with the really interesting stuff happening in Part II), and to make it worse, somewhat broken at either end and a long slog to get where you were going (especially as many GMs considered buying training to be cheating [again, D&D ethics interfering, I suspect]).

      Incidentally Jeff (the current president and lead designer of RQG) ran a strong and influential campaign on the recolonization of Dragon Pass using Dave Dunham's Pendragon Pass rules, which is why Pendragon does indeed have a strong influence on RQG.

      Oh, and as a footnote I'll add that as a philosophical experiment (based on comments in RQ2) I wrote a Cortex Plus version of Glorantha rules which operates nicely at the heroic/superheroic level (possibly because it was essentially derived from a set of superhero rules). The players seemed to really enjoy it and wanted more. Sadly, Arachne Solara's web is woven a wee bit tight at the moment.

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  5. RQG reuses a lot of text as written from earlier editions. It's basically RQ2e, plus supplements, plus a grabbag of ideas from other editions, smothered in even more Glorantha lore. It has way too many moving parts for my taste, but it's a beautiful product I might consider putting on my shelf once I get my bonus.

    Chaosium seems hell-bent on the idea that RuneQuest can't work without Glorantha. This might be because of petty spite. The designers abhor RQ3e, MGRQ1e, MGRQ2e, and even the still wildly popular RQ6/Mythras. Heck, they totally ignored the existence of MRQ1e, MRQ2e, and RQ6e/Mythras by calling RQG RuneQuest's fourth edition - essentially shitting on good systems and others' hard work.

    It is ironic, because those nemeses are the proof that RQ works fine as a fantasy game system. RQ2e was also pretty light on Glorantha and could work damn well with other settings. Chaosium even thried to do that with the ambitious QuestWorld project back in the day. Its failure wasn't because it wasn't Glorantha - it failed because it didn't deliver meaningful content. Heck, it's cover was so uninteresting that I wouldn't be surprised if some people ignored it because of that alone...

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  6. Hi! RuneQuest line editor here.

    A few notes...

    All the owners of Chaosium now are huge Glorantha fans. They bought the company specifically to bring back Glorantha and RuneQuest, both of which they'd kept alive through Moon Design Publishing. Greg Stafford's widow Suzanne is on the board of directors, as is RuneQuest/Glorantha luminary Sandy Peterson. Greg's belief was that RuneQuest specifically was at its best when it was paired with Glorantha, a vision that we share.

    I can't reveal numbers, but I can reveal that every successive version of RQ after RQ1&2 (basically the same game) sold worse than the previous ones, all the way up through the Mongoose versions. Dramatically worse. (I will not comment on RQ6/Mythras, as I respect them quite a bit and their sales are not my business.)

    The separation of RuneQuest from Glorantha is commonly understood to be the primary reason for this, though there are many others, specific to each edition.

    There are many generic fantasy RPGs: D&D, Pathfinder, Fantasy AGE, 13th Age, Dungeon World, etc. None of the owners, nor I, wanted to make yet another generic fantasy game.

    If you were able to own your own game company and had the rights to your favorite game (RuneQuest) and your favorite game IP (Glorantha), and looking at the sales figures which said that they sold best when paired together, what would you do?

    The nomenclature about what edition the newest one is was bandied about in development and abandoned quickly as we neared production. It is in no way "shitting on good systems and others' hard work". It's the fourth edition of the game Chaosium has published. The numbering of editions is even contested amongst fans. Why are unpublished products counted in the numbering?

    We did not draw from those interim editions because we do not have the legal right to that text, and we are not fans of the concept of using others' work without attributing it to them.

    As for the idea that we're "hell-bent on the idea that RQ can't work without Glorantha", we're also in active development of several RuneQuest based non-Gloranthan games such as the RuneQuest Fantasy Earth titles, as well as the new Lords of the Middle Sea game, whose rules are a streamlined hybrid of BRP, Call of Cthulhu, and the newest edition of RQ.

    And we're doing a new Questworlds.

    I'm not sure what to make about the comment about "Arachne Solara's web"... do you think somehow that Chaosium will kick down your door if you run a Glorantha game for your players using a different system? Why in the world would you think that?

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    1. I should also mention that Steve Perrin is also with us as a frequent collaborator and Creative Consultant.

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    2. I cannot believe no one commented on this.

      Thank you, Jason, for weighing in. While I do not take PR flacks seriously (I say lovingly), I do like to hear from inside the dome. Thanks for sharing

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    3. Very nice inside perspective from Jason. It's clear that the present owners of Chaosium have their strongly held ideas about what RQ should become. Sometimes I am surprised by the routes they take, but I must say that overall I am impressed. I have played the new edition too little to make an informed judgement, but my first impression from playing/ running it is that it plays very much like RQ2 and RQ3. It is a mechanically detailed game as RQ2 and RQ3 were, so I think the complexity was already in the old chassis. The new edition did not do much apart from importing bits of Pendragon (personality and passions) and putting on the character sheet a lot of skills that mostly were already in old sourcebooks (like peaceful cut), or in the weapons list. And, yes, parrying rules from Stormbringer. Does this make the result so complex?
      The visual quality of the books is amazing. The scenarios published so far are fun and relatively simple, especially those of the GMs pack. If I have something to reproach to the editorial team at Chaosium is that the corebook's rules could have benefited from another editorial pass.

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    4. I don't think I've ever been called a "PR flack" before.

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    5. Isn't RuneQuest classic still available too?

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  7. Totally agreed about *not* emphasizing Tékumel weirdness and making it more palatable (for first time players). I think GoO did a fairly good work at making it accessible to other people like me. Supplements can then delve deep into the lore.

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  8. The challenge with RQ versioning is that when RQ3 production ended, there was a time when there was no RQ in print. And Chaosium and Greg parted ways. So the whole thing was up in a jumble. Out of that jumble came the never completed RQ4, which led to continued fan identifications of RQ versions leading the RQ6/Mythras. All of this is fueled by the way that different RQ/BRP/D100 games are compatible. Percentile (roll under) skills are fundamentally compatible no matter the game system (though game systems may have differing ideas of what a success means, or what kind of challenge is implied by an unmodified skill roll). On top of this, all the RQ/BRP/D100 games have a compatible stat range (3D6 as base) and don't stray too far on hit points and armor points. If hit locations are used, they are the same set baring left/right swap (well, Other Suns puts Head at 1-2 and legs at the other end, but otherwise the same relative ordering and portion of the d20 range for each location).

    On top of this, the RQ/BRP/D100 most vocal fan base tends to either be very much a fan of Glorantha or very much not a fan.

    For me, I'm just happy there's a current edition that has features that make it attractive to new fans, and I really appreciate that the original editions and material is available in PDF, and POD is more icing on that cake.

    I do see how folks who are not Glorantha fans can find Chaosium frustrating, but Jason lays out a very good rationale for their decisions regarding RQ an Glorantha. Meanwhile, the material is just as compatible with any other version of RQ/BRP/D100 as it has ever been. So folks who want to use Mythras to play Glorantha can do so, and there's more compatible material constantly being released. And those who really want to use RQ or RQG in some other setting are just as able to do so now as ever. The changes from RQ2 to RQG to better support the setting can be ignored by those who want the other changes. Or you can stick with RQ2 or RQ3.

    I'm also happy that I have been having success recruiting players to play my RQ1 (well, RQ1.5) campaign with it's different take on Glorantha. A Glorantha geek might not be happy with my campaign, but I'm up front that my vision of Glorantha started to form in 1978 and has not kept up with the times. I like running MY Glorantha. If you like to debate canon, keep that out of my game sessions and be happy with my Glorantha, or don't play.

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  9. My issue with all these intricate settings is that if your Tekumel / Glorantha may vary... at what point do you just decide to just give it a new name and decide it takes inspiration from those, and other settings. That's the way I approach it anyway.

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    1. When is house ruled D&D no longer D&D...

      Even my Glorantha that is very divergent from the Glorantha of today's publications is still very recognizable as Glorantha by any Glorantha fan.

      I haven't had discussions with anyone who has radically changed Glorantha or Tekumel to have an idea of what someone's setting would look like that was derived from Glorantha or Tekumel, but has diverged so much that it would be less recognizable. And actually, for fantasy campaigns, I have little play experience with folks with their own setting other than some Cold Iron campaigns in college and those settings looked like pretty vanilla "D&D fantasy" settings.

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  10. I dropped D&D for Runequest as soon as I read RQ and realized you could design an RPG that wasn't full of weird arbitrary decisions, this was the first or second RPG that I read that looked like someone put some thought into it. (The other was Traveller.)

    I was a kid in high school in a small midwestern town. We pretty much ignored Glorantha, likely due to lack of funds and/or places to find the supplements. Or just not wanting to play in someone else's sandbox.

    The only two supplements I had were the Cult books which were snooze-inducing to my teenage self.

    I recently bought most of the Glorantha supplements as POD and am finally reading them after thrity some years. They are fun and pretty compelling so far. I could see having fun playing in Glorantha if the folks I played with wanted to play anything other than D&D.

    The new rules seem fine, but they are for people more hardcore about Glorantha than I ever will be. Also, I wish they'd stuck with RQ6 as the base, as a lot of fiddly first-gen RPG stuff from old RuneQuest gets smoothed out in Mythras.

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    1. (I see now that using RQ6 as the basis of the rules was not feasible from a legal and ethical standpoint. Which seems fair.)

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  11. Back in the '80s, early '90s, I played quite a lot of RuneQuest 2 & 3, and Fantasy Earth with only a few bits from Glorantha was, at least at my open table, a much better setting. The Judges Guild modules were completely portable, and even things like Pavis/Big Rubble could be easily moved to any open grasslands. Old Chaosium wasn't so dogmatic about everything fitting into a grand plan, it was "here's a cool idea". Talking Baboon bandits, Ducks, Jack-o-bears, Vampire cults? Sure, say "yes and".

    But the game that impressed me then and now was Ken St. Andre & Steve Perrin's Stormbringer, which turned the grindy, finnicky, penny-pinching, "you owe 10091 lunars for student loans", RuneQuest rules into something sleek and fast, terrible onrushing dooms, vast treasures you win and lose in a day, no happy fun magic but only demons who want a price for any trick they pull. "Blood and souls for Lord Arioch!" beats "woo Orlanth! where's my beer?" Over the years Chaosium made it fatter and lazier and less fun, more like RuneQuest, until Moorcock pulled all the game licenses.

    There was a big green Basic Roleplaying game, and Magic World, which had some of the late-fat-Elvis Stormbringer legacy, and that was a good game for what it was, the Advanced Sorcery book was *fantastic*. But then the Glorantha cult took Chaosium back, and all the fun is over.

    So now if you want to play something like the original RuneQuest, you have three options:

    1. RuneQuest Classic. I did go on the kickstarter for this, and it's a very nice book. I've run it a few sessions, and the old supplements and modules with it are worth their weight in… whatever "bronze" means in Glorantha. This is a perfectly acceptable game, and you shouldn't feel pressured to touch their new tome.
    2. OpenQuest. By far the easiest and most Stormbringer-like of the OGL-quests. Runs all the old modules fine, easy to strip out magic systems you don't like—I have never played with Spirit Magic, often remove Divine (gods are for dumb barbarians), and put harder limits on Battle Magic. A little surgery on Sorcery makes it a good demon summoning system. There's several variants of this, Renaissance/Clockwork & Chivalry has a nice variant on the magic systems and 17th-19th C technology.
    3. Mythras, Legend, etc. If you really do like fussy technical rules and more detailed settings instead of hypnagogic pulp wanderings, there's many systems which are OGL-quest but not obsessed with the minutiae of Stafford's campaign. The Lyonesse book is gorgeous, if you want Jack Vance minutiae instead. Mythic Earth seems a very good campaign world.

    Moon Design/"Chaosium" no longer makes anything I'm interested in, and I won't miss them.

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    1. Mark, I think I share some of your preferences. I'm still madly in love with Stormbringer and I've just finished running a short campaign using the 4th edition rules (1990).
      What I do not share is the note of resentment towards the current Chaosium management (you call them the "Glorantha cult" and "Chaosium" with quotes).
      At least, you should acknowledge that they made RuneQuest classic available again. And they have made the RQ2 reprints available in POD, including the non-gloranthan Gateway Bestiary. And they plan to release two new BRP games next year (Rivers of London and Lords of the Middle Sea).
      The latter, in particular, looks very interesting:
      https://www.chaosium.com/bloglords-of-the-middle-sea-rpg-update-the-cover-art-a-workinprogress/

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    2. I did, as noted, buy the kickstarter for RQC. I was very hopeful for new management, even if Charlie was no longer involved.

      But other than decades-old reprints from Chaosium, they made themselves irrelevant to me by removing or rewriting all the fun games, just as a thousand flowers were blooming under OGL-quest.

      Rebranding Moon Design as "Chaosium" doesn't transfer my affections for bad-at-business-good-at-games old Chaosium to good-at-lawyers-bad-at-games new company.

      Lords of the Middle Sea looks like Cakebread & Walton's Airship Pirates game, which already exists, remade to keep old board game IP alive. It kind of has the Hackmaster feel, where it's meant to be a joke, but it's too close to be funny?

      Fun/lethal drinking game with anything Moon Design writes: Take a drink every time they refer to IP, property, or brand.

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  12. I agree that the rules of Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha (R:G) are not the lightest (some details could have been more streamlined), but they are an excellent attempt, I feel, at simulating how immortal and mortal beings interconnect in a purely magical world. How do all these cults and runes actually work on a day to day basis for the inhabitants of this bizarre world? Well, R:G has a set of clever system-based solutions to this longstanding question. This is really helpful to beginners and old-timers alike, I feel.

    As for Tekumel, even though this IP has been dead for quite a few years now, I believe that when fans mention the idea of having it get the "R:G treatment", they're not asking for new sets of rules, particularly not ones like R:G. They instead dream of seeing Tekumel presented in a fresh new way by a group of dedicated, experienced, knowledgeable Petal Heads (a Moon Design for Tekumel, if you will) who would step away from the academic vibes the world's never been able to shed to highlight its zany science-fantasy Pulp Lit. roots and core nature. So, no new rules, but well-designed tools/guidelines/suggestions to help people get their heads around the world (which is actually less weird than the purely magical Glorantha), brand new texts on the world's cults, cultures, and history (the timeline would be pushed forward); lifepaths for player-character (something R:G does very well); and all of it presented in a series of professionally produced books filled with gorgeous illustrations. And, why not, a clever EPT 2ed and/or Bethorm Quickstart as well.

    That's the "R:G treatment" dream.

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    1. EPT 2e has been a dream of mine for many years now. I've worked on such a thing on and off, as I've played refereed my House of Worms campaign, and have made some progress, but, ultimately, I've never gone too far down this route because I wonder if anyone would care. Tékumel is an unusual and idiosyncratic setting and I'm not sure it'll ever appeal to a wide audience.

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    2. I think Tekumel could get more love if it was presented in a much more accessible form, however, it will always suffer from being so alien.

      Glorantha has some unique bits to it, but it is mostly populated by terrestrial creatures.

      In some ways, I think Talislanta has done better than Tekumel (and not only does Talislanta not have elves, if you read carefully it doesn't even have humans, at least not terrestrial humans...).

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  13. I can't help but think that the biggest hindrance for an audience for Tekumel is, as James suggests, non-Europeanish words. I have admired the setting for years (as well as the EPT design), but I'm still stopped dead when I come across most of the words and to this day, I can neither remember the difference between a "Pé Chói" and a "Páchi Léi", nor pronounce "N’lüss".

    Talislanta, for all of its seeming-oddity, is really just a exotic setting, rather than an alien one. It's full of recognizable fantasy tropes, cultures borrowed (sometimes rather thinly) from real-world history, and nothing is too hard to pronounce to the average Anglophone. I say that as long-time fan (even as I have begun to find the pulp Orientalism harder to swallow these days).

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  14. Sorry to put it bluntly but ...

    RQG fails in 400 pages to provide a game that was already explained 40 years previously in 88 pages with more charm.

    Nice art though.

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